We start talking Search Engine Optimisation with our clients at our first face to face meeting. It starts with that all important choice of domain name – get that wrong and your SEO efforts will always be on the back foot!
We advise .co.uk if your clients are in the UK and .com if they are international.
We try for short, catchy and memorable and also try and include one or two keywords and if you can include a geographic locator, that’s just about perfect.
We also explore keywords and key phrases at our first meeting and we Google a few of those keywords to check out the competition.
Once the site is underway we craft keyword rich title tags for pages and posts, complete all the meta tags and add meaningful alt text to images.
There was a time when that was all you had to do to complete your on-page SEO but not anymore. SEO has now gone way beyond domain names, meta tags and alt text and to get a feel for what I mean, check out this fabulous video from Mr SEO, Rand Fishkin of SEOMoz.
Rand covered a lot of ground there: content, email, branding, PR, outreach, advertising, customer services, community building and I’m sure he mentioned half a dozen that I’ve missed.
I’m not going to cover all those things, but using Rand’s video as a starting point, I’m going to give you my top five tips for bringing your SEO up to date and preparing you for the future.
Boost your SEO efforts by using WordPress and the Genesis theme framework
We use WordPress for all our sites and all our client sites.
Because as Matt Cutts puts it:
“WordPress automatically solves a ton of SEO issues – WordPress takes care of 80-90% of (the mechanics of) Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).”
Matt Cutts – Google Search Quality team
To see why you should be using WordPress to improve your SEO check out WordPress SEO with Matt Cutts
Use the Genesis theme framework for its built-in SEO settings
Once you’ve decided to go with WortdPress you’ll need a theme and we recommend that you use the Genesis theme framework and one of its child themes.
Genesis is renowned for its clean code, state of the art security and built-in SEO features.
Matt Cutts moves over to the Genesis theme framework!
Just heard via this tweet from Brian Gardner that Matt Cutts is now running on Genesis… maybe he knows something!
— Brian Gardner (@bgardner) June 20, 2013
If you want to rank higher in Google then WordPress and Genesis are an unbeatable combination.
SEO tip #1 Make sure your website has a blog
Blogs are fabulous for SEO.
They give the Search Engines a constant supply of material that they can track down, crawl, categorise, index and rank.
Without all that new material what would poor old Googlebot do all day?
And if you are running a business website and you think that having a blog might look a bit too trendy then call it something else.
Your blog doesn’t have to be called blog it can be called news, articles, our work, latest projects, bargain of the week in fact anything that would fit in with your site and allow you to get your message out there.
Here are five reasons why your website should have a blog:
- It allows you to easily add fresh material to your website – when the Search Engine spiders visit your website, make sure that they don’t have to blow off the dust before they can read anything. A constant supply of new material lets the engines know that your website is very much alive and kicking.
- It gives you an instant voice – there’s no easier way of getting your views, ideas or information out there than a blog post. Sit down write your post, add a few graphics, insert a few links and hit that big publish button. That’s you out there on the big bad internet. How easy is that?
- It builds traffic and allows you to target that traffic – when you publish a new blog post put a link to it on your social media accounts. This will increase your traffic and that traffic will be targeted to your goods and services.
- It allows you to target an infinite number of keywords – you can write a post to cover any keywords or keyword combinations. If you run an interior design business you can write a post on floor coverings, you can write a post on wall coverings, you can write a post on ceiling finishes you can write a post on colour coordination, you can write a post on…. are you getting the idea? The more material you put out there – the more the Search Engines will have to index and the more you will appear in the SERPS.
- It’s a great way to become part of a community – in conjunction with your Social Media platforms your blog will allow you to become part of a community that is relevant to the content of your website.
With the availability of both free and inexpensive blogging platforms, your business can set up a blog in a matter of minutes and begin promoting your brand and connecting with customers.
Brian Gardner – Studiopress
Keep your website fresh, increase your traffic, improve your rankings and do your bit to keep Googlebot gainfully employed – add a blog to your website today!
