In the past, if you wanted to generate traffic from search engines such as Google and Yahoo, you had to either employ someone or perform a certain level of trickery in order to get anywhere. Thankfully, those days are firmly behind us and now it’s all about the content itself (and rightly so). Out of the window is the dark art, known only to a select few and in comes the rewards for good, relevant content.
But with that said, writing good content isn’t enough. You need to make sure it is fully optimised in order to get the most out of it SEO wise. The list below will seek to address just that by way of 10, easy to follow tips (rather pointers) that any webmaster can apply to their content in order to truly squeeze out as much search traffic as possible.
Page Names / Permalinks
Some would argue that the page title is the most important element of your site/page for SEO. I would argue its the page name or permalink. Page names should always be keyword based (where possible) as it is a huge signal to let Google etc know what the page is about. As an example, if your article is entitled “how to start a blog”, a good permalink would be /how-to-start-a-blog/ as opposed to /page1.html or /?page=1 etc. You could also opt for how-to-start-a-blog.html if using static page names. But don’t overdo it. If you’re targeting a keyword set surrounding “Cloud Hosting”, a page named /cloud-hosting/ would suffice – not /cloud-hosting-services-solutions-provider/ etc.
The page title is of utmost importance. Your homepage and your sub pages. It should describe what is on the page and contain the primary keyword/focus of the page. Lots of people make the mistake however of working in too many keywords into the title which doesn’t make it read well at all. This is extremely off putting so just limit it to a handful whilst maintaining a natural flow/readability.
Whilst Google will trawl through your site and crawl every page it finds a link to (eventually), you can speed up the process by creating a Google Sitemap. You can either do this manually or use one of the many Wordpress plugins out there to do it for you.
Showing Google specifically where all your pages are is a sure fire way to get every page crawled and cached and it is particularly handy for those who have great content buried deep in their website which runs the risk of never being crawled.
Image Naming / Tags
Quite an old school SEO technique, but still relevant. In short, make sure your image names are descriptive and you use alt tags in a similar fashion. It won’t do much for your regular positions and rankings but will make you appear in the Google image search which can yield lots of traffic depending on the niche you’re operating in.
You could argue that image search traffic is poor from a conversion standpoint but every visitor can yield a potential share to a converting visitor so for the little effort involved, it’s worth doing.
Lots of people rely on header/footer navigations to link to the various parts of their website and whilst this is great from a usability standpoint it’s not so good in the eyes of Google as they favour links within your content massively over sitewide navigation systems.
In order to address this, make sure you link to other sections and other articles from within your posts. This is a great way to get content crawled and also pass the necessary weight.
Above the Fold Content
The content appearing above the fold is what is going to be given most importance, on any site or page. It is important you balance this content with the below keyword optimisation but also your main CTA (call to action) area where you either divert your visitor to your core products or perform your key action.
But like with all optimisation, it’s important not to over do it. Don’t overload this area with lots of text/keywords as it will be completely off putting to your visitors and that will do more harm than any page layout filter would.
Yes I said optimisation, not stuffing. You should still build out a keyword list as you traditionally would but it’s important you don’t overdo things. A couple of instances here and there of your keywords will suffice and obviously as per the above where possible make sure there is a presence in your page title and page name.
Keep in mind also that you don’t need the keywords in their full, long form. The individual words that make up the phrase can also be dotted about the page and of course make sure all the content containing such keywords is formatted correctly and ultimately reads well.
How you format your content can have a huge effect on your rankings. Don’t just opt for block after block of text as even if your text is good, it will trigger filters based on what Google knows is a “good article”. At the end of the day, it’s a robot, it can’t read your content but it knows how other popular articles are formatted from around the web. This is what it looks for in your content.
To address this be sure to use lots of headings, sub headings and bullet points. You should also accompany your textual content with complimentary imagery where possible.
Google has a lot of page layout filters. It can detect where your ads are placed and determine if they’re going to be off putting to the user or compliment your content. It is because of this you need to be careful where your ads are placed as not to trigger these filters or more importantly as not to put off your existing search visitors so they click back and increase your bounce rate.
In my opinion, you shouldn’t be placing any ads above the fold whatsoever. Instead place in the sidebar along side your primary content or within the content itself. People have an extreme case of banner blindness as it is and tend to avoid placements right at the top of the page anyway, so there is little point in risking triggering any filter for a few extra clicks.
Google especially loves fresh content so make sure if you run a blog for example that your latest posts are output on your homepage. This keeps things fresh and keeps the search engine crawlers coming back. Don’t go overboard though, you don’t want to be showing fresh content on every page load. Just make sure the likes of Google can find your fresh content as and when you publish it.
Now obviously the above isn’t going to lead you to hundreds of thousands of visitors per day. But if done correctly it can lead to a LOT more traffic. It all depends how much of the above you have addressed prior to reading this article.
The important thing to remember, with any of the pointers is not to over do it. Too much optimisation is always a bad thing so please look at the list as a whole then run through and think how you can apply it to your content/site. The best performing sites are always the ones which on first glance don’t look massively optimised, but in reality, they are.