New SEO Tricks for a New Year

As 2011 gets us all off to a fresh start, you’re probably thinking about new avenues to explore as you optimize your website. What can you do to make your site more visible, more attractive, and rank higher in the SERPs? Here are a few ideas.

I’ve turned to Kate Morris, writing for SEOmoz for these ideas. The first one isn’t directly SEO-related, but you may still find it very helpful. Simply take a good look at HTML5, and consider using it to build your websites. You just might fall in love. You can do things with HTML5 that even CSS won’t let you do, and in a cleaner format. Don’t believe me? Check out Dev Articles, our sister site, where you’ll find some tutorials that give the new specification its due. Even Internet Explorer 8 and higher support some of its enhancements!

The second thing you need to consider doing for 2011 is something you’ve probably been meaning to do: A/B testing. Split testing of landing pages, ads, and so forth is the best way to learn what will increase your conversions. If you still don’t have the time to do it yourself, you can delegate this task.

Is everyone at the office busy? Consider hiring an intern specifically to do this research. College students are always hungry for real work experience. As Morris explains, if your office is near a university, you can probably hire a sharp college student as an intern for $10 an hour, five hours a week, to do a month’s worth of A/B testing and research. That comes to $200 to give you some very important answers going forward. Or if you can’t afford even that much, Google Website Optimizer automates a lot of the work you’d need to put in, and it’s free!

If you’re a local business hoping to increase your traffic, you should consider looking into microformats. Microformats, according to Google’s guide, are “simple conventions (known as entities) used on web pages to describe a specific type of information – for example, a review, an event, a product, a business, or a person.” This doesn’t sound all that important, until you consider how often searchers are looking for local information. All of a sudden, it matters that Google can easily find your address and your product when someone is looking for office furniture in your town. Check out the guide linked above for an explanation of how to use microformats on your website; you just might see an increase in traffic and conversions from local searchers.

If one of your New Year’s resolutions involves revitalizing your blog, you might consider showing off your expertise in other venues as well. Specifically, why not consider writing a few guest posts? Remember that it’s getting harder, not easier, to build links back to your own website – but practically every content-based website is constantly looking for quality content. Letting you include a link back to your website when you do a guest post is standard operating procedure for most of these sites.

Guest posting lets you develop your reputation as an authority in addition to helping you gain backlinks for your website. This can help you attract more links and further your career. So: quality content for the site accepting your guest post, a link back to your website, and a boost to your business. As Morris puts it, “Guest posting is the best win-win-win around.”

Finally, let’s talk about conversions. What, exactly, is a conversion? Depending on your business, and the purpose for which you’ve set up your website, a conversion could be almost anything: a newsletter sign-up, a click on an ad, a download, a sales lead, a product purchase, a reader sharing a link to your site on a social network, or something more exotic. Everyone is looking for a  conversion…but what counts as a conversion to you? And more importantly, is your website structured to encourage the kinds of conversions you’re looking for?

To answer these questions, you’re going to have to take a hard look at your website and what you’re currently doing for SEO. Is it getting the job done? Sure, you may be at the top of Google for your keywords, but are they bringing you the conversions you expected? If not, you may need to take a different approach. There is an art and a science to conversion rate optimization (CRO); it’s worth putting in the research and making a few changes to see what happens. Who knows? With some studying, hard work, and important changes, this could be the year you break your previous records. Good luck! 

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