Google’s recently revealed top five SEO mistakes made by web publishers (which I discussed earlier) shed a lot of new light on exactly what turns the search engine off when it comes to ranking campaigns. Following on from those tips, it has also revealed six things that it encourages all webmasters to include as part of their SEO work. While these six tips alone won’t be enough to transform a site with poor rankings into a chart topper, they can form the basis for more fundamental strategy changes. Each idea can also be developed further and rolled out into every corner of your online marketing activity.
Although some of Google’s top six tips are quite basic, it’s worth checking that you’re not losing touch with these commonsense approaches. However complicated your campaign, new or old, it’s worth including at least one or two of these tidbits, if only to show Google that your site really does pay attention when it releases best practice guidelines.
Google’s #1 SEO Tip: Be Creative
The gurus at Google place a high priority on creativity. Their top tip is to encourage web publishers to do something cool with their site as part of the optimization process. Standing out from the crowd can be a big ask when you’re focusing simply on getting enough keyword visibility to increase traffic and drive sales. But, adding unexpected elements can assist with the process and actually shorten the timeframe needed to create enough visitor awareness to increase sales by generating other forms of buzz. Interesting pages, content and unexpected concepts can attract backlinks quickly and easily, helping to propel a site towards the top of the SERPs.
Put this Google tip into action by taking stock of all of your tools and resources – don’t forget to include your staff in this and encourage everyone to input ideas. Even those without online experience can make a big contribution and may suggest a fresh idea that isn’t constrained by a knowledge of what is and isn’t possible or ‘traditional’ online. This can then be adapted and developed into something unique. Clients can also help with the creative process –ask them what they want to see more of, what else your site could offer them that it doesn’t at the moment, what they associate with your brand. Even a simple question such as what was the best thing you bought online or got for free from a website can ignite the creative process.
Google’s #2 SEO Tip: Include Relevant Words in Your Copy
This may seem like a very simple tip at first, but it actually encompasses a number of disciplines and skills. You’ll need to think like your customers and really drill down to find out what a user would type into the search engine to find your business. The tricky part here is putting all of your insider knowledge to one side. The example Google gives is that even if you’re trained as a ‘flower designer’, customers may well just type ‘florist’ into the search engine. So to include relevant words in your copy, you need to really get to know your customers. Tools such as Google Search Insights, Webmaster Tools and Analytics are a big help but there’s no substitute for reaching out and asking real customers how they found you and how they would describe your services to friends or colleagues.
When you have the basic keyword list to include in copy, you’ll also need to think about other useful words and phrases such as the company name, its location, brands carried, product names, opening hours and product specifications.
Google’s #3 SEO Tip: Site Architecture
Maile Ohye, Developer Programs Tech Lead at Google, lists the search engine’s third top SEO tip as being smart about site tags and site architecture. Specifically, web masters are encouraged to “Create unique title tags and meta descriptions; include Rich Snippets markup from schema.org where appropriate. Have intuitive navigation and good internal links.”
This third tip represents a lot of work and potentially several programming hours to implement. If you’re a regular Search Marketing Standard reader, you should hopefully have most of the basics covered but, a quick check of all page titles and meta descriptions is no bad thing. Meta descriptions tend to get overlooked in the SEO process because they don’t directly contribute to Google rankings but, a good meta description can act as a great call to action. Consider linking with tip 1 and being more creative with meta descriptions then monitor clickthroughs – can you include more calls to action, be more engaging with language, highlight special offers or seasonal products?
Creating a good navigation structure can be a challenge but, it is one that Google Analytics can help with. Recent changes show the areas of the page most clicked on by visitors, allowing you to visually track the user and their behavior at a local level. To see this information, log into Analytics, click on Content and then ‘in page analytics.’ The hot map of user navigation around each page of the site can help your web designer to create a more intuitive navigation system.
Using Rich Snippets can be varied around the site and used for all manner of content including events – consider adding new product launches, store openings and other useful information that will create a sense of urgency and relevance in your search engine rankings.
I’ll cover the last three tips in Part 2 of this article, which will be posted tomorrow!