Customers can’t ask for you by name if they don’t know who you are. If you’re buried under eight pages of search engine results, they’ll never learn your name, so it’s vital to impress search engines as well as your human readers. Search engine optimization, or SEO, is more than an industry buzzword; it’s an essential tool for positioning your business where your customers can find you.
Search engines constantly change their search algorithms, but some constants remain. Here are three key elements to help you stay atop the results pages.
Get valuable links. Every time another site links to yours, you gain a measure of search engine prestige. However, because of spam sites and low-value content mills, incoming links alone no longer have as much value in search engines’ rankings. A bare URL in a link tells a search engine little about your site, so these links are devalued over content-rich contextual links. Incoming links should include anchor text that contains relevant keywords; this gives search engines a clue about why other sites link to yours. Ask partners and owners of sites with incoming links to update their anchor text to improve your rankings and theirs.
Build link popularity with established sources. Link popularity is a measure not only of how many links you have coming into your site, but the quality of those links. A blogger who mentions your company’s great customer service on a personal website still counts toward your site’s rankings, but a profile of your excellent customer service in a major industry magazine that contains links to your site carries much more weight with search engines.
Meta tags matter, and so do title tags. Human readers may never see some of the information on your site, but every bit of text matters to search engines that look at the code behind the site. Strong meta tags help search engines categorize your site. Alt tags on images should also contain the keywords that you’ve integrated into your site’s copy. Although readers don’t see those additional keywords, search engines do, and they all count toward your site’s prominence.
Relevance, popularity and strong meta tags will go a long way toward improving your site’s SEO status. Make sure the search engines know your name so that you can get all your customers talking about you.
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