It’s impossible today to have a website and not have any SEO consideration for your web properties. But with the explosion of social media and the ability for everyone to be part of the conversation, the way we think about search marketing has evolved as well.
The good news is this: There are basic rules to creating the content on your site that have remained true since the early days of the search engines. They are:
- Page Title –
Always include the keywords you are targeting in the title of your page. By doing this, you are telling Google that whatever content exists on the page should match the content of the title.
- Meta Tags –
These used to have an impact on actual search rankings. But because they were abused, they no longer have any value in getting your site ranked. However, they are very important in earning a click to you site. By default, Google looks for the content found in your meta description tag as the snippet you see in the search results whenever you make a query. This is a fantastic way to get someone to click on your site ahead of your competition, simply by taking the time to write a compelling message.
- Header Tags –
These tags range from <h1> (The largest) to the smallest in size (<h6>). Only use the H1 tag once per page, and make sure it contains the keyword you want to rank for. After that, you can use the remaining tags as often as you like.
- Social Meta Tags (OG Code) –
While Google and Bing are very active and looking for content, the social sites of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter aren’t. Instead, they only keep track of the pages posted by users of their respective sites. Only at that time will the social site bother to index the page submitted. The Open Graph protocol is a simple repeating of what’s already found on a page, they just want it formatted a different way for them to keep track of it.
- Content –
Nothing has changed here since the inception of the web. Content is king. Make sure whatever your topic is about, that you provide information in an interesting way that engages the reader. If you can, include images and video as well – any way to better tell the story.
- Labeling –
When possible, try to name your images with your keyword, and do the same with any other rich media that you can produce.
- Keywords –
Probably still the hardest part of search marketing. While there might be some no-brainers for your industry, it’s sometimes not so easy to know what terms convert the best. At the end of the day, this is what matters the most. You can always start your efforts with the generic and category terms that you wish to rank for. The next step is to visit the social networks of the thought leaders in your space. Take some time to see if the commenters on those sites are talking about your industry with buzz words and slang that you might not have thought about. Additionally, if you can afford to, take the time to invest in paid search. This will tell you with certainty the terms that convert on the web, and you should include them as part of your list.
- Social Profiles –
If you want to be found in the search engines, you absolutely must have a social presence. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you need to Tweet your every thought, but you will need to be somewhat active on each network. This means filling out a profile complete with a picture and all your contact information regarding you and your business. Here are the sites you must have a profile for: Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Plus, YouTube, Pinterest and Twitter.
And finally, we get to the currency of the internet, links. Earning links is what makes the web exist as we know it today. From emails to tweets, the internet is a constant evolution of new information, all accessible by the hyperlink. The basic way to earn links is to create great content. By doing that, anything of high value will get shared around the web. But, we all know that not every topic is going to naturally and easily spread itself. This is where link acquisition comes in.
The easiest way to get links is to link to your own content! How? From your social profiles! First, start on Google Plus and post about the new content on your site. Then Tweet the url on your Twitter account. Next, head over to LinkedIn and post the link on your profile. If your content has a great image, pin it on Pinterest, linking to your content. And, of course, don’t forget to tell all your Facebook friends about your new content. See? Just like that you just created 5 links from some of the most influential sites on the web!
You can also visit social sites like Reddit and Digg where users submit content and let the world decide on the value of the content. Don’t forget about StumbleUpon and Delicious too – all those sites will also send visitors to your site!
And let’s not forget about the traditional link acquisition methods of directory submission and optimized press releases. These are proven methods to get quality sites linking to your site – which Google will see and investigate. When it sees all the linking activity to your site, it will push it up in the rankings.
Of course, there are many variables that go into the algorithm, but I think you get the point!
I hope you found this first article a helpful “crash course” on SEO. There are many other ways to build your brand online, and I look forward to providing more helpful tips in the future.
Paul Bliss has written multiple ebooks covering search engine optimization, has been a speaker at conferences where he covered topics such as performing an SEO Audit, Domain Development and the impact Social media has on your site.
In his ten plus years of experience, he has helped small one-man shops and many Fortune 500 companies earn rankings and build their online brand awareness.
He is a proud husband and father of four children that keep him on his toes!