What do you do about SEO if the site you built doesn’t seem to have SEO features built in? First, you need to know there is more than one aspect to SEO. There are actually at least four:
- Meta fields
- On page SEO
- Incoming links
- Page load time and caching
No matter what type of site you have, you can learn to improve your on page SEO and your incoming links. Whether you can configure the meta fields easily depends on what your site is built on.
Website Builder SEO
If you used a website builder, it may or may not have some accessible SEO meta fields. For example, IM Creator provides the ability to create meta title, description and keywords for the entire site – but not for individual pages.
Other website builders may not provide any meta fields at all. Ideally, it is best to be able to set different meta fields for each page on a site. If your site doesn’t support meta fields, focus on optimizing your on page SEO and building incoming links.
Sites built on WordPress have many more options. Originally, WordPress users installed SEO plugins. The most popular are:
- Platinum SEO
- SEO by Yoast
Today, advanced WordPress theme platforms including Thesis and Genesis have SEO fields built in. They are customizable for each page and post individually.
Some WP users install an advanced SEO plugin even if their theme has SEO fields in order to take advantage of additional features. For example, Yoast rates how well your page or post is optimized and also supports Twitter cards to pull your images into Twitter whenever one of your posts gets tweeted.
If you expect your ecommerce store to show up in searches, having and using the SEO fields is essential. Major ecommerce platforms typically provide meta fields for product and category pages, but many of their users haven’t bothered to fill them out.
The Google Panda update seriously penalized ecommerce sites that did not have enough text in their descriptions and on their category pages. If you haven’t filled in these fields and optimized all of your pages for SEO you should.
You also need to find a way to increase incoming links to your pages. Many ecommerce sites fail to rank because they haven’t attracted sufficient incoming links. Some used article marketing heavily for this and were later penalized by the Penguin update and had to remove those links.
Find out more by reading Improve Google Indexing on Your Ecommerce Website.
Image Size, Page Load Time and Caching
Many site owners make the serious mistake of using high resolution images or just images that are so large they take a long time to load. Keep in mind that not all internet users have high speed access or new computers with tons of memory.
Online images don’t need to be any higher than 72 dpi. Except for complex infographics you should be able to keep them under 160 kb and under 60 kb would be even better.
WordPress users can Enable Gzip Encoding and Caching to speed up their sites. All site owners should work to reduce page load time as much as possible. Discussions in the forum suggest that under 10 seconds is essential and ideally average page load times of under 3 seconds would be better.
The Google Page Speed Score add-on for FireFox can assist you in analyzing how your pages are loading.
Google Webmaster Accounts
Creating a webmaster account on Google and Bing are recommended to make your site easier for them to index. Google Webmaster Tools has an SEO FAQ to answer many common questions.
Image: SEO basics
Recently I put together an article about press release sites taking a huge hit in search rankings, presumably due to the “payday loan” algorithm which is supposed to target highly spammed keywords and sites using spammy techniques.
I spoke to an employee of a press release distribution company (who both will remain nameless) and they told me that the initial punishment occurred over the keyword “garcinia cambogia”, a keyword that gets more than 800,000 searches per month according to Semrush.
As I continued to write I decided to do a search for that keyword and see who the new results were. To my surprise I found a short YouTube video ranking near the bottom of page 1. After doing some research on the video I examined its backlink profile and came to the conclusion that the site was ranking purely on the strength of pure spam.
This discovery got me thinking that perhaps YouTube, a Google owned property might be “protected” from such actions. After all the more traffic their videos receive, the more revenue they can generate through ads.
I decided to check out some other keywords to see if my theory held true in another niche. After some consideration I decided to focus on a local seo keyword, such as “city name seo”. I wanted a term that would have value and a term that would have some good search volume.
The keyword I settled on has roughly 500 searches per month for its city name “seo” and could potentially generate a few hundred more visits by ranking for other variations of this same keyword.
Lo and behold I was able to find a YouTube video ranking in the 6th position for this keyword.
Well, if it is ranking in the top 10 and Google is attacking spammy backlinks, then this must be a squeaky clean white hat video correct?
The video has 65 views yet it has 1700 backlinks from almost 300 domains. How does that happen? How can only 65 people viewed the video yet 1700 links been created for said video? Perhaps the links are quality, so let’s take a peek!
After checking the backlink profile on Majectic SEO most of the links are coming via blog comments. Wait a minute, blog comments can be white hat right?
Of course they can but when the anchor text is either exact match or some variation of the main keyword then it screams spam. Don’t take my word for it, take a look yourself!
Notice that this page has been spammed to death and has some unsavory keywords on the same page as the “seo” keyword. I have marked out most information since I just want to point out the facts but do not want to “out” the video in question.
I think it is pretty clear that the site is simply using YouTube as a “host” to spam and rank.
In light of how Google has handled some news sites and the press release distribution sites I find it rather interesting that they are punishing these domains in the name of “search quality” yet their very own property can be used to rank for some of these keywords using the shadiest of tactics with no ill effects?
What are your thoughts?
Google search results are becoming ridiculously competitive. With the introduction of new and flashier ways to be seen, you still have to learn how to creatively and dynamically exploit those offered tools. Being seen with so many others attempting the same feat is just as hard as it was when visibility relied only on ranking.
Rich snippets have become the new keywords. These little details are what causes your listing to “pop” in a search, catching the eye of the user no matter what place on the first page you occupy. Proper use of rich snippets are a requirement for being seen. Continue reading