SEO tip #2 Announce your business to the world through Social Media
Not much point having the best website on the planet with the most sought after goods and services in the universe… if nobody even knows that you exist.
Social media allows you to announce your presence to the world and there are platforms to suit every taste.
You can whisper your arrival, you can shout your arrival, you can showcase your arrival with pictures and you can even announce it personally… with a video.
There are a zillion and one Social Media platforms out there but these are the ones we use and recommend:
Twitter – every business should be on twittter. You can tweet as much or as little as you like and you can get involved in your niche by following the relevant hashtags.
To make tweeting easier and to allow you to schedule your tweets use a Social Media management tool such as Hootsuite – the free version is fine.
Facebook – more of a personal platform than twitter. If you decide to use Facebook setup a personal and a business account and keep them separate.
Google+ – another must for any business which wants to get their message across and become part of a community. You’ll also need a Google+ account if you want to claim Google Authorship, and who knows… maybe Google favours those using Google+!
Pinterest – a great platform if your website is image rich and you’d like to show those images to their best advantage.
Linkedin – usually described as the place where people in the same business get together but you can get involved with professions or areas of business that you are just interested in.
Twylah – not really a social platform and it’s difficult to describe what Twylah is, but we love it and it brings us lots of links. Best thing to do is take a look at Twylah for yourself.
YouTube – if you like the idea of promoting your business via video then YouTube is the place for you.
We use all of the above platforms and although twitter brings us the most traffic and Twylah brings us the most links we still publish a link on all of them (apart from YouTube) whenever we publish a new post.
To make it easy for visitors to connect to your social networks and to share your content you can use the following plugins:
- Simple Social Icons plugin – this is the plugin we use top right in our sidebar. It allows visitors to connect with us on our Social platforms.
- Social Circles plugin – very similar to Simple Social Icons plugin but the social icons are round.
- Share Buttons by Lockerz / AddToAny – this is the plugin we use at the bottom of our posts. It allows visitors to share our posts via their own platforms.
- Genesis Latest Tweets plugin – we use this plugin in our footer – bottom left. It’s another way for visitor’s to connect with us.
Two SEO stalwarts – Content and Inbound Links
Although this post concentrates on the newer aspects of SEO no overview of SEO would be complete without a mention of those two timeless stalwarts: Content and Inbound links.
Content – your content is and probably always will be your #1 SEO weapon. You can add keywords to your HTML tags and tweak your content for keywords (no keyword stuffing though) but your content should be well written, interesting, informative, unique and written for people, not Search Engine bots.
Inbound links – one of the metrics that Search Engines use to determine you importance and trust is the number and quality of links that point to your website. The more high quality links you have pointing to your site the more the Engines will trust you.
Never link to spammy websites and never be tempted to buy links. The easiest way to get inbound links is to leave good quality comments on sites in your niche.
To check your inbound links sign up with Google Webmaster tools.
To find out more about Google Webmaster tools take a look at The SEO Professional’s Guide to Google Webmaster Tools.
SEO tip #3 Make sure your WordPress theme comes with built-in SEO settings
I know I shouldn’t say this, but even though it’s really important, filling in all that SEO metadata is boring, boring, boring!
Once you’ve written that fabulous post and hit publish, the last thing you want to do is start filling in meta information.
The only way you will ever fill in your title tags, meta description and meta keywords is if it’s super easy to do.
If your site is powered by WordPress you can use an SEO plugin.
Here are a couple that are pretty popular in the WordPress community:
- All in One SEO Pack by Michael Torbert – a great “no frills” plugin, easy to setup and easy to use.
- WordPress SEO by Yoast by Joost de Valk – the ultimate SEO plugin but best left to the serious SEOer.
There’s only one thing better than a good SEO plugin, and that’s a theme that comes with built-in SEO settings.
On our sites and all our client sites we use the Genesis theme framework, which has comprehensive built-in SEO settings. Check this out for an overview of the Genesis SEO settings.
