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Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of improving your site’s “organic” or “natural” rankings in search engines. Those are the listings that appear in the main column for which you do not pay.
Paid listings, referred to as Pay-Per-Click (PPC), are advertisements that bear resemblance to the organic listings. Sometimes they appear at the top of the main column and/or in the right-hand column. Google identifies them with an icon that says “ad.”
Our focus in this post is to provide you with steps you can take right now to help your site achieve higher rankings in organic search results. (We’ll leave paid listings for another time.)
Ready to begin?
1. Make sure to list your site in search engines.
For your website to get ranked in search engines, it must first be found by them – Google most importantly. Yahoo! and Bing share the same search results and are both powered by Microsoft’s Bing search engine.
There are at least three ways to get listed in Google:
Bing’s site submission process is simple, requiring only that you input the URL of your website into a form.
2. Determine the best keywords to use on your site.
This tip comes courtesy of Business2Community.com.
- Open up an Excel document and create three columns: Page, URL, Target Keyword.
- Go to your website and list the top 25 pages in your site in the first column.
- Next to each page, copy and paste the corresponding URL in the adjacent column.
- Next to each URL, type in the keyword phrase(s) you want to target for that particular page.
If you are unsure about which keywords to use, Google’s Keyword Planner tool can help.
3. Add metadata to your site pages.
Metadata is information about the website that appears in the header portion of the page; the part only search engines see. Every page is an opportunity to lure in a visitor and should, therefore, have its own unique metadata.
Metadata is categorized into individual meta tags, each of which include unique bits of information. There are two to consider:
Title tag: This is perhaps the most important meta tag. It’s what search engines use to determine the title of your page and is the first thing people notice when they conduct a search. As such, it should definitely be optimized with keywords. Not too many mind you, but a few. Use keywords that are unique to each page.
Meta description tag: This provides a brief description of your page and is the content people see when they do a Google search. Some suggest description tags have little impact on search engine ranking but they are significant in that can influence whether a person clicks on your listing in search engine results.
Another important piece of metadata are “alt tags” (“alt” stands for “alternative text”), which are added to images on your site. You should do this for two reasons. First, it’s required by law that images be identified so that those with visual handicaps can “read” them using a page scanning device that interprets the content on the page and reads it aloud to the person. Second, and more to the point of this post, you can add keywords to these tags in order to optimize them for search.
4. Create a Google Webmaster account.
Google Webmaster tools provides a free and easy way to make your website more Google-friendly. It enables you to see your website the way Google sees it:
- View which of your pages are included in Google’s index;
- See any errors encountered while Google attempted to crawl or database your site;
- Find search queries that list your site as a result;
- Find out which sites link to yours.
5. Sign up with local listing directories such as Google+ Local, Superpages and others.
This is especially important if your business depends on local or regional traffic.
There are several local sites you will want to add your business to:
Google Places for Business – Formerly know as Google Places, Google recently updated this site and added more features included a one-click upgrade to create a Google+ business page.
This is critical because it adds additional information about your business to Google.com search, Google Maps, and other Google properties. If you do nothing else, do this.
Other local directories you’ll want to add your site to include:
6. Set Up Google Analytics.
Google Analytics is a free web analytics solution that provides insights into your website traffic and, if applicable, online conversions. It is relatively easy to implement and provides many benefits to your online marketing initiatives.
Google analytics provides insight into a site and its visitors including:
- Keywords and search engines used to find the site;
- Geographic location of visitors (based on IP address);
- Pages viewed and path that visitors take through the site;
- The number of new and repeat visitors.
Visit our support site to learn more about Google Analytics.
7. Add a sitemap.
A sitemap is a hierarchical list of pages of a web site. It is basically a map that enables search engines to crawl your entire site quickly and easily. A sitemap also gives the search engines direction on how often the website is updated so they will know how often to come back and re-index the site.
Here’s an example of what the Bizzuka sitemap looks like.
8. Create and update a Google+ Business Page.
Businesses and organizations are able to create pages in the Google+ network. This is a very important way to increase your presence online and improve your overall visibility.
Google relies heavily on Google+ information to help determine which businesses are relevant and can significantly influence search results for your website. Search results can include recent blog posts, local information, photos, videos, and more.
Read this article from Practical Ecommerce to learn more about how Google+ influences SEO.
9. Set up Google Authorship.
Have you noticed all those smiling faces showing up in Google search returns lately? That’s due to something called Google Authorship.
Authorship helps establish credibility for the author’s content and the websites where such content appears.
In terms of its effect on SEO, the Wall Street Journal reported that, according to Google CEO, Eric Schmidt, authorship will result in increased relevance and higher rankings in search returns. “Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification,” Schmidt said.
10. Start a blog.
Blogs are important for two reasons. First, they help communicate your company’s message to customers and prospects in a more personal manner. Second, a keyword-optimized, frequently updated blog will help your increase your exposure on search engines.
Many content management systems, including our own OnDeCC, make it easy to add a blog to an existing website.
So, by all means, consider starting a blog.
You can use these 10 tips to start optimizing your site right away. However, if this sounds like more work that you care to tackle, Bizzuka can help. In fact, we offer a free SEO site analysis that will help you see how your site stacks up against the competition. Contact one of our SEO specialists today to learn more.