Hiring a SEO Agency to help grow their local business is one of the most important things a small business owner can do.
1. Write for humans first and search engines second.
SEO is an ongoing game of cat-and-mouse, where you're trying to get more visibility for yourself so that more people find you when they do a Google search or a Yahoo! search or whatever other search engine they use. You can't really "beat" them - but you can keep working at it and hopefully improve your ranking over time.
In this article I'll share my top 10 tips for getting better rankings with all these different search engines. The order is based on what I think are the most important things to focus on at any given moment. It's not necessarily the best way to rank overall, but it should help you stay on top of your game.
1. Write for humans first and search engines second. This is perhaps one of the biggest mistakes that new webmasters make - writing pages and pages of content just because you want to rank well, without actually putting your users first. The goal should be to write pages and pages of useful stuff that will be appealing to human eyes. If you do that, then your site won't be penalized as much by Google, which is why so many sites have been hit hard in recent years. Instead of worrying too much about how you're going to optimize your site for search engines, take some time to create good quality content that your users will actually enjoy.
2. Use targeted keywords in all the right places. If you don't know what keywords to look for, check out our list of 101+ SEO tools by Search Engine Journal. They've done an awesome job of compiling a lot of different sources into one handy place.
3. Focus on user experience (UX). Make sure that everything on your site looks nice and easy to navigate. Don't put a bunch of ads or pop-ups on your site; instead, try to make it simple and clean. Also consider making your navigation menu horizontal rather than vertical, if possible. It makes it easier for your users to scan through pages. Try to minimize clicks whenever possible, because it means more time spent browsing your site.
4. Focus on building relevant links. When you build up a strong collection of backlinks, especially from high-quality websites, these are essentially votes in favor of your website. So the more valuable your backlink portfolio is, the higher you'll rank in search results. But it's also very important to avoid building links for no reason at all. For example, if you're a doctor and you link to a medical resource page, there's probably no real benefit to linking to it. Links are only worth something if they're actually helpful to your visitors.
5. Format content for Featured Snippets. A lot of websites are now using a feature called "Featured Snippets". It allows you to add snippets of text to your own website or blog that appear in the same format as the snippet Google uses on their search results page. There are plenty of ways to do it, but the easiest way is to use the tool provided by Google themselves. Just submit your post content to Google, and they'll automatically format it for you.
7. Focus on keyword density. If you're still adding keywords to your titles, meta descriptions, and headings, stop doing that. In fact, you shouldn't even bother with title tags, because the search engines already display them in your search results anyway. What you should focus on is using keywords throughout your content itself, and in those areas that you'd like to rank for. If you want to rank for "seo tips", for example, you'd be smart to put "seo tips" everywhere on your site.
8. Focus on creating unique content. Every single page on your website needs to be unique. If you try to copy and paste text between two or three pages together, you're going to end up with duplicate content issues. That's definitely not what you want.
9. Keep all your code the same. Your site should always look the same across all devices. That includes your CSS and HTML files. This helps to ensure that your site works properly across all platforms, and also prevents you from having to constantly update your code as you continue to develop your website.
10. Avoid anchor text spamming. An anchor text (or URL) is basically the clickable link at the bottom of your search result. If you don't pay attention to it, you could end up sending lots of traffic to your competitor's site. Always be sure to use descriptive anchor texts. Don't just say "click here." Instead, say "Click here to learn more about [relevant topic]." That sort of thing will help you avoid problems with anchor text.
That's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to SEO. There are dozens of other factors to consider, such as how often your site gets updated, what kind of server setup you have, and so on. We have an entire series of posts dedicated to SEO, and we'll be updating them every week. So keep checking back for more advice.