Defining the business goal of the web site is critical in determining what resources to dedicate to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) activities. Most business web sites are informational, providing key attributes about products and services. In order to measure the success of the web site, you must implement the capacity to track site metrics. Once you determine a business goal for the web site, you need to work within your analytics platform to define and track key performance indicators associated with your goal. For many sites, our goal is to drive business opportunity by informing potential customers of your products and services and enable prospects to easily contact you. Common contact methods include a site contact form and a phone number to reach your business.
The most common analytics platform for web sites is Google Analytics—widely used and accepted as the de facto tool for managing web site analytics for medium and small traffic web sites. Google Analytics is free and provides key integration with important tools that include Webmaster Tools and Google AdWords campaigns.
Internet search engines, such as Google, continually develop and change the methods for determining organic search rankings. An organic search is listing from a search engine that is determined by search term relevance and does not include advertisements. Search engines generate revenue through paid advertisements, in Google’s case, with AdWords advertising campaigns. You should consider the major search engines: Google, Bing, Yahoo!, Ask, and potentially others.
Creating a SEO strategy that aligns with your business goals should include all paths a potential customer could use to find your web site. The goal is to drive potential customers to your site when they are looking for your product or services. You must decide if social networking is a viable tool to communicate with existing and future customers. Depending on your company focus, consider a presence with the following: FaceBook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google Plus, Pinterest, tumblr. There are many others, some specific to your vertical market, such as martindale.com—a social media site for legal professionals if you are targeting other legal professionals with services.
Search engines rank sites that operate clean and fast. This means that your site should not have old dead links (or 404 errors to search engines). You can evaluate your site performance by implementing Google Webmaster Tools to identify issues and fix them. For example, there may be a link to your site from a blog post to content on your site that no longer exists. This dead link results in a 404 error when Google web crawlers follow links on other sites. You must have a link redirect strategy that eliminates an potential for 404 errors.
Search engines give higher organic search rankings to sites with growing content. Most search engines (Google in particular) place value on content key words—the content on your site. Years ago search engines used metatags to inform search engines of content, but no longer as metatags have been over utilized to game the search indexing system. This means it’s a good idea to continually add relevant content about the products and services you provide to your site—the reason why blogs are so common (and important) to your SEO strategy. In addition, the number of links to your site from other sites increases your organic search rankings.
Keyword content is important and there are a few things to keep in mind. First, keep your titles short, meaningful, and relevant to your company’s products and services. It’s a good idea to use the title phrase (exact phrase) in the first sentence of your content (blog, page, etc…). These keyword phrases should be used throughout the content (node, post, page), consistency is the key.
The sheer popularity of social media by both businesses and consumers created a multi-Billion dollar advertising market. Simply put, it works. Social media sites provide an excellent mechanism to post teaser information about content that link to your site. A common method is to create a post on LinkedIn about the blog your team just wrote with a link to the blog post on your site. This not only creates traffic to your site from potential customers, but also links from 3rd party sites that web crawlers follow (help increase your organic search rankings). You must decide if a social media presence is important for your business, and then dedicate resources to its upkeep. If you are not ready or don’t want to dedicate resources to maintaining a presence on one or more social medal site, don’t do it. Failed or unmaintained social media presence can have a negative effect with potential customers. Start out small, then grow as you see fit.
Keyword Targeting and Advertising
You must understand what search terms your target audience is using and implement those key words throughout your site. Keyword targeting is very important when creating online advertising campaigns. Identifying relevant keywords is vital to the success of an AdWords or other advertising campaign.
- Check Webmaster tools for issues, solve them
- Make sure your site is being indexed, create xml site index for search engines, update it on search engines
- Check caching on your site (if implemented) as well as search engine page caching
- Make sure your have consistent content on your pages and posts, use content keyword consistency
- Create landing pages for ad campaigns, make it easy to track with Analytics
- Link Google Analytics with Webmaster Tools and AdWords
- Use SEO tools (such as WordPress SEO) to identify site issues and suggestions, fix them
- Check all redirect links, make sure 301 redirects are working properly, verify with Webmaster Tools
- Use clean URLs or “pretty” links that have title content in them with 100 characters or less