Search engine optimization and long-term online success are not “fire and forget” strategies. No website will have instant traffic after launch. There is no magic button to guarantee instant, prequalified, relevant traffic to your website just like there’s no way to guarantee first page placement in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) – despite what you may have read online…
With more than 1 billion websites floating around the Internet (Internet Live Stats, and that’s billion, with a B), it becomes increasingly important to take steps to make sure our site captures a fair share of attention from the people we’re trying to reach.
It takes time and energy to build an audience. Running a successful website is much like running a successful brick and mortar store. There needs to be a strategy, there needs to be active hands executing on that strategy and there needs to be some type of regular reporting and benchmarking done along the way to measure what works and what doesn’t.
That said, there’s definitely a method to the madness of successful search engine optimization. Today, we’re going to talk about On page SEO. There are four basic principles for on page SEO:
Before any work can begin to optimize your site for effective SEO we need to do the research to pick the right search terms to rank for (remember, we’re looking for highly targeted, prequalified traffic that’s most likely to convert – not simply a huge influx of clicks. We could simply buy that traffic if visits were our only metric). During this phase, it’s important to take a close look at the data to determine which keywords make us feel good vs. which keywords we stand a chance to rank for. You may find keywords you commonly use to describe your products and services are simply too competitive to achieve any type of rankings. It may also be that you find keywords that are much less competitive, but have a much higher degree of buying intent.
Use tools like Google Trends and their Keyword Planner to brainstorm and research your ideal keywords. It also doesn’t hurt to spy on your competitors to see what keywords they may be targeting as well – but don’t get sucked into their strategy! Just because a competitor may be targeting a specific keyword doesn’t necessarily mean their efforts are a success.
With your keywords prioritized and categorized, now it’s time to structure the content of your website to be relevant to that list.
prioritize you keywords as close to the front of your page title tags as possible. Keep these page titles under 70 characters and be sure every page’s title is unique.
Again, use your keywords as early in the page description and keep your meta description under 150 characters.
Be sure to sprinkle your keywords throughout your content. There’s no magic number or ration of keyword to text here, but it’s important to remember to optimize for humans first, search engines second. If the page is difficult to understand because it’s overstuffed with keywords your visitors (aka potential customers) are less likely to take the action you want because they don’t understand the intent of the page.
Make pages easy to skim by using short descriptive paragraphs and bullet points.
Headers (H1, H2, H3, etc.)
Use descriptive keywords here – preferably variations on the keywords used in Title Tag. Header tags carry a good deal of weight when it comes to SEO and every page should have at the very least an H1 and H2 tag highlighting keywords relevant to the page.
Always include your main keyword in the URL and always, always, always separate individual words with hyphens (-), not underscores (_); dots (.) or any other characters.
Name image files with keywords (my-great-keyword.jpg) and not the default image name most cameras and phones use (IMG1001.jpg). Also be sure to use descriptive text for your image ALT tags. Search engines can’t “see” an image. Including ALT tags for all your images helps these search engines understand what you’re pictures are all about.
Now that pages are optimized it’s time to get the word out that your site is a trusted authority on the products and services you’re promoting. Your primary source for reputation comes from links back to your website.
Buying links or joining link farms is a dangerous move in today’s SEO landscape and you can actually hurt your rankings by participating in these practices. Instead, focus on authentic links from other trusted sources in your industry.
Target domains that are relevant to your industry, products, services or location for your backlinks.
Anchor Text – Be sure to use keywords in your anchor text in lieu of the full URL back to your site. This gives you an opportunity to optimize for keyword variations to drive traffic back to your site.
Link to pages deep within your site rather than sending everyone to your homepage. This does two things – helps search engines discover pages deeper within your site that may be challenging to find otherwise and also gets the visitor straight to the page that’s most relevant to what they’re browsing for.
With all pages optimized for their relevant keywords and organic traffic on the rise – now it’s time to make sure we have all hurdles and obstacles out of the conversion funnel so we can maximize revenue from the traffic we’re receiving. Here are a few pointers on how to increase conversions:
- Customer focused copy – Remember, write your copy to appeal to humans first. Search engines can’t buy your products or services.
- Clear calls to action (CTA) – tell visitors what they need to do once they’re on the page
- Social Proof – Include testimonials or reviews on the page
- Unique selling/value proposition – Let visitors know why they should do business with you (Same day / Free shipping; Loyalty/Rewards Programs)