And don’t worry if you are using an SEO plugin but would like to start using the built-in Genesis SEO features, the SEO Data Transporter plugin will move all your SEO setting over for you – neat eh?
Did you know that your posts and pages can have two titles?
That’s right if you use an SEO plugin or your WordPress theme has built-in SEO settings then each of your posts and pages can have two titles.
For your human visitors – use a clever / witty / humorous title that will make your human visitors want to click and read more.
For Googlebot and the other Search Engine spiders – Search Engines don’t have a sense of humour (yet!) so for them use a keyword rich title that will help you rank in the SERPS.
SEO tip #4 Claim Google Authorship for your WordPress website
If you don’t know what Google Authorship is, type a search query into Google and look at the results.
Some of the results show relevant articles with pictures of the authors next to them.
Google shows those pictures because the authors have claimed Google Authorship and Google trusts that they are the authors of the articles.
The thing about having your picture next to your article is that it encourages searchers to click your link instead of the ones without a picture.
If you want to know how difficult it used to be to claim Google Authorship take a look at The Definitive Guide To Google Authorship Markup.
Fortunately if you’re using the Genesis theme framework, claiming Authorship is a breeze.
You’ll need to sign up to a Google+ account and then all you have to do is enter your Google+ account URL in the Google+ field of your WordPress user profile and save – Genesis does the rest.
And if you want to associate an author with your homepage, you can do that under the Genesis SEO Settings.
For full details of how to claim Google Authorship if you’re using a Genesis child theme take a look at Claim Google Authorship for Your WordPress Website in 3 Easy Steps
Google Authorship basically amounts to the biggest shakeup in search since the link. It’s Google’s way of identifying the author of a piece of content to factor it as a signal of content quality.
Brian Gardner – Studiopress
SEO tip #5 Feed the Search Engines with HTML5 markup and Metadata
If you’ve not heard HTML5 is just about with us and that means cleaner more descriptive code that allows you to easily separate meaning from style.
That in turn makes it easier for the Search Engines to decide what your content is all about.
Two of the SEO benefits of using HTML 5 markup are:
- Single Post Navigation – single post navigation links appear at the end of every post. This links all your posts together and makes it easier for the search bots to find all your posts when they crawl your site.
- HTML 5 Microdata – microdata provides search engines with more information about the contents of a page.
For a detailed description of why you should use HTML5 see the benefits of using HTML 5.
And for a post specifically about HTML5 and SEO take a look at Fixing 5 common SEO problems with HTML5… today!
Not all WordPress themes will support HTML5, but Studiopress are just about to release Genesis version 2.0, which will have full HTML support.
If you want to know more about Genesis and HTML5 take a look at Brad Dalton’s post How To Enable HTML 5 In Genesis 2.0 Child Themes.
BTW – if you’d like to see the first Genesis version 2.0 fully HTML5 compliant theme released by Studiopress take a look at the stunning Sixteen Nine Genesis child theme.
With HTML5 you can finally cure your “divitis” and “classitis” by using semantic and HTML headers to describe your content.
With HTML5 you can give your markup more meaning.
Search Engine Optimisation – the times they are a changing
As you can see modern SEO is a mixture of the past, the present and the future.
What we’ve always done, what’s new and what we need to prepare for.
And if you’re thinking that it seems like a lot to do… don’t worry you don’t have to do it all at once.
Draw up a list, set your priorities and work through it a bit at a time.
Maybe add a blog to your website, download an SEO plugin, set up a twitter account and throw out a few tweets – that gets you started.
If your website is image rich and you’d like to show those images to their best advantage, open a Pinterest account, set up a few boards and start pinning a few pins.
Do things in your own time, at your own pace and and using the pieces of the SEO jigsaw that best fit your business.
SEO is a marathon… not a sprint.
Google only loves you when everyone else loves you first.
Thanks for visiting folks, hope you enjoyed the post and if you have anything to add that is SEO related we’d love to have your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.