Basic SEO Practices

Our objective is to provide you with information on basic SEO practices so you can stay focused and  properly rank your site.

The first step is to sign up and verify ownership of your site in  Google Webmaster tools if you havent already, this is extremely valuable and we encourage you to sign up and set an email forwarding address.

Email forwarding allows Google to reach right away with information like your site has been hacked or perhaps to tell you malware has been reported on your site without having to wait for you to log into your account to see it.

There is also a lot of other information that is provided to help you properly rank your site in search engines. For example, if your site was exploited with malware then you’re not going to rank very well. So, one good way to check is to look at the keywords listed in Webmaster tools and see if there are any unwanted keywords.  In a situation like this, it wouldn’t be unusual to see keywords like Cialis, Viagara, and others.

You can also see if you’re indexed properly by performing a site search with your domain. And if there are any problems the Webmaster guidelines can be found in your account.  The fetch as Googlebot feature in Webmaster tools, is a great feature, you provide the URL and then google will perform a crawl as Googlebot, and you can see if its been redirected appropriately and exactly what content is download by Google.

An additional part of this feature which is really useful is that you can actually not just crawl the site but also submit, to index for that URL. And this way, any time you update a page or you create an entirely new page, you can trigger that entire process to happen by Google and have it available to searchers much faster. Our next advice would be to include analytics code whether it’s Google analytics or another provider.  You really want to start collecting this data even if you’re not ready to use it.  It is certainly better to have some historical information about your site then none at all. You will also want to have a good strategy for your site design, creating a great experience for all your visitors. So, consider your customers as your investors or even the press and ask yourself what content would you want them to see.

Some questions to ask when it comes to site strategy:

  1. Does our site design meet the needs of your audience and does it have a great experience?
  2. If a searcher lands on a subpage, which would be common with search results, do they funnel directly through to your homepage all the time, can they easily figure out where they are and easily navigate to where they want to be?
  3. Does each page contain one logical topic that’s obvious to visitors?

The next step is to define your conversion whether it’s for visitors to sign up for your newsletter or to contact you to try your product, you want to have a call to action available on almost every page and not force customers to click around. When it comes to the actual information that you have on each page, it’s great to include relevant keywords naturally in your text. These keywords are like query terms that normal people would use to find your product or your business. So, for example, companies may be selling athletic footwear but in your actual copy, it’s better to include terms like running shoes which is what people actually search for.

One more thing that’s important about your page content and that is to anticipate and answer any visitor’s questions that they may have. For example, is the product reputable? For something like this perhaps show reviews or let other users review your products. Or if a user might ask, “What if this product doesn’t work” then make sure you have explained the customer satisfaction policy.
Make sure any questions they may have can already be found and answered on your website.

Every page should include a unique topic and unique title that can be displayed in search results, also a unique meta description which can be displayed as the snippet, for non-dynamic sites, this is just a best practice, but it’s good to have keywords in your filename, lowercase and hyphen separated. And then, of course, descriptive anchor text for every link whether you’re linking internally or externally to another site.

Here’s an example of anchor text that needs some improvement:

“For more information on our product specifications, click here.”

Click here is not that very descriptive. It would be better to have it say,

“For more information please read our product specifications.”

This is what you want to aim for. A good example of a site that has a unique topic on each page as well as a unique title and descriptive anchor text, can be shown with the search results for NASA. NASA not only has their homepage shown but also has generated site links. This site links algorithmically by Google but this can also be influenced by great site design, having a unique title as well as great anchor text. Lets quickly cover some potential pitfalls.

  • Don’t hire a shady SEO company. If they guarantee rankings it’s probably too good to be true.
  • Don’t participate in link schemes or buying links for the purpose of improving PageRank.

Lastly, it’s great to have a fancy site but try not to focus so much on how fancy your site is, it’s more important to actually have a site with indexable and searchable text. Another thing to consider about your site is the page load time, Akamai actually did a study of e-commerce sites and found that less than 3 seconds is the threshold for e-commerce sites acceptability. In general, the longer your page takes to load, the more likely users will click away.

The next step is to check your page rank and check that you rank for your company name. If you want to rank for other terms, you can use Webmaster tools’ search queries. At this point, you could prioritize, finding a potential audience or community through existing forums, blogs or social media sites. To rank well and to stay on top, you need to provide an awesome product or service, then generate buzz. Many people ask about social media marketing and whether they should invest their time. Social media is great and one big reason is that rather than just having an avenue of users coming through search, this diversifies your approach and you can get visitors from different sources. But here are a few tips. First, think holistically, you might create an identity on key sites, and then participate. But, keep in mind you will eventually want to connect users to an entry point for conversion. So think about it this way, the entire user experience from a social media site is ultimately to get more conversion on your own site. Also, and this is fairly obvious, focus your energy where your audience hangs out. And lastly, play to your strengths, it’s likely that your company has limited resources.

So, if you like to tweet, go ahead, or if you have a salesperson who really enjoys Facebook then that’s great, or if you have a developer who’s already on Google Plus or Stack Overflow then have them represent your company and interact with the community there. The most important thing to remember, even with great advertising and terrific marketing, good conversion still happens on your website.  So, stay focused and make sure you’re ready.


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