If your online marketing strategy includes search engine optimization (SEO), you can easily get bogged down in the details. But it is those very details that will make your SEO strategy a success or a bomb, depending on how much attention they receive. And really, without SEO, it is extremely challenging to attract organic traffic to your site. This is due in part to the sheer volume of web pages currently on the Web not to mention those being added on a daily basis.
Of course the big picture of SEO is important, but ignoring the details may render your SEO strategy powerless in the long run. SEO can be divided into on-page and off-page SEO. Each has its own set of best practices and expected outcomes. Following are recommendations for each.
ON-PAGE SEO DETAILS
Research to Select the RIGHT Keywords
Your entire SEO strategy depends on you using the right keywords. Even if you do everything else correctly, without the best keywords, you will struggle to attract quality traffic to your site. Too many site owners assume they know which keywords they should use. Or, worse, they rely on their website designers who may not have sufficient SEO experience. Without the right keywords, it is likely your site will remain static and invisible. Keywords are incorporated in just about all on-page SEO activities so you need to get it right the first time. And then review your keywords on a regular basis because it is possible for the importance of keywords to change over time. You may need to switch out keywords to test each so you know which ones perform the best. Take advantage of online tools such as Google AdWords keyword tool to identify keywords search engine users employ to find information about your business area.
Allocate Resources for QUALITY Content
Content is one of the most important elements of a successful SEO strategy. If you are looking to get traffic from the major search engines, then your focus needs to change from a high quantity of content to better quality content. High quality content includes written communications, videos, and images that are of interest to users. Your written content must be free of spelling and grammar errors. But most importantly, it must be fresh content that engages readers. How do you engage readers? By providing information they are looking for on search engines. Or by providing commentary on controversial subjects. Or by…you get the picture. You have to figure out what type of content your users want to see and then give it to them using fresh approaches. And if you are not able to produce high quality content yourself, you need to hire someone who can.
Design Website for BEST Customer Experience
This point may not seem obvious when looked at through an SEO lens. But the reality is that your site structure impacts SEO in several ways. For starters, search engines consider the ease at which their crawlers can move through your site. Specifics that are judged include actual navigation, lack of broken internal links, and site maps. Your landing pages must be relevant to links on SERPs. Search engines do factor in bounce rates when ranking sites. So if you have lots of traffic to your site but they aren’t hanging around, you have a problem. Too often site owners view SEO as separate from customers when the focus should always be on the customer. The assumption is that since you are optimizing for search engines that is where you should place your attention. Nothing is further from the truth. Google has even reminded site owners that if you create your website with the intent of providing the best experience for your customers, it will most likely be naturally optimized to some extent. You may need to verify keywords or fix some coding issues, but that is all. However, if you work in the opposite direction, building a website for search engines can result in a website that customers simply aren’t interested in using.
Make PROPER Use of HTML Elements
Don’t zone out just because HTML is mentioned. You don’t need to be tech savvy to make use of certain HTML elements which can be used for SEO. Anybody can easily learn to this – what is challenging is knowing which elements to pay attention to and how to properly optimize them for search engines. The title tag is one of the most important elements. It is the very first thing that appears when one of your web pages is included on SERPs. It is the clickable link that takes search engine users to your web page. The most common mistake that site owners make is using the same title page for every web page on their site. This will cause several of your pages not be indexed by search engines. You also need to add keywords to your title tags – again, using different ones for each your web pages. Many search engines also use meta tags during their indexing so be sure to make use of those HTML elements as well. Alt tags are used to optimize images since search engines cannot read images. Your tags should provide a clear description of the page or image it is associated with. HTML elements give you multiple opportunities to optimize your site.
OFF-PAGE SEO DETAILS
Submit Website to TOP Search Engines
To be included on SERPs, your site needs to be indexed by search engines and this will happen once they are aware of your existence. Don’t waste your time or water down your SEO efforts by submitting your site to every search engine that exists. This is where you need to start getting selective with your off-page SEO activities. Identify those search engines that you believe will produce the most traffic for you. There are over one hundred search engines from which to choose. How do you know which is right for your SEO goals? The answer to that question is simple: it depends on who your target market is. For example, there are business search engines that are ideal for sites that provide business-to-business services. Those search engines may be more successful in driving qualified traffic to you rather than the larger ones like Google, Yahoo!, and Bing.
Include Website on LOCAL Business Directories
Adding your site information to local business directories can help you get more targeted traffic from search engines. Just because the Internet gives you global access to potential customers doesn’t mean that is necessarily the right approach for you. This is especially true if you also have a brick-and-mortar business. If you do, you already have local presence that can be strengthened with local SEO. Consider what you are selling. Many services are intended for local use which means if you are employing global SEO tactics, you are likely to miss your target audience altogether. And don’t forget that even search engines allow you to list your business to be included in local searches.
Obtain Backlinks from AUTHORITY Pages
This has become particularly important with recent search engine changes, especially Google Panda and Google Penguin updates. Yes, it takes considerable work but the rewards are invaluable. Gone are the days when you can rely on paid links to get higher rankings. Now you have to put some elbow grease into your backlinking efforts. There are several ways to get these all-important backlinks. There are many ways to get quality backlinks including from submitting articles to directories, commenting on related blogs, and participating in forums to name a few. Before you take any of these actions, you need to make sure the backlinks you get will help, and not hurt, your SEO efforts. This requires you to carefully research where the backlinks originate. Does the article directory have a high PageRank? What about the blog or forum you are posting to?
Incorporate RELEVANT Social Media
It is not enough to merely go through the motions of setting up accounts and profiles on social networks. Social media can be an effective method that forwards your SEO strategy, but only if you carefully select the social networks that are most relevant to your customers. Just because everyone things Facebook is cool doesn’t necessarily mean it is right for you. You need to consider all of your options before choosing the three or four you plan to use. In addition to your social network profiles, you can add social media buttons to your on-page content including blog articles.
Hopefully you have a better sense of the types of SEO details you should consider when developing and implementing an SEO strategy. These are just some of the more important ones that can derail your SEO if you are not aware of them. Take a look at your SEO plan – if it seems too general, take time to add the details so your plan has a better shot at being successful. SEO details should be clearly spelled out so you can easily see if there are gaps in your plan. Details also help you establish a monitoring process so you can evaluate achievement of your SEO goals.