In the first of my new series of Digital 101 blogs I wanted to look at SEO. These blogs will be short, focussed lists of the practical actions to take to get yourself in a fit state for each key area of digital.
The top ten of SEO:
1. SEO has 3 key areas: technical, content and links. You need to get all 3 right to be fully optimised
2. Links into your site are vital. You should create great content that encourages people to link to you. Be careful not to pay for links as this is considered bad by search engines as it’s not a genuine reflection of the quality of your site. Whilst you do wants a good quantity of links coming in, quality is more important. Hundreds of links from low value sites will actually damage you, not help and you can even get a penalty which is very hard to recover from.
3. Produce content regularly that is relevant to your target audience. Keeping the content fresh is important and also try to include relevant keywords within the copy. Don’t force them in or repeat them in an unnatural way – too many occurrences of a keyword can actually harm you – but make sure they are there.
4. Get the basic right technically. A slow site will not perform as well for example. Anything that makes it harder for the indexing bots to read is bad news so fix it. Make the site clear in terms of clean code, fast loading, working links, logical URLs and the hygiene factors.
5. Have a site map. You should submit our site to Google and you need an XML site map to do that. Make sure you think about the priority of the pages and how often they are updated and include this in the site map. It all helps.
6. Social signals play a part in SEO. They’re not the biggest ranking factor but keep in mind that engagement is useful to achieve. This means that going after huge followers numbers that aren’t genuinely interested in your content just to look popular may harm not only your social media performance but also your SEO.
7. Optimise your tags. Gone are the days where stuffing loads of keywords into your meta tags helped you but the title and description are still important. Consider the keywords you want to rank for and also good marketing copy and get your title and description a strong and unique as they can be. Click through rate is a ranking factor so get this right.
8. Use heading tags. Only include one H1 tag per page. This is a clear signal to the search engines on what your page is about. Use them wisely.
9. Use the alt text. This tells search engines what the associated image is about. It’s useful for people that have sight issues but it’s also helpful in rankings as it is more help you’re giving to Google etc to understand your site.
10. File names are important. I briefly mentioned logical URLs above. Make sure your file names are consistent and logical. Include the relevant keywords in the file names which may just mean making the file name the name of the article with hyphens. Keep the folder structure logical too and don’t make it too deep.
That’s it for this 101. I hope there are some useful SEO tips there to get you started. Feel free to comment and another 101 will be coming soon.
For more on SEO and broader digital strategy you can get a copy of my latest book, Digital Marketing Strategy here.