If you are running a business or working as a marketing guru for one, then Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is of paramount importance to you. Regardless of your niche it's almost a certainly that you shouldn't ignore SEO.
If you operate in a local business setting it is ABSOLUTELY vital you get into SEO - backed up by some neat recent research.
What is SEO?
Let's not confuse the matter, let me indicate what SEO is in its most basic crude form.
Trying to manipulate your web activity in order to rank your target website page(s) higher than your competitors.
Manipulate is a word that can make some folk feel queasy, yet the sooner you embrace the word the sooner you'll be on track with what you have to do. I don't mind being called out as a manipulator of SERPs (search engine results pages) - it is a mere question of semantics. Call it optimising, call it editing, call it authoring, call it encouraging, the fact is if you want to beat your competitors to number one on Google for your target keywords you have to have a mind-set of manipulation. It's not a bad word, it's just how to think.
So with that said here are a list of 8 things which are a good indication that you don't understand SEO, and therefore should roll up your sleeves and learn!
1. You do not use Page Titles
When you write content for your website focus on a particular string of keywords and make sure the page title reflects that. The page title is different to the heading (see below). The page title is what is used in the link that is constructed in search results pages. It is the text you see when you hover over the window tab at the top of your browser.
Think about this for a moment, just a moment. Google is a computer, it is not a human. It is not particularly good at guessing what your page is about unless it is specifically targeted to a topic. You have to do all you can to help the robots of a search engine understand exactly what you are writing about. You also have to do everything you can do to help a robot think your text is more important, or has more authority, than your neighbours. I've mentioned Page Title first as it is MASSIVELY important.
2. You have not idea what a Heading 1 is
I'll admit in the good old days before we had WYSIWG editors (those boxes where you format copy) we had to hard-code web pages. Hard-coding a web page was a damn fine way to earn about SEO because it forced us to understand page construction at the code level.
In HTML language H1 is the largest heading you can have, and more importantly the most significant to help Google understand what your page is about. This is a big indicator. Usually you can find the H1 tag in drop down menus, but not always. One way to check if your pages have H1 tags is to "view source" on one of your pages and search for it, actually look in the code. If you can't find it you have a problem.
3. You stuff your pages with meta keywords
This is a dead give-away that you do not understand SEO. The fact is that you could stick 1000 meta keywords in your site and Google will simply ignore them. That's correct they have no bearing what so ever, so do yourself a favour and stop using them. Meta keywords are different to "tags".
4. You never write meta descriptions
This is what Google does want to see in your pages. If you do not use and write your own meta descriptions Google will take text from your pages itself and formulate something. In the SERPs the meta description is the text you see under the link entry. You should use this text to create a call to action if possible, including the keywords, and something interesting which might encourage a click through from the SERPs.(check out the meta description for this page you may like it).
5. You do not use anchor text in urls
Anchor text is the words that are used when constructing a link to click. The classic error is having links with the words "click for more". This is cool for a human, a human knows there is more coming if they click, but a search engine wants to know "more what". Anchor text is important as it is a way of calculating what a page is about. For example if 100 links with the anchor text "cooking carrots" link to a particular page Google is getting some damn fine indicators about that page. Anchor text your links.
6. You don't have a Google Places entry
With any location based search you'll find that Google Places dominate the results pages. If your business doesn't have an entry yourself how are you going to compete? People don't flip to the second page, if you're not on the first page you're in the cold.
Obviously if you are not in the location based market the above is not so important for your business, but still not to be ignored. If you don't claim your place a competitor might and you may have some bad reputation on your hands.
7. You do not create compelling content regularly
Compelling content is content that people will naturally want to link to. Forums for example are great vehicles for SEO because with each entry that is written you have another link to your business in Google. Any of the user generated stuff is usually a good thing as you are getting the masses to aid your cause - building a hub of authoritative information. In addition compelling content is content which naturally gets link. For example if you like this article you'll share it (go on you know you want to), and you may even link to this site or page, even better! The more links pointing to this page the higher in the SERPs it will appear (generally) for its subject.
8. Your page is filled with third party widgets
Yes, if your site if crammed full of widgets for various things you are doing one thing in the eyes of a search engine and that is slowing down the page load speed. Page load speed is something to always aim to lower, it's becoming very important. So, remove the clutter, get back to basics.
So there are a few warning signs that you don't understand SEO.
We love social, of course, but we also grew up living and breathing SEO and still know it's where a ton of eyeballs fall. Of course combining both is best!
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