Our 10 most useful SEO Tips
Nowadays, you find lots of tips and tricks online, but can anybody say that they have the only real solution? In this article, we've decided to put the focus on our experiences, because SEO is far more complex than many would expect. We can't guarantee your success, but if you try to implement our advice, you may save some time and money by learning from our mistakes. During the development and growth of doitclever.ch, our community has gathered some invaluable experience - now we'd like to share it with you in the tips below.
First of all, you should know what SEO is all about. The term SEO (Search Engine Optimization) refers to all actions that lead to your website being listed higher in the search results of Google and other search engines. We can differentiate between on- and off-page optimizations (well described in this article on t3n), which are essential to generate clicks that give you and your website a good reputation. The whole process is undoubtedly tedious and lengthy, as Google cannot just consider your site valuable overnight. It's the continuous work on your website that gets you on the podium, but tips like ours can help you reach this goal faster.
Tip 1: Keywords
This issue is a big one, and it has many aspects to it. On top of that, you also have to consider that there are different kinds of keywords that serve different purposes. First, there are keywords which you can integrate with your website, which used to be very important back in the days. Then there are keywords under Google Adwords, which you pay for so that Google will advertise your website higher than other, organically listed websites. Finally, there are some keywords that you can naturally use on your website. These keywords will be found in your written content.
Meta keywords: These are the keywords you should add to your site as meta-information. It's an additional information that your website visitor doesn't see, but it is visible and important for search engines. In the past, these keywords were used by website creators to be found on Google. However, back then such keywords were abused, for example to the effect that you were also listed when someone was looking for the competition. Today, Google became far more selective and now it also evaluates the website content using complex algorithms. Nowadays, meta keywords are only relevant if Google cannot find any better information on your website.
Adwords keywords: These are the keywords that you can buy from Google using an Adwords account. You can choose the keywords that describe your website best and pay per click on your advertisement, which Google added to one of your keywords. However, if you are a shoe seller and your keyword is "shoes", many fellow shoe sellers will most likely also buy the same keyword. This increases the price per keyword, as well as the cost per click. You should avoid that, at least if you want to save money. Use the keywords that aren't used by everyone and can describe your product in the best way possible. For example, in case of a shoe seller, keywords such as "special shoes" or "red sneakers" could be more suitable than just "shoes".
Natural keywords: These keywords describe everything your website stands for and are, ideally, aimed at your customers. Choose such keywords carefully and use them often on your website, as that's how Google recognizes what you value most, based on your own content. Talking about "shoes" as a shoe seller is logical for you, but it must also be logical for search engines crawling through your website, so you'll have to repeat these words. However, don't force it, since there is no point in artificially inflating the content of your site because it might discourage your audience.
Tip 2: Strong content
That brings us to the subject of content. Nowadays, the phrase "content is king" is widely known and confirmed by many experts. The principle is simple: the more content you offer and the better it is, the more valuable you are to search engines. However, be sure to make your page content readable for visitors and allow it to grow organically. It's important because in the end, you don't just want to generate clicks, but also keep the audience on your website. Best case scenario, you'll be able to offer valuable content that spreads itself on the net, for example via Facebook or other channels. Create your website for visitors and not for search engines, as they will follow automatically.
Even if you've already produced strong content, the work is not done yet. Why? Because, unfortunately, your content loses strength as time goes by since search engines pay little attention to outdated websites. Your content will also become old at some point, so you should try to remaster it over and over again. Of course, it takes time, but it is essential for a good ranking. We are yet to hear of a website that has been successful for a long time without ever changing its content. If you can do this, you'll have another advantage, because search engines will notice this change and visit your site more often. They will see that your website stays active and therefore they'll rate it higher.
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Tip 3: Meaningful URLs
A meaningful URL is a URL that has an understandable meaning and doesn't just consist of a bunch of incomprehensible parameters. You should aim to create short URLs which explain to the visitor what to expect when they click on the corresponding link. Please note that Google, Bing and other search engines will also display your URLs. Always make your web pages' URLs inviting. Ideally, you should create good URLs using your own keywords - it's not mandatory, but it helps Google understand your content. The importance of meaningful URLs is growing, not just for visitors, but also for web crawlers that check your site regularly.
Not every CMS (Content Management System) is able to generate such meaningful URLs. It's surprising to see that even large CMS systems like Wordpress and Typo3 have problems generating meaningful URLs in the sense of SEO. Usually, such CMS systems work exclusively with dynamic content, which is read from the database. This often ends in unwanted parameters attached to your URL. When using such content management system, make sure that you don't waste the valuable potential. Our in-house CMS software from doitclever.ch was designed specifically for SEO and offers a plugin that creates meaningful URLs.
Tip 4: Valid website
Many people underestimate the importance of validating a website. A validation in this sense is an inspection of the website according to certain technical requirements. In other words, the website must be technically sound. A website can look nice, even though from a technical perspective it's been put together in a completely wrong way. The W3C Consortium has been looking into this issue and developing guidelines for websites since the beginning of the Web. These guidelines must be followed if you want to build a website that's technically correct.
If your website is technically unclean, search engines will have trouble reading and understanding your content. HTML is responsible for the structuring of a website and follows guidelines created by the W3C Consortium. The rules that have to be complied with would go way beyond this chapter, so we've decided to offer you some webinars on this topic. We know from experience that it is beneficial to acquire the basic knowledge of HTML before building a website from scratch, otherwise you will end up doing the work twice. Also, you should know that the W3C Consortium offers a validator for testing websites, which we strongly recommend.
