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Blogs by date "03/01/13"

10 Rules of Thumb for SEO in 2013

The best practices of SEO are constantly changing every year. In fact, almost every month search marketers are faced with new advancements, algorithm updates, and techniques that shape their SEO strategies. SEO Rules of Thumb

In this short post, we summarize 10 rules of thumb that have seemed to remain consistent over the years with respect to SEO best practices. Each rule of thumb should be well ingrained in your SEO practice.

1. You Can't Out-Smart the Search Engines

There are no tricks to getting good results with SEO. Sure, in the past there have been some automated processes that have made SEO easier (automated blog/link building networks,) but the easy ways of SEO seem to become obsolete (if not complete risky to the website being optimized.)

2. Optimize Pages for Only 1 or 2 Keywords

It's not uncommon for some search marketers to try and optimize a page for 4 or 5 different keyword targets. Although the keywords might be related in some respect, this is not ideal. Either pick your top 1 or 2, or determine if it's logical to create a dedicated page for the outliers. You'll find it's much easier to write short and concise page titles and Meta descriptions when your on-page optimization efforts are more focal.

3. Build an HTML Sitemap

One of the most important aspect of a website that often gets overlooked is the HTML sitemap. This page, which acts as an index or reference source (particularly for search engine spiders,) is considered by many search marketers to be the second most important page of the website (next to the homepage.)

4. Link Logically

Whether your adding internal links throughout your website, or building backlinks from other sources, it's important to link logically. That is, build links that make sense from a user's perspective, not just for SEO value. The link anchor text you use is a major consideration. Instead of using exact keyword match anchor text, use descriptive text and other natural forms of anchor text. Especially for backlink building, it's critical to use a blend of anchor text so that your website's link portfolio appears as natural as possible.

5. Start Integrating Social Media

There's no question that social media is having a profound impact on SEO. Social signals (such as Google +1's and Facebook Likes) are becoming a stronger ranking factor every month. If you have a blog, social media is the place to share your content. This will help inbound traffic to your website, in addition to racking-up the social signals (and search engine authority) of your website. By the way, if you have yet to set-up a Google Plus page for you website or business, this should be a marketing priority.

6. Start Producing Content

With Google Authorship shaping the search results, content creators can earn an upper-leg in SEO. Google values strong content (especially content that's socially favored and marked-up with Authorship.) It keeps a website fresh with newness, and also helps make a website more keyword relevant. Whether weekly or monthly, starting a blog or articles section on your website can offer massive SEO advantages.

7. Keyword Optimize Consciously

The process of keyword optimizing a page is rather simple. In the old days, it was all about cramming the keyword for high density. That is now a risk that can result in your website being penalized. To successfully keyword optimize a page, consider the following rules of thumb.

  • URLs: include your primary keywords in the URL (and avoid including words like "the" or "an") - shorter URLs are preferred.
  • Meta Titles: include your primary keywords only once and keep the title under 70 characters.
  • Meta Descriptions: include your primary keywords once, but more importantly, write a compelling description that motivates users to click into your page.
  • Page Copy: try to use your primary keywords once in an H1 (header) and variations of your keywords in H2's and H3's. It also helps to mention the keyword a few times in the copy (but don't over-do it!)

8. Install Google Analytics

In order to properly track and measure visitor traffic and the level of interaction users have on your website, it's imperative that you install Google Analytics on all pages of your website. Analytics is a must for all web marketers and it can help you troubleshoot issues as well as find new opportunities for optimization.

9. Get Listed on Trusted Directories

Being listing on trusted directories only makes your site appear more trustworthy and credible. In addition, most directory listing that you create will offer a link back to your website, which can significantly help for SEO. A few of the most trusted directories are Yahoo! Local, Bing, Yelp, LinkedIn, and DMoz.

10. Verify Google Webmaster Tools

Similar to Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools enables search marketers to check-up on the health and overall performance of their websites. You won't gain the same level of insights as with Analytics, but you can find out if your website is being flagged for certain problems like: duplicate content, short Meta titles and descriptions, HTML code errors and warning, and other SEO-unfriendly ailments. You can also create and submit a XML sitemap on Google Webmaster Tools which tells Google your website is ready for fresh crawling and indexing.

