Sometimes Search Engine Optimization can feel like an uphill battle. It definitely takes a commitment on a weekly, if not daily basis to have a fully optimized website. So how do I have the biggest effect on my SEO rankings with the least amount of effort? What are my SEO lifehacks? Well, check out the list below, check everything off and then bask in the glory of being an SEO rockstar for the day.
1] Do your own SEO Keyword Research
This is THE most important thing you’ll do in your SEO process. If you’re optimizing for keywords that don’t convert on your website or have so much competition you can’t hope to get to page 5 (let alone page 1) you’ll fail miserably with your SEO efforts. Take the time upfront to dig into your Google account to find out which keywords are generating conversions or revenue already (if the thought of that makes you groan in dismay, have no fear! BringShare members can bypass Google and just log in to their account to easily see this info. If you’re not a BringShare user, sign up for a free BringShare trial here). Those keywords can be a great starting point. You can also use a variety of tools to help you determine further words to rank for.
2] Know Where your Competitors Stand with their SEO
Chances are your closest competitors are ranking right alongside your website. Take the time to research what they’re targeting. In order to truly be informed, you should have a pretty good idea what terms they rank for, where they rank in search engines, as well as where their inbound links are coming from. After all, if you can pull off ranking for their terms, it can have a multiplying effect due to the fact that you’re not just ranking for relevant terms, but potentially pushing your competition down the ranks as well.
3] Optimize your Title and Meta Tags
Your Title and Meta tags are another easy thing to quickly check off your list. They’re basically an indicator to search engines, letting them know what you view your website to be about and what you believe the most relevant results are for a given search. The amount of weight they hold on search ranks has varied through the years, but it’s never going to be a bad thing to have something optimized.
4] Optimize your Headings and Subheadings
Heading and Subheadings are another way of indicating to search engines which keywords are the most relevant to your website. You should take some care in deciding what these headings will be and to make sure that they truly describe who you are and what you do. For example, a heading of “New Dashboards” is probably not as relevant or as descriptive to Google as “New SEO Marketing Dashboards”.
5] Use and Optimize Title and Alt Attributes
Search engines can have a hard time defining certain variables of your website. They don’t work the same way humans do. For example, with pictures, we can easily define what a picture is without much effort. A picture of a tennis racket is a tennis racket -but not to a search engine. This is where title attributes and alt attributes come in to play. Ensure that you define what a picture is, as well as give further information on where a link might go. Including title attributes and alt attributes makes it easy for search engines to define and categorize what they’re looking at. This means you look much more credible, relevant, and worthy of popping up in search results.
6] Optimize File Nomenclatures
Again, we’re back to making things relevant. If a picture is of a tennis racket, name it “tennis_racket” instead of “IMG_47″. When looking at your website, search engines can use different page names, images, media and other file names to determine the relevancy of certain keywords.
7] Upload a Robots.txt file and make sure 301 redirects are setup
Now this can sound a bit confusing, but I promise it’s not that bad. A robots.txt file is the first thing a search engine will look for when it begins to try to figure out what your website is all about (and we all know first impressions are important!). This file tells the search engine what it should be looking at and taking an inventory of when it’s trying to define and classify your site. The document tells search engines which files do not contain content for users and they therefore do not include them into your quality of content score.
301 redirects are important because they allow search engines to attribute SEO value to the right places. If you have two versions of your url that users could navigate to without 301 redirects (for example, bringshare.com and www.bringshare.com), you could be splitting your SEO value between two sites instead of capitalizing on all of your value.
8] Upload an XML Sitemap
Another way to make sure search engines have a clear understanding of what your website encompasses is by uploading an XML sitemap to your root domain. You can have one of these easily generated by using an online resource such as the XML Sitemap Generator.
9] Write Content People will Share
SEO is not just affected by permanent links. In the growing age of social media, search engines have been known to look for the amount of people who are sharing content and linking to websites. It puts a bit more pressure on us as marketers, but striving to create and promote valuable, interesting and thoughtful content should always be a main goal. Think deeply about your customers and decide what would be the most relevant to them. Then try to plan a strategy to launch it in a way that is optimized to make it easy to spread.
10] Use Checklists and Validators
There are a ton of tools out there to validate a website’s links and pages. These tools are one of the best and easiest ways for you to find errors, determine missing attributes and even broken links. Fixing these things may seem minor, but to a search engine, it’s the difference between finding a clean, well-run website (or company) and one that is lacking professionalism.
Your Turn: Get Started with your Search Engine Optimization
As a small business owner, SEO can be a very overwhelming thing. But, with your BringShare Membership riding shotgun and analyzing all of your data on the fly, suddenly things seem much more obtainable. You don’t have to worry about finding and analyzing the data, all you have to do is look at your dashboard to determine what’s not working and go from there. So, go forth! Put these previous steps into action and watch as your BringShare graphs start to get just a bit more magical with those increased ranks. SEO may be an ever-changing, continuous process, but it ultimately helps you and your company rank in search engines and drive high quality traffic to your site.
[It's important to note that no one knows exactly what will get you up in the rankings. SEOs optimize against a black box of algorithms and ever-changing criteria, but that makes it even more increasingly important that you have your SEO bases covered -which congratulations, you have just done!]
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