With so many elements involved in designing and maintaining an online presence, sometimes it’s easy to forget that our websites need some behind the scenes technical lovin’ too (that’s SEO, not S-E-… well, you get the picture).
While not nearly as sexy as technical lovin’ sounds, it’s extremely important for the health and relevance of our websites. This is especially true in the eyes of the search engines that are constantly reviewing, indexing and ranking sites to ensure web users are always served the best sources to match their queries.
That’s where SEO comes in.
SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is any actions designed to improve your website’s search engine rankings.
While we do what we can to monitor key indicators and optimize our posts and pages – all relatively low hanging fruit, there’s a whole laundry list of additional actions that could (and should) be done to keep a website competitive.
That’s why I got really excited this week while reading Marc Ostrofsky’s Get Rich Click when he advised that reproduction of the following list IS allowed, but must contain the following copyright information: “100+ Ways to Increase Your Search Engine Ranking, Copyright 2011 by Marc Ostrofsky, Author, Get Rich Click. The list appears in the book Get Rich Click and at GetRichClick.com. All rights reserved.”
Given the publishing date of the original list (2011), and the speed at which search engines and SEO tactics change, we’ve made every effort to review, remove and/or revise each point to ensure this list is relevant for you in 2017.
Part 1: What You Can Do Now to Improve SEO
Content and SEO
- Unique content that is relevant and different to that on another site gives you a big boost.
- Make sure you incorporate a call to action such as “click here” or “call now” on your web pages. They’re good for optimization and increase conversion.
- Keeping your content fresh and adding new content to your site improves your ranking. Making small changes to your existing content is not nearly as effective as adding new content. For this reason, a blog linked to a business website often gets higher rankings than just the business site on its own.
- If you’re an employee, and you’d like to improve your importance and credibility in the company, convince your CEO to blog. This strategy can benefit your company’s optimization efforts in many ways, the least of which is good PR. (There is an opportunity here for firms that need someone else to blog “on behalf” of the CEO or another executive.)
- Bolding and italics emphasize important words and phrases. But overdoing this can count against you with some search engines.
- Older content on your site doesn’t work as well for you as recent content does. Change your copy often and don’t allow other firms or resellers of your products to use the same copy on their sites.
- Place Keywords in heading tags, otherwise known as titles and subtitles. In your code, they look like this: <H1>, <H2>, etc. These placements rank higher. You also need to include these Keywords elsewhere in your content.
- Rather than optimizing a page for multiple Keywords, focus on optimizing for one Keyword per page.
- Include Keywords in text at the beginning of your pages. Placement counts, though not as much as anchor text, title tag or headings.
- Place Keywords in <alt> tags (i.e. add descriptive text when inserting pictures). The search engines’ “crawling spiders” (the bots that index sites) can’t read images, but they do read their textual descriptions in the <alt> tag. So if you have images on your page, fill in the <alt> tag with some Keywords about the reference images. Since searches for images often include the word “image” or “picture,” it helps to add these to your tags. The same is true for videos.
- Place Keywords in metatags.
- Utilize “long tail keywords.” These are keyword phrases that contain two or more words. To help with this, consider the way in which prospective searchers enter in their queries. For example, use the phrase “conversation rate marketing,” rather than optimizing for each individual word of conversion, rate, and marketing, respectively.
- Secondary Keywords can often be more valuable to you than primary Keywords, especially when competition for the primary Keywords is fierce and everyone else is optimizing for them. “Lexus SUV Houston, Texas” will get you traffic that is better targeted than is “Lexus Texas.”
- Be sure to optimize your RSS feed with a Keyword-rich description.
Inbound and Outbound Hyperlinks
- The anchor text (the hyperlinked text shown to the reader) of your internal links matters, but not so much as the anchor text of your inbound links.
- When you write copy for anchor text, consider linking longer phrases and questions. Lots of searches enter phrases as queries: “How to hang window blinds.” If you use this phrase, it can help to link all of it. Building pages around these phrases helps, too.
- Pay attention to the text surrounding the anchor text. The context of a link is an indication of its relevance; irrelevant text clues spiders to spamming.
- Provide links to the profiles you maintain on social media sites. Connections with social media and practicing social marketing improve your competitiveness in searches. Also, using your business name on your Twitter account is an excellent way to boost your rankings and improve your exposure.
