Proper search engine optimization for your business might sound like a daunting task, but the reality is that simply having a website is not enough in today's world. Your business' website should provide positive ROI for your brand, and while design can effectively engage audiences, attracting users to your website for the first time requires pairing great website design with the right SEO strategy. In order to make sure that your leads and conversion rates see noticeable increases, make sure that you're addressing these SEO best practices:
1) Don't Design Your Website in Flash
Designing in Flash may result in a fun experience for desktop users, but the technology that makes it so pretty and interactive is completely invisible to search engines and users who come to your site from a iOS mobile device. You may have heard of the luxury apparel brand that spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on a newly designed Flash website, only for the site to be completely missing from the search engines - even for their branded terms. The occasional element here and there designed in Flash is still okay, but developing your website in HTML5 allows for content to be more easily crawled and indexed by search engine crawl bots.
2) Page Layout
One of the most important ways to optimize each page of your website for search is to use appropriate tags on every piece of written content. By correctly labeling the text that makes up your headers, subheaders, paragraph content, and any other text you might have on a page, you can help search engines to better understand what topics and keywords are the most relevant to your page.
The tag optimization process should start with a page's title tag. While users won't always see it on a page, each title tag needs to be unique to a single page so that you can ensure that you don't have multiple pages vying for the top spot on the same keyword. If the title tags for a number of pages on your website are the same, search engines could rank two or more pages for the same keyword at lower positions than the position a single, optimized page would be able to reach - making it harder for your website to attract more organic traffic. While certain words on a title tag, like a location or brand name, can be replicated across multiple pages, making sure that no two title tags are entirely the same will better help you rank for a variety of keywords that attract different kinds of qualified traffic to your website.
Although a page's title tag is widely accepted as the most important part of page layout to consider when optimizing text for SEO rankings, other parts of a page shouldn't be ignored - most notably a page's "h1" tag, which should include keywords that are relevant to the topics the page focuses on. Moving down the page, subheaders should be labeled with "h2" and "h3" tags, as appropriate, and should include relevant keywords whenever possible. Using paragraph ("p") tags on text and even using "strong" tags on bolded words, and "li" tags for lists, can also help to more clearly define a page's focus to search engines and can increase a page's ranking for relevant keywords.
3) Alt Image Tags
While page layout tags are extremely important for good SEO, you need to remember to take advantage of another potential SEO asset on your website - your images. In order to get the best possible SEO value out of them you need to use appropriate labeling techniques. For example, take the image of the brown leather messenger bag below.
Image courtesy of Portmantos
Uploading this image to your apparel & accessories online store improves the overall shopping experience of users, but naming the image "18875524_1.png" generates limited value in search because it doesn't identify what the image is in the filename. If you take a little bit more initiative, name the file "brown-leather-messenger-bag.png," and add an appropriate img alt tag like: "Brown Leather Messenger Bag", your image may rank well when people are doing image searches. Naming your images appropriately and labeling with img alt tags provides another point of entry to your website for users looking for images and shouldn't be overlooked.
4) Using Video Effectively
Another asset that you can use to help your website's overall SEO is video. Creating and embedding YouTube into your website can provide huge dividends if you take the time to optimize them correctly. By ensuring video titles contain highly relevant keywords and include detailed description text, you can increase your exposure in search engine results pages. When including links back to your site within description text of your videos, you can also create a new source of referral traffic. YouTube is the second largest search engine after Google, with total queries adding up to more than Bing, Yahoo, AOL, and Ask combined! Take advantage of the benefits YouTube can provide and you can create a valuable additional point of entry to your site.
Image courtesy of Moz
Limiting yourself to only images, videos or text on a page when you can effectively combine all three is a huge mistake. For example, Moz, a popular SEO and online marketing website, releases a 10 minute video series every Friday titled "Whiteboard Friday". In each video, an expert breaks down the latest Google updates and explores innovative SEO tactics in an extremely approachable and understandable video.
A typical "Whiteboard Friday" landing page has an "h1" tag that explains exactly to crawlbots and users what the subject of the page is. There is also an image from the video that contains a lot of the information discussed, and it is appropriately tagged and labeled so that it can be found in an image search. The page also includes a video transcription in plain text that helps to increase the ranking of each of Moz's "Whiteboard Friday" posts for the specific keywords and phrases discussed by helping search engine crawlbots to understand what was being said in each video. Crawlbots are unable to understand the content discussed within each video, and as a result require text to fully understand what they are about.
Infographics are an innovative and fun way to educate users about topics that are otherwise relatively dull or difficult to understand
. What a lot of people forget is that while infographics are a great piece of content to have on your site for users, they can also attract links from other websites. Well-respected websites that link back to your infographic (and your website) can boost your website's domain authority by showing Google and other search engines that you are producing great content that other users think is worth highlighting on their own site for their users. As a result, search engines will rank your content higher in search queries, which can help generate more leads and brand recognition for your business.
6) Mobile Optimization
At the end of 2014, mobile and tablet traffic already took up a sizable share of overall internet traffic. If you haven't done so already, making sure that your website is optimized for mobile devices is extremely important if you want your website to experience immediate and long term SEO growth.
If mobile users are coming to your website via a search query and have a poor experience that causes them to leave your website, you're missing out on a potential customer who would have had their needs better served with an optimized mobile presence. If this continues over time, search engines could lower your rankings for a keyword or phrase that is vital to your industry because users are leaving your website immediately, causing you to lose possible leads to your competitors.
7) SEO Preservation
If you're redesigning your website and some of your pages have changed to a new URL, implementing a 301 redirect is absolutely vital. Not only will it help users who may have bookmarked or linked to your original page get redirected to the new URL, but adding a 301 redirect will also make sure that all of the link value your old pages amassed is passed on to the new page. This prevents users and search engines from getting lost, and helps your new pages retain the keyword rankings of old ones.
There's More to A Good Website Than Beautiful Design
While it's tempting to only focus on design when building your website, taking the time to do proper SEO is also extremely important. At times, it can be overwhelming to try and think about SEO as a general concept that needs to get done without thinking about individual, actionable tactics. However, by breaking SEO down into specific problems that need to be solved, you can make sure that your website follows best practices while helping you to achieve online business goals. By adhering to SEO best practices and staying on top of Google's algorithm updates, you can be sure search engines are helping you to maintain and increase your business website's rankings, leads, and conversion rates.