As Google is constantly improving their algorithms and processes to ensure a good user experience, marketers and business owners must continue to develop engaging content directed toward humans, NOT search engines. Google is trying to humanize their system as much as possible, and like it or not, we are at Google’s mercy if we want to effectively reach our consumers and increase profitability.
Here are some “need to knows” about SEO so that you can maximize your potential online.
A Few Basics:
- Make sure Google can find you easily by making sure your most important content is in HTML format.
- The title of your page is critical to user experience and SEO – make sure you put important keywords towards the front and end every title with a brand name mention.
- Make sure you include a meta description tag for your page – this is a short description of a page’s content.
- 500 words in a piece of content is considered standard
Now that we’ve covered the basics and you’ve gotten started building your SEO campaign, you might find that your pages aren’t being found by Google. This could be because of one of these easy to fix reasons:
- Your page requires a search form to be viewed (called “gateway to access”) – unfortunately, robots don’t use search forms.
- Your information is not in HTML format
- Your title is over 75 characters – the best and easiest to reach titles are 72 keywords
- You accidentally blocked Meta robots tag
After you’ve gotten any potential kinks taken care of, we can start thinking about making sure your page gets noticed! There are several ways to do this, but one of the most important ways is by gaining natural links, or back-links. The most effective way to get natural links is by creating engaging and newsworthy content. There is NO shortcut for this!
Gone are the days of spammy practices such as:
- Keyword stuffing – Filling your page with keywords in places that don’t make sense and have nothing to do with the content on your page
- Link farms and link networks – Creating a low-quality website filled with links to your site and product
- Paid links – Paying someone to put your link on their page
- Reciprocal link exchange – Creating link pages that point back and forth to one another to attempt to increase popularity
Don’t waste your time with these blackhat practices. Be a whitehat (a good guy) and conduct your SEO the right way. Yes, it takes more time and effort, but it will pay off in the long run. If you attempt to spam your way to the top, you WILL get caught by Google and fall tremendously in the search rankings, creating even more work for yourself in the end.
Now don’t get me wrong, links are still important, but they should come from consumers linking back to you or others online that find importance in your content. A link is very valuable and can be even more prized than social shares. Other great ways to gain natural links is by creating content that inspires a viral sharing and some sort of strong emotion, such as anger, happiness, or inspiration, or by creating a company blog.
Keep in mind, SEO is a long term process but can be measured extremely effectively. When you start SEO make sure you begin tracking these metrics:
- Direct navigation to your site – how many people were purposely trying to get to your site?
- Referral Traffic – how much traffic did you get from across the web?
- Search Traffic – how many people found you by searching for a keyword or keyword phrase in Google?
There are other metrics to track as well and you can do a great job of measuring these using Google Analytics.
There is quite a bit to learn and time to invest in with SEO, but once you start, the realization of its effectiveness will hit you immediately. If your company isn’t doing this now, please start if you want to improve your business and market effectively for the foreseeable future!