The Internet is a constantly evolving space. From year to year, in some cases even day to day, the rules for what works and what doesn’t may change. Search Engine Optimization is no exception. The good news is that although changes are constantly taking place, the basis of SEO remains the same. Although keeping up with the new “rules” put into place by search engines may seem somewhat impossible, if you have a good understanding of the basis of what SEO is and how it works, you’re going to be just fine.
If you’re unfamiliar with exactly what search engine optimization is, the actual definition is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine's un-paid, or “organic” search results. These results typically show up in the second or third spot on a search engine results page, after the paid ads. The only way to rank high in the organic results is through following SEO best practices.
So what are these “rules” you should be following? Take a look below for the basics.
Consistently Updated Content
Frequently updated content is one of the biggest components in successful SEO efforts. The more often your pages are updated, the better. Search engines crawl your website and blog frequently, and fresh content is a major plus with them. Also, visitors like to know that they can rely on your blog for frequently updated content. However, there are other things to take into consideration.
If you can’t keep up the pace, don’t set out to update your blog daily. It’s better to update less frequently, but keep it consistent, than to come out strong and then trickle down to practically nothing. If you know it’s realistic that you can update your business blog twice a week, then stick to that schedule and make it count. Quality content matters a great deal, so it’s better to publish two stellar posts a week than five mediocre posts that have little value.
It’s important to remember that you aren’t only writing your blog content to rank highly in the search engines. A major reason for having a business blog is so that you are constantly contributing something valuable to your target buyers. Publishing fresh, informative content that your buyers seek out and appreciate is one of the best things you can do for your business online. Quality over quantity certainly comes into play here.
Use Keywords Wisely
Keyword research should be a major part of your online marketing strategy and is also a big component of successful search engine optimization. Before you do almost anything else when it comes to developing and establishing your online presence, you will need to spend a significant amount of time determining which keywords you are going to focus on.
Choose keywords that you know your target buyers will be searching for when they are looking for products and services online. Then, take into consideration how competitive those keywords will be and how likely it is that your business website will be able to rank highly for them. Try to focus on using long-tail keywords, which are basically longer, more specific keywords that are less commonly used.
After you’ve determined which keywords you will be focusing on, use them wisely. SEO best practices suggest that you use them frequently throughout all content across your blog and website, although you must be careful to not go overboard, which may result in “keyword stuffing”. You should use your keywords in URLs and the titles of your pages and blog posts whenever possible. Also, place keywords in title tags, alt text and meta descriptions. The more frequently they are used, the more likely your page will be to pull in whenever a search for that term is conducted.
Optimization Across All Platforms
It’s easy to focus on your website and blog and call it a day. However, in order to truly take advantage of all that the web has to offer your business, it’s important to remember your social media sites, as well. In every post that you publish on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, etc., incorporate the keywords that your company is focusing on. The more places you are using these keywords, the more likely it is that all of your different pages will begin to rank.
Look at it this way: Let’s say you own a bakery in Charleston, South Carolina and one of your target keywords is “Custom Birthday Cakes Charleston”. What’s better, your website or blog being the first or second result when potential customers search for that specific term, followed closely by your competitors, or dominating the page with your website, blog, Facebook, Google+, etc.? Obviously it’s better to show up for every result possible. Focusing SEO efforts on all of your different places online is the way to get it done.
If you follow the above tips, you are well on your way to conquering the SEO game. As was mentioned, the “rules” change on a regular basis, so in order to keep up with what’s new, it’s always a good idea to bring in an expert to help out. While following these standard SEO guidelines is a great start, keeping up with the frequent changes will put you one step ahead.