Was revisiting your website’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices on your list of New Year’s resolutions? Probably not. But if improving your site’s ability to attract prospective clients was, then there’s still time to add it.
SEO techniques remain a vital aspect of effective digital marketing. While it continues to evolve with advancements in technology (think mobile and voice-activated searching), there are several tried-and-true SEO tactics that can lend your site the competitive edge.
Content is still critical. While video content is steadily rising in popularity and effecting change in SEO practices (Google is experimenting with video ads in search results, says Forbes contributor Jayson DeMers), the written word continues to dominate. Research by Google’s Zero Moment of Truth found that customers check out an average of ten pieces of content before making a purchase.
If your site has well-written, engaging content that speaks to the needs and interests of your target audiences, then search engines will deliver the business-boosting results you seek. But how can you confirm your content is keyword-aligned with your audiences’ own views on their needs and wants? The answer is keyword research.
Use a keyword tool (like Google’s Keyword Planner) to brainstorm keyword ideas that your content should feature. You will discover the search terms your target audiences actually use in relation to your products and/or services – and may be surprised to learn you were using “insider” terms they wouldn’t even understand (never mind use). This exercise will lend valuable insight to laser-focus your SEO efforts.
The next steps are to include use of the keywords that are important to your business and your prospective customers into your website’s content, and to do so in a way that is not trying to scam the search engines but inform them and your human visitors.
Titles do matter. Each page of your site has a title that can be viewed at the top of the browser tab. Make sure your titles are unique to reflect page content. A good rule of thumb is to leverage your primary keyword phrase at the beginning and introduce your brand at the end. Titles should be short and sweet – only 10 to 12 words (60 characters, including spaces).
Word counts count. Marketers typically tout the importance of being succinct. But with SEO, not having enough body copy on each web page can be a drawback; search engines can’t match the relevance of keywords to user searches without enough content on your site giving them the signals they need. Each page should have between 200 and 600 words of copy. Use the keyword only once in the first sentence and then just a few times afterward (unlike the earliest SEO practices, it is not advisable to stuff your content with keywords). Remember to also incorporate keywords into photo captions and blog and social media posts for content that resonates with your audiences, and may also have the side effect of helping to increase rankings.
Begin your SEO campaign by benchmarking your website traffic and then use regular reports from your site’ Analytics to measure your increase in the free organic traffic coming from the search engines. Seeing increases month after month will ensure that you’ll stick to at least one of your New Year’s resolutions!
About Susan O’Neil, CEO – @Website Publicity