Search engine optimization (SEO) is used to optimize organic search results for a website, web page or blog. There are two main categories of SEO: On-Page SEO and Off-Page SEO. On-Page SEO primarily refers to website implementation strategies (physical pages) to optimize the search engine page ranking of a website or blog in organic search results for particular words or phrases. Off-Page SEO refers to optimization strategies to optimize the search engine page ranking of a website or blog outside of design, such as building links with authoritative sites using relevant content, social bookmarking and social media.
On-Page SEO Tactics That Drive Organic Traffic
Ideally, a web page should comply with all of the following to increase organic search results:
Increase Organic Search Results With Content
- Be hyper-relevant to a specific topic
- Always start with keyword selection, research and testing
- Provide unique, relevant and compelling content about a given subject
- Focus on usability and accessibility
- Track target keywords and search terms
- Ensure keyword density on pages
- The keyword should appear in the first paragraph of the copy
- The body copy should be greater than 300 words
- Include the subject in title tag
- Include the keyword / phrase in URL
- Ensure that images have alt tags containing the keyword / phrase
- Include a relevant meta description tag that includes the focus keyword
- Include ALT tags that includes the focus keyword
- Include H1 and H2 tags that includes the focus keyword
- Keep the meta description under 155 characters to ensure the entire description is visible
- The page title should contain a minimum of 40 characters
Increase Organic Search Results With A Supporting Architecture
- Develop an internal linking strategy
- Link back to the homepage
- Link back to its category page
- Link back to its subcategory page
- Include outbound links
- Optimize the URL structure to include the focus keywords
- Prepare site maps, both XML and user-facing
- Make sure pages load quickly
- Ensure that URLs are short and contain relevant keywords to page topics
Increase Organic Search Results With Cross-Linking or Internal Linking
Link to internal pages within the blog or website wherever possible as this increases the internal link popularity, another major factor in PageRank algorithms. A great example of internal linking is Wikipedia.
Avoid Common On-Page SEO Mistakes Such as:
- Duplicate content – only one page gets credit for original content and that page is the first one that is indexed for the content
- URL variants of the same pages
- Off-site images and content on-site
- Duplicate title tags
- Body copy under 300 words
Avoid Black Hat or Spammy SEO Tactics Such:
- Hidden text and links – for example, do the colors or design of the website or blog hide words that may not be relevant in the copy but are desirable as crawlers to find?
- Doorway pages – Doorway pages are Web pages designed and built to rank well with search engines to draw search engine visitors to a website – they act almost like a banner ad.
- Mirror pages – A mirror page is when the same, or very similar, content exists on a different page on the same or different website, by the same domain owner.
- Cloaking – this is when the content presented to the search engine spider is different from the content that is presented to an individual. Most of the time, cloaking is implemented in order to improve search engine ranking by misleading the search engine robot into thinking the content on the page is different than it really is.
- Stuffing – this is excessive use of keywords.
- Paying for links – i.e. buying a link that passes page rank.
- Link spam – creates links from other sites by adding comments to sites that are not relevant to the copy.
Off-Page SEO Tactics That Drive Organic Traffic
Off-Page SEO refers to optimization strategies outside of your website’s or blog such as link building with authoritative sites with relevant and engaging content for the purpose of improving the position of a web site or blog in the search engine results page (SERPs). In general, Off-Page SEO includes link building, social media and social bookmarking.
The focus for link building should be on the quality of links/website instead of the quantity of links, when trying to increase search engine results. A few links to websites with a high pagerank value are much more effective than hundreds of links to sites with low PageRank value. Here are some factors to consider when deciding whether to get links from a certain website:
- The relevance of that website to the content
- The ranking of the website itself
- The amount of traffic that the site generates
- The type of traffic it is expected to generate or send to the company’s website
- Whether that website has links from other websites as well; if yes, then what kind of links are they – i.e. the what is the quality of those websites to which it has links
Here are some guidelines to focus your Off-Page SEO efforts around for a positive impact on your search engine page ranking.
Off-Page SEO Tactics – Link Building
Link building is building links back to the web page from other blogs or websites. Search engines value the number of quality of links to and from a web page. Links are viewed as endorsements or validation that fresh, relevant and engaging content exists on the web page. The quality and quantity of the links to the web page are one of the factors that Google uses to determine search engine page ranking.
In general, Google crawls the internet to find the number of links pointing back to specific web pages. Because web pages are indexed, it is important to not only have good content but to have clean HTML and an accurate site map. Google’s algorithm then crunches data and decides search engine page ranking.
Even though PageRank is one of many factors that Google evaluates when calculating search engine page ranking, it is still important to gravitate to sites with a high PageRank versus those with a low PageRank. Google assigns a PageRank to web pages based on an algorithm that uses a value of 0 to 10, with 10 being the highest. The scoring is not linear but exponential, so one backlink to a PageRank 10 site is much, much more valuable than 10 backlinks to a PageRank 1 site. It is useful to use an online tool like PR Checker to validate the PageRank value of a web page.
Off-Page SEO Tactics – Anchor Texts
When using anchor texts or contextual links, it is not a good idea to use the same phrase. Ideally, the anchor text will be a meaningful phrase that will include the targeted keyword. Even if this format is followed, it is not a best practice to use the same anchor text repeatedly throughout the web page or post because it does not look natural — and that is a flag for Google. One general rule for creating anchor text or contextual links is to have:
- 35% of the anchor text exactly matching the keywords
- 30% of the anchor text matching based on a phrase match
- 25% of the anchor text related to call-to-action terms like click here, read more, download now, etc.
