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The Truth about SEO

May 20, 2020

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SEO Defined

Search Engine Optimization is a website best practice that can help increase the quality and quantity of traffic to your website / webpages using organic (free) search engine results. *To learn more about organic versus paid search, click here.

If your SEO is implemented correctly, you will drive more qualified traffic and more traffic in general to your website without spending a dime on advertising, which can ultimately lead to increased leads, sales, calls, emails, subscriptions, etc.

By qualified traffic, we are referring to visitors that go to your site because they are looking for a product, service or information that you provide and not just random visitors that accidentally land on your site and have no interest in your products, services, articles, etc. Qualitative traffic is more likely to convert to a sale or a lead. It is not a bad thing to also drive un-qualified traffic to your site for improved brand awareness. In fact, even an un-qualified visitor can find your site appealing, easy to navigate and interesting, which can lead to a conversion or a returing visit for a future conversion.

 SEO Techniques

Virtually every decision you make about your website build should consider SEO. From the name of the domain, which it is recommended should be NO more than 13 characters long, to the alt tags on your imagery, to the number of seconds it takes to completely load your home page… all together effect your SEO. The following SEO technique list may appear to be a bit intimidating, but do not get discouraged. They are relatively simple techniques to apply to your website and can be completed over time for continuous improvement.

Domain Name

Your domain name is a unique, human-readable Internet address that allows users to visit your website.

Some best practices for selecting the perfect domain name and one that is SEO-friendly include: 

  • short and easy to remember (13 characters max)
  • use a top level TLD suffix of .com for businesses, blogs or personal websites, .org for non-profits, .edu for education, and .net if .com is not available.
  • Avoid hyphens
  • Add a broad keyword, but avoid keyword rich names. For example: BestPastaRecipes.com could make search engine raters suspicious of the site being assosicated with a spam site, however something like PastaYummo.com has the keyword pasta in it, but would not likely be flagged as spam with only one keyword.
Domain Permalinks

A permalink is the full URL listed in the address bar of your browser. Permalinks are unique for each webpage or post on a domain. Some rules to consider include removing function words like ‘a’ ‘of’ ‘the’ as well as verbs like ‘are’ or ‘have’ from the page name. Do not use meaningless page names, such as the page id instead of a more descriptive page name like the title of the page. Use dashes instead of underscores to separate words.

Metadata

Website metadata allows search engines to see and understand what a web page is about in order to display it appropriately on the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) for related search phrases and keywords. Essentialy, it is key data about data.

It is coded on the back end of a web page and not visible to website visitors.

The metadata includes meta tags, title tags, description tags, SEO titles and SEO descriptions.

The most important metadata to focus your efforts on is the meta title tag or SEO Title because it tells the search engines which keywords to focus on. Titles should be 60 characters or less.

Every page on your website should have a well crafted SEO Title and SEO description.

Image Alt Text

Alt Text or Alternative text, are used within the HTML code on a website in order to describe the appearance and/or function of an image.

It is an important attribute to add to each image, not only for SEO purposes, but for accessability purposes as well, since visually impaired users using screen readers, will be able to read the alt text of each image, providing them with more information about the page.

In terms of SEO, having the alt tags on an image, allows search engine index crawlers to index the image properly for a website.

Content & Markup

There are quite a few important rules for the content on a webpage and the readability of the webpage.

Content should be unique, useful, quality content that supplies a demand or helps a user. Do not write content, just to have content.

Content should also be linkable, in other words, you should be able to share it.

The more robust and detailed the content, the more likely you are to use the subject/topic multiple times within the content. You should also include the subject/topic in the title tag, the page URL and the image alt text.

It is recommended to have 300 words or more on each content page.

We also recommend that you use a method of coding that supports embedded qualaties in a search, called Schema Markups or Structured Data. When a search engine crawls your website, it reads the additional data that you coded onto each webpage and then features that data on the SERP when gathering the results for your page in the form of a rich snippet, like a star rating or event dates and event prices.

Content Keywords

It is important to perform keyword research for each page on your website prior to developing your content in order to know which keywords and keyword phrases you should focus on and repeat numerous times within your content.

It could also assist you in determining what topic to cover next in your blog.

However, more important than the actual keywords is the intent behind those keywords. Once you find the keywords and keyword phrases you are looking for, be sure to write content in a way that would assist a user in solving the problem that they needed to solve in the first place.

