True Search Engine Optimization has grown beyond the basic tasks of SEO. To see your site grow in rankings you need a multichannel approach.
Basic SEO (or Natural SEO)
The basic tasks of SEO are the things that you do to your own site. These on-site SEO involves topics such as:
- Unique page descriptions on every page.
- Descriptive alt. text on every content image on your site. Content images are images like stock photos or photos that describe your business, product, or event. If the image has text, then use the text as the description. It is okay to use a space character as a description for clip-art type graphics such as a check mark.
- Page headers used in the proper order (e.g. H1 for the main page topic, then H2 for a sub topic, then possibly H3 for a sub-subtopic).
- Title tags and page descriptions that do not exceed the length displayed by search engines. The length is 70 for the title tag, and 156 for the meta description. The length is 140 for blog posts because Google will use that space to display the publication date.
- Use of the canonical tag.
- Use of switchboard tags to tell search engines that a mobile site exists on a separate domain.
- No duplicate content.
- Use of a single URL for a given page. Redirect the non-www version of a site to the www version (or vice-versa). Redirect secondary domains to the primary domain name.
- Use of robots.txt and the robots meta tag to tell search engines what pages not to index.
- Use of XML Sitemaps that are submitted to search engines.
- Placing important keywords for your site in bold. Only bold this text once per page.
- Authorship markup to enhance blog posts.
- Use of the
relattribute on links where necessary. This attribute defines a relationship between the given page and the linked page. Use this on profile pages to link to other profile pages. Use the publisher value when linking to your company’s Google+ page. Use the nofollow value to link to pages you do not want to endorse for search engines.
- Markup content using microformats, microdata, or RDFa. Blog posts, events, business listings, and member directories are great examples of content that would benefit from any of these formats.
- Include open graph protocol where necessary. This is especially useful on blog posts.
A Content Management System (CMS) may automate some of those features. Our SiteBrandBuilder software automatically generates canonical tags and switchboard tags for sites with a mobile site. We also automatically generate XML Sitemaps that list the time a page was last changed. The H1 tag is the main header on most of the non-home page templates.
You may need to consult your hosting company to fulfill the redirect bullet point.
The rest of the points above are general purpose. They are time-consuming tasks done by hand. You can usually do them yourself, but a professional is far more likely to do them faster, more accurately, and produce a significant return on investment.
Advanced tasks of SEO are ones that take place (mostly) off of your own site. They are all inbound marketing related. There is a lot of bleed over between these tasks. These tasks include:
- Search Engine Marketing (SEM).
- Local SEO.
- Social Media Marketing.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
Google Adwords dominates the search engine marketing arena. Google Adwords allows you to create ads that focus on your keywords. You can geo-target your ads to only display for users in a specific location. You can also target your ad to only display at a certain time of day.
Google Adwords works on a cost-per-click (CPC) basis. You tell Google your daily budget and they will not exceed that amount.
Ads can come in multiple formats. Besides text ads you can create image and video ads. These ads show up in search results pages on desktop and mobile. They will also show up on YouTube and inside Google’s Ad Display Network.
Local SEO comes from mapping data. This mapping data is in turn used by many mobile marketing services. You can advertise with them or create specials for users of these services to entice potential customers to walk through your door. You can also view tips and reviews they have left of your business.
It is very time-consuming to sign up for accounts with these services. You should use a dashboard to verify the accuracy of your results. As a bonus, by completing your profile on these services you will build links to your site.
Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing means that you must create profiles for you business and stay active on multiple social networking accounts. Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ are the defaults that all brands must take part in. Google+’s social search algorithm means that shares on Google+ show up in search results.
Thanks to campaign tracking with Google Analytics I can verify that we have gained links to our site by sharing on social media. Twitter and then Google+ are the best networks for building links from new connections. Facebook and LinkedIn are the best (for us) to connect with our existing client base.
The open graph protocol, microdata, and other forms of structure data have tremendous importance. It is worth your time to keep up with trends to use them on your site. Pinterest recently created Rich Pins which let add attributes to your pins. The Product Pin can display price, and availability. Though Twitter does have a Product Card, it does not follow the open graph format like Pinterest. For the cost of the extra work involved Twitter does offer more flexibility.