Building Your SEO Toolkit
Most any job requires a toolkit. That's certainly the case when building SEO for your website.
Strategy is one very important consideration, but so too are the tools and resources that small businesses can use to help maximize SEO and connect with potential customers. Here are a few basics:
This is perhaps the most basic element of SEO but one whose importance can't be ignored. Keywords are the terms that connect a search engine to your website, so be sure that keywords are placed throughout your site. To help, think about keywords from the other end of the process—if you were looking for your site, what words seem most applicable?
Search engines weigh the number of links to a website as a barometer of value and importance. Do everything you can to build as comprehensive a network of links as possible. One simple, yet powerful strategy is to have great content, particularly lists, stats, and infographics with which others will want to connect—referred to as "link bait," according to Marc Frechette of Silvertech, a Manchester, New Hampshire, digital marketing company.
Include your website on all forms of correspondence, and mention it whenever you use social media. A pay-per-click campaign is another option that can bring visitors to your site who will want to link with you. In particular, backlinks (someone linking with you without you returning the link) are a form of link that search engines find especially attractive.
On the surface, videos are a dicey SEO tool since, if nothing else, a search engine can't see your video content. But videos can provide a significant SEO boost.
Strategies include using effective keyword tags to describe your video, providing conversion links (links in the video description that offer viewers a chance to learn more and drive traffic to your website), as well as a written transcription of the video content.
Having a blog on your own site is one thing, but take it further by guest posting and writing blogs for other websites that have a connection with your business. "That promotes you as an expert while building the sort of quality, contextual link back to your website that search engines love," says Frechette.
Directory services can often provide valuable links, particularly directories that review websites for quality prior to including them. Sites such as Yahoo! Directory or YP.com are just two places that offer substantial directories.
Anchor text links
Anchor text is the displayed text found within a hyperlink. To maximize search engine results, anchor text should be relative to the topic of the webpage and contain a few descriptive keywords, rather than just a simple one-word link.
For example, a link to a hardware store's website may show as a highlighted "www.JonesHardware.com." However, it would be more effective for ranking purposes if the anchor text showed "Jones Hardware and Garden Center."
There are a number of Internet-based tools and applications that can help further your SEO muscle. For example:
- The Google Keyword Tool allows you to measure how popular a particular keyword happens to be. "Finding a niche keyword determines how easy it will be to get your site to rank highly in the search engines," says Bronwen Jones of B2marketing in Shropshire, England.
- Xenu Link Sleuth "crawls" your website and tells you if there are broken links. It also identifies duplicate content.
- Google Webmaster Tools offer a clear overview of how your site's performing on the web. You can see which sites link to you and which keywords are most effective as well as other data. Google Webmaster Tools help you adjust content accordingly to better your search engine results.
Search engine optimization should never be a matter of chance. If you know the basic elements to lure traffic to your website, strategy and execution become all that much easier and more effective.