Google originally didn't know it all - They learned along with the rest of us. But they are still the teacher giving us the grade on whether or not we got our SEO stuff together. As they got smarter, we had to adapt and get wiser and more creative on getting that good grade. The list of pluses and minuses have also increased. Ten years ago the list was just 10 simple things, easy to do and not a lot of competition. Today, that list has hundreds of pieces and what we're doing AND NOT doing will make our grade go up or down.
If you've been blogging for a long time or tried to stay on top of the SEO strategy for years you probably found it easy at first to soar above your compeition. It wasn't that hard since there were not as many serious students in the classroom. But today, there are plenty more to compete with and we have the teacher's aid as well kissing the proverbial butt of Google (Trulia, Zillow, Realtor, Homes etc..). Is there a way for the little pion in the back to get anywhere in a Google dominated world? How can you keep up? How do you know what's even on the list? Maybe you are finding yourself sinking in the rankings or simple non-existant.
Unfortunately the little push and 10 minutes of SEO here or there a week that used to cut it is not making the grade at all anymore. You're not even getting a grade! You're simply being turned away to continue revising until your work is half-way decent enough to even be considered. SEO is truly a full time job if you want to be found and actually make some business from it. But because one thing leads to another, you don't have the money to hire full time because you're not getting leads and your not getting leads because you need to hire a full time marketer... and around and around we go.
Ok, so let's stop this cycle.
If you are going to be using your website as more than just a place to send people directly you need to find the time and put in the effort. Now is a great time since markets may be slower across the country and you can focus on a few tricks here and there as you listen to the sweet sounds of the season on the radio (already).
Take 1 hour every day and put in some time making sure your site is optimized and making the Google Grade.
- Check your website. Is it easy to navigate? Analyze your site and check any mistakes that seem obvious to you. Is your domain old or new? (older is better) Is the type of lead you're looking able to find what they came to your site for? Can they easily contact you? Do readers know what you sell and where you are from the home page?
- Analyze your Meta Data - Double check your title, description and keywords. If you site doesn't allow you to customize these things, time to pick a new website. Start with your home page then move to subpages a little at a time. Never use a / in your title or description as websites see this as a code rather than the break you wanted. Instead use | or a dash.
- Is the content easy to read on the homepage? Is it original or canned information with the area words changed? Is it information that would help the type of reader you are after? If not, change it. Make the content easy to read with bullet points, bold phrases and heading tags when appropriate. But you don't want it too busy either with 34 fonts and 5 different colors.
- Do all your images have alt tags? Every image on every page should have an alt tag (in the code look for alt="keyword here") Google cannot see your image they can only read text. Tell Google what the image is. Same with video. Don't use Google images to find pictures - buy them or better yet, take them yourself.
- Are you adding fresh content and consistently building out your site? If your site is the same as it's been for years, Google finds nothing fresh about it and will downgrade it accordingly.
- Blog - Write - Share. Add links to past posts that are related or to bring fresh life into older posts that still carry weight. Link to the new content FROM older posts to create a better foundation for the new posts to shine.
That's the on-site stuff. Stuff that should be analyzed and checked on or corrected regularly. Then you must incorporate off-site SEO. Your site cannot operate in a bubble. People have to find it, experience it and buy into it. Here are some things you can be doing off-site to increase traffic and awareness.
- Write, Share, Respond - Repeat. Once you have a great website you need to share it. If you are not good about writing new content, share the old. If it's still relevant boost it by pasting your link on your Facebook page, Linkedin profile, Google + Page or profile (which is a great link back from Google), or tweet about it using catchy phrases like "Are you sure you're getting the most from your home sale?" or something that will make a reader click the link to know more. Don't simply post "New blog post, click here" Cause they never will. If you have beautiful photos, pin them on Pinterest. Use the social media that best fits your genre.
- Be proactive and reactive. Share OTHER PEOPLE'S links, posts and comment on them. Get yourself out there so people know you are not just a robot. Be real, be genuine and share without being spammy.
- Find other blogs and comment on them leaving a link back to your website where applicable. Many comment threads allow you to leave your name, email, WEBSITE ADDRESS and comment. That URL then gets linked to your name so be serious, intentional and make every blog comment count.
- Rethink your branding and your profile. Make sure you have a profile in all the places a client would find you. Directories that are RELATED, profiles on sites that make sense and make sure there is a link back to your site on all of them. Build those back links.
- AND CHECK THOSE BACKLINKS - you never know when a porn or gambling site may have picked up your link. Go to opensiteexplorer.org or backlinkwatch.com and get a list of your back links. If any seem unrelated or just plain odd, ask to be removed or disavow them on your webmaster tools. OR - overshadow them by creating more of the good back links.
- Get a .edu or .gov back link if you can. How? Ask. You never know. Find .edu and .gov blogs and leave a comment.
Take this as a list and do one thing every day and in a month you will have a better optimized website, easier for your readers and more social connections. Yes, it's a lot but take that hour in the AM or PM every day to make a better online impact with your site.