10 Essential SEO Tips & Tricks
We all want to rule Google and Bing, right? We all want to be in the Top 3 results for all of our desired KeyWords, right? Well, in order to do that, you’re going to know some essential basics about Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This post will give you a mile-high overview of SEO, and get you moving in the right direction. Think of this as a Top 10 Best Practices for how to begin to get those search engine rankings you (and all of your competitors) desire.
1. Write Great Content
If your pages contain great, relevant, useful content, search engines will be more likely to rank you higher for what you’re writing about. Visitors like fresh content, so they will visit your site more often. Content written both for search engine keywords and for humans to find interesting, then you’re going in the right direction.
2. Do Your Keyword Research
A KeyWord is basically anything you type into a search field on a search engine. Whether it’s literally just one word, or a string of words (KeyWord Phrase), it’s technically all still a “KeyWord.” When you want to rank “first in Google,” you want to rank first for the KeyWord most of your highly-interested targeted users will be using to search for your product and/or service. Don’t target a KeyWord just because it sounds right to you, or because it gets a lot of searches.
You want to target as specific as possible for Search Engine Optimization, because you want to be able to rank as high as possible as quickly as possible, and a realistically as possible. A shoe store in Houston will never beat out Zappos, Shoes.com or DSW, for example. However, you may be able to rank a lot easier for “Shoe Store in Houston” or “High Heel Store in Houston” for example.
Use tools such as Wordtracker and the AdWords Keyword Suggestion tool to find relevant niche keywords and estimate traffic based on research and not just guesses.
3. Use Your Keywords Wisely
Once you have a good list of KeyWords, deploy them sensibly throughout your site pages. To rank better for the KeyWords you are targeting, make sure they periodically and regularly appear in throughout the content of your pages. Use the KeyWords in the first and last paragraphs in the content of page. Strategically throughout the page content, but not stuffing throughout. Try the KeyWord Density ratio of about 2-3% of all content will contain the KeyWords you’re looking to rank for. Use KeyWords wisely, don’t stuff them all over the page, and make sure the KeyWords appear in strategic locations throughout your website.
4. Get Other Sites Linking To Yours
Most search engines rank sites higher if they’re linked to by other, well-respected sites. Writing good content is one of the best long-term strategies. The better the content, the more valuable the content, and therefore the more likely it is that another site will want to refer to yours as valuable to their readers and visitors.
A “link to this page” (or “share this”) function on each page of your site makes it easy for others to link to your content. Sharing your pages and posts on Social Networks doesn’t have a direct effect on your rankings, because of the way that the large Social Networks manage their links (search for DoFollow vs NoFollow for full explanation). Whether the site linking to your content directly passes through search ranking help to your site isn’t as important as getting as many links as possible, and spreading your content around to as many different places as possible. You want exposure and traffic. Over time, your rankings will rise the more exposure and traffic you get.
Get in touch with the site owner of the websites which rank in the Top 10 results for your desired KeyWord, and strike up a friendship. Don’t ask for links right away. Just compliment them on their awesomeness and nurture the relationship to eventually be in a possible to ask for a guest blog opportunity, or a link, depending on the situation as to what’s best for both parties.
NOTE: Do not take an article which is already on your website or blog and use that as a guest blog post. That will be seen as duplicate content by search engines and it will not be counted, at best. Yes, it’s more work, but the more original content that’s out there linking back to your site and content, the better rankings you’ll get over time.
5. Structure Your Site For SEO
A site map can really help here, as it lists all your site content on one, easy-to-use page. If you’re using a Content Management System like WordPress, then this is really easy. There are a number of free and pay plugins which can help you generate a Site Map automatically, and even give you links to submit it to Google and Bing to start the process of indexing your site and starting your rise. Make sure your website structure is developed to allow your KeyWords in the following areas of each of your website’s pages:
– The Title Tag
– H1 and H2 Tags
– Anchor Link Text
– Page URL (aka Permalink)
– Image ALT Text
6. Analyze Your Site
– It’s important to track your site’s performance to see if your efforts are paying off. Here are a few ways to use different metrics analysis tools. See which one/s you prefer:
Pretty much all of these will give you useful information about how your site is faring in the search results. Obviously Google and Bing are the largest search engines, so sign-up for their Webmaster Tools areas to help get you on their radar in a more efficient manner than just waiting around and hoping everything will work itself out.
Also, install Google Analytics on every single page of your website and learn how to use every bit of it. Google is starting to use Analytics metrics more and more to determine relevancy, and knowing everything that’s going on with your site (traffic, referring sites, links, etc) will not only assist you with search engine rankings, but also with ensuring your website is delivering for you.
7. Keep Abreast of the Latest SEO News
Search engine algorithms change constantly. It pays to keep up to date with the latest changes. Subscribe to some of the biggest SEO Newsletters and blogs to keep up with the latest. Here are some sites, blogs, and newsletters which we have found to be helpful:
8. Avoid Black Hat Techniques
SEO techniques and strategies come in 2 forms:
– White Hat techniques play by the rules of search engines, and aim to create high-quality, relevant content.
– Black Hat techniques try to “game” the search engines by using techniques such as keyword stuffing, back linking from “link farms,” etc.
When working on any search engine optimization strategies, make sure you’re always playing by the rules. Playing by the rules also means not just doing what Google and Bing recommend, but not over doing it, as well. If Google instructs you to do something for better SEO, and you go ahead and do that over and over and over again 50 times on each page, then you can bet that any possible search engine results you receive from that will eventually be removed with future algorithm updates. It’s always best to do what’s recommended, avoid what’s not recommended, and use sensible control when it comes to what’s recommended. If you play by the rules, and don’t over-do it, your rankings will be permanent and fruitful.
9. Watch Out For Duplicate Content
We touched on this above, but it’s important after the recent algorithm updates of the past couple years. Many factors can result in a search engine seeing 2 URL’s as duplicates of each other. Here are just a few of the most common culprits
– Articles and Content republished from other websites
– Print-friendly versions of pages
– Similar product info pages that contain unchanged content
– Displaying your site at multiple domains.
If you copy-paste the same Content from one place to another, the modern search engine will recognize this, and classify you as someone who’s trying to cheat the system. Whether the website which contains the original content, or the newer off-site posting of that content gets the negative hit depends on a few different factors. It’s important to know that when you control the Content distribution to external channels, make sure it’s all original Content everywhere and you’ll be OK.
10. Don’t Forget the Description and KeyWords Tags.
The description tag should be a useful, compelling summary of your page content. Don’t use the same description you use on your home page. Again, if you’re using WordPress for your website, then you can use any number of free or pay SEO plugins.
Most modern search engines don’t use the KeyWords tag like they used to (or at all), because the search engine algorithms are much more advanced to prevent cheating, so this is totally optional. There are some minor search engines which still use the KeyWords tag, so it’s not horrible to have that in your header, but these days is strictly optional.
However, the search engines will display your page when it ranks for what someone is searching for and will use the Description tag first. If there is no description tag, then the search engine will display the first couple lines of text it can read. The first two sentences of your blog post or page content might be a well-written lead-in, but not a very good description for usage on a search engine results page. Therefore, use a unique and well-written description for each page and you’ll get better click results from search engines when you do rank.
There you go! Yes, there’s a lot of information here, but also a lot of information we couldn’t get to. We do have a full Marketing Course you can sign-up for and learn many many more details and how to actually do all this great stuff, but this should get you started and familiar with the proper strategy for how to start to use the most effective SEO strategies to rank higher and higher in those Search Engine results pages!