Ok, so maybe the title of this post is a bit dramatic. After all, we all know that SEO isn’t actually dead. Just look around at all of those experts selling their SEO services and guaranteeing results! The demand is definitely still alive and kicking.
But here’s the problem: SEO has changed dramatically in the last few years and so-called SEO experts aren’t ncessarily keeping pace. Gone are the days when creating a successful website meant paying close attention to things such as keyword density, keyword-specific coding, and minimum lengths for posts. While keywords still play a vital role, current best practices have more to do with overall site mechanics and structure than anything else. In fact, according to Evan Bailyn, a well-known SEO and social media expert, there are only four on-site pieces to consider for ranking with Google:
Keyword-rich meta page titles: When I work with clients in improving their websites, this is one of the first elements I look at. Why? Because meta page titles are “your only opportunity to tell Google what each page on your website is about.”
For example, let’s say you sell popcorn machines. And let’s say your family has a long history of selling these popcorn machines and you want to share some of that information with visitors to your site. So you create an amazing page dedicated to this topic and you label it “About Our Company.” That seems logical, doesn’t it? But guess what? It doesn’t provide any information to Google regarding what your website is about. Google gets that information (mainly) from the title you give your page. In this example, a better page title would be “Our Popcorn Machine History.”
SEO-friendly URLs: This isn’t necessarily something you need to consciously focus on anymore because any quality CMS (content management system) will automatically handle it. For example, the URL to this particular post will reflect the post’s actual title (which I haven’t decided on yet…it’s the last thing I do when writing!). Keeping with the popcorn machine theme from above, however, you might see a URL such as http://www.yourawesomesite.com/how-to-use-a-popcorn-machine. Avoid long strings of numbers, letters and funky characters. They mean nothing to a search engine!
Clean code: This mainly applies to those of you who are creating websites from scratch–HTML, CSS, PHP…the whole shebang. If this is your preferred method (and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with doing it this way) then be sure you get a thorough review of the site’s coding to ensure Google can read it properly. If, on the other hand, you use a platform such as WordPress or Wix then coding shouldn’t be an issue. It’s one of the perks and conveniences of using them instead of building from the ground up.
Sensible site structure: This is another common error in my experience with new clients. It’s important that your visitors are able to easily navigate the site. The rule of thumb is to not bury any of your pages deeper than two clicks from the homepage. For example, your site visitors click “Products” on the homepage which opens up another menu where they can select “Popcorn Machines.” And then, once they’ve clicked on “Popcorn Machines” they are given an option to select either “Home Use” or “Professional.” This means your visitors had to click three times to get to the information they were seeking. Google likes it to be easy and transparent.
You’ll notice that the only everyday SEO tasks you’ll need to worry about are those page titles. Everything else is more of a “set it and forget it” situation. But keep in mind that SEO is an ever-changing art. What works today might be obsolete tomorrow.
Periodically analyzing your website to ensure current best practices are in use makes excellent business sense. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!”
P.S. Did you know that I offer website analysis as one of my concierge services?? Yep, I sure do! Contact me today and let’s get started!
(Information contained in this post was taken from SEO Made Easy: Everything You Need to Know About SEO and Nothing More by Evan Bailyn.)