Changes in Search Engine Optimization
There are reports in the industry that SEO is dead but what that really means is that there are fewer and fewer "tricks" available to use - not that we ever favored using tricks. This is good news for website owners that want their websites to rank. It's still relatively easy to do - if you put in the time and energy (yes, money).
Here are some more SEO tips for 2014 for you - in addition to my "SEO in 2014" article that I recently published.
I found another great article explaining on-page SEO and what it comes down to is... (drumroll)... content!
Wait, it has always been about content. That's right. It's still about content. I'd say content and how your website is set up. I'll first go over your website set up and then get to content and a link to that article...
How Your Website is Set Up Matters
As this article references, we're going into 2014. It's not 1996 or 2004 or 2009 any more. The technology has changed. If you want to have a fighting chance to rank well, you most likely won't be able to set things up correctly yourself - you'll need some experts. Also, those "one man shops" out there won't be able to handle doing everything.
There are things like microdata and keyword research and responsive design (among other things) that the ordinary business owner is not going to know about or be able to do without first taking time to learn about. Even then, it's going to be difficult to learn everything and then keep up with it. Business owners need to spend their time where it matters the most - running their business... not learning about the technical parts of website design and optimization.
The botom line here is that you could be losing out big time if your website hasn't been set up correctly.
Heck, if it hasn't been modified in the last 1-2 years, there's a good chance you're missing out on some key things that could make your website rank higher if you just did them. Did you get what I eluded to there? First, if your website design is just 1 to 2 years old, you're behind the times. Second, maybe a total redesign isn't necessary but just let some experts get in to your website and update a number of things and there's a good chance you could gain some rankings just by doing that. It would be worth the investment.
Excellent, Awesome Content is Excellent and Awesome
Here's that great article I found (actually, I think my brother sent it to me - thanks, Mike):
2014 SEO Playbook: On-Page Factors (searchengineland.com)
One of the best parts of this aritcle (which is worth reading through) is about content:
After Panda, you’d think we would be well past the age of producing short “fluff” articles. However, too many websites, especially business sites that struggle to post fresh content, continue the practice. Recently, I saw a corporate blog post listing 10 must-read books on a topic — the article consisted of 10 thumbnail images and the names of the books, linked to an online bookstore. You can’t afford to keep putting out cut-rate articles like that; in bulk, they are perfect Panda-penalty bait.
On the opposite end is deep content — pages or articles of around 1,500 words or more. Websites have seen success with this content, so it may make sense to take the time spent creating lots of short, “fluffy” posts and use it instead to produce a few longer, more meaningful articles. Whatever you do, make sure content is well written, with attention to grammar and spelling. Don’t just say something; back it up with thoughtful opinion or researched facts. Put some meat on the bones. Personally, when it comes to article content, if I cannot easily pass 450 words, I will combine it with other content or deem it not worth writing about.
As for e-commerce descriptions, I used to deem 250 words as the sweet spot. Nowadays, I am less concerned about word count and more focused on creating a great list, matching features with benefits.
So again, no fluffy content but meaty content. This means you will need to hire someone to do copywriting (with research) in order to post awesome content that people will want to share on social media. Unless you love writing, it's just not going to happen or be at the level it needs to be at.
I also like what it says here about product descriptions for your online store. Don't focus on the amount of words but the quality. I'd add that customer reviews on products is huge! This is also where that microdata comes in. If you combine the two, you're golden.
The bottom line is, if writing articles of 1,500 to 2,000 words or more scares you to death, then hire a copywriter. You're going to pay between $30 and $60 per article. At the minimum, you should be posting 1-2 of those articles a month but you may need to post several a week, depending on your competition.
Don't Make This Mistake
The big mistake business owners make here is that they think this content is a waste of money. No, it's actually the best money you could ever spend!
Think about it... you pay once for something and then it keeps paying you back. What's better than that? That's a way better return than paying an employee to do something for one hour and then it's over. With content on your website, you get credit for that great content from the moment it's posted going forward into the future... forever, essentially. It's a true investment into your business.
And yet another mistake made is that people spend money to post some content but then stop because that their traffic hasn't doubled the next day. It takes time, you have to be consistent about posting great content and then be patient. Heck, radio advertising takes almost a year to kick in. You're talking way less time than that with great content on your website.
Don't think that copywriting and posting articles on your website isn't working after just a few weeks. Give it a couple months. At that time, trends and signals will present themselves and you'll have a guide on how to craft your writing going forward... it just works. Of course, you need to start with doing the correct keyword research.
Right now, the best thing to do is to get your website evaluated if you're not sure where you stand in terms of having a website that can rank well. Knowing where you stand is the first, important step. Have this done by professionals who have the knowledge and expertise to give you the best evaluation possible. Stay away from the companies that will use their own measuring stick and then talk you into buying their product. That's biased. Go with industry standards (Google and Bing) so that you're not throwing your money away on endless monthly fees.
Set a goal in 2014 to get your website ranking higher so that it's a true tool for your business or organization - one that you invest in and get a return from... your employee out on the Web.