Whether you’re an SEO veteran or new to the game, it can be difficult to keep track of the most recent, and most effective, SEO tactics. We’ve compiled a list of the seven most important elements of your strategy, no matter the size of your brand.
1. Use What’s Out There
SEO is a hot topic, and as a result there are several tools that exist to make your strategy more successful. If you aren’t using Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools, or Bing Webmaster Tools, get on that right away. Among other potential gaffes, Google Webmaster Tools will check duplicate content and technical errors, either of which could result in penalties. Further, the Google Keyword Research Tool and Google Page Speed Tools will prove to be immensely helpful to your SEO strategy. Tools such as Browseo and Xenu are worth looking into as well, Browseo will work to locate additional technical errors while Xenu will highlight any broken links. SEO can get intense, but there’s no reason to go into battle unarmed.
2. Wording is Key
Keywords are among the most critical elements of SEO practices. It’s crucial to ensure the body of your site has keywords that support your title tag and also that you place your most important keywords to the front of your title tag. Further, you can reiterate your title tag by using the keyword again within the first 100 words of the text and absolutely within your H1 tag. Your primary keyword should also appear in your page URL. Make sure to keep the URL short and to the point (so as not to intimidate potential visitors) and to use hyphens, never underscores, as spaces in your permalink structure.
3. Size Matters
Most blog posts range between 400 and 600 words, but the ideal length for highest ranking is actually around 1,500. For your title tag, keep it to around 60 characters. You can push it to 75, but steer clear of going beyond that. Because the space is so limited, you’re best off placing your brand name at the end. Additionally, articles and conjunctions are a waste of space; keep “an,” “and,” “or,” and “the” out of your keywords. Meta description tags should max out around 155 characters, anymore and the description will be truncated. Finally, make sure you have at least 100 words of text accessible to search engines so that they can understand the topic of your page or post.
4. Tweet for Traffic
If done correctly, search and social feed off of one another. Your goal should be to align these practices so that you instigate a continuous cycle of traffic. Make sure that your SEO and SMM strategic objectives line up with one another by establishing common KPIs and keyword management. In addition to social media’s ability to bring awareness to web content, it can also prompt other social media users to utilize keywords organically. These off-page strategies can lead to the shared objective of SEO and SMM: on-page optimization. This will be particularly successful if your brand maintains an active blog where you can produce quality content to support both tracks.
5. Ditch the Duds
Because search algorithms change so frequently, it’s not difficult to lose track of which strategies have fallen out of favor. That said, there are a few things you absolutely need to eliminate from your SEO practices. Keyword stuffing and poor back linking is not simply no longer effective, it’s considered by search engines to be unethical. As a result, sites who participate in these outdated practices are likely to be penalized in search rankings. Instead of sketchy backlinks, focus your efforts on social. And instead of using excessive keywords, try focusing on themes to develop more consistent results. Also, utilize synonyms. Using more natural language that’s inspired by, rather than duplicating, keywords will prove effective on the search results page.
6. Change Happens
Search algorithms are constantly changing, and it’s possible they have had an impact on your brand’s SEO, but you likely don’t need to worry long-term. Search engines are constantly working on updating their algorithms, so chances of your SEO remaining impaired in the future are slim. In the meantime, there are a few things you can do to get back on top. First, determine the less competitive search categories relevant to your brand in your geographical area and dominate them. Get working on content that ties you to that genre specifically, earn new reviews in the category, and consider changing the category on search engine business pages. Second, bring it back to basics. With more fierce competition you can’t afford sloppy mistakes, so make sure you don’t have any technical issues on your site. Finally, report the spam. It’s frustrating to get pushed off of the search pages by junk, but you have the ability to influence what gets removed, so act on it.
7. The Other Guys
A huge component of SEO has to do with your competition—whether that be direct competitors in your industry or just other people who may be drawing positive attention away from your brand. Be sure to take a look at your competitor link profiles. There are several sites you can check to see what kind of anchor text they’ve been using: check out Link Diagnosis or Open Site Explorer to start. Additionally, it’s important to ensure you have ownership over your brand’s username on other major networks to protect your reputation and control as much of the attention on your brand as possible.