This post originally appeared on Newswire.ca

 

Today’s post focuses on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and explains how to kick-start your content’s SEO with easy and actionable tips.

SEO is a marketing activity that focuses on how well your online content returns on search engine result pages. Attention to SEO best practices will ensure your pages come up when a potential customer searches for content using Google, Bing or Yahoo.

The majority of web traffic is driven by search engines. With 44% of online shoppers beginning their buying journey by typing in search terms, and with 60% of all organic clicks going to the top three organic search results, you need your website to have great SEO.

To begin, it’s important to know that search engine algorithms (the technical tool used to determine where sites sit on search engine results page) are constantly changing. Furthermore, search engine companies purposely do not share details of their algorithm changes. However there is one crucial element to keep in mind; quality trumps quantity.

Search engines like Google, using its algorithm Panda, aim to ensure that low-quality sites offering little value and weak content, rightly receive a lower rank, so that high quality sites will rightly return at the top of the results page. Here we break down seven simple strategies that can help you avoid rank-killing algorithms.

1. Create a Keyword Strategy

Start by making a list of important, relevant topics related to your business. Add all the words current customers and potential buyer personas may use to search for your products or products similar to yours. Include the subjects you frequently blog about. The object here is to ensure your online content contains these “key” words. Using a keyword planner can help you choose words most suited to your strategy. While Google Keyword Planner is one of more well-known tools, Keyword Tool is an excellent free alternative.

2. Create a sitemap

Business Insider recommends adding a site map to your webpage, which will make it easier for “spiders” to search your site.  What exactly does this mean? A site map is an overview of the pages within a website and the spider is the tool that Google or another search engine uses to “crawl the web” to search for, catalogue and index different pages on websites. Speak to your website designer to ensure your site map is up to scratch and optimized for search engines.

3. Add Keywords to Your Website

Once you have gathered and created your keyword bank, you can then begin to add them into your site. Hubspot says you should try to put keywords on these pages to ensure that your site gets maximum optimization:

  • Titles
  • Descriptions
  • Headings and Content
  • Image file names
  • URLs

While it’s important to have keywords within your content, they should also seem natural and relevant. Over stuffing your website with keywords and buzzwords will make the content read like spam and will most likely cause you to earn a lower ranking position. Moz gives a great example of a keyword stuffing resulting in a very spam-like description:

“Bob’s cheap Seattle plumber is the best cheap Seattle plumber for all your plumbing needs. Contact a cheap Seattle plumber before it’s too late.”

Naming your images and adding ALT tags with natural, keyword-rich phrases is a great way to increase keywords on your site without creating spammy sentences.

4. Avoid Penalties

Search engines are smart enough to create penalties against websites that are difficult to undo. Hubspot credits these two reasons as the most common forms of penalties.

  • Hiding keywords

Believe it or not, people often use the same color background as they do for the text to try and fill up their pages with extra keywords, attempting to make them invisible. Your readers may not be able to see them but Search Engines can and this automatically sets off a spam alert!

  • Keyword Stuffing

As previously mentioned, this will instantly trigger the spam alert and your page will not be approved by search engines.

5. Test How Your Site is Performing

With an array of free online tools available, such as Google’s Webmaster Tools, you can see how your website is performing from Google’s perspective. It is easy to set up and will allow you to see the errors you have been making with regards to SEO for your site. (Word Tracker)

 

6. Set up a blog on your website

For the most part, algorithms reward high-quality websites that provide valuable content to their users. They want to give their search engine users the most relevant and helpful sites possible. To boost the value your website gives to your potential customers, start a blog that provides answers to the questions that search users are asking most. According to Bruce Clay, a blog is a great way to create inbound links, and will ensure your site is “spidered” more frequently than sites that do not use blogs. Blogs give search engines what they want; quality content written in a natural way.

7. Build internal links

CoSchedule loves to link back to older posts from new posts that they create in their blog. This internal linking tactic can help search engines “crawl” easily around your site. It also directs your new readers to older blog posts or pages on your site that they may find useful.

About Amy-Louise Tracey

Amy-Louise Tracey is the Communications Manager at CNW Group. Follow her @AmyLouiseTracey.

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