How I Do Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization is more a matter of common sense than technicalities. Few websites need esoteric SEO.

For the average guy, understanding the basics of SEO copywriting is enough. Keep in mind Google wants to stay alive, and that means they have to deliver websites searching users will want to read. Google also has to put the best websites on the first few pages of search results so that search users will notice the ads next to them.

You will do better in the long run if you stick to the intent of Google, rather than all the tricky details. The tricky details can get wiped out when Google updates it search algorithm, but the core purpose of Google will stay intact.

Choose The Right Domain Name

Choose a domain with your most important keyword. A keyword is simply a word or short phrase most people are likely to use in Google/Bing to search for you.

Many people Google “miami writer” to find me, but people also use phrases like “content writer” or “web copy writer.” I have built content  around these related keywords so my site ranks for them. They are all related to the general field of writing, so Google includes “miami writer” in searches for them.

Your domain should also be easy to easy to spell, memorable, and distinct from other domain names. Avoid dashes, please.

Set Up The Right Navigation

Your navigation (menus) is an incredibly important part of your SEO as well as your site’s organization. Most clients fail to use their navigation correctly. It should be organized based on what consumers are looking for. It is great SEO if you can use a keyword naturally in your menu items. Organizing a navigation means making your site’s content easily accessible to consumers based on what is important to them. It may take hours to set up a good working navigation. It also has to be flexible enough to include new topics in the future. Today’s mobile sites tend to have fewer pages, and therefore less navigation. Related content is organized on long scrolling pages. This requires a different way of thinking about your navigation. And, every top-level page of your navigation should be devoted to content that sells; don’t waste it on things like booking engines that can be placed in side menus.

Focus Your First SEO Efforts On Pages That Sell

Your most important SEO is on your persuasive pages – the pages that sell consumers on why you are better than your competition. These are the pages that matter most to you and to search users. You can still have an About page in your main navigation, but you should also have pages that answer “Why?” and possibly “How Much?” It really depends on the website as to how you set it up. Build out other content later. For example, a real estate agent should build out content that sells his services first and information about neighborhoods second.

Use Unique, Useful Content

Google does not want to deliver five websites with the same content. It wants to give search users useful results. Your content should be unique, not copied from any other site. It should be useful to customers and help them make purchase decisions. And it should not be obviously overloaded with keywords.

Online stores should always include product descriptions. These product descriptions should be unique as well as helpful. Never use manufacturer descriptions; write your own. If you have thousands of products or your inventory changes often, you may need to use manufacturer descriptions simply to preserve your sanity. If so, use a “no index” meta tag on those pages. If you have an online store, you should also include a section for reviews. User reviews tend to reach the top of search results and the content is both unique and free.

In most cases, avoid the use of news feeds that are used by other people. Google can identify where your feeds come from and how they relate to your site. If you are using a feed to provide current and useful information to your customers, it won’t help your SEO but it won’t hurt it either. So, only use feeds when it is really necessary.

Use Unique, Keyword Friendly Titles and Descriptions

Drill down to the nit picky stuff of SEO that is easily forgotten but is incredibly important.

Page titles are powerful SEO tools. Google will index page titles just like page content, and page titles appear in search results. Include a pertinent keyword in your page title; it should directly relate to the page content. Keep it your page titles short – around 55 words and no more that 60.

Be aware that many WordPress templates create the home page without using a page title. Bad idea.

The page URL should be user-friendly or “speakable” – for example, http://mywebsite.com/buy-red-socks. WordPress will use the page title in your URL… but you have the option of changing how this works.

Your meta description (page description) is a handcrafted summary or leading to the page content. It should be accurate and “sexy” at the same time. Keep meta descriptions under 160 characters.

ALT tags work as place holder labels for images that cannot be seen by the visually impaired or may not load properly. Your image file names should be descriptive in ways that help your website – for example, “red-socks-large.jpg.” Your ALT tag should match. Use hyphens not underscores in file names and ALT tags.

About Parallax Websites

Scrolling one-page sites (parallax sites) are popular now but they aren’t very SEO friendly because you have only one page title and a lot of potentially competing “headline” (H1) titles.

Parallax sites can also be difficult to track in Google Analytics.

But these sites are often beautiful and engaging, so web developers use them. To get around some of the SEO issues, internal navigation links (you know, links that skip up and down the page) can help organize your page content to be more SEO savvy.

Keep People On The Page

In my view, this is the single most important thing you can do from an SEO standpoint. If people stay on your pages, it tells Google in a very obvious way that your content is useful for your keyword terms. This is what Google wants from you.

If you can bring traffic to your pages by any means and keep them there, that is the essence of SEO. So, don’t get fancy. Build websites people want to read and use. Google has been saying this in so many words since 2000.

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