Google Hits More Like Misses?

If your website or blog is buried deep within Google search results, these simple tips will help move you up.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is such an intimidating phrase. Makes it sound like you need to be an IT specialist to implement it.

You don’t. Yes, if you know HTML, you have more sophisticated tools at your disposal. But if you write content in the English language for a website or blog, you can use these tips to improve your standing. Good SEO helps you move up the Google food chain and claim a higher spot in search results – making it easier for customers and prospects to find you.

Encourage inbound links. If Google sees that you have a lot of links coming in from other sites, it’s going to smile on you. There must be something of value on your web properties to make people who aren’t you link to your pages that extol the benefits of whole-house duct cleaning or olive oil facials. But beware: These links are less valuable if they all point to your home page, and Google may suspect automation at work. So use a lot of deep links (pages within your website or blog), but make them easy to find. And when you direct people back to your site, reference them.

How do you get more incoming traffic? There are lots of ways, like, 1.) Submit links to original articles that you’ve written –tutorials or how-to’s or general educational pieces on your specialty – to Digg, where they can be read and, hopefully, promoted. Put a Digg button on your site so people can recommend you there. 2.) Use Addme to get your links submitted to 2o search engines; there are additional SEO tools there.  3.) Syndicate your content through services like Ezine Articles. 4.) Comment frequently on other blogs and websites and places like LinkedIn Answers (helpful, problem-solving posts, not self-promotion) and include a link to your venue(s) in your signature line.

Remember: the quality of the links matters, not just quantity. Google has editorial standards.

Create fresh, original content. Adding new, unique content on a regular basis will help boost your Google ranking. As some “content mills” have discovered, duplicate text is eschewed by Google and not promoted. You can, of course, include relevant quotes from other writers as long as you credit them and abide by copyright laws, and don’t use overly lengthy excerpts.

Use keywords, but don’t overdo them. You undoubtedly know that using words and phrases that lots of people are likely to use in searches gives you a better chance of a higher Google ranking.  Two free tools that help you evaluate the effectiveness of a particular keyword are Keyword Discovery and WordTracker.

But using a keyword too frequently in your content is almost as bad as not using it at all. Google is smart and discriminating, and it will shun your blog post if it’s obviously been “stuffed.” There’s no hard-and-fast rule here, but certainly don’t use the word or phrase more than once in even a lengthy paragraph. Try reading your piece out loud and see if  it sounds clunky. Here’s a density checker that will help you gauge your keyword use.

Position your keywords in a Google-friendly fashion. When it sounds natural, use your keywords in titles, subheads and bulleted lists, as close to the beginning as possible.

Think about SEO daily. Hourly even, especially when you’re writing content. The search engine universe changes frequently, so it’s a constant battle. And give it some time. Just as you shouldn’t expect to see any significant results from a blog or website for several months, your SEO actions will take time, too. Do at least one thing every day that might impact your Google rank, and realize that SEO maintenance will always be a part of your social media tasks.

Give your readers a clear imperative. All of this SEO business will be for naught if you don’t include a clear, inviting call to action. What do you want your audience to do after they’ve read your piece? Call you? Request a free trial or sample? Read a white paper or attend a webinar? You need to spell it out for them.

Google is exceptionally sophisticated and very mysterious. The company’s search engine gurus change the way Google decides which sites to promote on a regular basis, hundreds of times every year, with occasional major modifications. And it’s not always easy to learn what these new rules are.

So keep your ears open for credible articles discussing a new Google algorithm and focus on writing clear, simple, original, engaging content. That practice will always work in your favor.
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