Search Engine Optimization or “SEO” has been around since the search engines like Google and Yahoo came into existence in the late 1990s. While a lot has changed over the years, a lot has remained the same regarding technique and strategy. Back in the day, it was all about having good, complete “meta-tags” on every page of your website which told the search engines what the page was about so they could catalog and rank them properly. Having good meta-tags is still a good thing to have going on, but additional factors play into your website’s overall rankings for various keywords in this day and age of social media.
SEO is NEVER a done or complete process and should be strategized on every month to improve rankings, exposure, and traffic. The search engines are still the #1 way to drive targeted traffic to your website or blog, i.e. people pro-actively searching for information or products you have available. But what are the most important aspects of SEO to focus on so you can maximize your time and effectiveness with the goal being to ranking higher in the free, or “organic”, search results better and better over time? I don’t consider myself an SEO expert by any means, just someone who has done SEO on a variety of sites over the last 12 or so years and read a lot about it. Here are some of the concepts and strategies I think are most important to gain higher search results and more free traffic.
1. On-Site SEO Optimization – Making sure your website is properly “optimized’ for the search engines is a very important task and something that should be looked at periodically. The first step is to make sure EVERY page of your website or blog has a unique page title. Also, you can look to increase the length of your page titles to include keywords that may bringing in more rankings for that page. Include the most popular keywords you are trying to rank for in your homepage’s title, but don’t over do the number of words you are going after, keep it focused. Once you have good titles on every page of your site, you can look at improving your on-page content on every page.
2. On-page Content – Most people don’t realize that content on each page can rank in the free traffic for various keyword searches, so make sure every page has good, unique content that talks about what every the page is about. This is something that can be improved upon and tweaked over time to make sure you are maximizing the rankings for every page of your site. Also, make sure you have either a site map on your site that links to all your main pages so they can be spidered easier by the search engines, otherwise make sure you are linking to all the pages on your site from other pages so they will be found and cataloged. Generally, the pages linked directly from your homepage will rank higher and carry more weight, so make sure all your main content pages are linked from your homepage. Generally speaking, the more content on each page of your site, the great the likelihood that you can pull searchers to that page from Google, Yahoo, and MSN.
3. New Content Posting – People ask me all the time how to get more free traffic to their sites…I usually answer “post more content!” Posting fresh content to your site, on a frequent basis, is one of the best ways to maximize your free traffic because the more pages of content you have on your site the more possible search rankings you can achieve with each page. If you have 1000 pages of original content on your site and each page gets 1 visitor a day, you will be getting a 1000 visitors a day to your site. I like to use that metric when talking to people about their SEO strategy. It doesn’t always hold true, but it’s a good way to grasp the concept. Posting content very frequently is a great way to encourage the search engines to come back to your site more frequently looking for your new content, because Google always wants to have the freshest content in their search results so they have relevant search results when people search…makes sense right?? So make sure to post new content or pages to your site as frequently as possible, I usually recommend 5-10 new posts a day, but sites that I follow that post 30-40 posts a day rank amazingly and get a ton of traffic. I have done experiments where I had 40-50 posts posted to my sites and their rankings and traffic shot through the roof, so I know it works well.
4. Content Syndication – Once you have posted a new page or post to your site what should you do with it? In order to maximize each and every new piece of content you add to your site you can go though a series of steps that will effectively “syndicate” your content out on the Internet in various places. Syndicating your content is a must for a few reasons. Not only could that post rank in the search results on a site you syndicate it to, but when you syndicate you are building inbound links to your site from higher rankings sites that have a lot of credibility with Google. Some of the best ways to syndicate are: posting to Facebook, posting to your Facebook Fan Page, Tweeting the post and title, sharing in relevant LinkedIn Groups, and submitting to social bookmarking sites like Networked Blogs, Digg, Delicious, and Reddit. I have written posts on syndicating your content, you can check out on this site. I personally go through a series of steps after every new content post I do and over time have noticed more traffic from those sources in my website analytics.
5. Inbound Link Building – there is a lot of misinformation out there about link building, how to do it, and whether it works or not. There is no doubt it works, you just have to do it in the right way. One of the best ways of building inbound links is to get other websites or blogs to link to your site. “Blog roll” links can be a great source of inbounds, but don’t pay for them or you could get in trouble with Google. Trade for them and you should be fine. Millions of bloggers trade blogroll links and its a very common practice. Another great way to build inbound links is through online press release distribution. I recommend eReleases.com because they are affordable and have great distribution. In your press release you can include a couple of hyperlinks to your site, which is standard practice. Once the release goes out you benefit from all the sites that publish the release linking to your site, which boosts your SEO rankings. Over time, if you do them fairly regularly, you can gain a significant boost to your overall SEO rankings and get more of your inner pages ranking higher in the search results, known as “deep indexing” if you have a lot of pages on your site. Social bookmarking to Digg and sites like that can also help build your inbound links and rankings over time. Posting good blog comments and forum signature links can also add additional inbound links to your site, boosting rankings and traffic, but you have to do them in abundance to get a great effect.
6. Saturation Strategies – “saturating the search engines” refers to gaining multiple rankings for a particular search phrase or topic. Back in the early days this was easy to achieve, but over the years Google, Yahoo, and MSN have gotten smarter about who owns what sites and has made it difficult to achieve saturation. However, saturation can still be achieved by posting completely different content and titles, relating to the same core search phrases, on multiple sites with good rankings. One way to do this is to post as a “guest blogger” on blogs that are related to what you do. Another way is to join sites with good rankings that allow you to have a blog like Digitalpoint forums. Also, posting unique articles with unique titles to “article directories” like ezinearticles.com can be effective. Another way is to post on forums that rank well. These are all in addition to posting on your own site own site or blog. Finding and utilizing various good ranking “platforms” to post your content to is the best way to achieve saturation of the search engines.
7. Blogging – I recommend that everyone have a blog on their site for several reasons. Blogs are really just websites that use the same layout for every page. They allow you to post faster and more frequently. Blogs also allow you to categorize and “tag” your posts which increases your indexed page count in the search engines. Blogs also have RSS feeds which can be submitted to RSS directories which is another great way to build your rankings and gain RSS subscribers, who will receive your content once your new content is post it to their readers. I recommend using a WordPress blog because they tend to rank really well and have tons of free “plug-ins” that add functionality to your blog and allow you to maximize things.
Achieving good search engine optimization is a process that unfolds over time by doing the right things with your website. It’s never done and always needs to be assessed as far the effectiveness and strategy goes. Every month you should say to yourself, “What are we doing this month to improve our SEO?” You should have a good SEO strategy in place and someone in charge of it. Don’t hire an SEO firm to come in and do it for you when they will just take your money and do very little. Use that money to outsource your content writing to good writers that need the work and launching press release. I hope you liked my article on SEO…do let me know what you think. Thanks!