There’s a good chance you’re already taking steps to manage your site’s SEO factors, but as any top San Francisco SEO company will tell you, there’s always a way to improve. Any expert will advise that nothing’s ever perfect, and you should never make the catastrophic mistake of thinking you’re site is “done”. That’s partly because newer content usually shows up higher in the results, but also because SEO industry practices are an ever-evolving arms race, and it’s important to keep yourself competitive in a changing marketplace.
As a top San Francisco SEO company, we make it our business to keep abreast of the ways our industry is evolving. That means watching for changes in the industry (like emerging tools or algorithms) but it also means we read a lot of blogs, columns, and articles about SEO practices. However, if you go looking, most of the advice you’ll find offers minor tweaks and improvements for SEO veterans, and most of it is opinion rather than hard fact. Here, we’ve done something different. Below, you’ll find good, solid advice for SEO rookies and veterans alike. Even if some of this is familiar, we’re sure you’ll find something new to add to your SEO arsenal.
1. Publish Good, Frequent, Relevant Content
This is the first and best tip for promoting your site, and it’s also all too frequently ignored. What’s the point of optimizing your site to the gills, just to stymie readers with bland, formulaic, or irrelevant content? Making sure you’re offering something engaging, consistently and reliably, is your first step. Once you know you can deliver that, then it’s your time to start drawing in traffic.
2. Be Found – Keywords Trump Brand Recognition
If your brand name or product name is instantly recognizable, you probably don’t have a lot of trouble attracting customers. But for everyone else, leading with a product name or a company name can be self-defeating. It’s important to lead with the keywords that people will actually be searching for. Lead with what you do before moving into who you are and why you do it. If people aren’t likely to search your business by name, then let it take second place.
3. Give Your Hyperlinks and Images Real Names
Don’t let yourself use page numbers. It can be tempting, from an organizational perspective, to list pages by index number, but you rob yourself of a massive opportunity. If you rename your pages with dynamic, relevant names, especially with keywords, you’ll have more memorable and more compelling URLs for customers, and your pages will have an automatic advantage over pages with generic titles when your site is being added to search engines.
It’s just the same for images as for page titles; it’s an opportunity that’s too often ignored. It’s more likely that someone will find “keyword.jpg”, and follow the image to your site than that they’ll ever find “DSC_123_45.jpg”. Don’t miss out on any opportunity to make your content more relevant.
4. Take Full Advantage of Youtube’s Video Descriptions
When you’re uploading videos (and you should be!), don’t let the chance to provide a compelling description slip past you. We’ve seen people add just a few vague words, expecting the video to speak for itself, but why should you make that mistake? Youtube allows descriptions of up to 4850 characters, or close to 1000 words. Don’t just describe the video; use the space you have and write a mini blog post. Keywords are great here, too. Visibility is key, even for video results. Make sure to include links back to your site or relevant pages, and if you have the space, you can tie the video back to your site’s mission statement. Seeing a video is great, but it won’t help your site if people don’t know why they’re seeing it or what it means in context.
5. Develop a Resources Page
There are two great reasons why you should add a page for links to other relevant, reliable, quality content (with their permission, of course). They’ll appreciate the connection, and they may even link you right back, for one. For another, if you’re linking to appealing content, and customers are following those links regularly, your status and your authority increase dramatically, and your priority in search results will increase accordingly.
Now, while it’s absolutely true that a tighter mesh of links is generally better since it offers viewers more points of access to a site, don’t think that just any link will do. Consider this next tip.
6. When It Comes to Links, It’s Quality over Quantity
It does no good to have your content linked from a dodgy source. Most people won’t find it, the people who do find it won’t trust it, and your site’s reputation may drop by association. You can even lose priority from having too many links if those links don’t seem relevant because certain algorithms will have difficulty distinguishing your content from spam. One good link from a reliable source is worth more than any number of shameless plugs. Be sure that you can feel good about the places people will find your content, as well as the quality of your site itself.
And good pages need to stick together, too. If you find a site you’d feel proud to link to with relevant or related content, get in touch and see if they’d like to return the favor. Collaboration helps everyone. Partnering up with another site to create a piece of content, for instance, can often get you twice the exposure for half the work.
