Many merchants and marketers alike find themselves wanting to know which Search Engine Optimization (SEO) factors will have the biggest effects on their website. This information could help businesses to focus SEO efforts where they’ll get the most bang for their buck. The answer is, as you may imagine, a bit more nuanced.
Overwhelmingly, there are two factors that will help you build up strong SEO rankings:
Unique, high-quality content. Content comes in many formats, including text, images, video, and other mediums. For search engines like Google to appreciate your content, it should be original and unique. It should also include relevant keywords used in healthy ratios. Keyword phrases should also be used in appropriate tags for your pages and content, such as meta descriptions & titles, alt tags, and header tags. Your content should be easily accessible in your site, such as from your main menu, and included in your sitemap – a file that helps search engines find all of the pages within your website.
Relevant Backlinks. Lots of websites may have good content, so search engines need to look for other metrics to determine which sites are the best for particular keyword phrases. One of the biggest factors that they can look at is backlinks. In essence, if important, relevant, high-quality sites are linking to yours, this suggests that they too believe you to be a valuable resource. Keep in mind that quality is an important factor. Building links from spammy or irrelevant sites can actually hurt your SEO results. Additionally, even amongst good, healthy backlinks, each can be valued differently. As you could imagine, a link from the homepage of a big important website may be more valuable than a link in the footer of an interior page of a less popular website.
While these factors may be the most important factors, they don’t guarantee strong page 1 rankings in the search engines for your target keywords. There are some other important factors to keep in mind:
1. Choose your battles
While you may think that ranking for very generic keyword phrases should be your main goal, focusing on longer-tail, more specific phrases, may very well bring you better return on your marketing investment. It’s often best to focus on a mix of keyword phrases, some harder to rank, some easier, especially if you have a large number of major competitors fighting for rankings of the more generic terms.
2. Technical SEO
While “a few” small syntax errors in your HTML coding, dead pages in your site, errors in your sitemap, URLs with special characters, or other issues “in moderation” may not stop your site from achieving strong rankings overall, some things can. For instance, if your site takes an extremely long time to load, or has a habit of not loading at all due to hosting issues, it can certainly impact your rankings negatively. Rankings can be effected by hackers and malware, spammy backlinks, and lots of other factors. Something as simple as a bad line in a robots.txt file, or bad setting in Google Webmaster Tools could remove all of your rankings. While technical SEO shouldn’t take up the lion’s share of your SEO efforts, it can play a crucial role in making sure that the rest of your hard work will be well received by search engines. Additionally, it may give you that slight edge that you need over competitors.
Want to know how your SEO campaign stacks up? Take advantage of a Free SEO Evaluation from Rand Marketing to learn more about what search engines like Google are seeing when they crawl your website.
About the Author
Robert Rand of RandMarketing.com was educated at NYU Poly and has managed the development and marketing of hundreds of websites. Along with Rand’s award winning team, he helps clients take their businesses to the next level by employing best practices, while staying at the forefront of the eCommerce and internet marketing industries. From technical issues to traditional marketing efforts, Robert takes pride in providing our clients with services that will make a difference in their bottom lines.