New Year’s Resolutions for SEO, Part 2

I hope you read and enjoyed – and learned something from – my earlier post with six New Year’s resolutions to help improve your website’s performance in search engine rankings. As promised, here are six more resolutions to help with your SEO efforts. You don’t have to do these all in the order listed here, but they do build on each other, and those in the previous post, to some degree.

  1. Page Descriptions: In part 1, I talked about the importance of having unique titles for all pages. Also important is the page description included in the metadata. These are especially important in getting searchers to click through to your site once your pages have been shown to them in search results listings. Like the title, your page description should be unique to each page, as well as informative and descriptive of the page content. Keep these to a maximum of 150-160 characters.
  2. SEO Training for Authors: Unless you are self-employed or a personal blogger, chances are you don’t write all of the content that’s on your website. If you work for an association, non-profit organization or business, you might very well have a wide range of people across your organization who are in charge of creating or editing various pages of your website. All web writers need to understand basic concepts of search engine optimization because so much of SEO is dependent on the words used on the page. Make sure your writers know how to use keywords effectively in content, how to write good headlines and use subheads effectively, how to organize content to make it easy for visitors to skim and find what they’re looking for, and the importance of effective linking to pages both on and off your site.
  3. Header Tags: Audit your pages to make sure you are properly coding your headlines and subheads so the search engines recognize what they are. These should be coded as H1, H2, H3, etc. – standard tags that tell search engines these words are important markers in determining what your pages are about.
  4. Sharing Tools: Search engines now look to social media to help them determine how valuable your content is. The more frequently your pages are shared on social media sites, the more likely they are to rise to the top of search results pages. Make sure your website offers tools for sharing your content on social media. This can be as simple as embedding free code from AddThis or ShareThis into your page templates.
  5. Social Media Strategy: While we’re on the subject of social media, it’s time to make sure that you have your own social media program in place. There are a lot of reasons why this is important, but one of them is to help get more people sharing your site content. Do this intelligently. Don’t set up accounts on every social media site you’ve ever heard of, and don’t use your social media only to promote your own web pages. But do use targeted social media to share links to the valuable content on your website. People can’t share your content if they don’t know about it.
  6. Hidden Content: Can search engines really see all of your content? It’s surprisingly easy to hide content from crawlers. Anything that’s accessible only through your site search or by entering data into a form is invisible to crawlers because a crawler can’t press an “enter” or “search” button. If you have valuable content in databases, you need to provide an alternate path for crawlers to see it. This can be as simple as adding links to alphabetical or monthly listings, or even a “view all” text link. Other search-engine no-no’s include splash pages and content displayed in frames. One easy way to see if content on your website is accessible to search engines is to use the Lynx text web browser, which will let you see websites as crawlers see them.
Had enough SEO advice yet? If not, I’ll be writing more about search optimization in the coming months, so keep checking back. Meanwhile, here’s something else to thing about:

Do you have an SEO team yet?

One additional step you can take to advance your website’s SEO is to pull together an SEO team to work on these issues moving forward. You might already have done this, either formally or informally, while working on the 12 tasks set forth in this series. Regardless, it’s a good idea to pull together a formal SEO team and initiate an SEO project; this can raise the visibility of your efforts and make it less likely that SEO will get forgotten moving forward.
Here are the basic roles that should be included on an SEO team. One person can fill multiple roles on the team, but all functions should be covered:
  • Business Owner
  • Editorial
  • Marketing
  • Technical
  • Analysis/Reporting

This is Part 2 in a series on New Year’s resolutions that will help you attract more search engine traffic to your website. To get the full benefit, start with New Year’s Resolutions for Search, Part 1 – if only because resolution #1 is not to commit any of the violations that can get you banned from search engines.

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