SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is one of the many ways of marketing on the Internet and it is becoming synonymous with content marketing. How effective a business’ SEO is, depends on many different factors. At the end of the day, every online business, small or big, needs to have a proper SEO strategy in order to make the most of their search engine rank and overall online visibility to improve their online traffic. There are other methods for businesses to remain visible and easily searchable online but proper Search Engine Optimization is the most effective because it gives you visibility on search engines where billions of searches are performed every single day.
Businesses have to be extra careful with their Search Engine Optimization these days because Google has made SEO a serious business. It was quite easy for SEO professionals to work for a website’s ranking in the past but with the passage of time, things have been made more strict. Though there is a lot that can be talked about when SEO is in question, here are a few things that must be given proper attention in order to guarantee the success of any SEO strategy:
Content is Still King. Search Engine Optimization should not be discussed without talking about the importance of content. When Google’s Panda update was rolled out, it was thought in the beginning that content would lose its worth and value. Little did people know that Google was running that update to improve the quality of content on websites. When the Panda update from Google rolled out, it had a great effect on the websites that were ranking high on Google at that time. It was soon realized that Panda was supposed to make SEO experts improve their website’s content.
For example, if your website contained duplicate content you could be sure you were going to get punished by Google. If the content of your website did not add value to the corresponding web pages, you were going to get punished for that as well. Slowly, websites moved away from stuffing keywords in their content only to get indexed and ranked higher in Google’s search results. In the same way, Google came up with the Hummingbird update that also focused a lot on the quality of content on the websites. In a nutshell, it’s crucial to offer quality content on your website and be sure that your pages are not light on content. Of course, don’t just add content to game the search engine system, add content that makes each page more valuable for your visitors. Remember it’s all about creating a nice online experience for your customers.
Speed of the Website. It has been proven over and over, that the speed at which your website loads has great effect on search engine ranking. The reason why Google pays so much attention to website’s loading speed is that it matters for the visitors. If visitors did not pay much attention to website loading speeds, we would expect Google to ditch this element from ranking algorithms. Most recent statistics have shown that website visitors will not stay on a website, if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. The percentage of visitors that will leave the website for a loading time more than this is 40%.
In simple words, if you want your website to rank high amongst Google’s top search result pages, you will have to improve your website’s loading time. If your website takes longer than 3 seconds, you can say goodbye to the 40% visitors who could be potential customers, too. You will have to work on the website’s coding and design in order to know all the things that are causing your website to load slowly. The web host you have chosen for your website, might also need consideration from you because the performance of their servers and bandwidth could affect your website’s loading time directly. Be sure to check your site with Google Speed Test tool.
Quality of Backlinks. The latest search engine optimization is all about quality links. When Google’s Penguin waddled into the world of SEO, it punished all the websites that had too many links that were of poor or spammy quality. Websites that had a huge number of backlinks were happy to welcome Google’s Penguin update initially, because they thought they had everything in place to stay in the top results. That was not the case when the Penguin update drew closer and was implemented.
Soon the websites with poor, spammy links were penalized and saw their rank start to fall. Google then allowed the websites to ward off some of the beatings from the Penguin update through their link disavow tool. All of this was only done to improve the quality of backlinks. If you wish to see your website in the top results you will have to work diligently on quality backlinks. It’s best to get links from websites that have a good reputation on the Internet (high Domain Authority) and that are not involved in anything shady. You can visit the Better Business Bureau to look up a business and reference customer reviews, complaints and other resources regarding their practices before engaging with them in an online relationship. Websites infested with viruses and malware -- and those promoting bad content -- are going to pull you down in search results with them. It’s best to focus your link building efforts on the top 5 companies in your industry that are considered very trustworthy by your industry peers. Then have another list of sites that are perhaps not quite the A players in your industry but the B Team. You will probably have better luck with these B players initially because the A’s typically receives a lot of requests for guest blog opportunities and use of external links. You might even want to target a third tier of sites too, the C Team. You can use the Moz bar tool which is free to assess each of these sites to determine their Domain Authority (DA) score.
Important On Page Factors. There are many on-page factors that decide how high your website will rank on Google search results. For example, it is important that you make your title tag with the keyword in it. When your website’s web page appears on the Google search result pages, it’s the title that appears most prominently. Furthermore, the description tag of your website should also contain your main keyword along with other secondary keywords. Another thing that most experts suggest is that the content on your web pages should be long enough to look informative to people. As a good rule of thumb, each page should have at least 500 words.
Canonical tag is another important item needing attention, if you have a huge website with many web pages. This tag plays a hefty role for ecommerce websites because duplicate content for ecommerce websites is inevitable. With the use of canonical tag, signals can be sent to Google that even if there is identical content on two pages of the website. Google must not consider the content duplicate but treats both the pages as one. Don’t forget about the images on the pages since they are unavoidable too. Always put a description with the image and a clear caption.
If you follow these core SEO tactics, your site should be in good shape and over time -- with consistent effort -- your rank should rise. Please note, the tactics and factors mentioned in this post are just some of the top strategies and not all inclusive. Want more on the topic of SEO? Get tips on effective keyword strategy for strong SEO results.
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Christian Habermann is the founder of Auctus Marketing and is a leader and innovator in the online marketing world. He is very involved in the local startup scene in Boston, MA. He co-founded ConsumerUnited.com, now Goji.com, which is one of the fastest growing online insurance companies and has made the Inc. 500 List the past 3 years. He loves to help companies of all sizes, from startups to Fortune 500s, embrace the online marketing world to grow their business. He is the author of "SEO for 2014” and holds an MBA in marketing from Vanderbilt.
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