SEO can be a mysterious process to folks who are not involved with it on a daily basis. For people out there that aren't deeply involved in the optimization process, and maybe don't want to be, there is a desire to find out what the quickest and most efficient SEO updates are. Here are 10 items that will have the greatest impact on SEO rankings with the least amount of effort.
Here is a good list to start with:
1] Keyword Research - This is the most important step because in this step you define what the most valuable keywords are to target. The target keywords for any SEO campaign should be the keywords that lead to the most goal conversions. A goal conversion point can be anything from a PDF download to a phone call to watching a video. The best conversions are always ones that lead to traceable ROI metrics (e.g. purchases, leads, etc).
2] Competitor Research - It is also very important to find out exactly where your competitors rank in the search engines, what keywords they are targeting, and what sources are giving them inbound links. Inbound links are proven to be very valuable to the search engines as they reaffirm the relevancy and credibility of a website.
3] Write Shareable Content - It's not enough any more for a site to just have well-written content...it's becoming more and more important to create content that people are willing to share. The search engines look at how many people are sharing and linking to a website, which means there is growing need for interesting and thought-provoking content.
4] Optimize Title and Meta Tags - When Google takes an inventory of sites on the web it is looking for help to find out what the most relevant results are for a given search. The title and meta tags are one of the easiest things to update in order to tell Google what your website is all about.
5] Optimize Headings and Subheadings - Another easy way to tell the search engines exactly what keywords are most relevant to your site is by updating the headings and subheadings on your site. This is another "low hanging fruit" SEO activity.
6] Use Title and Alt Attributes - When a search engine crawls a website, it needs help to know what an image is and where a link might go. Make it easy on them by including title and alt tags for links and images.
7] Optimize File Nomenclatures - What this means is that when creating a website and uploading different pages, images, and media, name the files to tell the search engines what keywords are relative (e.g. image for a baseball page should be "red_wooden_baseball_bat")
8] Upload a Robots.txt file and make sure 301 redirects are setup - A robots.txt file is the first thing the search engine "bots" look for when beginning to crawl a website. This tells them what to inventory and what not to. Also, making sure to only have one version of the website URL for visitors is important. Otherwise, you can split SEO value between two URL versions (i.e. www.marketingadept.com and marketingadept.com).
9] Upload an XML Sitemap - Go to an online resource like this XML Sitemap Generator to get an XML sitemap file for all the pages in your site. Once you download this sitemap, upload it to the root domain for search engines to find. This will help ensure that they inventory all the pages on a site.
10] Use Checklists and Validators - Use a tool like this for validating a website's links and pages. This will help you find out about any errors, such as broken links, in your website. To Google, this is like walking through a clean house or a cluttered, dirty house.
There are a number of tools and resources that can be used to help throughout this process. The main thing is to strategically approach your SEO campaign and do as many of the recommended SEO best practices as possible. This will help you (the small business owner) rank in the search engines and ultimately drive highly qualified visitors to your website. From there, it's up to you on what you'd like to do with them!
Please reach out to us if you'd like to learn more about a targeted, strategic SEO process.