So, I’ve written several times about how to do at least decent SEO (search engine optimization) on your website, and although my main focus has been on how to appease the search engine deities (you know…Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.) there are definitely other ways to “skin the cat.” (Off topic, but I’m enjoying the overuse of clichés today. My apologies. 🙂 )
Check out this awesome infographic created by the folks over at Ghergich & Co., in partnership with Salesforce Canada, for some ideas on how to grow your website traffic organically (take THAT Google!).
Blogging is easy, isn’t it? You get an idea for a topic and you just…start writing. Or typing, as the case may be. And bada-bing, bada-boom…a blog post you have!
Trust me, I hear ya:
“Paula, it’s so easy that anyone can do it. We don’t need to hire a professional to write for our business blog!”
Fair enough, is what I say. BUT…if you own a business and you truly feel you’d like to write your business blog in-house, then at least allow me to give you a few very important blogging tips first.
KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER: Define him. Define her. What makes your customer tick? What makes your customer BUY? What makes your customer click away from a website without getting more information or making a purchase? If you don’t know who your business blog is “talking” to then in all honestly…you are just wasting your time.
FOCUS ON YOUR KEYWORDS: This follows my first blogging tip because if you know your customer then you should know what he is searching for online. And if you don’t know your customer then keywords won’t matter. Your business blog needs to address your customer’s questions and curiosity about your product or service. That means researching–finding the keywords and phrases that your customer is typing into the search bar–and then integrating those topics into your blog posts.
KEEP IT EVERGREEN: In the world of blogging, the term “evergreen” refers to content that doesn’t age quickly. If the content you post to your business blog has an expiration date, search engines consider it less relevant to a customer’s keyword search, making it less likely to appear in search results. The best way to create an evergreen business blog is to keep your posts as general as possible while maintaining real value. Evergreen blogs can also be reused down the line as long as the information is still accurate. I do, however, highly recommend refreshing them with at least some updated information before reposting.
These three blogging tips are a really great start if you own a business and don’t want to outsource the writing. And while I respect that not every business has the budget to accommodate hiring a professional writer, I feel compelled to emphasize that following these three business blogging tips still won’t give you an effective online presence if the writing is bad. So as part of your commitment to in-house writing and blogging, consider brushing up on your writing skills if needed. It’ll all pay off in the end!
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.)