Search engine optimization is an important part of marketing your business online and there are many steps that you can take to improve your website to help increase rankings. Below we’ve put together a few tips that cover the basics and can help you get your SEO efforts on the right track. Remember, search engine optimization is an ongoing process and something you must do consistently. Be sure to pay close attention to trends and best practices as they evolve and apply these to your website for any new and existing content.
Title tags are a key aspect of your SEO efforts. When your website is crawled by search engines, the crawler is looking for a theme for each page. A title tag is the first thing that is typically “seen” when crawling your website and carries a heavy weight in establishing the theme for a page.
Here’s a look at how the title tag appears within the HTML for a page:
…and within the search engine results page:
When you’re planning your SEO strategy think about each page of content and the keyword you’re targeting for each. When setting up your title tags be sure to include the targeted keyword within each title tag. This is not only advantageous for the crawler as it helps to understand the theme for each page, but these keywords are also bolded within search engine results which can increase click-throughs for your website.
The meta description for each page on your website is similar to the title tag in that it helps the crawler understand the theme for a page. The meta description is shown within search engine results and like the title tag, any included keywords are bolded.
Here’s a look at the meta description and how it appears within the HTML for a page:
…and within the search engine results page:
Be sure to include your targeted keyword within the meta description for each page and clearly describe the benefits of your product or service to encourage more click-throughs for your organic listing. You can even include a call-to-action here which can help generate more clicks. An example of a call-to-action could be: “Click to learn more”, “Sign up here”, or “Get started now!”.
Keyword(s) within URLs:
So, for each page you should include the targeted keyword within the title tag and meta description. The URL for a page is also a great place to include the targeted keyword. Matt Cutts, head of the webspam team at Google, recommends including dashes versus underscores between the keywords in your URL. For example, if you were targeting the term “marketing optimization” for a page, you could include this keyphrase within the URL as:
Here’s a video where Matt Cutts explains dashes versus underscores in URLs and how Google interprets each:
We are all looking for quality content when we search, so think about this as you’re designing pages for your website and writing copy. By providing quality content on a particular topic, there’s a great chance that others will link to this page on your website. If you can attract a large number of incoming links from quality sites this will help you rank higher for the targeted term.
One of the important aspects of incoming links is the anchor text. Anchor text is the text within content that is hyperlinked. This text should contain the targeted keyword/phrase. For instance, if you were optimizing a page for the term “web-based software” and someone linked to this page on your website, it would be ideal if that term was hyperlinked in this sentence: “A leading web-based software that helps you manage your finances.”
Using tools from SEOMoz and similar services, you can track incoming links along with the anchor text that’s used. This will help you track the anchor text used most often and give you the ability to track down incoming links that are not using optimal anchor text.
As mentioned above, anchor text is important for incoming links. The same is true for any links within the content of your website that links to other pages on your site. Although these links do not carry the same amount of weight as incoming links, they can help the search engines find and index other pages on your website.
When optimizing a page for a targeted term, it’s obviously important to include the term within the content of the page, however don’t get too caught up in keyword density. Focus on the user’s experience and include the keyword several times within the content of the page, but avoid “stuffing” the keyword throughout the content as the search engines will penalize you.
Site speed counts:
In May 2010, Google began factoring site speed in determining rankings. The speed of your website should be optimized to ensure a positive experience for the user, but this is also an important factor for rankings.
There are several things you can do to measure and improve the speed of your website:
- Use a tool like Yahoo’s YSlow to measure the speed of your website.
- Look for other tags/scripts that are calling external files that could be slowing the speed for your site.
Adding a Sitemap:
A sitemap is an important element in making sure that search engines can find and index content for your website. Using a tool like XML-Sitemaps, set up a sitemap for your website and add it within Google’s Webmaster tools and within Bing’s Webmaster tools. As you add new content it will be automatically added to your sitemap which will help the search engines locate and index this new content.
Tracking Conversions from SEO:
Search engine optimization takes a lot of hard work and it’s something that must be done consistently with each piece of content you add to your website. One of the challenges of search engine optimization is justifying the investment in both time and dollars. A great feature of Spring Metrics is the ability to easily track visits and conversions, in real-time, from organic search rankings. You can see the search phrase a visitor typed and the landing page where the user converted. By tracking conversions from organic search, you can pinpoint opportunities to target related keywords and single out those keywords that may need additional optimization work.
We hope these tips help you with your SEO efforts and drive more traffic and conversions from organic search!