Still struggling with Search Engine Optimization and how to do it properly? Think of SEO as the very picky head chef the Internet. Whether human visitors or bots, a strong SEO strategy helps your visitors enjoy the best of what you have to offer. And just like your favorite restaurant, the presentation of the meal is as important as the taste. Not using SEO is like throwing a $75 steak on a Corelle dish and slapping a side of grocery store coleslaw alongside it.
Implement SEO into your site’s infrastructure and visitors to your site will chow down your content (rather than your competition’s), stuff themselves on your products and return again and again.
Ready to belly up to the SEO buffet?
Listen To What Your Customers Are Ordering
Think of your SEO strategy as a menu built by search engines that are listening very closely to their customers. Internet searchers tell search engines what they’re looking for and the engines do their best to deliver up the tastiest treats. A user’s reaction to what’s served is how content is filtered and sorted for future searchers.
A good example is the use of the words “holiday” and “vacation” between Canadians and Americans. When a Canadian books a trip to the Caribbean, we’ll say we’re taking a holiday (an American would likely say vacation). We can understand each other because we’re human. But if you’re trying to rank for Caribbean vacations to American visitors, your content becomes backwash to the search engines.
Secret sauce: Ask your customers for feedback on your site. Do they find it helpful or confusing? What would they add to make it more useful?
Get A Good Sous Chef
Once you’ve figured out which keywords are important, it’s all about assembling and timing. Depending on the size of your site and the type of industry you’re in, you may have very different keyword strategies for every page. I once helped map keywords to a site that was 925,000 pages – there were a lot of sous chefs working in that back kitchen.
Secret sauce: Build a site map in an Excel document and critically examine the content of every page. From there, pick keywords that you know are relevant (from your research) as well as good descriptors of your on-page copy.
Garnish Your Dishes
Knowing how to use keywords in your on-page copy and your backend meta data can mean the difference between a beautifully presented site and one that doesn’t earn a repeat visit. Search engines are lazy exacting when it comes to keywords and your visitors are no different.
Secret sauce: The average Internet searcher consumes 7 words on your site before deciding if it’s worth sticking around, which is considerably more bites than you’d give that steak if it wasn’t what you ordered. Know where to put your keywords so they’re devoured by search engines and users.
Measure Your Success
Even the most ego-engorged Cordon Bleu chef knows that to be successful, his guests actually have to like what he’s serving. Considering how lazy discerning Internet visitors are today, you need to continually measure your efforts. Start by adding tracking software like Google Analytics on the backend of your site – but don’t stop there.
Secret sauce: Do your own research by searching your competitors sites. Look at their site with a customer’s eye and find out where you can slip in and eat their lunch, so to speak.
Don’t Forget Dessert!
Ever notice that dessert is spelled with two s’s? It might be because dessert’s supposed to be fun and indulgent. Topping off your SEO efforts with keyword anchoring is the proverbial cherry. If you’re going to make an ending happy, you might as well make it gloriously happy.
Secret Sauce: Think carefully about internal and external links and the keywords you use to anchor them to your pages. Adobe still ranks best for “Click here” so don’t bother competing with them – you won’t win anyway.
Julia Rosien is the founder and Chief Idea Officer of SocialNorth, a social media strategist firm as well as founder and owner of GoGirlfriend, a travel-based website for women. Julia serves on various boards of directors. She is currently the 2013 Chariman for Withit.org, a non-profit organization for women in the home and furnishings industries and Chief Marketing Officer of a startup tech network for women – Women Powering Technology.
Co-founder of Canada’s first 140 Conference and its master of ceremonies as well as a presenter at TEDxWomen Waterloo, Impact99, Tweetstock.ca, Women in Biz Conference to name just a few, Julia is much-requested speaker in a variety of industries. Not surprisingly, she’s been named one of the most influential women in social media and was a nominee for the Roger’s 2011 Women of the Year celebration. Connect with Julia on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.