DISCLAIMER: Not all of these are considered top SEO practices and some should be used with care so as not to turn your SEO efforts into spamming techniques! None of these can be guaranteed to improve your search ranking and this page is only meant as a guide to help people understand common SEO tips, terms and tasks. These are not listed in order of importance. There is also a lot more than can be done for SEO, which will require more blogs posts, so stay tuned!
Sign up for and monitor your Web site’s trends on Google Analytics. This tool will give you valuable information how visitors are using your site, which you can use to test different strategies for conversion down the road. Valuable information includes visitor browser capabilities, top performing content and geographic breakdowns of where your visitors are coming from.
Extra tools include goal setting, to track effectiveness of online marketing (such as when someone lands on the confirmation page of a purchase order), and IP blocking, so that you are not tracking your own visits to your site, which can flaw statistics.
Pay per click ads:
While your site is being worked on for organic SEO rankings, it can be profitable to have search engine impressions appear for your site using inexpensive advertising through Google Adwords. It is often believed that the Adwords ads are based only on auction bids, but in fact Google also rewards quality ads with lower price points and higher rankings in the ‘Sponsored’ section of search results. For the most part, very specific ads leading to very specific pages convert well compared to general ads. Many businesses waste a lot of money by not controlling their Adwords settings and appearing for irrelevant search results and/or target markets. A proper campaign set up will bring in a much better return on investment (ROI). Monitoring the statistics of a Google Adwords campaign will also indicate which keywords will perform better on organic search results, and is therefore helpful to an SEO strategy.
Craigslist, Kijiji and other classified listings:
Posting relevant and legitimate ads in popular classified listings can not only draw attention from the daily users who visit the classifieds, but also help search engine rankings. Often your competitors are already using classifieds, so it’s also important to bump shoulders with them wherever possible.
Forum and blog commenting:
This is something both you and your SEO specialist need to be doing for best effectiveness. It involves searching out high quality sites to leave a legitimate comment on, and participate in the discussion with other Internet users. Usually the link back will be in the user name (to market subtly), but can also sometimes be in the comment or forum post itself.
Blogs directory listings:
Submitting to these sites is very similar to citation/directory listings except more related to your blog specifically.
A very helpful method to assist in the localized search for your product or service. Citation listings offer more than a link – they offer the descriptive advantage to ‘power’ a link with company info, a bio, tags, reviews and sometimes even photos and videos. Sometimes when your site does not rank, these directories will, which will help customers find you even when you are not fully optimized yet. The key is to find quality directories to feature your business so that Google can see you are being ‘recommended’ by a credible site (thus it is important not to use poor directories!). Also, using a directory that doesn’t use ‘nofollow’ tags will also help your backlinking strategy, though it is not the end-all of the citation strategy. This can be a very time-consuming and meticulous job.
An SEO expert will know how to find good directories to list your site on, and how to find things like the ‘nofollow’ tag in the code of directory sites.
Press release wire:
A professional press release is a great way to let media know about something new or innovative at your company, or even within your industry. Often people are unaware of the newsworthy stories that can be told about their companies. A press release wired across the Web will not only potentially catch the attention of media (if done properly), but also create plenty of incoming links to your site.
If you want Joyce to write a press release for you, the process works by her first sending you a list of questions about a given topic (we will discover together what is newsworthy about your company), which you answer in as much detail as possible. She will use that to write a press release written in Canadian Press Style, with quotes and a structure common to media practice.
Afterwords, the press release will be submitted to a widely used and credible press release syndication service. These services have their own fees, and you may require an account before the press release can be sent.
Linking is always a winning strategy, and links are the core of any SEO effort. It is important to not only have a large quantity of incoming links, but to make sure you have good quality incoming links that are not associated with spam sites or behaviours. The more credible the site that the incoming link is coming from, the more valuable it is in the eyes of Google. For example, government and university sites are very credible sources of information, and so they have higher value if they are linking to you.
- Make it a point every day to do something that will get you at least one link. Every month, you will have 30 links, at least. You could:
- Submit a comment on a forum or other blog post (legitimately!). Sometimes your username itself can be a link to your site. In that case, incorporate a keyword into your username.
- Write an article for sydication on the web (submit to an article database with a bio containing your link at the bottom).
