Search engine optimization practices are changing all the time. Whenever Google updates its search algorithms, SEO changes – and SEO also changes as we gain a better understanding of the factors that drive traffic. With the world constantly changing, it’s a good idea to conduct an SEO audit of your site at least twice a year. This audit should include:
1. Are your pages optimized according to SEO best practices?
Best practices change. Is your site optimized based on current best practices? Are your title tags appropriately optimized and appealing? Are your meta descriptions optimized to appeal to viewers in search engine results? Does your site include high-quality, optimized content? Are your images optimized?
2. Are there dead pages or broken links?
Dead pages within your site and broken outbound links are a few of the quickest ways to hurt your search engine rankings. Your site – and all of its links – should be fully functional. Check links periodically to make sure everything works. If your site runs on a content management system, you may be able to use a tool to check this automatically – such as the WordPress Broken Link Checker plugin. Check to see if there’s anything available for your CMS or e-commerce platform.
3. Are search engines indexing your site?
You’ll have trouble with search engine ranking if search engines can’t properly index your site. Make sure your website code is properly functional and doesn’t prohibit robots from crawling your site. Some website templates and WordPress themes contain code that can interrupt a robot attempting to crawl your site, and if search engines aren’t indexing it, you’re missing out on search traffic.
4. Is your site loading quickly?
Google values speed in its search engine algorithms. Is your site loading quickly? Test the speed of your site, and consider making improvements to help your site load faster. These improvements may entail everything from optimizing images to changing code – and they may be changes you need help from a developer to make. Speed makes a difference, though, so if your site is painfully slow, you may be losing traffic and search engine rank.
Take a few minutes twice a year to conduct an SEO audit, or contact me to perform a comprehensive one. Most problems can be corrected with a small time investment, which can provide a big return in getting you more search traffic.
Keywords are one of the most basic elements of search engine optimization. Keywords are essential to both paid and organic search results, and they’re the key to helping people find your site, your content, and your product or services. What are keywords, and how do they fit in with the overall SEO picture?
What is a Keyword?
Essentially, a keyword is the series of words or phrases that a subject types into a search engine that pulls up related results. If you’re searching for information on buying a saxophone, for example, you might type: “how to shop for a saxophone,” “buying a saxophone,” “how much does a saxophone cost” or “saxophones for sale.”
For you as a business owner and website administrator, you must ensure that keywords related to your product or services are contained on your site. If you’re missing the keywords that people are searching for, they’ll never be able to find your site. In the above example, say you’ve got saxophones for sale, but on your website you call yourself a “saxophone purveyor” without ever using the word buying, sale, cost or shop – the keywords that people use to find the results they want. Without these important keywords, people won’t find your content!
Long tail vs. Short Tail
Short tail keywords are one or two-word phrases that people may use to look for results, such as “buy saxophone.” Long tail keywords are more specific, extended search queries, such as “find saxophone for sale in Boston.” Short tail keywords are a great way to cast a wide net, but they’re also highly competitive. Long tail keywords give you an opportunity to boost your search ranking for the specific long tail phrase, but there may only be a tiny percentage of the overall market using your long tail phrase.
Ideally, you should sprinkle long tail and short tail keywords throughout your site. In the next few SEO articles, we’ll look at how to figure out what keywords to use, and how to incorporate them organically into your content.