On Page SEO
The part of search engine optimization that most people know about is on-page SEO. This consists of everything you do within your site to help search engines find you and rank you. It incorporates design elements and content elements. Your page structure, your meta tags, and your content itself all work to build out your website into one that search engines can find and to which they can guide the people you want viewing your site. They provide the cues that show the search algorithms that your site gives the right information to the people looking for it.
– The Right Content
Chief among the factors that you need to consider is your content itself. What do you have to say to those who might be interested in your business? You want to show your expertise in your market area, and show it in a way that site visitors can understand. It can be a delicate line to walk, because you need to both demonstrate that you are an expert and avoid confusing anyone. Further, your content needs to stay fresh and relevant and unique. You cannot depend on something you wrote last month to stand up forever; you need to continue to create new content over time, and make sure what you do create has relevance when you post it.
– Titles and Headers
In addition to having great content, though, you need to format it in meaningful, effective ways. Your title tags become vital to this process, as they carry more weight with the search tools than the rest of your text. Your title should contain the keyword phrase on which you are focusing a given page of content. Moreover, with the search technology growing more sophisticated every day, you need to make sure your title is something the rest of the page can back up. A title that references a currently significant celebrity might be effective, but only if you weave that celebrity into the rest of your article. “Gotcha” titles may work for a moment, but they will ultimately prove harmful to your search rankings.
Similarly, headings in your content gain extra weight from search algorithms. This makes sense; the purpose of a search engine is to connect readers to information meaningful to them. When you organize your content with impactful, instructive headings, that content is easier to read. It demonstrates an organization to your thoughts that creates a roadmap for your readers to follow. It also gives you a chance to call out main points for someone who only has time to skim. The right approach to headings can both help bring you site visitors and help make each visit more meaningful—and more likely to lead to conversions for you.
– Enhancing the Experience
Building in images with alt tags will further bolster your on-page efforts. Images break up the text to make your site more visually appealing. This also makes everything easier to read. While search engines favor sites with images, though, you need the tags to help the system understand what the image should represent. Build the tags with relevant keywords that complement your content. In other words, if you are using a picture of a scene from nature to represent a concept on your page, the tag should focus on that concept rather than the trees or ocean or sky that literally represent the image itself. Every tag, and every word, should remain purpose-driven.
Linking within your site can also provide tremendous benefits. Any time you set up an internal link, it gives users a chance to view another page of your site. This serves a traditional SEO purpose by driving more traffic within your site, and by providing search engines with links that tell those engines what the pages to which you link are about. For this reason, your links should contain keywords or descriptive text; a “click for more” link does little to help you with the search engines, while the descriptive link directs the algorithms without sacrificing the benefit to your users.
In addition, the internal links provide a map for your site visitors to follow. When you craft and organize them carefully, you lay out a path for users to go where you want them to go, and make their experience smoother because the navigation work has largely been done for them. Anytime the site experience becomes easier for your visitors, you increase the chance that they will appreciate that experience and act favorably for you.
Off Page SEO
While on-page SEO represents the most obvious way to build organic traffic, it is only part of your overall Internet marketing strategy. Your website’s reputation as measured by search technology comes as much from what happens outside of your domain as what happens on your pages. The more you can drive traffic back to your page, the more your site rankings will improve.
– Social Media
In today’s SEO world, social media provides a bit piece of the off-page puzzle. You should have accounts with Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and any other social media site that fits your company and brand. You should take the time to build that presence, and post regularly to your accounts. You don’t necessarily want your posts to be overtly about sales; they should highlight content or ideas that connect back to what you are doing on your website.
Everyone on Facebook has had the experience of starting your page, finding one or two friends, and suddenly having new friend requests pour in from people you may not have thought about in ten years. Social media provides power in the interconnected world around us. When you start with a few loyal customers liking, favoriting, re-tweeting, or sharing your posts, you gain the opportunity to build quickly.
The off-site work of social media marketing should always connect to your website. This works in both directions. Provide on-site links to your social media pages, and let people know in your physical locations that you are online in multiple places. And from your social media sites, link back: to your homepage, to relevant content pages, to your contact information. You should lay out as many meaningful breadcrumbs as you can to lead traffic back to you.
