Incredibly, we still see big brands ignore the proper foundation of a good SEO program in favor of investing resources into more advanced tactics often discussed in the trades. SEO results often follow the 80/20 rule – 20% of the basic SEO tactics you employ yield 80% of your final rank. In other words, getting the basics wrong means big problems for your site ranking. In light of this, advertisers should take a step back and ensure they first follow these 5 basic tactics for SEO success:
- Original content, please
- Organize, organize, organize
- Don’t forget to tag up
- Good housekeeping is essential
- Simple really is better
Original Content, Please
Many big brands commit the mistake of forgetting to include original content on all pages of their site, instead opting for flashier presentation tech that is invisible to search engines. What’s worse, the homepage often represents the biggest oversight in that regard.
Content on even just a few pages of your site doesn’t get the job done. Advertisers should focus efforts on crafting original, compelling and authentic content for every page of their websites. While a site filled with animations, streaming elements and the latest whizbang tech can be aesthetically pleasing, such sites usually fail to provide information search engines need in order to determine relevance and authority. Each page of a site should include at least a paragraph of original content about the business. Go through each page and ask whether or not the available space contains a message in support of your brand. If it doesn’t, start typing!
Organize, organize, organize
As you go through and fill gaps in content, remember to stay organized. Advertisers should match content to the central ideas and concepts that deserve visitor focus. Do this by pulling out the critical keywords and concepts representing the core ideas of the advertiser’s business. These ideas should form the principal pages of the site. For each page, focus on the primary topic, emphasize relevant keywords around that topic and then optimize toward them.
Don’t Forget to Tag Up
Once each page has original and relevant content, organize it for the search engines using Heading Tags (h Tags.) Not only do these tags formulate headlines that keep your pages organized, but they also provide hierarchy information that tell search engines what is most important on the page. At a minimum, you should have one unique h1 Tag for each page of your site. Advertisers who rely on content management systems (CMS) for site design should especially take notice as these systems often automatically assign h Tags based on the type/size of the text desired and don’t always have your best SEO welfare in mind.
Tagging doesn’t end with just h Tags. Meta Description Tags remain one of the most important website components. Think of a Description tag as an elevator pitch for the page, with the goal of enticing a searcher to visit your site. Meta Tags provide engines with a short summary of each page and should include the main idea for the page in question.
Since search engines cannot see or decipher images, Alt Tags provide advertisers with the opportunity to explain what subjects your images portray. Alt Tags allow you to caption each of your images so search engines can capture this important information. Always ensure Alt Tags are relevant to content on the page and contain appropriate keywords matching your content strategy.
Finally, ensure your pages are properly titled and include Title Tags. Title Tags should be no longer than 70 characters and quickly convey the most important topic of the page.
Good housekeeping is essential
Search engines crawl and index millions of pages across the web each day. While they do a good job of finding what’s out there, advertisers should proactively provide the search engines with updated information about their site. There are two easy techniques to follow:
1. Set up proper 301 redirects. Redirects act as road signs to search engines and site visitors and quickly redirect them to the proper webpage if an old link or URL is used. Without proper redirects in place, broken pages or inactive URLs will contribute to a poor user experience and quickly reduce your site rank. Don’t get lazy – remember to redirect old pages to updated counterparts wherever possible and only link to the homepage as a last resort.
2. Submit revised sitemaps. Advertisers should then submit updated sitemaps to reflect any changes made to their websites. Submitting a new sitemap helps expedite the indexing process and alerts the engines to the fact that new content exists. Best practice includes submitting at least both an .html and .xml sitemap.
Simple really is better
Marketers need to ensure their sites are not only user friendly but are properly constructed to ensure they load quickly and efficiently. If your site takes too long to render, not only will your bounce rate suffer as users give up waiting – search engines may penalize your site rankings due to a poor user experience. If your site takes too long to load, consider reducing page weights by lightening or killing off bandwidth-hogging animations or images throughout the site.
Forget about advanced SEO if you haven’t first covered the basics. You’ll only cost yourself time and effort and you won’t yield a positive ROI until you’ve got these five simple SEO basics handled.
Oliver Nelson is currently the Associate Media Director, eDR across several healthcare, pharmaceutical and OTC categories with a focus on digital display, social media, search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimization (SEO.) Most recently, Mr. Nelson worked on the largest drug launch in US history. While Mr. Nelson’s passion lies with SEO, he has over ten years’ experience in retail and corporate marketing, sales and advertising and has managed both online and offline media campaigns for several private and public organizations.