If you haven’t been keeping up with search engine optimization, what’s your excuse? Scared? Confused? A little of both?
Don’t be intimidated by seeming complexity or the constantly changing rules of SEO. Honestly, they are more like guidelines than hard-and-fast rules. And most of them aren’t as difficult to follow as you might think.
SEO is really the key to putting your business or organization in front of potential customers and keeping it top-of-mind with your previous customers. Sure, it mostly deals with getting your website inline with search engine rules, but it’s also important for other channels, too. To get you on track, let’s hit some of the basics.
Create Your Keyword Strategy
Identify the best keywords for your site. You can use Google Keyword Planner or other keyword search tools to narrow down the list. Make sure the terms you choose are germane to your business or products and consider how they rank against other words and sites similar to yours.
Besides keywords, you can also look into “longtail” keywords (i.e., specific phrases that people would use to search for a very specific item). Also, think about how difficult it will be to move up in ranking based on certain keywords. If they are practically “owned” by a larger, more established organization, are there other words you could rank higher for that would gain more SEO strength for your site?
Once you’ve made a list of strategic keywords, build them into your content wherever pertinent so you can rank higher for them. Keep in mind that major search engines will reward you with points for relevance and quality over quantity. The most important spots on your website to ensure their use include.
- Titles (and title tags)
- Descriptions (and meta descriptions)
- Headings (H1s and H2s)
- Image titles
- Image alt text
- URLs and internal links
Start with the most frequently visited pages and update those places with related keywords. As you add more content pages for your site, be sure to update these sections for each one.
Optimize for Multiple Platforms
Your keyword list isn’t only important for your website. Be sure to use the same keywords and phrases across all of your platforms including:
- Email (newsletters, etc.)
- Social media (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram)
- Offline (radio, TV, or print ads)
For each platform, be consistent in product names and strategic words you’ve identified as being relevant to your business. It will help ensure your branding is consistent and let users connect the specific phrases you’re using with what’s on your website.
For social media, make sure your content is suitable to your business and has an appropriate title. Use keywords in the right places—but don’t overdo it. Having some keywords in your hashtags can help drive traffic and gain SEO points, too.
Though you can’t really control a lot of off-site content, you can do your homework to be sure you’re hitting the right audience with the right message and the right keywords. When you’re using keywords consistently, your audience will use them in similar ways, helping with your optimization.
The performance of links leading back to your site also contribute to your SEO ranking. In fact, having diverse content distribution actually helps your SEO. So don’t be afraid of linkbacks that are performing well. They increase customer awareness and help spread your brand message.
Why Your NAP Is Important
No, your NAP is not an afternoon siesta. It’s your name, address and phone number. This information is also critical for gaining local SEO ranking through search engines like Google. Believe it or not, the consistency, quantity and quality of your NAP listings on the web are a huge factor in that ranking.
It’s not enough to just have your NAP on your website. It’s important to list it on social media and other directories such as Yelp. Getting it into local news articles and blog posts is another way to gain more listings, but remember, quality sites rank higher. Also, make sure you use your information consistently across these platforms.
Analyze Your Search Traffic
When you’ve done all of this, it’s time to study your analytics. The best metrics to track include:
- Organic search
- Direct navigation
- Referral traffic
- Paid search traffic
See how many visits you’re getting from organic searches. Make note of which pages and posts get the most visits. Consider your marketing plan and look at the metrics from paid search, social media and even email. Then, keep your website content fresh. Make regular updates with news and blogs based on your keyword strategy and your analytics. Share your content across platforms. The cycle continues.
If you don’t have a team that can keep up with all of this, partner with an agency that has proven experience gaining rank for businesses online. SEO isn’t easy. It takes time, study and a lot of experimentation to find the right mix of elements to help you rise to the top. And sometimes a knowledgeable partner can help you get there quicker.