6 Easy SEO Tips from the Experts
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the life force of any business today. Don't believe it? Well, without solid SEO, you won't get traffic. No traffic means no one is seeing your website and all the wonderful things you do. Without those eyeballs, there is no way to convert website visits to sales. And without sales, there's no revenue.
Let's face it, Google is the road to customers. "Most people don't go past the first page of Google results," says Mitch Holt, director of marketing at Five Stone Tax Advisers & Tax Tiger in Austin, Texas. "If you're not in the top five, your chances of getting new business from search engines are very low."
While SEO is a complicated process that requires research, analysis, and a whole lot of luck, there are a few simple ways to give your site a boost. Here are six suggestions from those in the trenches:
1. Go directly to the source
This seems like the most obvious bit of advice, but it bears repeating: If you are trying to win favor with Google, you should turn to it first for instruction. Read the Google Webmaster Guidelines, suggests Simon Slade, CEO and co-founder of Affilorama, an affiliate marketing training portal with 200,000 members. Find out what the source wants you to do and do it. At the very least, you'll refresh yourself on the basics. Maybe, you'll learn something new.
2. Produce great content
Google (and other search engines. for that matter) reward sites that feature interesting or informative content. A story that is full of spelling errors or stuffed with keywords without making much sense makes an entire site seem like garbage, which signals the search engines to treat it as such. "Content should read smoothly and naturally," says Jonathan Gilde, account manager of SEOhaus. "Always keep your user in mind, not the search engines."
3. Be mindful of keywords
Once upon a time, you could pretend your site was a turkey and stuff it full of keywords to get a higher ranking in the search results. Nowadays, the people who still do that are considered turkeys, because this method is sure to backfire. Don't neglect those keywords altogether, though; they tell the search engine what a particular piece of content is about. Main pages should have about 300 to 400 words of keyword-rich content, says Gilde. He suggests having common search words and similar queries present once or twice per paragraph.
4. Maintain relevancy
Another trick that Google caught onto a while back was the tendency to use irrelevant keywords or dummy content to artificially heighten search rank. Taking time to go through your site and update old pages, determining what to add, change, or remove to ensure only meaningful, relevant and appropriate content remains, can boost your ranking and optimize your search terms, says Jonathan Ly, lead community manager at Story Leather.
5. Think in silos
Yes, this is the one time that it's alright -- even encouraged -- to think inside individual boxes. Specifically, you should employ siloing, which means putting different topics on different pages within your site. "Search engines use Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) to search the entire Internet, particularly the top-ranking websites, to determine what other keywords and key phrases should appear with your keyword to provide comprehensive content," explains Slade. "If you try to provide too many topics on a single web page, search engines may interpret that as inauthentic content with unrelated keywords inserted simply for the sake of SEO, which would hurt your rankings." Again, you have to focus on relevancy and organization to win points with the Google gods.
6. Avoid the Dark Side
The Force may or may not be with you as you attempt improving your site's SEO, but avoiding the Dark Side is a must. One thing is certain about Google, it will punish you if you make it angry. Avoid link schemes, automatically generated content, cloaking (presenting different content or URLs to humans and search engines), and other sneaky tactics for pumping up your rank in search results. Google could penalize you for these "black-hat SEO practices" by dropping your site from search results altogether, warns Neena de Leon, marketing lead at the Anywhere Pad. Play nice, and you should be fine.
There are many more tactics you can try, including having a quality blog with Google authorship and getting top-rated sites to recognize you as a leader in your category, or having the same contact information (name, phone, address) across all your business' social media and Internet accounts. Just being aware of the fact that all these rules will likely change tomorrow and you need to stay top of them is another smart move. The most successful firms, say experts, create content with the user in mind and don't try to game the system. While Google is constantly changing the rules, you can play it safe by living by business's oldest tenet: The customer is always right.