- 10% of the anchor text matching that of the URL for the web page
Off-Page SEO Tactics – Niche Blogs and Websites
There are two schools of thought on generating traffic to a website or blog. On one end of the spectrum, the thought is to generate as much traffic as possible knowing that only a small percentage of the traffic will fulfill a person’s goals (register, download, buy, etc). At the other end of the spectrum is the belief that the only traffic that matters is targeted traffic. With the latter concept in mind, look for niche blogs and websites that target the same individuals that one wants to target, but for a different purpose. These are real natural links (keywords and content match) that will positively impact organic search results.
Off-Page SEO Tactics – Reputation, Authorship, Content
Online reputation management or community creation requires a presence on multiple social networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, About, Gravatar, etc.
Blogging can be an incredibly powerful way to drive traffic to a website. Create fresh, meaningful, compelling and engaging content that is rich with the desired keywords. This will generate organic traffic and referral traffic because links to that content will be indexed and picked up by other blogs and websites.
Guest blogging is when one writes a blog post on someone else’s blog– B2C, VentureBeat, Forbes, HuffingtonPost, ExploreB2B, etc. The goals should be to target high-value PR sites to develop authorship and generate traffic through contextual links back to the company’s site.
Create an online discussion on LinkedIn, Quora, etc., and start a conversation or share information with like-minded individuals.
Proactively participate in posting questions and providing answers on sites like Quora, About, eHow, etc. Be sure to use contextual links in the responses as links to a blog or website are typically frowned upon.
Press Release Promotion
Create press releases in popular PR websites like PRLog, PRWeb, etc. to announce products, services, surveys and this will help syndicate company news across the globe.
Set Up RSS Feeds
Setting up RSS feeds for a website helps generate traffic to that website whenever new content is posted.
Off Page SEO Tactics – Search Engines, Directory Submissions, Listings, Bookmarking
Search Engine Submission
Submit blogs and websites to the most popular search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing, MSN, Altavista, Alexa, Alltheweb, Lycos, Excite, etc., to get listed.
In general, results from Directory Submission do take some time, but the results are worth the effort. Submit blogs and websites to quality directories like DMOZ, Yahoo Directory, ZoomInfo, One Mission, Pegasus, etc.
Local Listings & Yellow Pages
Promote locally and submit websites to Google Local, Maps, Yahoo Local, Yellow Pages, etc.
A social bookmarking service is a centralized online service that enables users to add, annotate, edit, and share bookmarks of web documents. Focus social bookmarking efforts in popular bookmarking sites like Digg, Delicious, Reddit, StumbleUpon, Propeller, etc.
Off-Page SEO Tactics – Document & Image Sharing
Other off-the-site methods to generate traffic include submitting documents and images to sites such as YouTube, Slideshare, Vimeo, SCRIBD,e tc.
Share website documents like business documents, information brochures, and slides in Google Docs, Slide Share, etc. Include a call to action with a URL in the first line as well as a detailed description that includes the primary keywords.
Publish/share images form blogs and websites and make them public on popular photo sharing websites like Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr, Picasa, Photo Bucket, etc. Include descriptions that contain the keywords and link back to the website or blog.
Similar to photo sharing, publish and share product videos, expert opinions, how to advice and product reviews on YouTube, Vimeo, etc. Make sure the title of any video is optimized for search, include the blog or website URL in the first sentence of the description and include the full transcript (as it has been SEO optimized for search.)
Avoid Black Hat SEO Techniques
Black Hat SEO is like being in the witness protection program—one is not safe and it’s necessary to keep changing what one is doing or one will get caught. In short, there are no short cuts that last in the long-term as Google will eventually figure it out — and the repercussions can be severe. If one is executing good On-Page and Off-Page SEO practices, then there is no need for Black hat SEO.
Black Hat SEO focuses on getting thousands of links back to a web page. Many Black Hat SEO practitioners get really greedy and try to accomplish this in a very short period of time – and that is an even stronger signal to Google that something is awry- These sudden backlink spikes can even lead of de-indexing of web pages from Google’s database. What’s worse is that the quality of most of these backlinks is very poor. Again, it’s not the quantity of backlinks that is important but the quality (PageRank value) that is important. Remember, search engines are getting smarter every day and they are pretty effective in determining which backlinks are natural and which are not.
The Net – Optimize Organic Search Results and Boost Organic Website and Blog Traffic
At the end of the day, focus on optimizing organic search results and there will be a direct correlation to organic website and or blog traffic that is not coin operated—pay per click (PPC). A best practice is to increase search engine results by focusing on content, reputation, authorship, clean html and a solid architecture.
Establishing, maintaining and increasing search engine page ranking is not an easy task nor is it a one time effort–it requires research, analysis, content and an active outreach effort to grow organic search results. Do not expect to see results in a day or a week, an effective program will generate sustained increases in search engine results in months or quarters. The bad news is that increasing organic search engine results takes time to ramp up but the good news is that you are not paying per click and organic search results will not drop to zero if there is a temporary reduction in On-Page and Off-Page SEO efforts. However, it is a competitive world so there has to be a sustained On-Page and Off-Page SEO effort or organic search results will fall over time.