I am asked quite often by business owners how to improve their website’s search engine optimization (SEO). It may seem like a simple question, but at its fullest SEO is a monster of a task that requires hard work, commitment, and depending on how far you want to go, a good budget. Do not fret however, for I have compiled a list of tasks you can complete yourself* to get started and, more importantly, get into good habits.
Your website is a functioning staff member for your company. It requires some “training”, but once it’s set up properly and maintained, it will be a hard worker for you for years to come.
Here is my starter list of SEO tips:
1. Find out what people are searching for.
If you don’t already have a Google Analytics account, or stats tracking device on your website, have your developer set it up for you. The information it supplies is imperative to your SEO success. From your statistics, make a list of the top search words and phrases that are landing people on your website. Make another list of keywords and phrases you believe are most relevant to your business product or service (if they’re different.) You will use these in most of the following tips.
2. Write amazing titles.
Your page title is critical to successful search results. Write your page/post titles to include appropriate keywords/phrases from your lists above, but are also relevant to the article on the page. This is a craft that takes practice, so don’t get discouraged. Watch your website statistics to see if certain titles perform better than others, and use that information in your future pages/posts.
3. Ensure your page slugs match your titles.
A page slug (AKA permalink) is the browser-friendly version of your title. On a platform such as WordPress, the default page slug is actually just a post number. Search engines look for URLs that contain keywords relevant to search terms, so if your URLs are just numbers, the search engines will not display your page in its results, or it will be buried on page 9,000 behind everything else. Ask your developer to change to “pretty permalinks” if your URLs are currently numbers, and check your slugs to ensure they properly contain the words in your page/post title.
Bad page slug: http://rednebulainc.wpengine.com/?p=938
Good page slug: http://rednebulainc.wpengine.com/9-easy-seo-tips-for-your-website
Slug shown in red.
Extra tip: You can optimize your slug even further by cutting out unnecessary words, like “the”, “is”, etc.
4. Content, content, content!
What you write within the pages/posts of your website is absolutely important to successful SEO. Use relevant, well-written copy (don’t stuff it with keywords – use natural language) that focuses on your keywords and phrases noted in tip #1. Write often. The more often your website is updated, the more likely search engines are to see your website as relevant and active.
5. Use quality links within your content.
If you place a link of any kind in your content, whether internal or external, ensure your link text is descriptive. Don’t use “Click here” by itself; use “Click here to learn how to improve your SEO.” The more information your link text contains, the more relevant it looks to search engines.
Extra tip: Use absolute hyperlinks for your link URLs. An absolute hyperlink is a link that contains the entire URL of a page, as opposed to only the latter portion after your domain name. (Non-absolute Hyperlink: /9-easy-seo-tips-for-your-website; Absolute Hyperlink: http://rednebulainc.wpengine.com/9-easy-seo-tips-for-your-website)
6. Load up your images with information.
When uploading images to your website, most platforms allow you to enter text information that attaches to the image, such as Title and Alt Tags. You should always have content in these boxes…even better if there is also a space to enter a full description and/or a caption. Search engines search images as well as text content to provide relevant results to the searcher, so it is important to include your image information in your page/post planning.
7. Create an interactive environment.
Turn on your commenting system to allow visitors to talk to you about your content. It may seem like a lot of extra work to communicate with your customers via your website, but it’s an important door to leave open for them. For some, this is how they make initial contact with a company before making a decision to purchase. The more open dialog you have on your website, the more visitors will see you as an active business that cares about its clientele, and thus will keep coming back. Important tip: Ensure you have a spam filter installed to catch unwanted comments before they’re published.
8. Familiarize yourself, and use, social marketing.
This one goes without saying…social media is king right now. The more you promote your website, and post relevant content linked back to your website, the more popular your website will become. Give your visitors something to look forward to, and they’ll help your SEO results tenfold. Sites like Facebook, Reddit, and Digg can really help you gain a foothold.
9. Create a schedule and stick to it.
SEO is an ongoing task that requires dedication, research, and follow-through. Be prepared to continually update your website with relevant information on a regular basis, and to do the research necessary to stay in touch with what your customers are looking for.
*These tips assume you have administrative access to your website, and you do your own updates.
This is a VERY basic list of tasks to get you started. The world of SEO is vast and there is much to learn!