Good SEO is about a lot of things- you should make sure your website is well-designed to be easy to navigate (for humans and search engines), eliminate duplicate content, intelligently internally link, convince nice people to link to you, do smart keyword research, and make sure to actually use those keywords in your meta data, page titles, and URLs. But that’s all so…easy. Tasks like these might make up the definition of search engine optimization, but SEOs who are dedicated to the practice of SEO that only considers how to play search engines are the reason that so many people badmouth SEO. It doesn’t have to be that way. SEO, for someone who cares about the long-term fate of a website and the real value of that site, is a much more inclusive concept. And the beauty of thinking of SEO in this more expansive way is: it gives you more stuff to do. You’re not confined by the boundaries of “traditional SEO”, and you can be more innovative in getting yourself- or your clients- value from a website, and at giving more value to your visitors. Everyone is happy, and when everyone likes you better, you’re going to have more success online.
There are a lot of ways to consider the value you’re offering visitors now and improve upon it, and some of them are so simple that there’s really no excuse not to integrate them into your SEO strategy. If your site is all basic-SEO-optimized up and you’re thinking “what a great job I did”, then: too bad. You’ve got so far to go, but don’t worry: this is the fun part. You always have to keep in mind all of the SEO basics, but once your site is tidy, it’s time to look into making it cool. And this is how.
1. Give the people what they want
You surely have analytics data. If you don’t, you need to get some ASAP. Determine where people are entering your site, and with which keywords, and what they’re doing when they get there, and when they’re leaving. Analyzing this data is like a little treasure hunt. Who’s getting what they want? Who isn’t? Can you figure out what you’re not offering them? You can also use the questions people are asking when they contact you to form the basis of additional information you need to be providing.
Analytics, and your own visitors’ queries, are a great place to get ideas for:
Website Optimizer tests- Test the various value propositions you’re offering to your audience, and let them tell you what they want to see.
New content for current pages- Address the unanswered questions that come up frequently!
New pages- if you offer something and it’s not apparent to people that you offer it, that…is bad. This is one of the best ways to expand your reach into a whole new group of keywords you’ve never ranked for before, and increase your website’s usefulness for your visitors as well.
2. Ask the industry
No industry is static, and that’s why you can’t optimize a site once and say done. The pace of change will vary from industry to industry, but everywhere, new terminology, trends, news, advances, and scandals will occur. It’s going to happen, and you need to make sure you stay knowledgeable about it in order to update your keywords and content to stay relevant.
Talk to the client- If you’re working for a client website rather than your own industry, it’s important to touch base frequently about what’s going on, and how those occurrences can be integrated into your site content.
Add an industry events calendar to your site- Especially if you, or your client, attend events frequently, you can list industry events and mention your attendance, which is fantastic both because it tends to be easy to rank for conference and event names, exposing you to a large industry audience for branding purposes, and because it lets people know they can find you there for personal interaction.
Add an industry news section to your site- This is a great way, if you are not in the industry of the site you’re optimizing, to keep apprised of what’s going on and identify new areas for keyword and content targeting. It’s also useful, if you just write small summaries of each news item, as a way to integrate a variety of relevant industry terms onto your site.
3. Give people a chance to interact
Social media etc. etc. etc. – there are a ton of ways to interact with your audience now. Pick a social media platform or two that you can be dedicated to, let people tell you what they want, and be willing to respond by giving it to them or telling them why you have a better alternative.
4. Don’t forget your roots
Local SEO- If you’re a business with a local presence- whether you’re targeting a nationwide or worldwide audience or not- it’s usually silly to ignore your hometown business. They’re right there. Local SEO isn’t just the same as more widely-targeted SEO efforts, but it can be done in conjunction with them, and a lot of the things you can do- from opening a Google Local Business center account to integrating local keywords and an address on your site- are so straightforward it will probably cost you more to ignore them than execute them.
The SEO game is never over: there’s always a way to be better, and the key to long-term success is to keep reaching for it.
Jessica is an Account Supervisor at Hanapin Marketing, a search engine marketing firm focused on generating results through PPC and SEO.