Before you begin implementing major search engine optimization changes, it’s important to know where to start. The first step is to follow the “rules” as outlined by the search engines. As SEO has become an entire industry in recent years, search engines such as Google have been communicating what they expect from your website. Basically, they expect you to be honest. Don’t try and trick the search engines into making you seem more relevant and popular than you really are.
If you’re a company with a website that sells shoes in a small town and don’t have the infrastructure or resources to ship hundreds of thousands of orders nationwide, do you think that your website should really be ranking higher than Zappos.com, DSW.com, or Shoes.com? Probably not.
- Don’t buy links. Build them naturally.
- Don’t show the search engine a different page than your real visitors. Show everyone the same content.
- Don’t load pages with tons of irrelevant keywords. Write content with the keywords that make sense to your visitor.
- Don’t think you can buy your way to the top of the organic search engine results. You can’t.
What you should do is find out what makes your website unique. Why do people want to engage with you, your content, and your site? Identify that special niche and you’ll be on your way to optimizing your website to the best it can be.
Here are some basic areas of your website to focus on:
- Website URL - Your website URL should be unique to your brand, however you have an opportunity in the URL to specify what your website is about. You can’t always get your keywords in the domain name, but try and put your most popular keywords in the file names and folder structures. The closer the file is to the root directory of the domain, the more weight it will hold on the website.
- Title Tag - Be consistent with your brand for your user but also try and add keywords relevant to the content on the page. Choose 1 or 2 keywords per page and make a unique title tag that represents the content.
- Meta Description Tag - This tag displays underneath your title on the search engine results page. Create a call-to-action that encourages your users to want to click on your website link. Place keywords where appropriate toward the beginning of this two or three sentence description.
- Image Alt Tags - Search engines can’t see images. Tell spiders and people with disabilities what is contained in the images on your website. Don’t stuff every tag with your most popular keyword, but use them strategically.
- Navigation - Spiders won’t index every page of your website unless they can follow a clear path of links. Utilize breadcrumb navigation so the visitor and the spider both know exactly where they landed. If you have a website that is more than three levels deep, you should have links back to the higher level pages.
After you’ve determined your weak spots, per the areas above, you are now ready to begin identifying what keywords your website has the potential to rank for.
No matter what your brand, you can build credibility and popularity in the search engines for specific keywords. They may not be the most queried by volume, but if you choose correctly and focus on providing valuable content, you’ll be able to increase your visibility and drive conversions on your site.