Top 10 SEO Tips
1. Keyword Selection
The words you think people search on may differ from the words your target audience actually queries.
The language you use in your business everyday can be very different from the keywords your target audience actually uses when performing search queries. Using SEO technology and tools, a search engine placement specialist can supply data on:
- Keywords related to your business that users are actually querying when using the most popular search engines
- Competition for those keywords from other websites
- Data for the past 24 hours, as well as averaged numbers over a 90-day period
Correct use and analysis of the data helps you target the most optimal keyword phrases that:
- Are relevant to your goals in attracting the right audience
- Receive a high number of queries
- Have achievable results in comparison to the competition
This is one of the best search engine marketing strategies since it is more results oriented in driving the highest number of potential clients to your website. The alternative is to target keyword phrases that you “think” others are querying or aiming for—keyword phrases that are so highly competitive that your site will never make front page placement. This strategy often ends up being very costly in the long run.
2. Inbound Links
Smart website owners continually seek high-quality, well-earned inbound links.
A never-ending campaign to get other websites to link to your website for as long as you own your site is a very smart goal. The Google search engine was extremely successful in its early years, partly because the algorithm that it used to prioritize placement assumed that if a website was popular (judged by the number of links to the site), it should rank higher on a placement list than a site with similar information. The algorithm successfully helped sort the exponential growth of information on the Internet into a relevant search result list — something other search engines couldn’t do. Read more about the history of the Google Search Engine in Top Of The List’s Gem of the Month article.
Google uses this algorithm as one of its main factors in determining website placement even today. While the methods for obtaining high quality links to your website has changed dramatically over the past few years, the process is still important and possible with the right “white hat” practices. Good search engine optimization firms include a link campaign as part of their SEO package, but the wise website owner will continue to obtain links throughout the site’s existence.
3. Local Search with Google My Business and Bing Places for Business
Use the power of Google and Bing Maps to generate local visitors.
Searching for businesses online has far surpassed the use of Yellow Pages, and it’s absolutely free to make your business visible in local search! When your organization is listed in Google and Bing Maps, your listing gets higher priority on placement lists when the keywords entered are accompanied by your city name. For example, searching on “car tires Grand Rapids Michigan” would bring up tire dealers in Grand Rapids, Michigan that had claimed and verified their business in Google My Business; their placement would come before tire dealers that have not done so. When a user visits Google Maps directly (not through the general Google search window), the Google Maps simulates a phonebook directory. Some of its features include:
- Providing a map directly to your organization based on the address(es) you submit
- Allowing multiple location listings
- Providing a link to your website
- Displaying pertinent information including hours of operation
Top Of The List’s Local Search Optimization specialists can help your organization with creating a Google Maps and Bing Maps listing, or if you’re a do-it-yourselfer, try it on your own or with the help of one of our SEO consultants. Either way, you can generate more local visitors to your website with local search listings on Google and Bing.
4. Useful Content is King
Search engines rank websites higher when they provide useful information.
The Internet became what it is today in part because of the mindset behind its original proponents that the net represent a resource to freely share information. A site that simply sells items or advertises a business generally ranks lower than a similar site that also provides useful information. Some examples of providing good information include:
- A real estate site including tips on buying a home
- A veterinarian including information on when it’s important to bring your dog to the vet and when your dog could be treated from home
- A grocery store offering hints about selecting the best tasting or ripest melon
Content does not always mean more text either. Useful content can be included in images, video, questionnaires, and more. Providing useful information is just one more way to gain the trust of your customers and give them confidence in your business – and this is exactly what the search engines want to see. If your website ranking isn’t what you think it should be, try sharing some of your knowledge!
5. Fresh, Updated Content
Websites that are updated on a consistent basis get extra points from search engines.
Too many website owners budget for their website design and development as a one-time expense. Bad idea! Stale information isn’t helpful to anyone. Would you enjoy reading advertisements from a newspaper that’s six months old? Or enjoy going to the grocery store and finding dust on the products? Your target audience and search engines don’t either. Some simple suggestions for keeping content new and fresh:
- Create a “News and Events” page or on-site blog, and add newsworthy events about your business.
- If you currently email a newsletter to clients, save the space in their email boxes and publish it online instead. You can still send the email, but instead of the entire newsletter, include a link to the online version. You will also get more website traffic.
- Update your site as your products or service offerings change; consider your online material the first item in your marketing mix to reflect the changes.