Tip 5: Sitemap.xml
The sitmap.xml is a file that should be attached to your website and lists all of your public links. Such files can be easily created online and they're very useful for search engines. They can be submitted - for SEO technical purposes - directly to search engine operators, usually with the use of a so-called webmaster tool. This way the search engine saves time on the tedious "wandering around" on all of your sub-pages because you have already provided them with this information. Such sitemap.xml files must comply with a guideline and originate from the XML format. You can find our own sitemap.xml directly HERE. Of course, our Online Creator also has a plugin that helps you create sitemaps for your websites.
Tip 6: Social Media Integration
SEO is dynamic and not always the same. Google and co. constantly optimize their algorithms. This means that social media should also be considered and taken into account when talking about SEO. It is important to add additional channels to a website. For example, Google recognizes additional sources and links to your homepage that are outside of your website. Their search engine does not only get the information from your website, as it can be manipulated by you, but rather tries to find out whether your website is actually relevant by checking external channels. They are therefore becoming increasingly more important.
Such channels as Facebook, Twitter, and many others can also help in showing visitors the way to your site. The years in which a website was entered manually into the URL bar are long gone. If you are not popular enough, you have to promote your website via other channels. If you want to succeed, it can be helpful to know who owns the channel. For example, if you're focusing on a top 10 ranking on Google, sign up for channels that already owned by Google. These include Youtube or Google+, for example. If you have a fixed location, platforms like Google Maps or Tripadvisor can also be of interest to you.
Tip 7: Backlinks
The abovementioned channels normally generate the so-called backlinks, i.e. links that refer people to your website. However, there is a lot to consider here. Search engines tend to pay less attention to links from social platforms and there are also wrong backlinks or links that simply don't bring you anything, as they get the "nofollow" tag (a click on such a link won't count for the search engines). Bad backlinks can even lead to a disranking. Your site will be punished and it will lose its position on Google. Such disranking is very difficult to undo, so it is important - some may even say essential - that you avoid these mistakes.
So how do you get strong backlinks and what do you have to watch out for? Strong backlinks are the links to your site that come from a website with a similar theme and a high ranking. Such links are usually very hard to get because you are not the first potential customer for these strong and known websites and you have to have original content. The PageRank, i.e. the rating of a website from 1-10, was considered very important until recently. Today, however, more and more sources are saying that this is of secondary importance, as strong websites are influenced by far more factors than just Google's PageRank.
A backlink exchange usually turns out to be beneficial. You can just contact a website operator and ask them to link to your website. In return, you'll link to their homepage as well. The beginnings can be difficult because good site operators will first judge and evaluate your website. If you haven't been thorough enough with the tips above, the website operator will also notice this and won't be willing to link to your site. However, if you're able to send out a proper request and present your website in the right way, the success could well come about.
Tip 8: Webmastertools
Webmaster tools are provided by search engines to help you index your site more easily. It is in search engines' interest to find the suitable content as fast and easily as possible. In order to help you with that, they provide you with a number of useful tools that you should definitely use for your website. They will tell you, for example, how the quality of your content looks like and where the web crawler has stumbled. That's why you should always keep an eye on these tools. Tools from Google, Bing or other search platforms will show you exactly what is wrong with your website - if you want to rank high in these engines, let them show you the way.
By doing so, you can save money by avoiding buying expensive software. There is lots of software on the Internet, advertised as a great help. Of course, these tools can also help you, but they're usually not worth the price. Experience shows that the free tools from major providers are sufficient enough to build your content skillfully. But remember - you're only getting the software. Even if it's free and widely available, it doesn't mean that you'll know how to use it. Be smart and explore the features of these tools, because they are only useful if you can understand and master them.
Tip 9: Statistics software
Another part of SEO is the analytics tools that, unlike webmaster tools, specialize in statistical data. They track your visitors and can provide you with some helpful information. Here as well, simply receiving statistical data is not enough. You'll have to use this information to identify where you can expand and improve your website. For example, you might use this to find out which of your pages is the most popular one and then make use of it. The bounce rate and the average duration of attendance are also good indicators. If all of your visitors leave after a few seconds, your interface is probably not as good as you imagine. Visitors won't tell you this, but your tools will.
Probably the most common analytics software is Google Analytics. It offers a lot of functions, but also a very detailed evaluation. In addition to that, Google's algorithms are considered by far the most sophisticated of all. It is not an easy task to separate machines from actual visitors and it's still the main problem with such tools. There are tons of crawlers on the web that search millions of websites, pretending to be visitors. A good statistic is a statistic that can show you many actual visitors and only a few misinterpretations. With these tools, you should rather rely on experienced vendors than on the beautiful interfaces of the software.
Tip 10: Monitoring
Arguably the most important point - and, unfortunately, the last one here - is the monitoring of your website. It is no longer a question of evaluating statistical data, at least not only. As often as Google changes its algorithms, you should follow and comply with them. It is possible that next year Google may consider something unimportant, even though it's been important this year. That's the way things are, but you can counteract that. Read the relevant news and forums and keep an eye on your website. Also, remember that it is important to always compare your sources first. If you find the same SEO tips on several reputable and well-known websites, it's probably good to assume that they are more accurate than others. Also here, you are responsible for your website. Losing positions on Google is easier than winning them.