5 SEO Essentials for All Online Businesses

Last year was quite the year for SEO. We saw new social media platforms, changes with Google (again!) and a harder push than ever before for meaningful content in already fiercely competitive social media arenas. It was enough to make the average IMer or e-commerce professional’s head spin. The good news is that weathering the storm has only served to make us stronger and smarter.

Last year, we learned that the game can change in an instant (Google loves teaching that particular lesson) and we learned that if we want to stay ahead of the wave there are a few things we simply must be prepared to do with our websites. Here is a short list of some of those things.

1. We need to commit to understanding SEO better.
Social media now rules the Web. It’s not about getting people to come to us anymore. It’s about figuring out how we are going to get to them. Knowing how to reach people where they are is essential to getting your message heard (and your page viewed).

By knowing how to effectively apply SEO strategies, you can find the people who need your product or service and once you’ve found them, it’s easy to get them to click on your page.

2. Put out some bait for the spiders.

Make it easy for search engine spiders to find you. Your mission here is twofold. First, you want to make your site more visible to the search engines. Second, you want important pages on your site to be properly indexed and you want them to rank high. There are a few things you can do to move this along.

  • Keep your Sitemap.xml up to date – This is the file that lets the search engines find specific pages on your site based on the URL. Most search engines, Google included, prefer this format if you are submitting a large number of pages to be indexed and crawled.
  • Prepare your Robots.txt file carefully – This will afford you greater control over which pages will feature most prominently in search results. This file can also pull double duty by declaring your Sitemap.xml file for easier discovery.
  • Use your 301 Redirects Correctly – Doing this will help maintain good organic rankings. It will also ensure that visitors don’t get stuck on 404 pages with nowhere else to go. Be careful when deciding where to redirect, though. This can easily work against you if it isn’t done right.

3. Properly categorize your site.

The way your site is organized will have a huge effect on how well your SEO strategy works. The architecture of your website needs to be easy to navigate, it needs to be intuitive and it needs to make sense.

Imagine your website as a physical place – a traditional brick-and-mortar store. How would you organize things if you wanted to direct attention to a certain aisle or end cap? You need to start thinking about your website in these kinds of terms. Good organization contributes much to the effectiveness of SEO and contributes greatly to offering a good user experience.

4. Know your target audience or market.

Simply put, your keywords need to be targeted. Those that are too broad invite too much competition. The way around that is to know exactly who it is you are trying to reach and focus your keywords on ones those people are likely to use in a search.
Know what your target audience thinks. Know the kind of content they consume. Know a thing or two about their interests and tastes.

5. Content is king.

The most important element to good SEO is good content. The days of seeding sites with transparent text loaded with keywords and meta tags is over. The content you produce needs to be stellar and it needs to find its way off your site and into social media. Remember, it’s not about getting your audience to come to you. You need to take the first step and bring your message to them in a way that is meaningful and substantial. Are you delivering killer content or is your content a killer?
So there you have it: a good jumping-off point that will help you hit the ground running and create some powerful SEO strategies. Now get out there and get your message heard!

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