9 Things Every Entrepreneur Must Know About the SEO Process
When it comes to a new startup, the SEO process is essential, and there is a lot to do in order to rank a website and drive traffic.
SEO is one of the most important aspects of digital marketing, period.
If you are an emerging entrepreneur, you know how challenging it is to get the most out of SEO. You certainly don’t want to be one of those entrepreneurs that thinks all the work ends at site launch.
You need to make sure that your SEO process is heading in the right direction and not in a way that’s going to get your site buried even further in the Google SERPs.
So, to make it a bit easier for you, we’ve put together 9 of most important things that every entrepreneur must know.
1. On-Site Optimization
While SEO is a well-known term in marketing, there are still some people who are not familiar with the distinction between on-site optimization and what happens off site. On-Site Optimization is a process that enables your website to get accepted by users and search engines alike. Here, the key is to add the right keywords, key phrases, and tags on your page. When done right, you’ll have a combination of high quality content structured in a way that helps search engines to rank your page high on the search results.
Here are some crucial points that you must bear in mind while doing on-site optimization.
- Add keywords to the heading
- Keep the keyword density of 1-2 words in the title
- Make sure your keyword density in the content is less than 3% of the total content
- Use keyword phrases instead of a single keyword
- Add relevant keywords
- Avoid keyword stuffing
2. Off-Site Optimization
Once you’re done with the keyword part, what’s next?
To rank your page among the top search results, a little validation is still required, and this is where off-site optimization comes into play.
Off-Site optimization is exactly what it sounds like – the stuff that happens off your site to build authority to your site.
The primary form of off-site optimization is achieved by building a link in which another high domain authority site links to your site.
Link building comes in many different forms, but the goal is to build authority links so that Google recognizes your site as a relevant authority as well. The authority of a site is determined on the basis of the number of external sites linked to it. If high domain authority sites refer to your site, chances are Google will rank your page higher in the search results.
Again good quality content plays a big role here.
3. White-hat SEO
White-hat SEO is the terminology that SEO’s use to define legitimate (or Google approved) techniques to drive traffic to your website in order to rank higher on the search engines. This process involves techniques like link building, keyword analysis and content writing – the key being that it doesn’t outwardly appear to have been done to benefit your site or manipulate rankings.
Here are some white-hat guidelines to follow to rank better in search results.
- Make sure to have quality content
- Keep it unique and not copied from other sites
- Use relevant title and Meta description
- Research the keyword before including it to the content
- Add relevant inbound links to your site
- Make sure to have an easy-to-navigate site
4. Black-hat SEO
Black-hat SEO is the (Google frowned upon) process of manipulating links and search to achieve more traffic and high rankings.
Do SEO’s still use these techniques? YES!
Because in the short run, these techniques get results, but in the long run the risk of being blacklisted and having your website and content demoted is VERY real. In fact, some of these techniques can be near impossible to recover from.
Here are some illegal techniques used in the black-hat SEO process.
- Keyword stuffing: Loading a page with keywords to manipulate a site’s ranking search results.
- Content Spinning: Publishing crappy content on a bunch of different sites just for the link of it.
- Link Schemes: Any links intended to manipulate PageRank
- Invisible text: Hiding text on the page to gain ranking for certain keywords that are not visible on the page.
- Doorway page: Manipulating the search engine index by inserting results for particular phrases while redirecting visitors to a different page.
- Page Swapping: A page with good ranking is replaced by another less optimized web page.
5. Page Speed
We have to talk about page speed, because it doesn’t really matter what your on-site optimization looks if your page speed sucks, it will hurt your rankings.
Yes, the Google algorithm ranks sites higher when they load faster.
It’s not just Google though, even Facebook has told advertisers that they need to speed up their sites or suffer consequences.
Why all this drama over page speed?
It’s all about user experience, people just skip the site if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load.
Many webmasters overlook the importance of maintaining a fast website, assuming it has little-to-no impact on their conversions. But long load times can and will influence consumers’ buying decisions, more so than you may realize.
To put the importance of speed into perspective,
Amazon conducted a study a couple years back in which it found that for every 100ms of additional latency, it lost 1% in sales.
A single percentage point may not seem like much, but Amazon is the world’s largest online retailer, meaning that just 100ms of latency can literally cost millions of dollars in lost sales.
So, have you taken action to bring your page speed down?
If not here are a few tips:
So, what steps can you take to speed up your website?
Cut Down on Flash Animations
While they may look nice, Flash animations can add some serious latency to your website. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you should avoid them altogether, but rather keep them to a minimum. Cluttering your website with a Flash-based intro, Flash ads, Flash pop-ups, and other Flash elements can take a toll on visitors’ bandwidth, slowing down their load times to a crawl.
Choose a Reputable Host
Your choice of web host will also play a role in your website’s speed. Opting for a cheap shared plan by some fly-by-night hosting company will likely come back to haunt you. Sure, you may save a couple of bucks initially, but you’ll lose far more in terms of visitors and sales. Spend the extra money by signing up for good hosting plan from a reputable, trusted web host.
Enable GZIP Compression
Wouldn’t it be great if you could compress your website’s files instead of forcing visitors to download the original, oversized file? Well you can, thanks to a special type of compression technology known as GZIP. Using this technology, you can compress large pages so they are smaller, and thus take less time to download. According to Yahoo, GZIP can reduce download times by as much as 70%.
