Many things can be measured in terms of days, weeks, months, or even years. The constantly evolving nature of the Internet, however, demands a more accelerated time frame, where things are measured in seconds, minutes, and hours. What may be popular, trending, or successful right now could become a distant memory tomorrow.
This continual ebb and flow in the online world requires that online marketers and website designers perform site optimization in a way that ensures as much longevity as possible – despite the fact that all too often, the words “longevity” and “online” generally don’t complement each other very well.
For the most part, SEO has consisted of three primary methods: (1) continuing to use SEO that has worked in the past (“if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”), (2) integrating strategies that are overlooked and underutilized in an attempt to create a fresh perspective with content that is rarely seen, and (3) leaping ahead of the herd by employing innovative techniques that have not been time-tested or vetted through other means.
With all that in mind, how do you know which SEO methods to use on your own website to drive traffic, generate interest, and cultivate a base of prospects (readers, visitors, customers, etc.) that will keep coming back? You really don’t know, and the best way to implement SEO strategies into your website design, online marketing, content writing, or other Internet-based activity is by finding out what’s out there and giving it a try. What works for someone else may not work for you, and what has failed miserably for another site could propel yours into an unheard of dimension of popularity and success.
Here are 27 SEO strategies and techniques for you to examine, contemplate, and integrate into your website to increase your exposure and attract more interest in what you are offering, whether it’s information, ideas, products, or services:
- Be creative. Never follow someone else’s lead, because you’ll always be in second place, at best.
- Include ALT text for every image or graphic that is contained on your site. Images are part of the site’s content, so a description like “Luftwanstelbadtt, Germany’s oldest castle” is much more search engine pleasing than “001_39023.JPG,” and it also lets visitors know what the image is supposed to be if they have a slower-loading internet connection or the image becomes broken for some reason.
- Use long-tail keywords as often as you can. By using a more specific keyword (long-tail), you are ensuring that visitors with both general and specific search terms can find your site. (An example of a long-tail keyword would be “living on a budget as a single mother” rather than “living on a budget” or “budget living.”)
- Do not use deceptive anchor text with links to your site. Google deciphers linkage and attempts to determine if the landing page a user reached is actually the one they wanted (based on the link they clicked), and if it was not, the website can be penalized.
- Determine your keywords, research them thoroughly, and place them naturally. Don’t stuff keywords, don’t use keywords that aren’t relevant to the page’s data, and don’t include them in content where they don’t seem to fit.
- Stay away from selling links on your site. If you do, make sure you nofollow them. And it’s probably just a better idea not to sell them in the first place, because Google will likely change their mind on the nofollow and make it noselling.
- Blog often, and promote your posts through your website, social media pages, and other online outlets. Make sure your blogs are relevant to your industry and link to pages on your site where appropriate.
- Do not employ page coding strategies that prevent a user from clicking/using the BACK button. Google’s Webmaster Central Blog has an article on this and specifically refers to performing this underhanded tactic, where an advertisement-laden page is displayed instead of the previous page the user had been viewing.
- Establish a valuable linkfolio (“link portfolio”) by placing links back to your site on popular, reputable, and authoritative online locations. These can be your social media sites, industry-specific directories (not “free for all” directories), through the use of affiliate marketing, and cataloging sites.
- Optimize your above-the-fold content for quick loading and minimal advertising. Site visitors want their information “right now,” and if they have to wait to see it, they’ll go somewhere else in a hurry. This tip is especially critical for mobile versions of your website (because Google seems to think that, based on user data, mobile phones can deliver information faster than the speed of NOW).
- Provide high quality, in-depth content. This is straight from the search engine’s mouth. According to Google, users are turning to search engines more often for information on a much broader scale than before, and they are seeking bigger quantities of data.
- Create a sitemap. Both users and search engines like sitemaps.
- Make sure your website’s pages load quickly and accurately. Nothing is more frustrating than waiting (and waiting and waiting) for a page to load, and when it does – it’s only half there.
- Avoid faulty redirects and smartphone-only errors on mobile versions of your site. Again, from Google, regarding misdirection of links that provide a generic or main page result rather than the intended page when a mobile user clicks a specific link.
- Make use of keywords that are phrased in a way that real people would use them. Don’t use “Denver residential sanitation repurposing facility” if you are a “trash recycling business for homes in Denver.” People search for things in the way they would be said in a spoken conversation, not in a way that uses technical jargon, buzzwords, and officious-sounding titles.
- Make use of page titles and Meta descriptions in ways that emphasize your specific focus (via keyword insertion). If someone is searching for “rare cat breeds” they won’t find you if your titles and descriptions say “exotic feline genus and species.” (This is part of the “real world phrasing of keywords” tip.)
- Find, read, and use as many free SEO tools and resources as you can. While a great deal of the “expert” SEO advice out there may not truly be expert, it can still be useful. Learn all you can about SEO and use what sounds logical.
- Avoid duplicate content, period. Google’s Penguin update targeted sameness in website content, and that could be anything from copying text from another site or even duplicating your own content from page to page. Don’t do it. You will be punished.
- Develop and publish resource and information-only pages on your website about industry or niche specific data. Create something that WANTS to be shared and linked to. Not only can this boost your status as an expert or authority figure, it can also help generate popularity via linking.
- Don’t include an internal link (to another page on the site) on any page on your website unless it’s important to do so. Just because your site has 10,000 pages doesn’t mean links to all of them have to be on every page of your site.
- Create content for people. The ultimate judge, jury, and executioner for your website’s content is the person who visits it, not the search engine that crawls it. If you hold the #1 spot on Google and your content sucks, people will visit #2 or #10 or #1,000 because they are providing what the USER wants to see.
- Observe what your competitors are doing and learn from them. Whether your competitors are wildly successful or flaming failures, you can learn something from what they are doing.
- Develop a unique and creative branding scheme to set yourself apart from the pack. If your brand, company, content, or site is plain Jane, who is going to remember you five seconds after they leave your site?
- Create hyper-local content wherever possible. If you have a target audience that is geographically restricted, capitalize on that in every way possible.
- Create longer content, blog posts, articles, etc. Longer content is ranking better on Google than shorter content on the same subjects, so write more (and make sure it’s quality stuff).
- Make use of social signals within your site’s content. Google is looking more and more at how users respond to a site and are taking that into consideration when it comes time to rank a site in search results.
Search engine optimization is not some mythical concept that gets bandied about by attendees at technology conventions. It is a method of making your website as attractive to potential visitors as possible, getting them interested in what you have to offer, engaged in your content, and coming back for more. The secondary goal of SEO is to make Google happy. No website will likely ever reach THAT goal.