- Submit to blog or web directories (BUT KEEP TRACK AND DO IT WELL! It’s important not to submit twice to a directory or sound like spam or you will be ousted! An SEO expert should have experience doing this, and can save you a lot of time, not to mention get you better results!).
- Place a legitimate ad on Craigslist, Kijiji or other classified site.
- Post a video on a video site like Vimeo.com linking to your site (YouTube uses nofollow tags, which aren’t helpful for backlinks, but are helpful for marketing, since many people use YouTube).
- Create a Google profile and a profile on other sites, such as social media sites, forum sites, etc. with a link to your Web site.
- Participate in social media to encourage others to share your links (social media is another ball game…).
- See where your competitors are getting links from and bump shoulders with them by attempting to get your site’s link on the same page. (Be it an ad, submission to a directory, forum post, etc.). But be careful not to copy their outdated techniques! An SEO expert will know how to find this information.
Remember to spread incoming links to different pages on your site. If talking about hosting, link to your hosting page etc. But home page is most important.
Whenever you link out to another site, you are passing on part of our page rank and giving it away to that other site. The idea is to gather as much page rank as you can by having other sites link to YOU. Take out unnecessary outbound links on your site. Sometimes it is important to link to other sites out of courtesy and ease of use to your visitors. This is up to your discretion. Ask yourself if the outbound link is really necessary.
Contact page optimization:
Everyone has a content page, however, not everyone has an optimized contact page. It is best to have contact information in text that corresponds to the Google Places listing, with an embedded Google map for optimized local search that will be fed into the Google Places search algorithm.
A footer appears at the bottom of your site on all your site’s pages. Footer text should contain your address and phone number so that it feeds across to your Google Places listing for optimized local search. Don’t just fill your footer with endless keywords and city names – that won’t work!
This form of listing on the Google map is highly important for localized search results. A listing may already exist but needs to be verified by the business owner. Being close to the border of two cities helps locate a business for both cities on the map search results. Also, you should optimize your Google Places listing by completing the profile fully, adding video or photos, specifying your service or product, and having your customers fill out testimonials for you.
It is important, however, to either outsource this task to someone who knows what they are doing, or read the Google Places instructions carefully to fill out your business name, products and services correctly. Otherwise, you could be reported for trying to spam the map results!
Implement www protection on your site so that no matter whether a person types in the www to get to your domain or not, the site automatically redirects to a domain that either has the www or doesn’t. Right now, if there is no www protection, Google is seeing two versions of your site, which is considered duplicate content, which is not good for SEO!
Tip: WordPress takes care of this automatically!
While incoming links are most important, another helpful ingredient to the SEO mix is to create internal hyperlinks on your pages that are embedded into keywords and lead to specific content that is related to the hyperlink. This will also help your users navigate through your site. It is important not to overdo your hyperlinking! About 2-3 on each page, using DIFFERENT keywords is plenty!
Tip: consider all the links on your site, for example, your categories and menu navigation items – are they SEO friendly, or do they just say things like “about us”, which doesn’t tell a search engine anything unique about you, related to your search market? These are all opportunities to optimize your site!
Video is becoming increasingly important to Google. Whether you host video yourself on your site, or embed from other video hosting sites (like YouTube, Vimeo, etc.), it is important to have them. Best is to create your own videos for extra mileage on your marketing efforts (even screen capture is fine, if you don’t want to be the talking head!). If creating video is outside your capability or desire, consider outsourcing it or at least pulling quality video from YouTube or other video hosting sites. Keep in mind YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world and that Google TV will soon become a dominant player against traditional TV networks. Already video results show up in main search results on Google.
First off, you should always make sure all your images are named appropriately according to what they are. Often people upload photos with the file name they are automatically given by a digital camera. Renaming them descriptively (and accurately!) can help with SEO and image optimization with Google image search. Also, adding alt text, title attributes and descriptions (HTML coding) to your photos creates chances to tell meta spiders what your site is about. Keep related content near the photo, that helps too.
This is the process of optimizing your main headings and titles in your content. Be sure to find as many ways as possible to put important keywords and phrases into H1, H2 and bold tags, etc. This tells the meta spiders what is important to note about your page’s content. A person who knows HTML will understand how to do this for you. It can be considered part of content reworking, however it is more about formatting of content, than the writing.
