ONLINE MARKETING

8 Tips to Improve Your SEO Now

Stop languishing in a dark corner of the World Wide Web. Grab your developer and go through this checklist to start getting more traffic.
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Is your website living in a dark corner of the Web? That's no place for a fledgling start-up, let alone a company that has already proved its merit in the marketplace. Languishing on the fringes of the Internet means customers are not finding your site, and they are not finding your products and services.

Adding metatag keywords is no longer enough to draw Web visitors. What follows are tips designed to produce real results. My recommendation? Go through them one by one with your Web programmer and make sure you have hit them all. Then, track the before and after. Post in comments if you see real results.

1. Stuff your keywords naturally.

Experts in search engine optimization say an important step is to load the beginning of an article with keywords. Joel Gross, the founder and CEO of Coalition Technologies, a Los Angeles- and Seattle-based Web design and marketing firm, says you should load keywords naturally, not in any repeating and obvious pattern. If you're writing about the iPhone, make sure you mention the device up front--don't bury the topic. Repeat these same natural language keywords in the tags.

2. Fix your content and let it age.

Content is king, says Leslie Handmaker, the SEO program manager for Next Day Flyers. The trick is to make sure your content matches what the search engines expect--articles should be at least 400-500 words. The smartest crawlers can detect where the content is rich in quality or parse out the repetitive, fake stuff. Handmaker says it is also important to let the content sit and age for a while--edits and tweaks mean the crawler has to start over.

3. Claim your Google authorship.

Once you have started generating some fresh content, your next step is to make sure you have claimed your Google authorship. This is a feature in Google+ where you can link your profile on that social network to the content you produce on your site, making it easier for people to find it. Go here to do it: https://plus.google.com/authorship

4. Write linkable content.

One of the great secrets to making sure people find your site is to encourage linking. The more people link to your site, the more people will find it. SEO expert Ben Nesvig says the best way to encourage linking is to write something compelling. Cover an important topic, write about a myth or misunderstanding, add to the social debate. People link to what they like.

5. Syndicate your own content.

In some cases, it is possible to create content and get paid by others sites for syndication. But Robert Granholm, the CTO at IT Arsenal, says you can syndicate your own content. For example, you can repurpose an article as an online presentation on Prezi or Slideshow, with links back to your site. Or, for videos, post them on your own site and as a YouTube video.

6. Stop the thieves.

Handmaker says your content should be fresh and original, because Google and other crawlers balk at text found in multiple locations. One tool, called Copyscape, can find out whether the text on your website is being used illegally on another site. Google even offers tools to assert copyright on text.

7. Think outside of the SEO box.

Some of the tricks of the trade are well-established: Create a blog, post fresh content. Tasha Mayberry, the founder of Social Media 22, says to think outside of the box. Instead of having a simple "Contact us" link on your site, turn the link into a marketing message--say, "Contact World's Greatest Chef." It's a small step that helps the search engine index your contact link. On most pages, it also helps to bold a few keywords.

8. Fix common problems.

Many business owners create a website that looks appealing and contains fresh content. However, there are a few simple fixes everyone should do. Suzy Bureau is the business strategist and community manager at Bringshare.com, a social marketing app. She says company owners should make sure there is a robots.txt file in your root folder, which directs search engines. Your site also needs an XML map--you can use a site like xml-sitemaps.com to generate one. Finally, make sure you use descriptive headings. Don't say T-Shirts when you can say Free Company X T-Shirts.

Last updated: Nov 12, 2012

JOHN BRANDON | Columnist

John Brandon is a contributing editor at Inc. magazine covering technology. He writes the Tech Report column for Inc.com.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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