SEO Strategy – Can Prospects Find Your Website?
The famous line from the movie Field of Dreams “If you build it they will come” does not work for your website. Just posting content and hoping someone will find it without an organized SEO strategy is an exercise in futility. If you want to drive traffic you need to learn the basics of search engine optimization (SEO).
The challenge for small business owners is how fast the rules of SEO change. While there are continuous tweaks to the algorithms which run sites like Google, Yahoo and Bing, there are some overriding principals which have remained fairly constant for a number of years. If you only have time to pay attention to a few SEO strategies here’s what you need to know.
SEO Strategy #1 – Relevant Keywords
Search engines seek to provide information which matches what people are looking for. The process begins with the keywords. These are the words and phrases people use when looking for a product or service like yours. How do you pick the right keyword? One of the easiest ways is to use the Google keyword tool. Back in 2010, I wrote a short post on how to get started.
SEO Strategy #2 Unique pages titles and meta tags.
Just like a fisherman puts bait on a hook and dangles it in front of a fish, you need to do the same to lure search engines. Your bait is the page titles and meta descriptions. Search engines like variety, so every page needs to have a slightly different page title and tag. This communicates to search engines the unique reason each pages exists. Using similar phrases and cross link between pages helps direct the search engines between pages, just don’t use exactly the same title.
We use a plugin called Yoast, which helps us improve our on page SEO. One of the important features is it will tell us how often we have used exactly the same keyword. This helps us connect relevant posts and look out for title and description duplication. This is one reason blogging is so important. It gives you an opportunity to visit related topics with a slightly different keyword focus.
SEO Strategy #3 Recency
Just as people get bored, so do search engines. As they crawl through your site, the search engines look for new content. If they find it, they are more likely to return again and again. If they don’t, well you might find yourself quickly falling to page two or three. The challenge for a fairly stable business is where to put the new content. Your home page and product descriptions don’t change, but other things do.
That new information such as a fresh answer to a frequently asked question, an employee profile or a case study involving work you did in a specific application fits perfectly on your blog.
SEO Strategy #4 – Natural Language
After you build your list of primary keywords you have to keep in mind the fact that your prospects are human beings with broad vocabularies filled with synonyms and descriptors.
Consider the challenges of a company like Randall Beans. Are their customers looking for beans, refried, kidney, black or white beans? Are they searching for canned, fresh, beans in glass jars? Now think of your own product or service. How many variations of your keywords are your customers likely to use?
If you want your website to rank high on specific keyword searches, use your keywords in natural ways throughout the copy on each page. Don’t try to artificially stuff the phrases where they don’t belong. Write your page content the way you talk. Then go back and look for ways to substitute synonyms if you have used the same phrase over and over again. This isn’t just a good SEO strategy, it is a good writing strategy making your content much more readable for human beings.
SEO is an ongoing process and you have to work hard to stay one step ahead. With just a little attention to key details you can.
This is the third installment in our web design plan series you can find part one and two here: