This is going to be a sort of list of things that cover the basics of SEO – and while there’s always more to a subject than can be found in a basic list, these are what form the foundation of any search engine optimization effort.
- Keyword Research
SEO usually begins with an extensive and intelligent keyword research. Google’s updates notwithstanding, you are still found by your keywords as far as organic search results are concerned. What has changed today is the density (practically irrelevant) and the number of variations (the greater the better but in context with the content).
In addition to keywords that you wish to be found for, you need also to add your very own branded keywords. There must be a healthy mix of broad and specific keywords along with buying keywords thrown in. Look at saffireecigs.com and you will find, apart from the brand names, the following mix: e cigarette, smoking alternative, premium e cigs, best e cigs, the best eliquid, the best e cigarettes, Buy e cigarettes, cheap e cigs, cheap ecigs (note the variation in spelling), better alternative to traditional cigarettes, electronic cigarettes, buy ecigs online, and buy e cigarettes locally. And it looks quite healthy to us, not to mention comprehensive and completely in context.
2. Site Architecture
You got your visitors through some very good optimization techniques (probably after going through our article, first!), but how well can they find their way around your site?
Check out the “Excavators” website. If you look at the URL, you will find a logical hierarchy that leads to the current page that talk about hydraulic excavators. Apart from that, check out the main nav which is pretty standard apart from the additional Quick Links. This is not unique or groundbreaking but certainly thoughtful. It should entice many a visitor to click just because that option is there.
Check out also the ‘Request a Free Quote..’ smack on top of the right sidebar in an eye catching (but not out place) shade of yellow and the Popular Machinery links right below it in contrasting black. In addition, there’s the search box sitting right on top of the site for anything on your mind that is not covered in the page itself. It this does not make for friendly navigation we don’t know what will.
Look at another example from a different category of site: the luxury rehab center. Neat design, pleasant appearance, left sidebar displays all the links you will need, a contact box below the links and a scrolling contact box in addition. That’s as friendly as it gets. When you design your site architecture, you would go a long way if you remember just these two examples, to begin with.
Luxury Rehab Center
- Domain Names
As far as your domain name is concerned, brands are in and keywords are out – unless you can mix the two. Time was when people would go to ridiculous extents to create a ‘keyword rich’ domain name. Look at Havahart (the word has no meaning as far as we can tell): the site sells animal traps and repellents. There is nothing in the name that suggests this – it is the brand that counts. Five years back this same site might have been called ‘allanimalrepellent.com’ or something similar! The name mellorlawfirm.com does have a meaning, but it is definitely not a keyword anyone not aware of the firm’s existence would search for. You’d think they would have been better off with a name like riversidecaliforniaattorneys.com, and that’s probably what they would have been called if not for the current emphasis upon brand awareness in domain names.
Content rules, and it must not only be good content, but interesting content as well. You can write an excellent academic piece worth the Pulitzer, but if the average visitor to your site does not find it interesting enough, you can welcome a very high bounce rate and a rapidly dropped ranking. In fact, no visitor is likely to click to your site from SERP if your content does not look interesting to begin with. Take a look at this page on mosquito facts and see if you don’t like what it has to say. And if you have noticed, it is not just the text but the placement of images and a bulleted structure that makes for interesting and easy reading. Now, that’s what we are talking about!
5. Internal Links
Having internal links on your pages is of great importance. They lead deep into your site and connect all the pages so that it is easy for search bots to find all your content (no, a site map is not enough). In addition, when you have intelligently placed internal links as anchors that form part of the text, you can coax your readers to click through to other parts of your site. Result: a reduced bounce rate and, provided you did not take shortcuts with your content, a subscriber/ regular reader/ buyer.
Take a look at the anchor texts and sidebar navigation links in the fulfillment company website and you’ll know what we were just talking about. Michael Soroy’s site is replete with internal links and as you can see, they are all in the form of anchors that form a natural part of the text. A word of caution though be careful about internal link density and distribution because you don’t want to spread especially your home page link juice too thin. It is often advisable to create a chain of links one leading to another instead of putting all or most of your links on the same page.
Michael Soroy’s site
6. Local Directory or Business Listings in General
You can leave your mark in all possible directories, but the more efficient approach would be to target only the major directories in addition to the ones particular to your niche. Keep your contact details constant in all your listings and it would be very surprising if you are not found in local searches or even web searches for your niche.
Look at what Costello Builders did with their listings. They are practically everywhere and yet, with judicious use of directories. You find Costello Builders on houzz.com, a niche directory for only builders, on angielist.com which is a national directory, as well as on the local city directory for Pennsylvania State, the businessfinder.pennlive.com. Is there any reason to believe that Costello Builders will not be found when someone searches for builders?
7. Title and Description
This is part of the coding and you must have a title for your site which need not necessarily be your business or brand name but usually is. A description is often helpful if your brand name is not self explanatory or famous already. In case you are unaware of this, the title and the description will show up on the browser’s top bar when your site is displayed.
You should probably also use your brand image – literal image or logo, as a favicon. This will show up in the tab along with the title and description right above the address bar and enhance your brand all the more. It is a simple matter to create and place a favicon – you can create the icon online from many available sources and ask your site designer to put in the relevant line of code. You can write the code yourself following instructions and examples also available online.
There’s just one more thing: you might want to use keywords in your title or description (preferably in the description so that the title remains free to display your brand name) but be careful not to keyword spam. Consider using a variation of your main keyword if necessary.
Images make your site look good. They also give your customers a clear idea about the product you are offering. If you are offering a service, some good photos of your work area or how your staff spends their time inside the office will make you look more real. Remember that the potential customer is basically shopping blind – they don’t know you. For this very reason, it pays to be as human as possible.
There are ways and means to optimize your images so that they don’t add overmuch to site load time. You can use image editors and image sprites – details about these are easily found for free on the Internet. Make sure you look them up and make use of them.
Also, consider using thumbs on your product pages which can zoom to really large and high quality images. And, remember to add your keywords and description using the ‘alt’ attribute for a proper user (and Google) friendly SEO approach.
Finally, since you now have a smashing site, why not make it easy for your admirers to share it far and wide? Add social sharing buttons at strategic points on the page (usually at the beginning or end of an article or image) and very soon you will reap the benefits that come with social media word of mouth publicity. Remember also to add the sharing buttons at the top of the page if site design permits. That way, people will be able to share your entire site if they want to.