In order to determine intent, type in the most popular keyword(s) that you found during your keyword analysis, into a search bar and see what types of websites appear on the first page.

Visit this article on hubspot, that describes in detail, how to do keyword research, for a more detailed process.

Dynamic Content

Dynamic content is content that changes based on user behavior, interest and/or preferences. A blog is a good example of dynamic content. Within a website, user’s can search for specific categories, keywords, topics, etc. and the results will vary depending on their seearch. The content that is delivered is more current, and of better quality than static content that does not change.

Dynamic content improves the overall user experience, which in turn, can improve search engine ranking. It helps increase returning visitors and average time spent on your website.

Inbound Linking

Inbound Links, or backlinks, are hyperlinks from another page on the world wide web, to a page on your site.

The more inbound links you have to your website, the more visitors you can potentially reach.

Search engines like them because it is essentially a vote of confidence from other websites. 

It is important, however, that you don’t have backlinks coming from spam sites and other unreputable websites.

Internal Links

Internal linking can help crawlers navigate your website more thoroughly, allowing all the important pages to get crawled and not skipped.

ROBOTS.TXT

Robots.txt file is important for SEO because it tells search engines what pages/folders to exclude and include in the index crawler.

For more detailed information that can assist you in creating the perfect Robots.txt file, visit Neil Patel’s Blog

Website Performance

Page speed is a measurement of how fast the content on your page loads. If your site speed, or more specifically, the time to first byte, is slow, the search engines will crawl fewer pages using their allocated crawl budget and this could negatively effect the search engine index for your site.

You can use the tool Pagespeed insights to see how your website is performing. This tool will also provide actions that you could take in order to help improve your site performance.

Social Media

There are many benefits to launching a social media campaign that links back to your website including:

  • increased visibility and website visits
  • longer content likes created by likes and shares
  • a better understanding of what content is more engaging
  • social media profiles can appear at the top of SERPs

These benefits are indirectly related to SEO. Search engines do not use Social Media shares as a ranking signal, however, the above benefits can assist with your organic search.

To learn more, visit LYFE Marketing’s Social Media SEO: What You Need to Know to Grow Your Business.

Sitemaps

It is very important to submit an XML sitemap to the search engines through Google’s Search Console and Bing’s Webmaster Tools because by submitting the XML sitemap, you are telling the search engines that you consider the pages in the sitempa to be good quality search landing pages and worthy of indexing.

You must remember that if you list a page in the XML sitemap, it should not be blocked in the Robots.txt file.

Website Platform

There are many website platform options available for you to build your website on and some have better SEO options and implementations than others.

In our opinion, the best platform options for SEO are WordPress, Wix, Weebly, Squarespace and GoDaddy.

Software Version

If you have outdated software including plugins, addons, themes, templates, etc., it could hurt your SEO efforts. Be sure to continuously update your website software when updates are available.

Taxonomies

Website taxonomy is a website classification method that helps make it easier for users to navigate and find the content they are looking for.

Websites use menu items, categories (post, event, product, testimonial, etc.), and tags as part of the taxonomy structure. These classifications can assist search engines in determining the topic of the webpage.

Cornerstone Content

Cornerstone content is the most important content on your website. The content on these pages/articles should retain their relevance without having to update frequently with more current information. They should reflect your business mission and goals and should not contain any errors.

These pages shoule be high in your site structure – consider linking to these pages from your home page.

User-Generated Content

User-generated content (UGC) is any type of content (text, photos, videos, reviews, comments, etc.) created by your visitors and published to your website.

Content created by your customers can help increase search engine rankings and drive new visitors to your website. It can also help increase the conversion rate of your website because it is highly trusted by consumers.

The Truth About SEO: Do Websites still need to focus on SEO?

You will see more an more companies trying to tell you that the ‘old’ methods for optimizing your website no longer apply. They will tell you that you no longer need to spend marketing dollars on traditional digital marketing efforts. While there is some truth to these very strong anti-marketing messages that are inundating social media, it is important for you to do your research on the matter. What works for one business does not always work for every business. Standard SEO best practices as described in this article are still recommended for ALL websites no matter your business. Some businesses might want to focus more on reviews, some on quality content. Do your research, or hire an agency to do the research for you, and then make a decision as to where to focus your marketing efforts.

Contact WebDevLite to learn more about SEO and how we can assist you in improving your SEO strategy and meeting your SEO goals!