Every year there are a ton of blog posts and articles devoted to “What’s new in SEO” or claiming that “SEO is finally Dead.” While SEO as an industry is in a constant state of change, there are a few consistent actions you must do in order to build an effective SEO campaign. SEO is not dead, and far from it. It is an essential piece to your over arching inbound marketing strategy. When your site is optimized for search correctly, you can drive a ton of traffic from people who are looking for the products and services you provide. In the next few months I’m sure you will see enough articles on what’s new with search, so this post is going to be devoted to what’s NOT changing.
SEO has been helping businesses reach the right customers since the creation of the internet search engine. This idea of “Googling” something we don’t know about or need help with is ingrained into our culture. Search is an essential part of our online activites. One of the most common misconceptions I have to “unteach” business owners about SEO, is the thinking that it’s just a one-time deal. This couldn’t be further from the truth. SEO is an on going process in which your site is being tweaked, promoted and analyzed to make sure you are reaching your target persona. In order to achieve this, you must have these 3 basic SEO constants as part of your over all strategy.
How healthy is your website? Do you even know that answer? Your website is the foundation of you online marketing efforts and if the foundation is cracked, everything you build on top of it is compromised. On-page SEO is all about making sure you have a strong foundation. Google, Bing and other search engines crawl your site on a regular bases and if your site has a number of errors, many of which you probably don’t even know are there, you’ll be less likely to be awarded higher rankings. Some tools such as Google Search Console or Bing Webmaster Tools can give you some insights into the health of your site. But in order to get all of the information and details, having a professional SEO audit is the only way to go. We run audits on each of the sites we manage every month to make sure that they are as healthy as can be. Here is what we recommend you should check when running your own or getting an SEO audit of your site.
Site Visibility: This looks at how accessible your site is to the search engines. This section should answer the following questions.
Meta Issues: Meta data allows you to talk directly to the search crawlers. Making sure that your site has the proper title and descriptions is a big deal. While descriptions aren’t used as a ranking factor, the crawlers still read them. More importantly, if the are congruent with your page’s content, they will be displayed in the search results. This can help with a higher click-through-rate. (Just because you have a description set, doesn’t mean the search engine will display it.) Here’s what to look for with meta.
Content: Content is the backbone of your website. You need both quality and quantity to succeed. Content audits are important to understand if what you have is effective and personalized for your audience.
Links: Linking, both internal and external, are huge. Link errors on your site are big red flags for the search engines.
Images: Images are the most common error I see in SEO audits. They are a great way to tell the search engines more about your site, if they are marked correctly. While a crawler may know an image is there, it has no idea what the image is about, unless you tell it. Here’s what to look for with images.
Speed: Speed is critical. People now have a shorter attention span than a Goldfish, so if you're too slow, they are gone. You can check your site speed using Googles Pagespeed Insights. Check your site for both desktop and mobile speed. They are different and both matter big time.
Semantics: When you have an opportunity to give Google and the others search engines more information about your site take it! That is what semantics are all about. Using H tags you can draw attention to important keywords. Schema markup helps to make sure that the search engines return more informative results for users. Using Rich Snippets will allow you to tell the search engines what your data means, not just what it says. Learn more here. Here are a few things to look out for.
Manual link building has been a cornerstone of SEO since it’s inception. Having quality, high PR sites, linking to your website is the most important factor in getting your site ranked. Linked building is and will always be a large part of SEO. Just to be clear, I am not talking about 100 backlinks for $5 deals you can get over on Fiverr. I am talking about real link building. Where site owners come together and build link bridges to content that helps each others end users. When link building, it’s not just the PR of the sites that matter, but the context of the link as well. Cruise liners linking to hotels near a port is a good link. But if they were linking to a dentist in another state, this link would be out of context and could actually hurt more than help. This is a very complex part of SEO and one that takes patience, creativity and a little luck. Eric Ward wrote a great article on why manual link building will never be obsolete. Check it out here.
Link earning is just as important. Creating content that attracts visitors and industry leaders not only to your site, but compels them to share and link to your content is huge. This is a great way to get backlinks from places you may not have found during your research process or have had a hard time getting in contact with. Link earning starts and ends with great content. Understanding your audience is key to delivering the content they are looking for. For SEO purposes, you continue to build your site map with keyword focused content. The better content you create, the higher chance of earning links, the better your SEO will be.
3: Analyze and Adjust
Understanding what you are doing and whether or not it’s working is a must. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results. According to that definition, there are a lot of “insane SEO campaigns” out there. While On-page SEO and link building are a must for every industry, there are a number of other search signals that aren’t so concrete. What works in the medical field, may not be as effective in the legal field. By analyzing your data on a week to week, month to month and year to year basis, you will be able to see trends and focus your efforts in the right areas.
While SEO is changing and adapting, there are a few things in this field that are consistent. You need to have a healthy site with as few mistakes as possible. You need to have a link building and earning strategy. You must track, analyze and adjust to maximize your ROI. Just putting to work these 3 simple processes, you’ll have a stranger SEO campaign than most.
If you have any SEO questions or comments, let us know below!
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