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Step Up Your SEO Efforts

seoThere are many factors playing into the game of SEO that makes each person’s quest for a top spot in Google search results unique. Some businesses, depending on the industry, will find that top positioning will be more challenging than others. However, regardless of each individual situation, there are basic strategies that everyone should incorporate into their SEO efforts.

Since there is entirely too much knowledge to share on the topic of SEO in the body of one post, I will provide a task list and each action item will be linked to a detailed tutorial on more details and steps to achieve each tip. You may decide that if you want to implement most or all of these strategies, you will work on one or two at a time. That’s my way of warning you that there is A LOT of work that can be done so be careful not to get overwhelmed by taking it on all at once. DIY SEO is a mammoth task best done by scheduling blocks of time dedicated to your ongoing efforts a little bit at a time.

The first place to start with you SEO efforts is on-site optimization which simply means you are structuring your site and its content to be as attractive as possible to search engines while preserving the visitor experience.

  1. Titling

    Learn how to get the most bang for your titling efforts. A great SEO plugin to use to help you with creating titles, descriptions, and keywords for SEO purposes is the All-in-One SEO pack for WordPress. Steer clear of duplicate titles and using titles over 65 characters. Google only shows 70 characters of a title in search results as of the date of publishing so it’s a good idea to stay under 65 to ensure that your titles are seen.

  2. Meta Descriptions

    Crafting the perfect meta description for each page means less to SEO and more to the click-through rate, but at the end of the day, isn’t that our goal…to get someone on our website? The meta description is the blurb that you see in search results that delivers your message in 160 characters or less so make it count! Once again, low-ball it to make sure your message is seen and try to stay under 150 characters. It’s a good idea to use a call-to-action in the meta description, “Call Asheville Marketing Solutions at 828.484.1760 to get yourself found in search results!” Without even clicking through, they have contact info in one glance. This can be very effective for some service related industries.

  3. Keywords

    The Google keyword tool is hands down the best free tool we have at our disposal. Just by inputting what keywords you are using, what you think you should use or even just your website url will return a wealth of keyword suggestions. Google will tell you how many people globally search for each term, how many people locally (U.S. searches) search for each term, and the competition. A good rule of thumb is to choose keyword phrases, that pair the largest searches with the lowest competition. Generally speaking, this will help you have the best chance to get in front of the most people. Once you determine the most effective keywords for all of your content, you can use these in your page and blog titles, content, video descriptions, picture alt text, social media profiles, everywhere!

  4. Using Microdata

    This is particularly helpful for those who have internet reviews, products, events, and other important uses described in the article linked above. Using microdata helps the search engine spiders best understand your site content and makes the search results stand out from the rest resulting in a higher click-through rate. Schema Creator provides the information and tools to make this happen for you; they even have a handy WordPress plugin to make it even easier.)

  5. Google Authorship

    This is for anyone who writes blog posts or articles on their website and has a Google+ profile. Completing this step will put a thumbnail profile picture next to the search results once again making it stand out from the rest of the results- see screenshot.verified_authorship (If you don’t yet have a Google+ account, I highly recommend you create one. Don’t stress about having to keep up with another social media outlet, just creating a profile carries many benefits…trust me on this one!) Here is a step-by-step tutorial on becoming a verified Google author. 

  6. Custom permalinks

    This is specifically for WordPress users. First make sure, you are using “pretty permalinks” which simply means the url of each page ends with the title of your page versus a string of odd characters. Once you have this set-up, you can go one step further and edit the permalinks to be SEO optimized. Refer to the screenshot for where to find this option in WordPress.custom_permalinks This is a good opportunity to tack on a more pointed keyword, potentially your target market city. For example, a good custom permalink for myself might look something like this: Make sense?

  7. Include social media integration.

    Adding social media icons to your website not only gives you a few SEO points by having your links in there, but you are making it easier for your audience to follow your web presence. It’s a win-win situation! And of course, if you are a WordPress user and you do not know how to upload icons and link them to your profiles, there are (surprise!) plugins  to help you. Check out Simple Social icons by Studiopress to get you started.

  8. Add social sharing buttons to your site.

    This is different from putting your social media icons on your site. The social media integration will only help to bring people to your social media profiles and build your social media audiences. Social sharing will allow people to share your website pages or blog posts with various social media channels. Of course, you can always grab the link from the address bar and share that way, but unless you make it as easy as possible, chances are people will not do it. The +1 is particularly important to encourage the use of as it is naturally interwoven into Google’s search engine functionality. Here is a blog post that offers a list of social sharing plugins for you to pick from.

  9. For the best Google on-site optimization tips, go straight to the source!

    Google’s support offers some additional SEO tips you should check out to jump start your efforts.

Phew! There’s certainly more to it, but hopefully this will give you enough to get started and be effective. Stay tuned for the next installment of SEO tips which will focus on off-site SEO strategies. I hope these help, and I would be thrilled to hear any of your SEO tips or success stories so please feel free to share!

A special thanks to Bradley Benner of Big Bamboo Marketing for teaching me most of what I have learned about SEO so that I can pass it on to my readers. It is through the sharing of knowledge that we all become the best we can be and for that I am grateful.