If you’re working on your own Internet marketing, you’re probably familiar with the term Search Engine Optimization (SEO) by now. Websites at the top of the list (namely the first page) of returned search results are more likely to be clicked on than those further down the list.
You know that optimizing your website so that a search engine will move it towards the top of the results list is an arduous process that requires knowledge about how search engines work as well as significant research and plenty of patience. Even if you’ve read plenty of articles and blogs about search engine optimization, you may find that you still aren’t getting the results you want. If this is the case, you make be making some simple SEO mistakes.
Are You Optimizing Everything?
When we say everything, we mean everything. You want spiders (the program that reads web pages to generate entries for a search engine index) to be able to read what’s on your page. While it’s important that your website is readable to your visitors, it needs to be readable to the search engine, too, so they can direct relevant visitors to your site.
Optimize the following on your website:
- Content—Your content should be quality, well-written, and shareable, meaning that your audience gets something of value from the content and are compelled to share it with peers via social platforms. Be sure to utilize the keyword for which you want to rank throughout the content, including in the headline, subheads, and paragraphs as appropriate. Employ the use of latent semantic keywords (more on this later).
- Headlines & Subheads— Make content visually readable by including a hierarchy, which is done by using H tags (e.g. H1, H2). These tags not only visually break up the text but make it easier to read and let users scan for the exact information they want.
- Image Tag Titles & Captions—Bots read everything, so not putting anything down for image tag titles and captions means you’re missing out on another opportunity to boost your SEO ranking. As with everything else, use your keyword in this area.
- URL/Slug—Your URL, also called a slug, should be short and avoid stop words like “a,” “the” and “of.” Use your keyword in the URL as well.
- Meta Description—The meta description is equivalent to the snippet on the back of the book. It offers a preview of the content: A breadcrumb that provides an insight without giving away the whole thing. Include your keyword or keyword phrase in the meta description to help boost your ranking for that keyword.
Did You Do Your Keyword Research?
Part of the search engine optimization process involves keyword research. It’s important to research keywords for several reasons, including:
- Identity the terms for which people are searching
- Get average monthly search volume
- See competition rate
Ideally, you’ll want to look for a keyword with a high search volume and low competition rate. Randomly choosing keywords or keyword phrases to try and rank for is doing you and your potential readers a disservice. Because search engines return results that are the most relevant, you’ll want to use keywords that best suit and describe your content so it gets in front of the right audience.
Are You “Keyword Stuffing”?
While you want to include your keyword multiple times throughout the body of your content, you do not want to employ a practice known as keyword stuffing. Are you using your keyword within every sentence—sometimes twice in the same sentence? The programs that crawl websites can identify this practice and will negatively rank websites that do so.
Instead, use latent semantic keywords, which are words or phrases semantically linked to your original keyword. If the keyword is “wedding dress,” latent semantic keywords might be “bridal dress,” “ball gowns for brides,” “bride dress designers” or “top wedding dress designers.” Not only will you help your content rank but you will make your content read more smoothly.
Are You Link Building?
One of the easiest ways to create SEO value is through a process called link building. Are you linking similar content to each other? If not, you should be! By including a hyperlink in Content A that directs the visitor to Content B, you can increase the value of Content B and help it rank higher in search results.
If you have created links but they direct to non-relevant content, stop! You can negatively impact your ranking as well. Only link similar content. In the case of a dress shop, content could be separated by the following:
- Wedding Dresses—Link to other dresses in the same collection (Fall 2017) or from the same designer (Vera Wang)
- Bridal Dresses—Link to other dresses of the same color (mauve) or with a similar design style (strapless)
- Shoes—Link to other shoe styles of the same color or to a dress that tit complements
You should also avoid link stuffing, which is overly saturating your content with links (whether they are relevant or not). A good rule of thumb is to include at least one inbound link (to relevant content on your website) and one outbound link (to relevant content on a different website).
Are You Tracking & Measuring Your Progress?
Have you implemented Google Analytics or some similar tool that tracks and measures your website’s data? If you have not implemented an analytics tool, you cannot possibly know if the work you are doing is making a difference. Having an analytics tool helps you meet your goals because you can know when and where to adjust as needed. Check your progress frequently, such as developing weekly and monthly audit reports. Keep track of your data to see how you are progressing. If your engagement rate has not gone up, consider the type of content you are posting: Is it memorable? Is it valuable? Is it shareable? Does it include a call to action? It may take some time to get it right.
In starting the SEO process, it’s okay to make mistakes: There is a lot to understand about how search engines work and all the details that help make your website rank. These mistakes are simple to make but can pack a punch (positively or negatively) to your overall SEO rank.
Emily Schiola is a Staff Writer at Torque. She loves good beer, bad movies, and cats.