From our previous blog post, you learned that SEO is the intentional practice of adjusting one’s website in order to gain more traffic via major search engines, such as Google, Yahoo! and Bing. You also learned exactly how search engines work and how important it was to practice SEO wisely, due to the large amounts of traffic that these major search engines can bring to your site. Now that we’ve peaked your interest and introduced you to the world of SEO, we’d like to continue this SEO overview by telling you a little more about how you can apply it to your website and blogs. In this post, we will discuss 3 aspects of SEO: web page structure, keywords and including links.
Web Page Structure
Because of the way that search engines work, it may look at web pages different than a human being would, so it is important to design it in a way where the search engine can recognize and find it. For starters, any important content that you would like the search engine to recognize should always be in HTML format instead of other formats, such as Java applets, images or Flash files. This is the most simple way to make sure that the search engine recognizes your content, but of course, adding captions or text to go along with your picture or other files is a good way to still get the search engine to recognize your alternate file’s content. If you want to make sure the search engine is seeing what you want it to, you can check SEO-browser.com. This website will show you what is visible and indexable to search engines.
An additional item you need to make sure is visible to search engines is any important link that you have on your page. It is important for your website to have a crawlable link structure. This means that search engines should be able to navigate through the path of your website. It is important to make sure to have direct links to any area of your site that is important on your homepage in order for search engines to recognize their content. Additional items that you need to consider are other characteristics of the pages that you’re linking to, for instance if they require a submission form to enter. These will hinder search engines from seeing their content.
It should come as no surprise that keywords are one of the most important aspects of SEO, seeing as these are the words people actually type in to search for. Determining the appropriate keywords to use and rank should take a certain amount of research on your particular target market to know the type of things that they are searching for in order to understand what they demand and what is most important to them. In addition, once you have chosen particular keywords for your site, you will want to reflect on the results that you see from that keyword. The goal of a keyword should be to drive valuable traffic from the people that you are trying to target.
In general, typical research on keywords should involve the following. First, you need to determine what keywords will actually be relevant to the message that your website is trying to convey. You will want to make sure that users searching your keyword will actually find what they are looking for when coming across your site. Otherwise, they will be disappointed. Once you have chosen a fitting keyword, research it to find what else is already showing up when searched. You will want to search the word(s) in all of the major search engines to see what turns up. This can give you an idea of your competition and where you might fall in the rankings. Additionally, if you find ads that turn up in the search results, it’s a good indicator that this is a strong keyword that is searched a lot and has proven conversions, which is a good sign for you.
Another thing that you will want to keep in mind is that while it would be awesome to use some of the most popular keywords with over a thousand hits a day, this is not your only option (and may not even be your best option). While these words may be the most commonly searched words, they actually make up less than half of all that is searched on the Internet. The majority of searches fall in the category of “long tail” searches. This means that these searches are comprised of many unique searches. While these searched words may not hold the majority individually, together, they make up the majority of Internet searches. Marketers have learned that many times keywords from the long tail make better conversions because of the stage that the consumer is at when they make them. When someone is making a more unique search, this is often because it is more specific, and this is because they are further along in the buying and conversion cycle. Think about it- many people are searching “jewelry” on the Internet, but this is so vague. Someone searching “jewelry is probably just browsing instead of actually intending to buy something. On the other hand, if someone is searching “gold cross necklace,” it is much more likely that they have done some thinking and actually intend to purchase something of that sort.
The lesson here is that just because a keyword has a ton of searches doesn’t mean that it is the best keyword for you. Perhaps a keyword with less competition would be a better option. However, of course, you still will want to check to make sure that these keywords are driving some traffic and would be a good option to use. Wondering how to determine this? Sites like Google Adwords’ Keyword Tool can help you figure it out.
It doesn’t take an SEO genius to know that pages that have more links to them usually do better. Ever since the ‘90s, search engines have used the number of links to determine a website’s popularity. Of course, search engine’s algorithms and methods to rank pages has advanced over time, but links have always been involved. Although there is more to SEO than just links, it is well-known that many of the factors that search engines consider involve links. This is because links not only provides information about the popularity of a site, but it can also show how trustworthy a site is (for example, well-known and trusted sites will usually link to other well-known and trusted sites).
Factors Considered. We want to go a little more in-depth about what exactly search engines evaluate when it comes to links. For one, as we have already discussed, search engines look at popularity. In other words, each additional site that links to your site adds extra popularity and will cause search engines to view your site more favorably. Another thing that search engines evaluate is whether your popularity is “topic-specific.” For instance, for us at Tailwind, other social media marketing websites that link to us are more valuable than, say, a toy store linking to us. This is because our information is relevant to their information. Related sites who link to one another create a network around a particular topic, providing useful information, and search engines believe that to be important. It is also important for the anchor text to provide useful keywords that your website will be centered around. As another example, a link to our website with the anchor Pinterest marketing will do better than one just saying “click here.” Additionally, as previously alluded to, search engines evaluate the trustworthiness of a link in order to make sure that it is not spam. Search engines evaluate links from trustworthy domains, such as university and government websites higher than those from less trustworthy sites.
Search engines also pay attention to how recently your site was linked to. You may have many other sites that link to yours, and that will help you with popularity, but if you haven’t had anyone link to you in a long time, this can hurt you. You need to make sure not only that people link to you, but that they CONTINUE to link to you.
Finally, social sharing has recently become an important factor that search engines look at when sharing links as well. Social sharing is when someone shares your link on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc. Search engines look at these differently from other types of links, but they are nonetheless considered because they show the social power that a site may have.
How to Link Build. Now that you know what you should aim for, how do you get people to link to you and build these links? This is probably the job of optimizing your SEO that takes the most work, but it is also extremely important. There are a few different ways that link building happens. For one, there are sites that will build links to your site naturally without any prodding because they find your information useful and want to share it. In order to get natural sharing to occur, you will need to produce great content that others will want to pass along, and you will need to let them know that it exists by putting it out there. However, there are no guarantees with this type of link building, and it may not be enough. This is where two other strategies can come in. One strategy is to reach out to others- through submitting their sites to directories, paying for listings or emailing their links to bloggers requesting that they reference them. This type of reaching out usually involves providing some sort of incentive for their cooperation, whether it be the extra value your site will add, a monetary benefit or some other sort of reward. The final strategy for link building is linking them yourself through commenting them on guest profiles, blog comments, forum signatures, etc. While this is the least helpful and/or credible option, it can still help in some situations and can be used as a supplement to the other two options.
Starting to feel a little bit more confident about SEO best practices? Stay tuned for the final blog of this 3-part session to learn different tools you can use for your SEO efforts as well as how to evaluate your success.
If you have any additional insights about site structure, keywords or links we want to hear them! Feel free to share in the comments.