Search engine optimization: You’ve no doubt heard about it by now, but do you really know what it means to optimize your website and its content for search engines? Search engine optimization is commonly referred to by the acronym SEO. Google and other search engines use SEO as one of many tools to evaluate the content on the entirety of your website. Everything from blog posts and product descriptions to your “About Us” page and photos on your site are judged by search algorithms, ranked based upon relevance to search topics, and presented to users when they conduct online search queries.
SEO has had an on-again, off-again love affair with search engines. There was a time when SEO was the primary focus of all webmasters as they tried to position their website at or near the top of search engine rankings. As more webmasters turned to so-called black-hat techniques for SEO, such as keyword stuffing, the practice got a bad image. Now that Google is on the warpath to clean up the web and provide users with relevant, fresh content, SEO tactics are back in the limelight as a powerful tool for improving the visibility of webpages.
Given the continued importance of SEO to web rankings, what can you do to optimize your webpage for SEO? In the following paragraphs we cover a variety of approaches that will help you develop an effective SEO strategy that positions your website favorably for attention on search engines.
Start with Content
Great content is the key to a solid SEO optimization policy. Whether you operate a website that sells athletic shoes to fitness buffs or you use a hobby blog to share your feelings with the world, relevant content is the spearhead of your SEO optimization. There is a lot of talk about word counts when it comes to SEO optimization and content on a website. Some SEO experts believe that 500 words represents a magical sweet-spot that is attractive to Google. The prevailing thought in this group of individuals is that 500 words is enough to attract a visitors attention and provide useful information, without being so long that it is viewed as irrelevant.
In reality, the length of your content is not as important as the quality of your content. In this case, it’s all about quality over quantity. Let’s return to the concept of an online shop selling athletic shoes. Even 250 words would be far too long for a product description. In this industry, it is even more important to optimize your content with high-value material that explains the product and its benefits, without rambling on for paragraphs about the shoe.
Likewise, if you operate a blog that provides relationship advice, there is going to be a point at which the quantity of the post could overwhelm the quality. When you are generating content, optimize it for SEO by focusing on quality talking points and relevant keywords that add to the content without sounding unnatural in their placement.
Content is king on the web, but that doesn’t mean just text content. You want to provide your visitors with thought-provoking content to read because it will establish your brand and your voice as an authority in your field. Creating a strong brand identity is critical in SEO because it is a great way to gain visibility for your website and boost traffic. However, you cannot rely on text alone. Whenever possible, incorporate photos and videos in your content to enhance the experience that visitors have when interacting with your brand.
Keep in mind that you need to treat photos and videos on your page the same way you would the content. When uploading new photos to your website, it is important to make sure each one has unique tags so that they can be read by search engine bots and categorized appropriately in image searches. The same should be done with videos to make them easier to find, rank, and present to web searchers. Never upload photos and videos with generic titles and tags. These materials will simply become lost in the shuffle if you don’t optimize them for SEO as well.
One of the greatest tools you have at your disposal today is social media. Google, as well as other search engines, evaluate the link between your website and activity on social media sites. Now, this doesn’t mean you need to optimize the content on your social media profiles. What it does mean is that you should be using social media to promote the content on your pages, photos of your products, and instructional videos.
It is also a good idea to integrate social media share buttons on your website or blog. The Facebook share button and Twitter post function are great ways to make it easy for visitors to instantly share content from your page on their social accounts. This activity is tracked by search engines and contributes to the ranking of your website.
Turn to Google for Help
By this, we don’t mean you should ask Google how to optimize your page for SEO. Instead, be smart and use the tools that Google provides to help you evaluate the SEO status of your website. A Google Webmaster Tools account is a great way to track the traffic on your website, analyze the keywords in your content, and compare that data to outside information about keywords and web traffic in your niche. Access to Google Webmaster Tools is free, and it only takes a few minutes to get your account registered. Once you have access to the service, you’ll be able to keep track of the health of your website and its overall SEO performance.
Remember that optimizing your website for SEO is constant work. You cannot setup your SEO plan today and expect it to work flawlessly over the coming weeks and months to gain visibility for your site. You need to commit to producing fresh, relevant content to add to your page, check your keywords for popularity, and track traffic patterns on your site to determine what little steps are working and which ones are failing. Vigilance is the key to success.