SEO Tactics

by Hugh Bien — 05/13/2013

Search engines have been a terrific source of traffic for a few of my sites. Small tweaks resulted in slightly more traffic. Here are a few SEO tactics:

Keywords in Titles, Headers, and URL Paths

Perhaps the most important on page factor is the text between your <title> and <h1> tags. Make sure your target keywords are part of the page title and headers. Also make sure the title/headers aren't overloaded with too many keywords.

The URL path should include targeted keywords. It's better to use a flat hierarchy instead of a nested one.

http://example.com/kitchen-knives/

is better than:

http://example.com/blog/2013/5/kitchen-knives/

Trailing Slash Consistency

According to search engines, these two URLs are considered two separate resources:

http://example.com/kitchen-knives
http://example.com/kitchen-knives/

The only difference being the trailing slash. If backlinks are split between both URLs, it's essentially splitting the ranking in half. Choose one URL structure and stick with it.

Use a 301 permanent redirect in case someone links to the wrong page. A 301 permanent redirect also tells search engines that the URLs point to the same resource and should be ranked as such.

Crawler Hints

Use microformats — they're useful to get relevant information onto search engine result pages. If your site includes rich snippets for reviews, Google will show stars in their search results. Learn more about rich snippets.

Use meta description — although meta tags don't effect rankings, meta descriptions are sometimes used in search result descriptions. Google doesn't always use the <meta name="description"> text, it's only used when the text is deemed relevant to the search phrase.

Use sitemaps — see the Sitemap Specification for details. Many blog engines have plugins to automatically generate sitemaps for you.

Put Something Up as Early as Possible

Before your website is finished, buy the domain and put up a landing page immediately because website age matters in rankings. In some industries, the Google Sandbox Effect can really hurt. It's best to let your site brew.

Get Backlinks from Relevant Sites

Find relevant websites and ask them to talk about your product. This works best if you have something to offer to their audience, like a coupon code or a free giveaway.

Some blogs may accept guest posts. At the beginning or end of a guest post, you'll be given some "about the author" space. Here's where you can get a backlink to your website. Make sure the anchor text includes the targeted keywords.

Directories like EzineArticles accepts articles about almost anything. In return for writing an article, they give you a resource box where you can link back to your website.

Site Directories

Site directories were used before search engines became the popular way to find content. Websites listed in site directories get a large boost in rankings. Dmoz is a popular directory. The Yahoo Directory is another one, but has a fee.

Content Marketing

Start a blog and write useful content. With good content, your audience will naturally link to you. This is the best thing you can do to acquire backlinks.

Content marketing requires an initial spark of backlinks before it can grow, so it's a good idea to use some of the above tips first.

Before you write any content, use Google's Keyword Tool to make sure people are actually searching for your targeted keywords. Check the [Exact] match type option in the left column.

Check out the competition for your target keywords. For example, search for:

allintitle: "kitchen knives"

to see how many websites are currently targeting the same keywords.

Target the Long Tail

Pick long-tail keyword phrases which contain more words, have a smaller number of monthly searches, but also have less competition.

The phrase "best kitchen knives" has less monthly searches than "kitchen knives", but it'd be easier to rank for it. Use a long tail keyword tool like HitTail, which automatically tells you what to write about to acquire traffic.

Content Tips

Write evergreen content. Evergreen content means content that ages well. It's content that will be relevant years later.

Publish everywhere! If you have the time and resources, consider releasing content on: YouTube, podcasts, app stores, Amazon marketplace, and more. People are searching for content everywhere.

As a bonus, content hosted on youtube.com or amazon.com will rank better on Google compared to your own domain name. This is because YouTube and Amazon have more authority than your site.

Good Luck!

Remember that SEO is a game of momentum. Getting started is daunting, but each tweak will improve your rankings a bit. With each small improvement, your momentum builds and ranking becomes easier.

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