Optimizing your website to be found on search engines is an excellent way to market and be found online. It’s marketing, and we need to market to get our message out there and be found by people who matter to our business.
The problem is time. Search engine optimization, done right, requires new content updated weekly, along with a constant eye for site errors and navigation issues that could kill readership and kill marketing.
Reality dictates that you won’t always have that time. Schedule pinches are a fact of life that will always haunt your online marketing. Your solution? Prioritize.
Break down the SEO process and you’ll find 10 tasks that should be handled weekly on your site. Handle these in order, from one to ten, and you’ll maintain your website like a pro. Not enough time? Ticking off those higher priority items on busy weeks will at least ensure you’re covering your bases.
SEO Priorities for Busy People
- Update Your Blog and Social Accounts
Estimated Time: 2 hours or more
Adding new content should be your highest priority. Google and Bing/Yahoo prize new content. Why? Because they’re a business and they want to provide the best content when their customers search. Provide better content that’s updated frequently and they will reward you with higher rankings.Schedule is key to success as Google likes to see change. Set a consistent schedule, like once each Friday or twice a month, and Stick to it like glue.What’s the minimum you should do? An article with at least 300 words, one photo, one link that points to one of your website pages, one link that points to an outside website, and one link that points to your biography. Then, choose a two to three word term in your article that best defines your subject and ensure that term is in your photo’s ALT tag, the first sentence of your first paragraph and an H2 tag at the top of your page. Then, copy a link and a short description and refer back to your article in your social accounts.What should you not do? Repeat content or copy from other sites. Stick to original content every time for the best success.
- Link and Link Some More
Estimated Time: 15 minutes
Search engines rank websites a lot like how people rank restaurants: it must be good if a lot of people are going there.Weekly, or better daily, go to another website’s chat area and create a link back to your website. Write naturally and in the flow of the conversation if it’s a comment. Chat and respond to other people. If it comes up, tell people you work for the website that you’re leaving the link. Be honest and courteous. Enjoy the process.But, leave the link.
- Check and Correct Errors on Google Webmaster Tools
Estimated Time: 10 minutes to 2 hoursGoogle wants you to place high. That’s why they’ll tell you if they’re having problems reaching your content. React by making it easier for Google by fixing errors on your website.To get Google’s help, go to https://www.google.com/webmasters and get your site registered. Then, scan the site and check the number of crawl errors you might have. Use the site tools to make corrections and make sure that Google can read and crawl your site.Don’t discount this step. If Google can’t read your site, then you won’t rank, regardless of how much content you post. Bring in professional help, if needed, but make sure Google can reach your site without error.
- Check Your Navigation
Estimated Time: 15 minutes to 2 Hours
Once Google sees new content and can easily crawl your site, it will want to understand how you structured your content. Site structure helps Google prioritize your content, what pages are on your menu bar, and which pages are under each menu item to better present that content inside its search results. This is called “contextual content”. It helps Google link to pages that may seem unrelated but are actually linked to someone’s search keyword.Each month, you should set aside time to ensure the navigation of your site reflects your pages. Make sure each new page fits inside the structure you set.This is especially helpful when that new content is a blog entry. Help Google by setting it under a context tag. For instance, if you blog about “Common Mistakes Gluing Pipes”, make sure it is set under the section tag “Plumbing”. Otherwise, Google might guess. The more you make Google guess, the lower a page will rank.
- Keep an Eye on Analytics
Estimated Time: 15 minutes to an Hour
Checking on your analytics results is like checking your stocks: do it weekly and look for surprises. If you find a problem, reserve time in the month to fix it. Especially check:
A. Bounce Rate: If a person clicks on a link from a search engine, goes to your page and then leaves your site, that is counted as a bounce. Not all bounces are bad. For instance, a high bounce rate from a “Find My Store” page probably means that people are looking for a store, which is good. However, a high bounce rate (over 40%) from a service description may be bad.
B. Session Duration: Low session times mean people are not reading your content. Rewrite content that garners lower session times.
C. % New Session: Always check how many new and returning users come to your site. You want a balance. However, like your bounce rate, your ratio of new-to -returning users may be different based on your business. For instance, ecommerce sites a larger percentage of their user base to come back where one-time businesses, like emergency plumbing services, should be OK with a low number of returning sessions.
D. Pageviews: Your site audience grows if your pageviews grow. Set reasonable targets for your business and location and reach them with more content. Then, use the Pageviews metric to gauge your success.
This is a two-part series. Check back next week for our final five tactics for SEO success.