Making up the foundation of search engine optimization are four key concepts on which you should build your SEO strategy. The four cornerstones are: content, keywords, linking, and architecture.
What is content? Why is it important? Content is all of the words that appear on a page or in the code of your website. Think about your business and what you wish customers knew about your product, service, location, or team. Do you have special promotions or certain offerings you would like to feature? Writing about these different subjects fills your site with content. Adding new content to your website in a timely manner helps search engine spiders recognize that your site is active. Additionally, websites can develop an onsite blog as a place for announcements, information, and other pieces of new content that could embellish the website.
What is a keyword? What is a keyword phrase? What are long tail keywords? You may have heard or read about keywords when trying to develop an SEO strategy. Keywords are words that represent the main topic of each page of your website. For example, if you have a business like an Italian pizzeria in South Florida, your main keyword will most likely be “pizza.” Since you are not the only (theoretical) pizzeria in the world, you will want to have pages on your site that have more specialized words describing your specific pizzeria. These combinations of keywords are called keyword phrases. Keeping with the pizzeria example, three keyword phrases could be “Italian pizza by the slice,” “Theoretical Pizza by Juan Carlo,” and “pizza delivery near University of Miami.” Very granular (and often long) keyword phrases are called long tail. An example for our pizzeria could be “New York style pizza with garlic bread crust near University of Miami.” Choosing your keywords carefully and monitoring to see which bring in customers can help you grow your online presence and your business.
Why do you want related sites linking to your webpage? Why is proper internal linking so important? Related sites linking to your webpage (not just your homepage) show search engines that your site is relevant to your industry. A webpage’s ranking potential is partially determined from the quality of relevant sources that link to the website. When structuring the links of your website, make sure that there are no dead ends. It frustrates users and search engine spiders alike. Use proper sitemap syntax. This will tell the search engines which pages to index, in case they missed any when crawling the rest of the site, and how to prioritize the pages they have found. Additionally, a large push to increase the number of links coming into your site all at once could have an adverse affect. Search engines know that it is a slow process and understand that as you add new pages and additional content to your site more people will link to you.
Do you know how to communicate with the search engine spiders? The robots.txt file contains information of where you would like search engines to visit (such as a link to your sitemap), but also information on where the search engine spiders should not go. Making sure search engine spiders can find all of your pages that you want indexed and none of the pages you don’t should be a part of your strategy and not left to chance. How your website is designed is also important. Search engines have a hard time reading Flash along with some other fancy design features. Users visiting your website may also complain of slow load times and music they can’t figure out how to turn off. Simple, user-friendly design is often better for SEO.
Additionally, structuring your site so a majority of your content is contained in images is troublesome for search engines. Other than the image’s file name and alt tag (if there is one) the search engines see empty space. Paying careful attention to site architecture when designing your website can save you from a costly redesign down the road. If you did not have a strategy in place during the formation of your current website, a redesign may improve sales and show a significant return-on-investment.
These four cornerstones make up the foundation of a solid SEO strategy. They work together to increase the number of indexed pages on a website and to increase the chances those indexed pages will show up in search rankings. All can be optimized for placement of your website near the top of a Search Engine Results Page (SERP).
Search is vital for all businesses, whether B2C or B2B, big or small, eCommerce or service based. Any industry can benefit from search engine optimization. Having a sound SEO strategy in place is increasingly important as more and more consumers rely on search engines.
A well structured website with as many uniquely targeted pages as possible will often give websites more reach in the search engines. This is even more important given the fact that, a) Google will now start serving up more results from a website for a particular query and b) Google’s recent “Mayday” update will reward pages that have optimized for “longer tail keyphrases” with better rankings. So, with that being said, how do we ensure that these deeper level pages are crawled, indexed and will rank well?
Matt Cutts of Google recently stated in an interview, “… the number of pages that we crawl is roughly proportional to your PageRank”. If this is the case, then cultivating good links to your site so the PageRank flows to as many pages as possible is imperative so Google and other search engines may find these deeper level pages. Once the spiders get there, they need to see that these buried, internal level pages are targeting keyphrases that are much more exacting or “longer tail” than that of the keywords targeted on the higher level pages.
This is very important information for anyone considering Search Engine Optimization and should be taken seriously to get the best results for your site as a whole. The more you think about keyword targeting for the deeper pages on your site, the more of that valuable search engine real estate you will acquire.
When the Search Engine Optimization process begins, keyword research is the first thing that happens. Many people will go after the very obvious keywords. They take the logical approach to finding keywords that fit their products and services. Guess what? So does the competition. The competition will use the same logic and will turn up the same busy keywords that you will be optimizing for. You now have my permission to think illogically.
Illogical thinking can turn up some interesting long-tail keywords, or as we call it in the industry, low hanging fruit. Try to look at your products or services from a different point of view to discover some keywords that you previously haven’t thought of. What do your customers call your services? Is there another name for your product? Research those types of phrases and see what you can come up with.
Low hanging fruit often times has low search traffic volume, but the positive side is that it is not as competitive. If you can harness these long tail keywords and optimize some of your interior pages for them, you will be surprised at how your conversions can increase.
Some ways to harness this low hanging fruit include optimizing for very specific product names and longer versions of your main keyword phrases. You can also think about the market you are trying to reach. Is your service area all across the United States, or do you only do business in Bangor, Maine? If you only do business in Bangor Maine, Optimize your page for Bangor Maine Lawn Service instead of Lawn Service. The search volume won’t be as high, but it is very specific and highly targeted to your target audience. Optimizing for a specific product type can be as easy as adding the color, model number or both. When you do this you are catering to a very specific crowd and when they find exactly what they are looking for, they are more likely to buy from you.
Practice this technique and you will be on your way to having a more optimized website.