Search Engine Optimization, commonly known as SEO, is vital to most businesses, but especially e-commerce and other web based initiatives. Being found for key terms can make a business, and similarly not being found can break one. Many companies spend significant sums of money and employ varied techniques to have their web pages place ahead of their competitors. At the same time, the search engines are constantly evolving to ensure results returned are legitimately of interest, rather than merely well manipulated. SEO is one skill that to be done well requires constant learning and a steady eye on the competition. As a marketing professional with 15+ years of SEO experience I’m always on alert for ways to improve a site’s search appearance, I’ve summarized a few SEO basics below:
Register and renew your domain for 5 years or more
This is something I picked up along the way from another SEO expert. While it’s not obvious to many, it’s logical once any thought is given to it. Search engines give preference to businesses they believe will be around for a while. Would you want your system clogged with a fly-by-night business or flaky contacts? Nope. Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc. are no different.
Know what you’re selling and make sure your site language matches
This is something that should be obvious, but too often isn’t. People will specialize in something but scarcely mention it in their site content. You can have the most beautiful design and images, but if the content of your site doesn’t appropriately speak to what you do, good luck on being found organically for it. One word for you: keywords. Yes, they matter. No, I’m not referring to the keyword meta tag because that definitely doesn’t matter (don’t use it). I’m referring to knowing what keywords people search for relative to your business and planning around them. Not sure what keywords are good? There are many tools, to uncover good ones but my favorite over time has remained Wordtracker. Try to choose keyword strings that are popular with users, but less programmed for by your competitors.
HTML Heading structure still matters
The debate is on! Do H1, H2 and H3 tags still matter? Some will say ‘no’ and many will still say ‘YES! I’m among the latter. If you’re not sure what I’m referring to, this is the HTML code that the front-end of your website or blog is built with. H1 tags typically contain some of the most important information on the page, such as a title or tagline and H2 usually contain the second most important information. The remaining tags follow in numerical order in the hierarchy. It isn’t necessary to use all tags, though using at least 2-3 can offer some benefits. The tag to never forget is definitely the H1. While looking at HTML and tag structure, it is also important to remember that the meta title and description tags continue to hold value, these should contain relevant keywords also contained within the page content.
Make sure your site is mobile optimized
Just because a page can be viewed on a mobile device doesn’t mean it has been optimized for it. A properly mobile optimized site will dynamically resize and streamline content for efficient loading and viewing. It’s never fun to come across a site that you have to struggle to magnify or wait endlessly for pages to load. Given that many businesses receive more than half of their site traffic from mobile devices, this optimization component is critical. In fact, it’s so critical that sites not mobile optimized are being penalized by search engines.
Offer visitors constantly refreshing quality content
Static business card websites are a thing of the past. Site visitors are more savvy than ever and also insatiable for engaging content. Give it to them. Content is king. High quality, engaging and relevant content will keep bringing in visitors and it will also keep those search engines on a frequent schedule of crawling your pages for new information. The more frequent your updates, the more frequent the search engines come calling; the more the engines crawl, the better chance you have for indexing on relevant and popular subjects.