Search engine optimization – the proverbial puzzle every marketer is endlessly trying to solve. Just when you think you’ve got your SEO strategy down pat, the rules of the game change yet again. Nevertheless, optimizing your website for search is critical if you hope to have any chance of generating new leads online for your business.
To chip away at this complex block of algorithms and techniques, I sought out the advice of SEO pro and marketing consultant Marcia Morgan, who’s been handling such inquiries for over a decade. If you’re looking for a little web optimization guidance yourself, listen up! Here’s what she had to say:
Could you tell us a little about your SEO background?
I’ve been optimizing websites for more than 12 years. I started by optimizing my own website when I owned a printing company. Other business owners started asking me how I did it (SEO), and before you knew it, I created a new vocation as an SEO consultant. I’m inside Google support forums almost daily, and really appreciate that Google tells us what to do and what not to do to improve site visibility.
What’s the easiest quick-fix on-page SEO factor a marketer can implement?
Add images that represent the products and services you sell, and make sure the images have descriptive file names, titles and alt attributes.
What are the latest major changes to Google’s search algorithm?
Google now weighs image content heavily when evaluating what a page is “about.” Last fall, Google released their One-Page SEO Guide that reveals what I had been telling clients all year: OPTIMIZE YOUR IMAGES. Clues can be found in Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools. When you start seeing insightful data you hadn’t seen there before, that means Google wants you to see it. Pay attention to warnings and fix whatever Google tells you is broken!
How important is a web page’s authority score?
For competitive keyword phrases, it’s really important. Just like we’ve seen on Dancing with the Stars, you can have a high-quality performance – 9s and 10s – but if the masses don’t vote for you, you won’t win. Google works the same way. You can have a high-quality page score for your content, but all things being equal, the most popular website wins top position. Authority = Popularity.
What’s one great tip you can give marketers for picking priority keywords?
If you have AdWords and Analytics data, the answer is probably right there. Download all actual search queries over the past year and look for patterns. What are the highest-converting keywords and/or the keywords that result in the longest time spent on your site? If you don’t have enough AdWords and Analytics data, ask your front-line sales staff, “What are the first questions your prospects ask?” The phrases and terms your customers use are the keywords you should focus on.
What are the biggest SEO no-no’s for marketers?
Ignoring missing and duplicate meta titles and meta descriptions. Each page is about something unique, so give each page a unique meta title and description. If you have pages with duplicate content, for example – landing pages with only minor variations for ad campaigns, add a robots.txt file with a robots meta tag that instructs Google to not index those duplicate pages.
Any recommendations for a link building strategy?
Start with link building within your own site. See Google’s best practice recommendations. https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/35769?hl=en. External link building depends on the industry and competitive factors. Businesses with low keyword competition don’t need to worry about external link building. Businesses with high keyword competition should focus efforts on obtaining links from other high-quality web sites. Quality trumps quantity. Read Google’s advice on Link Schemes here.
If you could boil down SEO to one key attribute, what would it be?
Accuracy. You should use SEO to accurately describe what’s on a page. The goal is to pull the searcher in, and then meet the searcher’s expectations. If you deliver what you promise on the landing page, then everyone is happy.
Not only is SEO a core component to lead generation, it’s essential to website redesign. Are you looking for more ideas? If you found these tips helpful, feel free to check out – Redesign Unlocked: The 10 Keys to Reinventing Your Website – our downloadable eBook written to help you define a holistic strategy for tackling your digital makeover phase by phase.