In 2011, a New York Times reporter did some investigating and uncovered one of the biggest link schemes in search engine optimization history. Link schemes are tactics used to increase your number of inbound links in an unethical way, such as through purchasing links or link farms. J.C. Penney was exposed for having hundreds of seemingly unrelated sites linking back to their site. It turned out that J.C. Penney (or their SEO company) created or bought these sites in order to manipulate the Google algorithm. Upon discovery, Google took manual action to penalize J.C. Penney and their hundreds of #1 rankings dropped significantly. The moral of the story is to play by the rules if you want to be the best.
Search engine optimization is the ongoing process of improving your website’s visibility in a search engine’s organic search results. It is a process that entails a lot of moving parts. Today we are going to offer 10 “white hat” SEO tips that are approved and accepted by Google.
10 Search Engine Optimization Tips
1. Identify 5 Keywords and Create a Landing Page for Each
Whether you conduct a brainstorming session, utilize Google AdWords Keyword Planner, or ask your clients for feedback, your first step to SEO should be identifying your targeted keywords. Once you have your top 5, ensure that they each have an appropriate designated landing page. A landing page is any web page on your site that a user may land on. If you are a hospital and one of your keywords is “oncology”, there should be a landing page on your website all about oncology. Here you can use the keyword 3-5 times as well as in your Meta tags!
2. Add Meta Tags to Every Page
Unsure about those Meta tags? That’s okay! We understand that they can be a bit tricky especially since they are HTML tags (pieces of code) that describe some aspect of the contents of a web page. Your content management system should allow you to easily add 2 important Meta tags: page titles and page descriptions. Keep your page titles under 55 characters and incorporate those keywords when possible! As for your page descriptions, those should be under 155 characters and keyword-rich as well.
3. Add Alt Text to All Images
Just as all of your pages need Meta tags, all of the images on your website require Alt text, or alt tags. Image alt tags are words or phrases inserted into your HTML to tell website viewers the contents of an image. Alt text comes in handy when images won’t load, when a user is using a screen reader, and when you want your images to index in Google image search results. Ensure that every image on your site has an alt tag and that it describes what is in the photo, utilizes keywords, and is succinct.
4. Monitor and Grow Your Inbound Links
Inbound links are links from external domains that point to your website. Google views these inbound links as votes and so the more, high-quality links you have, the better you rank! Of course, you will want to build these links ethically and not find yourself in a predicament similar to J.C. Penney’s. Common ways to build links include:
- Asking clients to link to you
- Posting to social media
- Creating infographics
- Guest blogging
- Submitting your website to directories
5. Increase Your Site Speed
Did you know that the average site load time is 10 seconds, yet users expect 3? You can test your site speed here to determine where you fall. If your site load time is closer to 10 than it is 3, there are several things that could be to blame. Common culprits of a slow site speed are embedded videos, too many images, large files, and too many plugins. Speed up your site by removing unnecessary images or videos and avoiding using images as navigation. Additionally, your images should be optimized for the web. You can learn more about that here.
6. Go Responsive
Responsive design refers to the technology which allows your website to dynamically re-size to display properly on any device. Google’s mobile-friendly algorithm update in April basically made responsive design an SEO requirement. If you have yet to go responsive, keep in mind that people use certain devices differently. The top reasons that people access the internet from their mobile devices are to obtain directions, phone numbers, or email addresses. When designing your new site, allow it to rearrange the content so that these key players are front and center!
7. Start a Blog
According to Right Mix Marketing, 80% of daily blog visits are new! That makes blogging the optimal marketing strategy for gaining new leads. Blogs also provide fresh content for search engine bots, ample opportunity to use your keywords, and increased inbound links.
8. Make Content Your Primary SEO Focus
At the end of the day, content is still king. The best thing you can do for your SEO is produce great content. Google’s main goal is to provide useful content to users and by creating high-quality content; you are helping them serve their purpose. If constantly updating your main site content is a hassle, you can keep your content fresh in other ways:
- Blogs and News Releases
- Frequently Asked Questions
9. Optimize Your Social Profiles
A GroupM Search study found that 28% of consumers said social media plays a valuable role in helping them become aware of new brands and products. This shows the power of social media sites as search engines. In order to improve your presence on social media and in search results overall, optimize your social media descriptions. Make sure that they are all branded, keyword-rich, and linking back to your website. Social media can improve your SEO in so many different ways and keeping those descriptions on point will give you that extra boost.
10. Make SEM Work With Your SEO
Search Engine Marketing is the process of improving your paid search rankings through advertising. What most people don’t realize is that SEM and SEO go hand-in-hand. SEM, like Google AdWords, allows you to see results in no time. Whereas SEO can take 3-6 months for you to see a change, keyword rankings in paid ads take effect almost immediately. This also means that you can adapt your SEM strategy quicker than you can adapt your SEO strategy. And finally, SEM gives you access to the Google Display Network meaning that your ads can display on hundreds of other websites in addition to Google search results.
These 10 search engine optimization tips are sure to improve your rankings while keeping you on Google’s “good side”. If you need assistance with an SEO strategy, don’t hesitate to contact Informatics.