The SEO Cheat Sheet

Real estate in high-traffic corridors is expensive for a reason. Businesses in those places rarely fail. It is the same with websites. Websites with high-volume traffic rarely fail. If you haven’t already, you should install google analytics on your website and see how many people are actually going there. People usually have an over-exaggerated idea of how many people visit their site and the actual numbers can be sobering. Fortunately there are many things you can do to improve your organic search results. Here are the first few steps:

Step 1: Setup Your Tools

Install Google Analytics,  Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools.

Create an XML sitemap and submit it to Google and Bing through your Webmaster Tools accounts you just created. If you are using WordPress, you can find a plugin HERE.

Use Google Webmaster Tools to check for 404/500 errors, duplicate content, or any crawling errors. If you get any errors, work to fix them.

Use Google’s Keyword Planner to determine the search volume of keywords and get keyword ideas to try and rank for. What would you search to find your products? What do you think your customers search? Use the Keyword Planner to determine the search volume for different keywords and phrases. From there, the keywords and phrases that have the highest searches should be the keywords and phrases you are focused on ranking for.

Lastly, if you are using WordPress install SEO by Yoast. Now on to the fun stuff!

Step 2: It’s All About Content

This is what Google LOVES! What are keywords and phrases your customers might be searching for when doing research just before buying your product or ordering your service? Create high quality con­tent on a regular basis around those topics so that potential clients or customers discover you.

Ensure every page on your website has at least 200 words of descriptive text. Search engines like Google crawl and index pages based on what those pages are telling them. If you aren’t including enough words (and keywords you want to rank for) on each page, then you will have a more difficult time ranking for those.

Avoid duplicate content. For examples, if you have more than one page with the same product description, it’s a good idea to use the canonical tag on those

Setup your business on other platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. Try to ensure you register the brand name so that the URL appears as Facebook.com/BusinessName. This helps customers find you when they search “Business Name” in their favorite search engine.

Setup redirects. Don’t delete pages or content without first setting up a redirect. Even if you remove a product that no longer exists or that you no longer sell, setup a redirect so that any indexed page gets redirected. If you don’t know where to redirect the page, simply redirect it to your homepage.

Step 3: Page Optimization

Make sure you are using one, and only one, H1 tag on your pages. H1 (header 1) tags often used as the main headline for a page and they usually contain the page’s main keywords.

Make sure H1 tags are used before other header tags (H2, H3, H4). Your header tags should be used in a hierarchal order. For example, H1 tag text above H2 tag text and H2 tag text above H3 tag text, and so on.

Keep your page titles under 70 characters so they aren’t truncated in search results.

Write great page titles that are Make sure they in­ clude the keywords you are trying to rank for but don’t over­ optimize or make it a string of keywords.

Keep your meta description under 150 characters. This is the text under a page title in a search Ensure it clear­ ly describes the page and also include keywords but again, don’t over optimize. Each page’s meta description should be unique.

Make sure you include a keyword in your page URL. Again, don’t over do.

Ensure your images have descriptive ALT tags and file­.

Try to avoid underscores ( _ ) in URLs and use dashes ( ­ ) sparingly.

Step 4: Backlinks

Create a link building strategy. Link building is the process of getting other websites to link back to you. Search engines such as Google see this as a factor in terms of your website’s authority. The more websites that link back to your website or specific pages on your website, the higher Google will rank those pages for particular keywords.

View your competitors’ backlinks and SEO. Use a tool such as Open Link Profiler to see who’s linking to your competi­tion and similar stores, and reach out to these websites and get them to link to you. Use a tool like Open Site Explorer or Ahrefs to see how well a competing or similar website is optimized, their domain authority and what they’re doing right.

Use Google to find Bloggers, Journalists and Influencers. Search for blog posts related to your product or service then contact the journalist who wrote the story directly. Chances are that if they are interested in your niche, they will be interested in what you do. The best part is when one Blog posts a story about your product or service, other blogs will pick it up. This is the single most powerful way to quickly build links and authority.

As a last resort, you’ll find that blogs have a page for you to submit tips. Take a look at Mashable’s Submit News page. There are also outlets like HARO and PressFarm that funnel stories to Journalists that can get you exposure too.

Create business profiles on review sites and sites that will allow you to manage your reputation. For example, Amazon, Google Places, CustomerSearch, Yelp, FourSquare, and Epinions. This helps by allowing a backlink to your website and ranking for searches such as “Business Name Review”.

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