With over 93% of people using search engines as their first point of research, it goes without saying that search engine optimization is important for any web property. Here are some other interesting SEO-related statistics:
- Over 70% of clicks go to organic results.
- 75% of people don’t click past the first page.
- The top 3 results get up to 60% of organic clicks.
But for a lot of people, there just isn’t enough time to go out and learn the ins and outs of SEO. Or there might not be available budget for a SEO consultant either.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about SEO.
This post will walk you through 6 must have SEO changes you need to make to your site. They aren’t too difficult to implement and will help increase your website’s search visibility.
1. Domain Canonicalization
Sounds complicated, huh? Don’t worry – it’s not.
Try going into your URL bar and entering the non-www and www version of your site. If they both show up as http://yoursite.com and http://www.yoursite.com, you have canonicalization issues. All you need to do here is 301 redirect the one that has less links to the one that has more links. You can use Open Site Explorer to determine which page has less links.
The title is one of the most important on-page SEO factors so make sure you get this right. Generally, you want all of your titles to have your target keywords in the front and have the site name in the back. For example, look at how Zappos structures their title:
Shoes, Clothing, and More | Zappos.com
Follow this structure and you can’t go wrong.
3. Breadcrumbs and Related Links
Internal links help structure the strength of inner pages so take advantage of them. Think of your site as an ant hill with water pouring down the tunnels. Ideally, the water would flow through all the tunnels to fill them all up. Breadcrumbs are a great way of creating internal links, here’s an example of what they look like:
In addition, linking to related articles or related products (if you’re an e-commerce store) goes a long way in telling the search engines that these inner pages have some importance as well.
4. Robots control
Many webmasters like to use the robots.txt to block portions of their websites. As an alternative, try using the ‘noindex, follow’ tag on pages because this will allow the link juice to flow freely throughout your site. Using the robots.txt basically creates a black hole for link juice – it stops the flow. For more information on how to use meta robots, check this post out on SEOmoz.
5. Alt tags
As of today, search engines still have difficulty discerning what an image is about. Make sure you use alt tags when you add images so search engines can crawl the text. By doing this, each image you upload with yield some SEO benefit. Remember: No alt tag means you won’t get credit for the picture.
Here’s an example:
“img src=”http://www.evergreensearch.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/zappos-breadcrumbs.jpeg” alt=”zappos breadcrumbs” title=”zappos breadcrumbs” width=”326″ height=”186″ class=”aligncenter size-full wp-image-674″
6. User Generated Content
Whether you own a blog or an e-commerce store, user generated content is a great way to boost long tail search traffic to your site. The additional benefits include adding more engagement and building trust on your site. Over 62% of people read online reviews which means if you have an e-commerce site, you’d be shooting yourself in the foot to not include user generated reviews. These will help increase conversion rates plus help you generate content on your product pages to help increase organic traffic.
If you have a blog, you can get great user engagement from your great content. The result: lively discussions in your blog comments section and added content at no cost. UGC is a scalable form of SEO that most webmasters should not miss out on.
SEO doesn’t have to be hard. While the industry is rapidly changing every year, there are still a few timeless SEO laws that still exist. Pay attention to those laws and make the simple changes outlined in this post to give your organic traffic a bump. Once you work out all the kinks on your site and are doing the most important things efficiently, you can dive into more heavy lifting SEO tasks. Until then, just get the basics right.
What are some must have SEO basics that I missed?
Magnifying glass image via Shutterstock
Eric Siu is the Vice President of SEO at Evergreen Search, a digital marketing agency in los angeles. He's also written about Why Laser Focus Leads To Success and 44 Must Read Resources on Content Marketing. In his free time, he likes watching football, playing poker, hiking, reading, or eating ice cream. Feel free to follow him on Twitter( @ericosiu) or on Google+:+Eric Siu