To enable GZIP compression, add the following code to your site’s .htaccess file:
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/plain
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/html
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/css
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xhtml+xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/rss+xml
# Or, compress certain file types by extension:
Pro Tip: You should be cautious when editing your .htaccess file and save a backup before making any edits. If you don’t feel comfortable making these changes, hire someone who knows what they are doing. For more detailed information about how to edit your .htaccess file click here.
Enable Browser Caching
Browser caching allows visitors to store parts of a website locally within their web browser rather than downloading the entire page/file each time they attempt to access it. If you are using a content management system (CMS) like WordPress, you can download one of the many browser caching plugins for your website, such as WP Super Cache or W3 Total Cache. If your website doesn’t feature a CMS, you can enable browser caching via the .htaccess file.
6. Link To High-Authority Sites
We’ve talked about link building as an important part of the SEO process, but something almost as important and much easier to do is to link out to high authority sites.
What? That’s crazy… why would I want to link to other websites?
A study conducted by marketing firm Reboot showed that there is a positive correlation between a page’s outgoing links and its search rankings. Reboot hypothesized that Google can determine the authority of a page or website based on what other authority sources it associates itself with (by linking to them).
Linking to high authority sites will boost your site’s rankings in search results.
7. Semantic Search
The search rank on the basis of search intent instead of the exact keywords typed by the users is known as semantic search.
It was originated back in 2013 with the Hummingbird update from Google’s search engine algorithm. Simply put, semantic search, is the ability to put typed searches into context, and represent the most accurate option for granting answers.
With the development of semantic search, understanding and connecting user intent and context, has never been more important. Understanding your audience and what motivates them should be the driving force behind your SEO stratgy.
8. Keyword research
With Google search being driven by semantic and contextual understanding, specific target keywords aren’t as crucial for SEO success as they used to be. But still an entrepreneur must be able to identify high-volume keywords and long-tail keyword targets to lead the direction of your content campaign.
Optimizing your e-commerce site with the right keywords is essential to its success. If you blindly launch an e-commerce site without any clear keyword strategy, you’ll have a difficult time climbing the ranks of the search engines, let alone generating sales. But using the right keywords will have the opposite effect, encouraging higher search rankings and more sales.
Short-Tail vs Long-Tail Keywords
Most keywords – when speaking about the SEO process and digital marketing – fall under one of two different categories: short-tail or long-tail. Short-tail keywords typically consist of either one or two words, whereas long-tail keywords are longer, often consisting of 3 or more words.
So, should you focus your e-commerce site around long-tail or short-tail keywords? While short-tail keywords yield more traffic, they have a few major disadvantages. For starters, short-tail keywords are highly competitive, meaning you’ll have a difficult time ranking your e-commerce site for them. Furthermore, short-tail keywords are less relevant than their long-tail counterpart, resulting in fewer sales/conversions. And according to the folks at SEOMoz, long-tail keywords make up over 70% of all online searches.
Consider product names when developing a keyword strategy for your e-commerce site. Specific product names (including model names and numbers) are highly relevant and usually yield a high conversion rate. If a prospect searches for a specific product on Google and stumbles upon your e-commerce site, he or she is likely to buy the product from your site.
Product Names/Titles are are probably the most important onsite seo element for e-commerce and also one of the most commonly neglected. In fact, if you’re thinking about running a Google Shopping campaign, you will find out just how important the title is. According to an article published by SearchEngineLand, titles should be under 70 characters for maximum visibility, including the keywords for which you are trying to display. You can still use more than 70 characters in your Shopping Ads titles, although Google will likely truncate them.
Incorporating Keywords Into Your Site
After identifying some target keywords, you’ll want to incorporate them into your e-commerce site. Try placing your target keywords into your site’s title tag, meta description, and content body. Search engines pay close attention to these elements, using it to determine where and how to rank websites. Just remember to only include keywords when it adds value to your site’s visitors. “Keyword stuffing” could backfire by hurting your site’s search rankings instead of helping them.
Keyword research is just one step in running a successful e-commerce website. You must also have a clear digital marketing strategy, which may include paid platforms like Facebook Ads and/or Google AdWords.
There are dozens of keyword research tools available online, some of which are free while others are paid. One of the best free tools, however, is Google’s Keyword Planner Tool. Using this tool, you can identify keyword search volume, competition and average bid prices on AdWords.
Another great tool for help with your brainstorming is Übersuggest. Admittedly, I only recently discovered this tool, but am really liking it. Übersuggest scrapes Google for Google suggestion keywords by taking your keyword and adding every letter of the alphabet from A to Z capturing the most frequently searched permutations.
These tips are a great place to begin your E-commerce keyword optimization strategy, but don’t forget to continue to evaluate what terms are bringing in customers that convert. Also, pay attention to your customers as they can often provide great insight into how your site is searched.
Measurement and analysis
Unless you know how to gauge your results and performance, it is hard to get far in SEO.
It is crucial to measure and interpret the results and make meaningful changes to your approach using the analysis. Google Analytics is an amazing tool for doing this job, especially for the new bee. It is better to experiment with different metrics and reports and keeping track of the performance to know where you are heading.
SEO is a critical component of online marketing, and an entrepreneur should never overlook that. Incorporating the best SEO process and practices can rank your page high on the search results and help your business to create a steady stream of sales.