There are your 10 SEO rules of thumb to keep top of mind with your optimization efforts. Do you have additional questions or concerns regarding SEO? Ask us in the comments section below, or contact us directly to learn more.

 

About the Author
Tyler Tafelsky is highly engaged in many facet's of search engine marketing. He currently heads the Peoria SEO team here at OIC Group, Inc. You can email him directly at Tyler(at)oicgroup.net or follow him on Twitter.

The Essentials of On-Page SEO for Ecommerce Sites

The competitive nature of ecommerce search marketing makes SEO a daunting endeavor for most online retailer. There's a lot that goes into optimizing an ecommerce site. But if you can handle the on-page SEO essentials in-house, you'll have a good jump on the competition before unleashing your off-page SEO strategy. ecommerce seo tips

To help you on your way to optimizing your ecommerce site, below are the essential practices of on-page SEO. The term "optimization" can mean a lot of things. But in this context, optimization is simple making use of keywords in the right places, respectively.

1. Make URLs SEO-Friendly

Depending on whether or not you use a CMS (content management system) for your ecommerce website, you may or may not have control over your page's URL structure. In essence, and like other forms of on-page SEO mentioned below, you'll want to include only the core keywords in your URLs (no need to include throw-away terms like "the" or "and.")

Your keywords for ecommerce SEO will most likely be the product name (brand/model,) type of product, and/or general category of products, depending on the URL or page. Having keywords in the URL helps to define the semantic relevancy of the page. A good tip is to keep your URLs as short as possible, and avoid lengthy URL names.

2. Keyword Optimize the Title Tag & Meta Description

The HTML title tag (or "Meta Title") is one of the most influential elements for on-page SEO and establishing keyword relevancy. It's recommended by most trusted SEO service providers that you keep the title under 60-70 characters. This will enable you to keep your pages tight and focal with respect to your keyword targets. That is, you'll only want to optimize pages for 1 or 2 closely related terms.

The Meta description is a short summary of the page that only is seen on the search engine results page, just below the title tag (or main link headline in Google.) While it's debated over whether or not the Meta description actually plays in a role in on-page SEO, the content will certainly be read if your page is ranking highly in the search results. For this reason, tailor a Meta description that is both incentivizing and keyword optimized.

3. Name Images and Alt Tags with Keywords in Mind

Images not only make your pages more appealing (and help with conversion optimization,) but images can also be optimized for ecommerce SEO. A sound tip in optimizing images for on-page SEO is name or labels your images with respect to your keyword targets. Furthermore, you can keyword optimize images' description and tags (found under the image properties) before uploading to your website.

And then there is the Alt tag for images (which stands of "alternative text.") This is text that should reflect what the image is about for users who do not have a compatible browser to actually show the image. Try to be ethical when keyword optimizing the Alt tag for SEO. That is, write an Alt tag that does indeed represent the image, but is also SEO-friendly in that it includes the page's keyword targets.

4. Tailor Unique and Compelling Page Copy

Whether for product descriptions or just general page copy for your homepage or product category pages, it's critical that the content of your ecommerce site is unique. Too often, ecommerce webmasters or site owners will use the same copy provided by product manufactures (this is particularly the case with individual product descriptions.) Instead, get creative and write unique, compelling content.

The fact of the matter is, when duplicate content gets crawled on numerous sites trying to sell the same thing, the ecommerce SEO value is significantly diminished. In short, Google will find less value in a page that has the same content on various other pages throughout the web.

Other Considerations for Ecommerce SEO

The above on-page SEO tips are essential to ensure your ecommerce site is well-optimized for search. This, however, is only the tip of the iceberg. In addition to off-page SEO (that focuses on link popularity, content marketing, and social engagement,) other considerations for ecommerce SEO include:

  • Making use of videos for product reviews and other ways to engage your target market
  • Building a complete HTML sitemap on your ecommerce site
  • Analyzing and optimizing the steps in your check-out process
  • Establishing an authoritative social following, emphasizing Google+ and Facebook as primary platforms for engagement

Ecommerce SEO can be a tough playing field. Be sure to build your foundation by implementing the tips above. For more information, tips, and resources, visit Click Centric SEO, OIC's ecommerce SEO and marketing branch.

 

Peoria Web Design Company Offices:
OIC Group, Inc.
Phone: (309) 680-5600

Mailing Address:
PO Box 1111
Peoria, IL 61653