10 handy SEO tips for non-SEO types
I’ve been devoting a lot of time to search engine optimization (SEO) lately—watching tutorials on Lynda.com, reading articles and blogs about it, and downloading whitepapers. I’ve come to an odd conclusion/metaphor.
Imagine working on a 10,000-piece jigsaw puzzle. You put massive brain power into it, trying to figure out how the pieces go, before going to bed. Then the next morning, you come back to find the picture of your puzzle has completely changed. And every morning, thereafter for eternity, it happens over and over.
That’s what SEO is like.
Google is forever tinkering with its algorithm to avoid its product becoming too manipulated, and those random tweaks are a well-guarded secret. They keep changing the picture, no matter how many puzzle pieces anyone has done. Can’t say I blame them, really.
But, here’s the good news: You’re still working on a puzzle, and if you know the basics for putting one of those together, you have a place to start.
Today, I’m going to share 10 basic SEO staples with you. These tips, I found, are like your “Puzzle 101.” SEO experts, multiple blogs and online SEO courses all recommend these, in various forms. Get these down, and you’ll be ready to face the changing SEO puzzle every morning.
- Load it up with good stuff. Every indexed page on your site should have at least 350-400 words of quality writing/content on it. I don’t mean just keyword stuffing, but actual well-written copy, with good grammar, spelling and syntax. The SEO gods, and more importantly the almighty Google, will heave many blessings upon you for creating a website awash with meaning.
- That said, keywords still matter. The best place for them is in your headlines and subheads (for you coding nerds… H1, H2 and H3 tags), as close to the beginning of the sentence as you can—without sounding awkward or weird. (See tip #1.) Another note about keywords… don’t use the most popular ones. They’re too competitive. You want to be that second or third tier of keyword, just to be a little unique. Also (and this should go without saying), don’t overuse a keyword or pack your copy with it. That old trick may actually penalize your rankings on search engines, so tread carefully.
- URLs are part of the SEO formula as well. With SEO, everyone thinks about tags and keywords. But permalink URLs are an important part of the equation, too. For example: YourCompany.com/keyword. It also helps to use dashes instead of underscores. SEO is really picky, apparently.
- Connect, always connect. By this, I mean to add links to other sites and the ability to share content, pages and your blog on various social media channels. Google gives weight to sites that are hitched to other well-connected sites.
- Call ‘em like you see ‘em. I’ve covered this in other blogs, but it’s worth mentioning again. Name the photos and videos you place on your site with actual, descriptive words. So instead of ST10078645573.JPG, change it to CustomerBuyingSmartphone.JPG. The basic rule is to name the picture or video as most people would describe it. If you have a lot of images on your site, this silly little trick can improve your SEO.
- Make sure your site loads quickly. You’ve got about three seconds. Seriously. Any longer, people will leave, Google will take notice and then, well, I’ll deny knowing you, too.
- Think of SEO as a work in progress. An SEO expert once told me that any SEO effort won’t yield any long-term, measureable results for at least several months. Most people see an initial spike, then a drop off. Don’t be discouraged, but don’t be negligent, either. You’re competing with a bazillion sites out there, and it takes Google and other search engines time to catch up and index them all. Always keep an eye on your traffic, tweak where you can, experiment and see what happens. Over time, it pays off.
- Become a blogger. If you don’t have a blog yet, you need to get started. Blogs have many benefits: They help position you as an expert in your industry, they connect you with potential customers and other industry experts, and—from an SEO standpoint—they help people find you. Of course, the best blogs are actually interesting to read and offer valuable information or entertainment. If you’re self-serving and boring, it won’t do anyone any good… including you.
- Have you gone mobile? Since most of us have our faces plastered to our smartphones for much of the day, it only makes sense that your site is responsive—that is, you have versions of your site that work on phones and tablets. Search engines favor responsive sites, too, and it can really help in your rankings.
- Keep things fresh. If you do a blog or any sort of content marketing, commit! Be sure to update it on a regular basis—search engines will see your site as more reliable, trustworthy and worth visiting.
– Andy Badalamenti is the creative director for CI-Group