Top 25 DIY Tips for Better SEO

You don't have to be an SEO expert to boost your website's search engine cred. The SEO community shares tips on how individuals and organizations without SEO expertise can increase their sites' search engine rankings.

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SEO Strategies

15. Understand that branding and SEO aren’t the same

“You may not consider yourself a phone company; you may think you’re a VoIP company,” says John Politsky, president, JDMK Consulting. “Guess what? Customers will never search for what you want them to search for. Focus on what your potential customers are searching for, not what you want them to search for.”

16. Think like target customers

“How would [your target customers] find you? What
search terms would they enter? It probably won't be your brand name,” says Sarah Cornwell, director of marketing, Appbackr. “Start
a list of search terms and Google each one. Do you show up on the first page? If
not, then assign someone to write a blog post focusing on those words. The
post should not be a sales pitch. Keep growing the list and assign an hour every month to review your
rankings for each.”

17. Answer customer questions with online content

If you’re a dentist, your clients are probably searching for things like, How much does invisalign cost? or Are invisalign braces painful?, says Salman Aslam, CMO, Omnicore. “By answering these questions with Web content, you’re projecting yourself as an authority, which can have a direct impact on your bottom line.”

Aslam cites Marcus Sheridan, owner of River Pools, who was profiled by The New York Times in March 2013. Sheridan claimed that a single online article he wrote to answer the question, 'How much does a fiberglass pool cost?,' can be linked to at least $1.7 million of his company's sales.

18. Use Google’s free tools

Many SEO experts suggest using the free Google Analytics and Google Webmasters tools for your site.These tools cantell you how much traffic you get from Google, which keywords are driving the most traffic, and what traffic is leading to the most conversions.

19. Create local listings on Yelp, Google and Facebook

“If your business has multiple locations, create a listing for each one,” says Hamilton. “Build out the listing with rich content — photos, videos and links to your website. Google is increasingly focusing on returning local results, so it's critically important to have your local online presence properly mapped out.”

“Most people with local businesses don't know that Google has a page dedicated to their business,” adds Joshua Mackens, owner, Tutelary Marketing. Mackens recommends going to Google My Business to find your business and verify it. “Fill out the form completely and exhaust the categories [listing the services you provide]. Most local businesses don't rank well because they haven't taken this small but vastly important step.”

20. Get reviewed on Google

Mackens also touts the importance of user reviews on your Google business page. “The more reviews you get on Google, the better. This has a dual effect of raising your ranking and also making people call you over your competitors. It's a big win-win,” he says.

21. Make sure your site is mobile-friendly

You should ensure that your website is built on “responsive design,” meaning it automatically adapts for optimal display on smartphones and tablets, as well as computers. This may be out of your skill set, but it’s important to find someone who can help.

“Google has begun to favor sites that expand and contract to the varying and ever-growing screen sizes of mobile devices,” explains Ken Wisnefski, founder and CEO, WebiMax. “If your site is responsive and engages users, they’ll stay on the site more, which can lower your bounce rate.” (Bounce rate is the percentage of site visitors who leave after viewing just one page.)

22. Study your competitors

“One of the easiest ways companies can improve their SEO strategy is by researching competitors and looking at their marketing for strengths and weaknesses,” says BrightHaus's Gilde. “Get a feel for what onsite and offsite SEO strategies they’re using and for their social media strategy.”

23. Think of your site holistically

“All your site’s content should be relevant and closely associated with other content throughout the site and in line with what your brand represents,” says Robert Browne, SEO specialist, “Keep it simple and relevant. If content isn't engaging to visitors from a search engine results page, they’ll leave. Lower bounce rates on individual blog posts can have a positive impact on the SEO value they add to the entire site.”

24. Don’t forget the second largest search engine

“While most SEO efforts are focused on optimizing webpages for Google, you might also think about YouTube, which is the number two search engine on the Web,” says Jamie Grenney, vice president of marketing, Infer. “Before investing in content, the first step is to identify the keywords you want to go after. Google Trends lets you filter for YouTube to understand the search volume of different terms.” (After entering a term in Google Trends, click "Web Search" at the top of the results page and then select "YouTube Search.")

Videos often get the greatest visibility in Google rankings compared to other forms of content, according to Andrew Anderson of Strategic Web Blueprint.

25. Read Moz’s SEO for Beginners Guide

“It’s not an exciting read, but Moz is a leading authority on the topic and the advice is solid,” notes Ramon Khan, online marketing manager/business development, National Air Warehouse. “It will provide you with the basic foundation to build upon.”

This story, "Top 25 DIY Tips for Better SEO" was originally published by CIO.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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