And while we’re on the subject of getting twice the exposure…
7. Don’t Be Afraid to Update and Republish Old Content
While people often ignore older posts, it’s often worth taking a look through your previous posts and extracting the gems. Update them, freshen them up, tweak them to make them more relevant, and then republish them with a new date. So long as you’re clear, when you repost it, that it’s an update, it can be a great way to get some more life out of posts that you were particularly proud of. When you’re updating, make sure that all the links still work, all the facts are still accurate, and that you still have all the relevant permissions in order.
8. Avoid Fancy Drop-Downs
There was a time when everyone seemed to think that animated drop-down menus were the epitome of web design. They were flat wrong. All that flash and java slow down loading speeds, alienates a considerable number of users with spotty connections or older hardware, and it often makes your content unsearchable. Spiders (loosely, automated web trawlers that index pages for search engines) don’t load the drop-downs, so they only see your headers. Make sure your page titles and keywords are visible right from the start. Your page priority will increase, and your users will thank you.
9. Stick with One URL
Even if you’re using redirects, you still undercut your own success by changing your main URL unless it’s absolutely, unavoidably necessary. A lot of search priority is given by seniority. If you change your URL, as far as the search engine is concerned, you’re an entirely different site with no status or reputation. You’ll have to work overtime, just to regain the respect you used to have. The corollary is that you should be very careful choosing your URL in the first place. Expect to keep whatever you choose.
10. Don’t Rely on Auto-Sizing Software for Mobile
A considerable percentage of your site traffic is coming from mobile devices. It’s time to stop prioritizing the desktop experience or thinking that the mobile version of your site should resemble the desktop version, only smaller. There are so many reasons for this, that this entry could be its own article. Many of your design elements won’t resize cleanly, especially your embedded share buttons, and you’ll have ungainly overlaps that can even block other clickables. No one ever wants to scroll sideways, and the extra few seconds to turn a device to landscape, plus the additional data to reload the page again, will frustrate your users unnecessarily. I regularly avoid a few of my preferred sites deliberately, opting to wait until I’m back at my desktop, for exactly this reason.
Think of it from your user’s perspective. Would you want your site to have structural hurdles to be overcome with every visit, or do you want yours to be one of the comfy places where everything works properly?
The sites shouldn’t even have identical content. Mobile users are probably visiting for a different purpose. The two most common reasons someone will be browsing from a mobile device is that they’re in a hurry or they’re trying to amuse themselves. You can meet both these needs by arranging your mobile site to offer more content up front, with fewer clicks. Scrolling on a mobile device feels much more natural than scrolling on a desktop, so don’t be afraid to make your pages a little taller. Desktop users will prefer to have more options with less scrolling, but with the convenience of a mouse, they won’t mind a few extra clicks to get where they’re going. Mobile is about immediacy. Desktop should be more geared toward precision.
11. Use Google to Your Advantage!
If you’ve read this far, you’ve probably got a keen interest in SEO. For most people, “search engine” is nearly synonymous with “Google”. So, why not avail yourself of some of the tools that Google offers specifically to content providers?
For instance, when you log into your Adwords profile (and if you haven’t got one yet, you should make it a priority to get one soon), there’s a keyword generation tool. It helps you refine a topic into some likely keywords based on search query data. You can sneak a peek at the kind of content it generates in the Adwords section itself. Try searching for your own topic or product as intuitively and naturally as possible, and take a look at the phrasing of the ads in the upper right of the search results.
Those are the pages Google thinks you’re most likely to click on, based on some very complicated math and a massive amount of raw data. Now that you’ve seen what Google expects will appeal to most people, adopt it. Title your own content accordingly, and don’t hesitate to use the keywords you’re seeing advertised. It’s all about staying competitive!
The Value of Working with a Top San Francisco SEO Company
We’re a top San Francisco SEO company, and these are the sorts of practices we use every day to help businesses like yours succeed. If you’re creating strong content, we can help that content reach the widest possible audience. Our business, first and foremost, is visibility, and we’re at the cutting edge of the SEO industry. That means constant innovation, research, and experimentation. We can help your content get the exposure it deserves.
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