- Want to speed up the “spider” process on your brand new site? Get an inbound link from a quality site.
- Sometimes website designers use an image or a graphic for the link; this tactic is far less effective than linking text. If you absolutely must use an image as a link, you absolutely must make sure to use an <alt> tag (see point #10).
Domain Names, Links and Site Submissions
- Attempt to secure domains (web addresses) and filenames with relevant Keywords.
- When feasible, use a dedicated server for your site rather than a server that hosts multiple websites. It minimizes the risk your site will be affected by problem sites that may share your server. You also tend to get more inbound links if your site doesn’t “time out.”
- Things like broken links, errors and password-protected areas make for a site that search engines cannot index.
- Spiders love complete, up-to-date sitemaps. You can present yours in basic .html or use Google’s sitemap format.
- Spiders love large sites, so in general, the bigger the website, the better the ranking. Having a substantial site with excellent content is also a great way to get more traffic. However, take care to create ways visitors can easily navigate a large site.
- The age of your site, overall, suggests it is respected and credible. This works in your favor.
- When your site fits into a topical theme, you get a boost for all the pages related to this theme.
- Try to locate your files in your root directory. This gives you a better boost than placing them in lower levels.
- Have separate domain names for each site related to your business. That is, instead of putting several of your business sites under one “umbrella” domain, give them different names. This may boost your overall rankings in the search engines.
- Include your site in local-search search engines. This can help boost your ranking in organic search. Be sure to include your location in your anchor text: “Our office in Brooklyn, New York,” rather than basic anchor text such as “Our office.”
- Protect your internet real estate by registering your domain name(s) for 5 or 10 years so you don’t need to renew it annually.
Understanding and Benefiting from Indexing and Ranking
- Search engines want natural language content. Don’t overstuff your text with Keywords. It won’t work. Search engines look at how many times a term appears in your content. If it is abnormally high, this may count against you. A natural “keyword density” (the number of times your keyword appears on a page, divided by the total word count, expressed as a percentage) should be approximately 2-3%.
- If you are on a shared server, complete a “blacklist check” to be sure you’re not on a proxy with a spammer or banned site. Their negative notoriety could affect your own rankings. Remember, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with” (Jim Rohn). This principle holds true on the internet too. To find blacklisted sites, visit urlblacklist.com.
- Be aware when registering a domain by using services that block domain ownership information; search engines may view you as a potential spammer.
- Don’t over-optimize your Keywords, and especially don’t optimize for Keywords that have nothing to do with your business. This can constitute Keyword spamming; it will definitely undermine your rankings and you may be blacklisted.
- Don’t use the same title or metatag for all your pages. It’s a good idea to make your metatags unique, and to utilize related long tail keywords.
- Keep your outbound links under 100 per page. Over-populating with outbound links can lower your search engine ranking.
- Over-doing linking can lower your ranking, especially if you have lots of inbound or outbound links with the same site. It looks suspiciously like link-buying and spamming. Even if you aren’t penalized, only a few of these links will count.
- Outbound link-to-link farms and other suspicious sites may count against you. Be very careful of linking to “bad neighbors.” As noted in #33, the late great Jim Rohn would not approve.
- When three or more sites link in a loop (linking from A to B to C, and then linking back to A) or in an even more complex way, you could be penalized for behavior that looks like reciprocal link trading.
- Use images judiciously. A page that is all images and no text is a terrible optimization tactic.
- Search engines also can’t see podcasts, audio files or videos. Include a transcript or good descriptive copy so these elements can get indexed properly.
- Spiders can’t adequately handle frames. If you don’t absolutely need them, don’t use them. They could hurt your ranking.
- A search engine won’t ban you for poor coding and bad design, but it may not be able to index your site. That hurts you a lot.
- If you use copyrighted material without permission or violate the law, you can get blacklisted. (You also could get sued…)
And on that note…
I’d like to take this opportunity once again to thank Marc Ostrofsky for allowing this reproduction from “100+ Ways to Increase Your Search Engine Ranking, Copyright 2011 by Marc Ostrofsky, Author, Get Rich Click. The list appears in the book Get Rich Click and at GetRichClick.com. All rights reserved.”
This is a fairly exhaustive list, and we’ve still got a ways to go to get to SEO tactic #99!
Please join us next time for Part 2, where we’ll round out the rest of 99 Ways to Improve SEO.
Until then, Best Always,