You’ve got a great looking site, the product or service you offer is cool and lots of people want it, but the traffic to your site isn’t what you dreamed it would be. It’s a startling reminder that the old adage, “if you build it they will come” just doesn’t play out in today’s web landscape.
So what can you do?
Here are a 10 simple steps to start your Search Engine Optimization campaign off on the right foot:
1. Be sure your site was built and is viewable, as you intend it, on all browser platforms (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari). There are so many ways to access the Internet these days, from iPhones to Blackberry’s, and every version of Internet Explorer in between, you’ve got to be sure your website is viewable in all browsers.
2. Check your Page Titles and H1 Page Headline. Does each page have its own unique page title and heading? What products or services are you speaking about on the page? What keywords target buyers for the products or services you sell? Do your research. Target keywords that best represent your product, then pick 2-3 of those and insert them in your page title and headline. Check out this article on H1 Headlines and how they can improve your position in search engines. Caution! You can go too far when inserting keywords into content on your site and end up getting punished by the search engine Gods. Be smart – don’t keyword stuff. Worried about how much is too much? Here’s a good article from the Online Marketing Research blog about how to avoid the keyword stuffing ban.
3. Double check your Meta Descriptions for each page. Meta Descriptions? That’s right, the page header and H1 Headlines described above are not the same as the Meta Description. Meta Descriptions reside in your HTML and search engines use those descriptions to index your site for specific keywords. So, you must write these descriptions in keyword driven language and for each page within your site. Need a little guidance in HTML and Meta Descriptions? Here’s a great article by Search Engine Watch for some great tips and advice. Again, use caution and don’t overuse or “stuff” too many keywords into your meta descriptions.
4. Write content for each page that is relevant to the product or service being shown on that page. Include keywords that describe your product or service. Select the most descriptive words for use in your content development, meta descriptions and image tagging. Check out this great blog post about How Many Terms or Phrases should be targeted per page. In thinking about all of this flowery, descriptive writing for search engines, keep in mind, you are still writing for your own target audience. So keep the language natural and try not to “over” write so much for search engines that you lose your reader.
5. Ensure your site content can be read by search engines. Does your site contain Flash elements or video? Remember that search engines look for words and can’t read content within Flash or video. So how do maximize the value of videos on your website and make search engines happy at the same time? Take advantage of alternative text, captions and the textual content of SWF files by writing keyword focused descriptions of your video and increase your opportunity at making videos on your site more search engine friendly. Here are Eight easy steps to make the video on your website search engine friendly.
6. Are the images in your site tagged with keywords relevant to the content on that page? Use Alt attributes to your advantage and include keywords that help describe your product. When you hover your mouse over the image, a box pops up and includes the keywords you have inserted. Alt attributes read by search engines and contribute to your ranking and can even bring additional traffic to your site via image searches. Ready to make your images work even harder for your SEO campaign? Here are some great tips from our friends at DuctTape Marketing that will show you how to get evevn more bang for your image tagging buck!
7. Fresh Content, Fresh Content, Fresh Content. If your site is static and doesn’t change, search engines will become tired of visiting your site when they find nothing has changed. Add a blog to your site where you can load keyword rich content in little snippets every day or every few days. If your site is more e-commerce focused and not really set up for blogging, be sure to add new product and descriptions to your site regularly. Search engines love new content and will rank your site higher and higher as more content is added.
8. Be sure to internally cross-link content within your site. If you’re selling small blue widgets on a page in your site and another page offers bigger, better widgets in yellow, link to the yellow widgets page within the content of your blue widgets page. When linking to another page, be sure you use a text link with the keyword-rich anchor text to the page you are linking to. If you’re blogging about specific products you sell, be sure to include a link back to that page within your blog post. Cross-linking has a multitude of benefits including usability (increasing pageviews, reducing bounce rate), enhancing the crawlability of your site and better channeling your site’s PageRank or “link juice.”
9. Build a sitemap – both kinds. First, you need an XML sitemap to alert the search engines to your site’s content. Secondly, you need an HTML sitemap for your visitors. Not only does a sitemap make it easier for customers on your site to find their way around, Google and other search engines love them (the keyword-rich anchor text links are the key)! You can generate an XML sitemap using an XML Editor like the one Microsoft offers or something like gSiteCrawler or XML-Sitemaps.com, which we’ve used frequently.
10. Use analytics. You will never know what “next steps” to take unless you use an analytics package. Worried about the cost? Don’t be. Packages like Google Analytics and Clicky are free! Analytics can show you pages that are being abandoned regularly and those that convert to sales more frequently and will assist you in making website modifications based on the results being tracked. Remember, SEO isn’t just about the rankings.
Now you’re armed with the basics of Search Engine Optimization. By taking the steps listed above, you are moving your site in the right direction. As with all things web related, there are more techniques to apply to your site that will improve your search engine rankings. Don’t worry! We’ll cover them all right here at SEOBoy. So check back often or better yet, subscribe to our RSS feed and never miss out on a new SeoBoy blog post! If you’ve found a particularly unique and unusual basic SEO tip for beginners and would like to share it with our readers, please feel free to leave us a comment.