Back to Basics: 3 SEO Skills to Master

Back to Basics: 3 SEO Skills to Master

Search engine optimization (SEO) is important for any online marketing strategy, but do you have a solid understanding of this marketing tactic and how to use best practices to help your business rank well in organic search? Here’s a look at the top three key SEO principles you need to be successful on search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo!.

SEO Skill #1: Write Keyword-Optimized Content

With its Penguin 2.0 release, quality website content remains one of the main factors in determining high Google search rank, according to Matt Cutts of Google.Content” is the umbrella term for what you write, upload, share, and post online. This can include everything from website and blog content, images, and videos to downloadable PDFs or slide presentations. Creating and posting high-quality content on your website and blog provides a rich and engaging experience for your readers, which the search engines reward with high rankings. The more content that your readers read, comment on, share, re-pin, re-tweet and like online, the more Google, Bing, and Yahoo! will determine that the content you are providing is valuable.

An important tactic for creating valuable website content is the strategic use of keywords. So what is a keyword? It’s simply the term for a word or phrase that you believe people are looking for on search engines that you want your website or blog post to rank well for. To use keywords strategically, it’s important to start with keyword research so that you can identify the best keywords for your content. Then, use these keywords along with related terms naturally within copy.

For example, let’s say you’re writing content for the website of your brake repair shop in Dallas, Texas. “Brake repair Dallas, TX” would be a localized keyword phrase you may want to use throughout your website copy. But it’s important to remember not to overdo it with keyword stuffing, which in this case might sound something like this: “Need break repair work in Dallas, TX? We offer the best brake repair in Dallas, Texas. Our prices on break repair in Dallas, Texas can’t be beat. So call us to book your break repair in Dallas, TX today.”  This is a prime example of what not to do.

Rather, your writing and use of keywords should sound natural. If Google determines that your website copy is stuffed with keywords, you can be penalized with a lower-ranking website. A good rule of thumb is that your selected keyword or keyword phrase should represent no more than 5 percent of your copy.

To improve the rank of your site for your target keywords, it’s also important to use them in your page meta descriptions, title tags, and anchor text, which are part of your website’s code and typically accessible through your site’s or blog’s content management system.

SEO Skill #2: Drive Inbound Links with Shareable Content

An inbound link, also known as a backlink, is one that links to your website from a completely different site. In other words, when other sites link to your Web material, it creates an inbound link. This signals to search engines like Google that another site on the Web views your content as an authority. Search engines see websites that have multiple inbound links as more authoritative and rank them higher, and this is still true in Google’s Penguin 2.0 algorithm.

That means the more other sites and people link to your content, the better your odds of ranking higher in a search engine. In order to get more inbound links, it’s important to create compelling content and blog posts that people want to share – because a share is inherently a link back to your content. Share your blog posts on social media, promote them in emails, and include links to them when you write guest content on other blogs or publications to help generate more inbound links to your content. You can also include URLs to your content in your PDFs, images, videos, and more so when those get shared, there’s still a reference others can use to link back to the source — you. This is especially important when creating infographics as a content marketing tactic.

Internal links — those that link from your website or blog posts to other Web pages or posts on your site — are also valued by search engines, so be sure to refer back to your own Web material using inbound links whenever you can.

SEO Skill #3: Be Active on Social Media

When it comes to SEO, search engines love social media. What does this mean exactly? Basically, Google, Bing and Yahoo! look at social media signals as a key factor in their ranking algorithms. So, it’s important to include a social media strategy in your content marketing program to help improve your SEO.

It’s also important to be active on all the top social media sites, because this helps you own more “shelf space” on the search engines. In other words, by claiming and actively using social media profiles for your business, you create more pages that can index for your business keywords, so that when consumers search for you, there are more pages on a variety of sites that can lead them to your business.

A Google+ page and a Facebook business page are great places to start. Once you have your social media pages created and launched, you can begin sharing, commenting, and engaging with your prospects and customers.

For your social media to help boost your SEO, it’s important to both engage and educate your online audience who in turn will share that content with others. Content sharing increases online traffic, creates inbound links, and promotes social signals — all of which can help you rank better on search engines when people search for you.

Have you used these SEO skills in your business marketing? Let us know with a comment.

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Amy Neeley

Amy enjoys helping small- and medium-size businesses (SMBs) navigate the online marketing world with tips, trends, and best practices they can use. She has written for Fortune 100 companies, non-profits, and SMBs, and her articles have been featured on sites like Yahoo! Small Business Advisor, MarketingProfs.com, and other industry publications. Amy can often be found walking her dogs, Lola and Marlo, and keeping up with the news via Twitter.

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