Bringing Together SEO Strategies for Success You’ll Love


Ask the average business owner what they think Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is and a common answer is “getting my website to come up in the search results.” But what does it take to get search results you’ll love? What ranking is acceptable? And just because a user sees your site within the search results, does that mean Cupid’s arrow will hit its mark and cause them to click on the link? Do they stay on your site once they have arrived there?

Addressing these questions as well as others are all components of SEO.  Factors related to SEO can be thought of as belonging to one of three categories:

  • On Page Elements
  • Off Page Factors
  • Technical Features

On Page SEO Elements

Page Titles

The page title has been touted by some as “arguably the most important on page seo factor.”  It is not my intention in this post to argue for or against this claim. Suffice it to say that having a title that includes keywords or phrases and is semantically related to the page content should lead to increased clicks from search results.

 

Meta Description

While the meta description is not actually on page and does not affect search rankings directly, it still plays a part in your overall SEO strategy. Writing a compelling meta descriptions will entice users to click through to your website, which can influence search rankings.

Headings

In the same manner as using an outline for a written document, use of heading tags (H1 – H6) provides structure to your web page. While every page should have no more than one unique H1 tag, the H2 through H6 tags can be used multiple times to break the content into chunks that are easier for users to scan.

Content

In my opinion, content is the most important factor for SEO. Engaging, unique content can not only get visitors to your site, it will keep them there and hopefully result in conversions that may be defined as file downloads, form submissions or e-commerce transactions.

Internal Linking

Links between pages of your website provide information to search engine spiders on which the observations they make are based while crawling your site. Sitewide navigation, breadcrumbs, related information or products and links within the body content are all valuable and should use keyword specific anchor text.

Off Page SEO Factors

Search engines consider not only the number of links coming in to your website, but the source and authoritative value of the originating domain. Keeping an eye on these and working to get valuable links with keyword relevant anchor text can boost search engine rankings. Social signals, while the search engines deny their direct influence on rankings, are important. Any undertakings that result in increased awareness of your brand and visits to your website are worth the effort.

Technical Features such as Sitemaps and Robots.txt

Technical features for SEO make it easier for search engine crawlers to find, crawl and index your pages so they appear in search results. An XML sitemap helps the crawler understand the hierarchy of the site, while the robots.txt can prevent certain pages or site sections from being indexed.

Web pages that cannot be found are not, on their own, an issue when it comes to SEO unless the search crawler encounters a large number of them when trying to index your site. For human users, ensuring that you have a custom 404 page to direct the person elsewhere provides a better user experience and can keep visitors on your site for a longer period of time. Longer visitor sessions contribute to improvements in search rank that you’ll love!

If a page has been moved from one section to another on your site, implement a 301 redirect to the new page. This is similar to setting your work phone to forward to your home phone so you do not miss any calls. A 301 redirect forwards one URL to another and passes along most of the ranking influence (aka link juice) to the new URL.

Lastly, if your site has pages with duplicate content, which is a common problem for e-commerce sites, use canonical tags to tell the search engines which page you prefer to have appear in search results. This will help prevent any “lovers quarrels” that could result in search engine penalties.

No one can guarantee that a website will be in the number one spot in search results. However, keeping an eye on the on-page elements, off-page factors and technical features such as sitemaps and robots.txt can all play a part in improving visibility in search and encouraging users to click through to your website. Your website and improved search results are a match made in any digital marketer’s heaven.


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