– Connect with Authorities
Unless you exist in a very small market niche, you likely know of significant players in your industry space. In some ways they may be your competition, but usually there is room for you to benefit from each other. When you know of an important person or business group that carries weight in your area of expertise, you can reach out to that person to connect. This may include following on social media, subscribing to a website, or even offering up a guest blog post.
The more visibly you connect to these market space authorities, the more you can draw from their influence. A guest blog or a blurb on their sites, or even a comment you leave on one of their posts, can do wonders to drive other people to look into you and bring traffic back to your site. This should always be respectful, demonstrating your authority without necessarily challenging theirs. When someone else has the respect of people you want to bring toward your online presence, attacking that someone can be counterproductive.
Any time you do create these interactions, you should be building links that lead back to you. Commenting or blogging on another site should always come with a backlink: to your social media sites or to your website itself. This creates a way to naturally build links to you, increasing your traffic and your search ranks over time.
– Local Building
With the importance of local search rankings to your overall site presence, getting listed on local directory sites can provide a big boost. The more your business appears on these directories, the more the search engines recognize your presence and reputation there. This includes general white and yellow pages directories, review sites, and any industry directories that make sense for your business.
When you do this, you must ensure the information is accurate and consistent. You should not have different listings in different places; that raises red flags within search algorithms and does harm to your reputation scores. Moreover, it makes your business harder to find when you don’t have a consistently defined location. Your phone number needs to be the same everywhere, and should only be your main company line for your local operations. Similarly, if you have moved, you must check to make sure you are updated everywhere you are listed.
– Review Sites
If you have an opportunity to receive reviews online from satisfied customers, you can send your local SEO efforts into the stratosphere. While you often cannot solicit reviews, you can certainly alert your customers to your presence on Yelp, FourSquare, Angie’s List, Urban Spoon, or any other relevant review site for your company. The more positive local rankings you get, the better your local search rankings will become.
This can prove perilous, of course, if you are not delivering the experience your customers want. Reviews on these sites come from motivated customers, so they tend to oscillate between very good and very bad with little in between. Thus, you need to monitor your reviews, and where possible, respond to your customers. This doesn’t mean attacking those who attack you, but rather showing a positive response and an effort to improve on anything that triggers a negative response.
Often, companies are measured by how they interact with and react to their customers. Any review, from this perspective, creates an opportunity for you. A strong, positive response to negative feedback can do more to favorably impact the way others see you than even initial positive feedback provides. You have an opportunity to persuade a customer to come back, or to bring in a multitude of others who see and respect your work to improve.
Working with 1st in SEO
At 1st in SEO, we understand the plethora of elements that go into your SEO. We also understand that what is working today may not keep working. Every day new content appears online, potentially affecting your Internet marketing campaign in ways large and small, positive and negative. When you are running a business, it is impossible to keep track of it all.
Because of this, we provide services that encompass the entire picture for you. We begin by listening to you. What is it you have to give the world around you? What have you established as the lynchpin of your company, and how do you believe you can most effectively deliver that to your customers? We start with you, and use our experience to shape your ideas into a message that we can deliver to as many potential customers as a website can reach.
Next, we build up your on-page SEO. This represents your base of communication with your customers, and we work with you until it is right. Your web design and your content work together to send out information, and we will help you deliver that information in as clear and impactful a way as possible. We help you establish workflows to build on your content over time, and to continue to send out new, relevant, timely communications of your expertise. Your website represents you to the world, and we do everything in our power to deliver a positive image for you and your company.
In addition, we will help you build your off-page campaign. We are experts in using social media and networking to increase your presence in your industry. We find paths to success for you, and help you follow the paths not only at the beginning, but over time. Your SEO and your Internet marketing emanate from and build on each other, both on page and off. We will help you get everything up and running, and continue to lift you higher over time.
Part of this effort comes from continued monitoring and evaluation of your site’s performance. We keep an eye on your site rankings and performance over time, and keep our finger to the pulse of what is happening for you. We also provide regular reporting so you can see your site performance improve over time, and so you see immediately if there is a slippage. We will measure your website’s functionality and determine whether page loading time, link function, or anything else is holding you back from the performance your site can achieve.
We also monitor what happens outside of your website. Are local reviews coming in that potentially harm your reputation? We spot them and help you develop a plan to respond and get back on top. Are directories posting faulty information? We are ready to help you step in and fix it. We build on the positive and create solutions for the negative, all to help you create the online presence and Internet marketing campaign you need to take your business to the next level.