A great website isn’t so great if no one visits it. That’s why this post is dedicated to getting found online, which covers the very top of the funnel of your inbound marketing strategy. Search engine optimization (SEO) is an absolute must-have for any website strategy, but it takes hard work and consistency. These tips will help get you on your way to increasing your organic search engine rankings.
Every website on the Internet has the goal of reaching the No. 1 position in search engines, but not everyone can make it. So what gets a first place ranking? Off-page search engine optimization (SEO) is the most important factor to increasing your ranking results.
Off-page SEO is about building inbound links, essentially getting other quality websites to link back to you. Search engines call this authority, or “link juice.” The more inbound links you have, the more important your site must be, thus the higher you’ll rank.
Link building, when done right, isn’t easy because adding links to other websites is sometimes out of your control. Here are some tips to building inbound links:
While off-page SEO is hugely important, we can’t forget about on-page SEO. This consists of placing your most important keywords within the content elements of your actual pages. These on-page elements include headlines, sub-headlines, body content, image tags, and links. Often times, on-page SEO is referred to as “keyword density.”
It’s very common that businesses will do too little on-page optimization or too much (keyword stuffing). While it’s important to include your keyword as many times as necessary within a page, you don’t want to go overboard with it either. For on-page SEO done right:
While this may be the least sexy component of SEO, it is a definite must-have. A meta tag is a line of code that is contained in the background of a web page. Search engines look at meta tags to learn more about what the page is about.
Meta tags don’t quite have the level of SEO importance as they used to but are still very important. Back in the day, websites abused meta tags to increase their rankings by including far too many keywords. Now search engines are smarter and give more weight to inbound links and page content for ranking instead. However, they still play an important role to an SEO strategy. Make sure to use these on all of your pages.
If you’re not a web guru, most website editors and content management systems enable you to easily edit meta tags without coding knowledge. If you don’t have an editor, you can simply open a web page file (ending in .htm, .html, .asp, or .php) in Notepad or a plain text editor and the meta tags will be found near the top of the document.
Here is an example of what meta tags look like in an HTML document:
The general incentive behind an XML sitemap is to help search engine crawlers (or “spiders”) sift through your pages more efficiently. An XML sitemap is simply an .xml file containing a listing of all your pages and when they were updated. It’s a lot like a subway map. It shows the structure of your website and where are your pages reside.
Creating a sitemap is easy. You can find sitemap generators online that will create the .xml file for you. Once you get the .xml file, simply upload it to the root directory of your website (e.g. www. website.com/sitemap.xml).
If your website is updated regularly, make it a best practice to update your .xml file at least once a month so search engines have the freshest data.
We’ve all experienced a time when we clicked on a website link that ended up being broken. Typically you’ll see a “404 message” or “Page Not Found.” A lot of times this is caused when a page is moved to a new URL and the old link hasn’t been directed to the new page. Think about the lost opportunity when your customers or potential buyers want information that they can’t locate. If you choose to move a page on your website, make certain that you use a permanent 301 Redirect, a method used to change an old URL to a new one.
In addition to keeping visitors happy when navigating your website, permanent 301 redirects are also important for SEO. When a user or search engine can’t find a new page, you’ll lose any SEO status the old page once had. To keep the SEO juice following to new pages, set up a 301 redirect for pages that have been moved so search engines know where to find it.