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Priyanka Shitole

In talking with many managers and business owners about SEO (Search Engine Optimization), it occurred to me that most of them think SEO is merely the use of h1 tags and plenty of relevant keywords in the body copy of their websites. But that is not the complete picture of how search engines perceive websites to be search-engine “friendly” or optimized. SEO is a process, and a long one, of getting traffic to the websites from search engines in “organic,” “natural” and “free” ways. The major search engines deliver results based on relevance of search terms and content found on the websites.

How search engines (and SEO) work:

Not having a website at all is the worst mistake businesses can make, while the second worst is having one with text that is not readable by search engines. While there is no one-size-fits-all calculation for all types of business and their SEO needs, here are some recommendations that will help deliver more targeted results.

  1. Pay attention to little things and most importantly – use common sense. Don’t trick site visitors or search engines by showing different content to search engines than to visitors. See the infographic below for more best and worst SEO practices.
  2. Make sure your website has information about your business – business hours, phone number, email, address, description of your service or product, and most important: how your product or service is unique.
  3. Keep in mind: most of your website visitors understand a simple explanation. Do not use jargon. The more a visitor has to think about what exactly you are trying to say, the more they will feel your website is irrelevant.
  4. Make sure that your webpage title describes the page in a few words and that content on the page resonates with the title. Be clear on what the page is about.

Let’s say, for example, that I type, “Is blue moon real?” in the search bar. I am expecting myths, facts, history, science or perhaps definition and images.

If you are the owner of a restaurant called Blue Moon, however, it might appear in my search results. If your webpage has no title or an irrelevant one, search engines may show it and I might click on your link. As a result, I will close the window in seconds, because I am not searching for a restaurant. If this happens too often, search engines will consider “Blue Moon” restaurant as irrelevant to search keywords “blue moon.” And that is very damaging to future search results.

Keep description of the pages as simple as possible. Use relevant keywords describing that webpage without overusing them. Use synonyms of those keywords, if possible. Make it clear, concise, and to the point. If someone is on your page to get more information, give him or her the details, but don’t try to over-sell.

How much does it all matter? The following are best practices to help guide you:

WorseBadOkayGoodBetterBest
Cloak Search Engines
do not show a different page to search engines than you show to site visitors
Excess Use of Keywords
avoid stuffing content with overused keywords
Quality Link Exchange
display links only from and on trusted websites - handle carefully
Speed
program your website to load as fast as possible; the faster it loads, the more valuable it is
Fresh content
update website periodically with additional or new information
Quality Content
be real, simple, straightforward and informational
Paid Links
don’t pay websites for adding your website link on their site
“Hidden” Content
make sure background color or text color does not hide or hinder copy
Authentication
verify your site with search engines; verify users as legit or spam
Quality URLs
create short and meaningful URLs with the page keyword(s)
Precise description
give clear information about the page and the business
Head lines/Titles
communicate what the page is about with focused keywords
Spam
do not create links by spamming blogs, forums and other websites
On-Page Ads
don’t make your page ad-heavy
Social Status
be active on applicable social channels to add credibility to the site
Relevant subheads
user header tags with applicable keywords
Engagement
make it easy for users to browse the site in a cohesive flow
Crawl-able Site Structure
create a clear site structure with use of menu, header levels and links
Flagged Spam or Pirated Content
make sure your site is not flagged as a spam site or flagged for using pirated copy
Phony Content
do not use fake copy to trick users or search engines; use meaningful content
Location Relevancy
clearly specify your business location and service areas
Mobile friendly
make the site easily accessible on all devices, including mobile phones
No duplication
don’t duplicate content on different pages of the site
Keywords
include the right keywords that will make it easy for users to find the page

View Infographic

We hope you found this round-up of SEO best practices useful in optimizing your site. And if you need help creating your own search engine optimized content, feel free to give us a shout.

Checkout part 2 and part 3 in this series.

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