Four SEO Secrets That Will Outlast Google
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is one of the most valuable tools available to the inbound marketer. A finely tuned and optimized website can earn you a prominent ranking in the major search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo, garnering higher levels of traffic and ultimately more potential sales. While the benefits of SEO haven’t changed throughout the years, the search engines themselves have undergone several dramatic makeovers. These various algorithm changes have made the goal of ranking highly in organic search results slightly more difficult, but far from impossible.
SEO has gone through a number of best-practices, but there are a few time-tested SEO secrets that will greatly increase the likelihood of your site staying on the “nice list” instead of getting ranked lower, or worse, removed altogether. Below are four secrets to SEO that will help your website earn a stellar reputation in the eyes of the search engines, no matter what changes may come.
1. Use Clean and Thorough HTML Code
All web pages must be coded in the HTML language in order for a web browser to be able to properly read and render them. When a page is easy for a web browser to read, it will be easy for a search engine to read as well. Search engines utilize small programs called “spiders” that “crawl” the Web (get it?) and fetch Web pages in order for the search engine to add the page to its index. If your page has sloppy HTML code such as opening tags without closing tags, images with no “alt” text, or symbols that are not represented by special character codes (this typically happens when people copy and paste text from a Word document into an HTML document), it’s more difficult for the search engine to properly index the page.
Make sure that your pages are coded as cleanly as possible by including thorough title tags, meta descriptions, “alt” text for images, proper special character codes, etc. In addition, stay away from Flash-based pages, as they’re virtually unreadable by search engines. This may seem tedious, but it’s the foundational framework from which you can begin to focus on the more exciting aspects of content creation. The bottom line is that no matter how awesome your content is, if a search engine can’t read it, you may be the only one who will.
2. Take Advantage of Latent Semantic Indexing
SEO pros understand the value of Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI), a feature of search engines that enables them to properly discern the context of a web page’s subject matter. As we all know, words can have multiple meanings, and without putting the word into some type of context that includes related words and phrases, it would be difficult to determine the intent of the author. For example, the word “chip” by itself could refer to a microchip, a potato chip or a poker chip. The way that a search engine can gain an understanding of the context of the word is by evaluating the words and phrases that surround itand then drawing a conclusion as to the overall meaning of the content. From there, the search engine can properly categorize the page so that it can be a candidate for inclusion in the search results when someone queries a particular keyword.
When creating content, make sure that you don’t over-use one keyword or keyphrase, as this can come off as spammy to the search engines. Rather, include several related words and phrases in order to offer a cohesive overall theme to your page. This will happen naturally when you’re creating quality content that offers substantial insight into the subject matter.
3. Inbound Links Still Matter
One of the most common SEO axioms you’ll hear is that “Content is king”, and while there’s a lot of truth to that statement, quality content alone is often not enough to ensure a high ranking in the search engines. There are tons of websites that offer outstanding content, but many times they are buried in the search engines beneath less relevant sites that may only mention your search keyword (or anything remotely related to the keyword) but once on the entire page. How does this happen? Most of the time this is due to what’s known as “page authority”, a ranking factor that grants preference to pages that have a greater number of quality links pointing to them. To improve the authority of your page, you’ll have to get more links from related pages that are highly linked to as well.
4. Utilize a Variety of Content
Text-only websites are simply not enough anymore to rank well in the search engines; to obtain the best results, include multimedia-based content such as videos, podcasts, images, etc., on your pages. In this new era of SEO, search engines seem to favor sites that offer a variety of content delivery methods. Whatever multimedia content you choose to include on your site, make sure that it stays consistent with the general theme of the page. This will add weight to the overall relevance of your page in the eyes of the search engines.
It’s important to remember that great rankings do not happen overnight; patience and attention to detail will be your best friends during the process. While the world of SEO can seem like a labyrinth at times, if you focus on the simple points listed above, you’ll stay ahead of the vast majority of websites out there when it comes to ranking well in organic search results.