If you have an out dated website, you undoubtedly know by now. With marketers calling and laying down their finest Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and web design pitches to you on a regular basis, you ask yourself, “What’s this all about?” The marketers explain that their SEO approach is unique to them and their practices are “guaranteed” to boost your website to page one!
Page one of what? For what keywords?
Many times these marketers accomplish this inflated promise by taking a keyword phrase and creating content around it. Voila, top of the search engine results page for “Denver teeth fixer” and your dentistry thrives.
Well, not really.
The fact is, you can accomplish simple SEO tasks that will create a sound online presence in less than 30 minutes a day. And in the spirit of full disclosure, your SEO work doesn’t even have to be daily, it could be every other day; the idea is to stay consistent.
Here are four simple steps you can take to improve SEO on your own website which are the core practices of SEO that many companies charge $500 and up - per month.
Finding appropriate keywords is fundamental for creating a strong SEO infrastructure. This can be accomplished by going to Google’s Keyword Tool which is provided for their AdWords Service. If you have absolutely no idea what your keywords should be, I suggest Google searching a phrase and check competitor’s keywords. For example: You are a real estate agent in Denver. Google search “Denver real estate”. Click on one of the pages that are not sponsored (paid). Next, right click anywhere on the page and “View Page Source” or “View Source” depending on your browser. Near the top quarter of the page, you should see a piece of code that says meta name=”keywords”. If you are having difficulties finding this line press CTRL-F and type in “keywords”. Next to this line, there will be a short list of keywords that this specific website is using as its meta keywords. From here you can see which ones you like and enter them in the Google Keyword Tool that will then give search results for those keywords as well as suggesting Ad Groups which are groups of possible keywords and keywords phrases that are related to the original ones you input.
Now, the best way to find the most appropriate keywords for your website is to use the data that Google Analytics and a proprietary platform like HitTail produce. These two platforms track how visitors find and access your site. HitTail is excellent because it provides insights to the “long tail keywords” that are becoming more common now that Internet Search Users are advancing in their abilities to properly search. What is a long tail keyword?
Now that you have a list of 10-20 keywords and keyword phrases, use them! Every article on your website, page on your website, blog post, anything – needs to have a certain minimum keyword density in order for the optimization to work properly. The rule of thumb is a minimum of three occurrences for a primary keyword/keyword phrase. In addition to planting this specific keyword (phrase) in the copy, it also needs to be placed in the title and heading of the article. Additionally, supply all of your images with alt text that essentially describes the image. For each image, write a short keyword phrase about the image while also including previously established keywords. For example, the image shown below has the alt text of: “Business People Enjoying Amnet’s Award Winning IT Services”.
One of the largest contributing factors to a successful SEO campaign is proper page titles. This is often over looked which will hurt any applied SEO techniques. If you are using a CMS (Customer Management System) website like Joomla or Wordpress, there is an option to include the site name in every page title. This feature is powerful because you can affix your core keyword or keyword phrase to every page on the website. For example, originally – Amnet’s site name was “Amnet, Inc.”. I then changed it to “Colorado IT Support” and affixed the site name to every page title. Now every page will have that in its title along with the unique page title.
Headers are also important. Google and Bing tend to treat H1 and H2 tags with more favor when indexing a web page. H1 and H2 tags are the larger text that sites use to create ordered content. In this article “Step 3. Titles and Headers” is an example of a H2 tag.
Having proper and SEO "friendly" URLs are also very important. The difference between http://www.amnet.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=292 and http://www.amnet.net/amnetblog/marketing/374-seo-made-easy is substantial when optimizing a website.
Connect your site to two of Google’s free and incredibly useful tools; Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools. Google Analytics is a great platform to view visitor data for your website. You can track where the visitors are coming from, what they are looking at, and view the flow of how visitors interact with your website. It contains invaluable data to anyone trying to sell their product or service online. I wrote an article on Google Analytics and the different aspects that would be useful to anyone trying to better understand this robust platform.
After Google Analytics is installed properly, you will want to link Google Webmaster Tools to your Analytics account. This is done under Admin – Property Settings – Webmaster Tools Settings. You will most likely have to create the new Webmaster Tools profile for the site. Easy enough to validate through Google Analytics which it will show you. Now that you are in Webmaster Tools, you can view the different issues or metrics associated with your website. Mostly what we are interested here is submitting a sitemap to Google. I typically use the site XML Sitemaps who offers a free XML sitemap generator for sites with less than 500 pages. After you create and download the sitemap, use FTP to upload the file to your website. I typically use the root directory so it’s easy to find and update. (i.e. www.home.com/sitemap.xml.) Once the file is uploaded you can submit the domain to Google under Optimization – Sitemaps – Add/Test Sitemap. This is a critical step to SEO practices so Google can immediately index the website and the majority of its content.