- Add content that answers customer’s questions or helps them engage in your site.
The world is changing fast, and so should your website. Search engine spiders scour the Internet, hungrily seeking new information that isn’t in their databases. By continually feeding the spiders, they will return to your site more often to see what new treats you have for them.
6. A Highly Functioning Website
Your website should work like a well-oiled machine.
While it may require additional funding toward your developer, or more time on your part, having a well-functioning website is a huge signal to search engines that your website should be ranked above competitors, and should be a priority in your online marketing campaign. After all, why put in all the work of optimizing your website, only to be left pages into search results because your website isn’t working at its peak performance? Some of the most important, basic functions of your website should include:
- A mobile-friendly design, with the most important pages of your website easily accessible to mobile users.
- Fast page-load times. How many times have you left a website and gone to another because you were sick of waiting for it to load? Don’t let that website be yours!
- Working links. Every time someone clicks on a link that sends them to a 404 not found page, search engines take notice. Make sure links point to the correct page, or are redirected properly.
7. Internal Links
Use links within your site to encourage search engines to index more of your pages.
When a search engine spider visits your website, it not only gobbles up text, but it seems to enjoy following links you create. Acting like an explorer that just found a new trail, the spider follows links that seem interesting and begins gobbling text on the new “trails” it finds. Adding rich interlinks within your site’s text to other pages on your site can entice a spider to visit more of your pages, especially if they contain related information to the page they just came from. Whether you are creating your site from scratch or updating an existing site, it’s a good idea to review your site specifically for places you can create new internal links. Act as a first-time visitor to your website, and ask yourself where it makes sense to link to a different page. This will help search engines and visitors explore more of your website and see your business as a valuable resource.
8. Outbound Links
Give your visitors a more powerful user experience by creating outbound links to non-competitive sites.
Outbound links to other websites are also interesting to search engine spiders, especially if the sites you are linking to contain information related to your website. If you’re a tire dealer and link to your good friend’s flower shop business, the spider will not consider that link nearly as interesting as if you link to an article on tire wear and rotation. So put on your research cap and see what interesting sites you can find on the internet that are not competitor links, but that provide valuable information for your site’s visitors. Then find places where you can link to these sites within your website. The search engines will thank you for your helpfulness. Check out the Top Of The List Resources page for an example of one way to implement outbound links.
9. Set Up Measurable Conversions
Measuring your website’s ROI requires finding a way to measure conversions.
- When using a standard marketing mix strategy to generate visibility and brand your company, the conversion factor—the marketing method that made your customers choose you—often gets lost. In reality, that decision may result from a mix of the various methods you’ve used to market your organization. Still, there are ways that a website can provide some measurement of conversion, and subsequently feed into you ROI. Ways to measure conversions include:
- Creating an online form for visitors to complete to request more information or pricing
- Setting up a simple newsletter sign-up
- Allowing on-site purchases
By creating these simple calls-to-action, and measuring them consistently, you can determine if your website is providing a valuable experience for visitors, and can also alert you to possible problem areas on your website. Alter one factor in your marketing mix at a time for best results in conversion measurement.
10. SEO is important, even if you’re not selling your product or service directly from your website.
Some organizations have websites which have more of a showroom nature. These sites generally sell their products or services that are obtained through a lengthy sales or bidding process that can’t be done simply online. Many times these firms assume that everyone coming to their website was directed there by their sales force or through “other” marketing efforts rather than by querying a search engine. Yet SEO should be just as important for these organizations as it is for any other website. In addition to potential customers, some examples of target audiences these firms might want to attract through search engines:
- News reporters seeking information about the products or services you offer for an article they’re writing. It would be a shame to miss out on the free press and give it to your competitor whose site came up on the search results list!
- Potential employees—some of the smartest and brightest individuals use the Internet to find jobs; you’d like them to find your company rather than the competition.
- Suppliers—B to B (business to business) organizations that have superior or lower cost products may be seeking businesses that could use their raw products. Will they find you or your competitors?
- Decision makers, frustrated with their current service providers or suppliers, might want to investigate alternative sources, even when there is a long bidding process. Perhaps you’ve instigated changes in your organization that make it more attractive than the other guys. But first, you need them to find you!
In most cases, there are more purposes to a web site than simply selling a product or service. Even potential customers that already know about the website might casually use a search engine to locate it. It is both expected and prestigious for a company to rank high on their base product keywords. You owe it to your customers and your bottom line, to get busy and optimize your site!