Repost from Business2Community, August 7, 2013
By Brenna Keough
When done properly, search engine optimization has the ability to significantly contribute to the inbound marketing success of a company. However, developing an effective SEO program is far more complicated than it used to be, and requires deep, thorough evaluation of your website and digital presence as a whole. Understanding and implementing SEO best practices can help you establish a comprehensive inbound marketing strategy that truly works.
SEO Best Practice 1: Select a SEO-friendly CMS This seems basic, but it’s incredibly important. The content management system you develop your website on should provide for SEO-friendly code, as well as custom title tags, meta descriptions, H1 tags and URLs. Not all CMS’s are created equal when it comes to search engine optimization, so choose wisely if SEO is a business priority.
SEO Best Practice 2: Develop using responsive design When determining results, search engines evaluate the amount of traffic to a domain, with the logic that more traffic equals more credibility. Having separate sites for desktop/laptops and phone/tablets splits site traffic into different URLs, thereby reducing their combined SEO strength. Responsive design combines all traffic into a single domain, increasing the site’s search engine appeal and theoretically its ranking. Just ask Google!
SEO Best Practice 3: Use HTML in promotional space Promotional banners on websites should not be images alone. Such images often contain text that is keyword-rich, but search engines can’t read it like we do. Overlaying HTML text over imagery allows search engines to “read” product and service information, which can positively contribute to a site’s ranking.
SEO Best Practice 4: Do your keyword research You can have first page ranking for a certain term or phrase, but if no one is searching for that, it’s meaningless. It’s crucial that you do keyword research in the first stages of your project in order to establish a list of terms and phrases related to your business with high search volume and/or low competition. Your SEO strategy will flow directly from this keyword research, so spend the time to determine the best approach for meeting your business goals.
SEO Best Practice 5: Utilize long-tail keywords Long-tail keywords are key phrases specific to your company and the products, services and solutions you offer. They have a much lower search volume, however, they are typically much less competitive. Utilizing these in your search engine optimization strategy can provide great opportunity to rank highly in search results and gain exposure to ripe prospects that are likely to convert.
SEO Best Practice 6: Strategically compose title tags, meta descriptions and content There are strict limits to the number of characters that should be included in title tags and meta descriptions. It is imperative that you remain within these character limits, as search engines will disregard any valuable, keyword-rich content that exceeds them. Additionally, title tags and meta descriptions should focus on keywords that are specific to the unique topic and content of that page. Consequently, search engines will find your page relevant, and users will be satisfied with their results.
SEO Best Practice 7: Consider your geographic market If your business operates within a defined geographic area, that information should be fully incorporated into every aspect of your search engine optimization strategy. Search engines will have no idea that you are the #1 carpet cleaner in Topeka if your site doesn’t indicate that. Be sure that your local SEO strategy is reflected in your title tags, meta descriptions and the content on your website. Such categorization will narrow your focus, enabling you to compete better in a more defined arena.
SEO Best Practice 8: Write content with SEO in mind Fresh content is absolutely critical to achieving high rankings, as search engine algorithms interpret new content as being more relevant to a particular search. You should update or add to your website regularly, ideally several times a month. Creating a blog is a great way to accommodate fresh website content. Additionally, writing for SEO involves a very tactical approach, as your tags and page content must be written for both individuals and search engines. You must strike a delicate balance between too few, and too many keywords in order to achieve prominent rankings and provide a positive user experience that will contribute to the perception that your company is credible and trustworthy. Approach your headlines and copy armed with your keyword research, but make sure you are first writing to your audience. Search engines are savvy to content blatantly written for them.
SEO Best Practice 9: Get social Social indicators from networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ (just to name a few) can actually contribute to your search ranking. The more active your company is and the more followers you have that support and advocate for you, the more social authority you obtain. So make sure your social presence aligns with your search engine optimization goals.
SEO Best Practice 10: SEO is never done Think of SEO as a garden. Once you plant it, you have to perpetually care for it so that it thrives. Search engine optimization, like a garden, must be tended to frequently. Google changes its search algorithms approximately 500-600 times a year and if your business is like most, your site changes frequently as well. In order to adapt to these changes and maintain rankings, you need to regularly monitor your performance and make adjustments to your strategy. Continuously look for additional keyword ranking opportunities, check your rankings often and develop fresh, valuable content for inbound marketing consumption.
For help developing an effective search engine optimization strategy, contact ZAG Interactive.