M.R. NEMETH DIGITAL MARKETING MANAGER
Make Your SEO Work For You
december 1, 2016
For most websites, Search Engine Optimization is the backbone of a marketing campaign.
When looking at your website's analytics data, you might find that a healthy organic traffic makes up anywhere between 35%-75% of the load. That is a huge range, and it's indicative of why controlling and managing your on page SEO is so important. Even if you don’t rank for any head terms, SEO plays a crucial role in your website’s ability to catch traffic.
It's not magical free traffic, though. It's earned through SEO initiatives.
SEO is largely employed through the use of HTML Meta Tags, which are in effect hidden messages that describe certain and specific aspects of a page to search engines. This, combined with some varied tactics, will help your website show up for specific search queries, leading your users to your sites and landing pages.
There are a few things that you can do to actively control how your website shows upon the Search Engine Results Page, or SERP. Think of them as best practices or as a guideline, but always remember to challenge assumptions and test your hypothesis. The internet is constantly changing, and we need to be adaptive to stay ahead.
Rule of Three
The premise of the Rule of Three is to create a cohesive and unified statement to the end-user as well as to the search engines crawling the site. The concepts here are simple and straightforward, and more importantly, can be applied in nearly all cases.
Put plainly, following the Rule of Three means you should always match your URL path, title element, and H1 text. Matching these three elements helps ensure that every page on your site maintains consistency and builds a strong relationship hierarchy.
In HTML, these tags would look like this:
The above is one of the most powerful factors in terms of ranking signals that a website can employ. Gone are the days of keyword stuffing title elements. Long past are the years of having ugly, messy, indecipherable urls. Finally, reinforcing your idea through succinct messaging using the H1 (header text) is the pinnacle element that brings the plan together.
There are many schools of thought on the subject of meta titles. Some suggest that a title is a great place to stuff keywords. That is, when trying to rank for a particular term, why not cover all related terms in the same place?
While in the past, such tactics may have worked; search engines have become so much more sophisticated over the last few years that we no longer need to game the system. We simply need to state the case as it is. If you have a page about a “Purple Pigeon” than it’s probably prudent to title the page “Purple Pigeon | PigeonWeb” (where PigeonWeb is your brand or website name). It would probably not serve your best interests to call the page, “Fabulous Rats of the Sky: Pigeons, Benches, and Crackers” (although that would make a great documentary title).
Instead, prioritize your keywords by utilizing specific terms and reinforcing that concept through copy and outreach. This leads us to our next guideline: content.
Content isn’t king, it’s bait
The purpose of content is to share ideas with each other. The internet has heralded the greatest innovations of our entire technological evolution, rapidly changing our existence, exponentially affecting our lives, and constantly leaving us wondered. Every single moment we share on the internet is encapsulated in one crisp and consumable form: content.
“Content is king!” they say. Well, it’s not. In fact, it’s a huge misappropriation of what content really is. Content is bait.
Good content is a challenge to create, and potentially costly to produce. With that in mind, content needs to be designed and executed with purpose. Content should be evergreen, valuable, unique, engaging, and most of all, shareable. Interesting content - genuinely novel and not just rewrites, guest posts, or other recirculated content - will garner the most coveted catch of all...
Links are the ethereal cords that bind the web and make up the postmodern world of inter-connectivity. They are the street signs and and mile markers that encourage travel down the information superhighway. Links take us to new and exciting places that we’d never have dreamed of. Links teach us amazing things and introduce us to different ways of looking at world.
Backlinks are the links from other websites that target and bring traffic into your website. The more links pointing to your website, the more likely it is you’ll show up for searches. If you have time, take a look at a previous article of ours that talks a bit about links and link equity.
That being said, how we go about acquiring links is just as important as having them.
Buying links is a general no-no. Google suggests that if you do buy links, they must employ a “NoFollow” tag, which effectively renders them useless in terms of SEO. Sure, the referral traffic may be advantageous, but you need to weigh these factors to isolate true value.
The best link building is done the old fashioned way: by reaching out and building mature, enduring relationships with webmasters and properties. By creating a network of engaged users, you can exponentially grow your SEO profile through organic means, leveraging your contacts and their contacts to roll out and share your content across a wide swathe of outlets.
Just remember to pick the right bait.
Meta Sculpting is a term I coined to describe the process of poring through your meta tags and carefully curating each and every single piece with poise and purpose.
It is most often applied to Meta Descriptions, but can also be applied to the title, keywords, or any other meta element of your HTML. For a general background on what these tags are and mean, check out w3schools.com. They are a great resource for learning more.
First, let's talk about meta keywords. The search engines really don’t care about meta keywords (they’re algorithms, so they probably don’t care about much of anything…). These have been effectively deprecated, and you really shouldn’t bother adding them in anymore. In fact, it’s a great way for the competition to scope you out and see what you’re specifically targeting.
Meta descriptions, however, are extremely important. While it’s true they do not directly affect your ranking, their indirect effect cannot be underestimated. Meta descriptions give you direct control over how your website is described in SERP and they directly impact your click-through-rates in search. The more unique, purposeful, and poignant your description, the higher likelihood people will click on a SERP listing.
It’s also wise to use the term you're looking to rank for once or twice during the description. SERP will bold match search terms, drawing users to your listing.
What’s more, meta descriptions can be changed at will at any time. Have a special promotion on your website this week? Take advantage of this feature to tell your audience all about it. Want to highlight a unique feature of a new tool your company released? Update your meta description.
Keep in mind, meta description updates take about 12 hours for search engines to index and render. While it may happen faster, always prepare your teams ahead of time. It’s usually best practice to update the descriptions at end of day, a day ahead of the promotion or purpose that’s trying to be fulfilled.
While a lot of these nuances can seem daunting at first, web creation platforms like Brandcast make it easy and intuitive. Brandcast uses a unique page manager that allows you to call on and edit any of the meta tags across your entire website from one portal. This means updating and changing tags happens faster and with more precision, giving you complete control over your web deployment and messaging.
To see more of these great features, check out our features page.