Based on a keyword density check and keyword research, content re-working finds ways to weave keywords and related phrases into your content. This involves creativity and a writer who can think in terms of ‘theme’-related words, not just your core keywords. Using ‘theme’-related keywords is a strategy called Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI). LSI, coupled with NOT overdoing keyword usage is important so that your site does not seem like spam (see note below).
Sometimes, a re-organization of content is necessary. For example, if you have pages that are about multiple topics, it is often best to separate topics into different pages, so that Google can clearly define the page for ranking when someone enters a search term into the search engine.
The “note below”:
(You see, before Google was around, people would stuff their pages with keywords in order to rank better on search engines. The problem with this was that people would not write real content, and would start ranking for words which were irrelevant to what their site was actually about. Google’s aim was to get rid of spam, and this was one of the red flags that would get a page kicked out of search results. Since ranking well has nothing to do with over using keywords anymore, Google still punishes web pages with poorly written content that is basically the same keyword mentioned over and over again, in an abnormal way.)
Google Webmaster Tools:
This is a service to verify your site for monitoring by Google, and to claim ownership of a site. This helpful tool will warn you of what Google doesn’t like on your site and will also help Google understand how to crawl your pages. You’ll need an XML sitemap (WordPress plugins can automate XML sitemap generation, by the way). Putting a link at the bottom of your site that says “Sitemap” and lists most or all of your site pages is not what this is about. That is an old, outdated technique.
Proper meta tags should reflect keywords, but not be only keywords. Titles are what appear at the top of an Internet browser, and a major indicator of what the page is about. Descriptions are 160 characters describing what is on the particular page. Meta tags should specific for better optimization of individual pages or meta spiders will not know how to best categorize your information for search users. Keyword meta tags are now generally ignored by search engines and some SEO practitioners believe that keyword stuffing will soon penalize a site completely from all major search engines. Best to get rid of overdone keyword meta tags all together for future-proofing your SEO.
Blog article writing:
Want to perform SEO? Begin writing, and writing, and writing. Since Google looks at the cache of your site (how long ago it was updated), it can be a good sign to the meta bots scanning your site when your site has been recently updated, showing you are being a good resource and providing value to your customer base, and to information seekers on the Internet. Not only that, with the advent of live search technologies, plus search engines like Google news and Google blog search, updates are even more important to being found on the Web.
Blog articles should be relevant to your industry, run between 350 – 500 words, never be duplicated content from anywhere else on the web and be posted once a week, if not more. Best strategy is to write plenty of articles (about 20) as a buffer and schedule them to auto-post every week. Then keep writing and scheduling…
Interested in having Joyce write blog articles for you? Check out her writing services!
In order to rank well for important keywords, it is important to know how your competition is doing, and what they are doing to rank so well (or not!). A competitive SEO analysis looks into the SEO efforts of your competition, as well as the products, services and sales tactics they are using to convert visitors into buyers. The analysis will be produced into a report for your own review and study. Without this step, taking on SEO will be like trying to hit a ball with a bat blindly. The amount of work that needs to be done for your SEO depends highly on the amount of competition you have for important keywords.
The best way to do a competitive analysis is to use a special SEO software (usually expensive) that can reveal the hyperlinks used by other sites, their linking strategies, their page rank, the age of their domain, and so on. In other words, information that would otherwise be hard to find, or too time consuming to gather, but can provide huge value in terms of creating an SEO strategy.
Keyword density check:
Every business owner should find out what words they are over using and/or under using on their site. To do this, a keyword density check is a great analysis to perform, using tools that can deliver enlightening information on your content, how often words and phrases are used compared to others. Look out for danger zones where your keyword usage is too high that it can look like spam, or where you seem to be optimized for the wrong types of keywords. You’d be surprised by the results you get from these tools.
This involves an extensive study into the keywords used by humans every day to find similar Websites to yours on search results you want to be found in. Not only that, it highlights the strongest and weakest keywords to target and will pave the way for a structured strategy in terms of which words to optimize for. Extensive keyword research is often surprising, and enlightening to most businesses who not only find keywords used by their target search users, but also the way their market thinks about their industry, competitors, and product offerings. Often a lack in the market can be found, which means a business opportunity can be grabbed hold of.
Good keyword research should use special SEO software (usually expensive), should provide an analysis, and should be done by a professional who understands how to interpret the numbers and statistics retrieved.