Sep 23, 2013

SEO Basics: What You Need to Know

by: in SEO

The idea of SEO can be a daunting thought when you first starting thinking about it for your business, especially if you are a start-up company or a small business. Your focus is on finding consumers, generating brand awareness, staffing, networking and the list goes on. It can seem like there is not time for just one more thing, but this one thing – SEO – is critical to the success of not only your business overall, but in helping you achieve networking, staffing, and brand awareness. After all, if no one can find you, no one can work for you, or become a client. So…here it is, a basic list of must-do SEO practices to help you get found:

Set-up your site to help you monitor performance…and tell Google who you are.

  • Install Google Analytics
  • Set-up Google Webmaster Tools
  • Link Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools
  • Set-up Bing Webmaster Tools

    *Both Google and Bing Webmaster Tools will help you see your site the way the search engines do and you’ll be notified of any issues or problems.

  • Create a robots.txt file
  • Create an XML sitemap (/sitemap.xml). Upload it to the root directory of your site and then submit it to Google and Bing via Webmaster Tools. This will help your website become indexed correctly in both search engines.

Develop a keyword list. These are keywords people searching for the products and services your company offers and you can research exactly what those are by:

  • Using the Google Keyword Planner. This tool allows you to input your products or services, your landing page (your website), your product category and Google will give you advice on what keywords to target based on search volume and competiveness in SERPs.
  • Understanding how consumers are talking about your business and products. Pay attention in client meetings or what questions are asked about you business and how you answer those questions. The keywords you use to explain and the keywords your clients use to describe your business are great indicators of what keywords to focus on.
  • Use the above research to narrow down your list to 25 or less. Concentrate on those first. You can always expand your list later.
Optimize your site and your content.
  • Write unique title tags and meta descriptions for each page on your site. Incorporate keywords as possible. Make the description compelling so that the searcher will want to click on your site to learn more. Also, follow the following best practices for the best results:
    • Title tag: No more than 70 characters (including spaces). General structure should be: Page Descriptor – Keywords | Company / Brand
    • Meta descriptions: No more than 156-160 characters (including spaces).
  • Optimize your URLs by including at least one keyword in each URL.
  • Consider the main navigation. Are you using keywords to describe your navigation categories? You should.
  • Create ALT tags to all of your images to help search engines “read” those images. Also, optimize the file names of your images to describe the image.
  • Each page of content on your site should be at least 300 words. Use a mix of keywords to create keyword rich text so that search engines associate your website with those search terms.
  • Develop a blog…and post regularly. And by regularly I mean 2-3 times a week. Posts should be around 300 words and stick to the 80/20 rule. Write 80% of your posts about your industry or industry-related topics (use those to showcase your company as the expert in the industry) and 20% of your posts about your company or brand’s products, services, projects or events.

Lastly, it’s important to note that SEO is not a set and forget it mentality, nor do results happen over night. It does take time, but being persistent and working it into your weekly “to-do” list will provide lift in the long-run.

This is just the short list. There are many other factors to also be considered including link building, social search optimization, Google Authorship and content marketing. It all may seem a bit overwhelming…and if it does, call us. We have a team of SEO experts for companies and brands of all sizes.