Three steps to improve your SEO

Social Media 1-2-3It’s been awhile since our last Social Media 1-2-3 post. For that, I apologize. We’ve been crazy busy here at P3. December is a jam-packed speaking, moderating and attending circuit for us. For me, being out of the office and away from the organized nature of my desk aren’t conducive to blogging.

This week’s post is on SEO. While you might think search engine optimization isn’t related to (or – gasp – necessary for) a successful social media campaign, you’re missing out on a crucial opportunity to draw in more relevant web traffic.

Finally, you might also think that SEO is for super-guru-expert web developers only. To be sure, there are aspects of SEO that would befuddle the average blogger, but the big picture is well within your grasp.

With that said, let’s look at three simple steps anyone can implement.

Keep it human friendly

If you take one grain of knowledge from this post, it’s this: what’s human friendly is also SEO friendly. It’s true in every instance I can think of – quality of content, ease of navigation, site speed, etc. Google serves human beings and it’s in their best interest to direct their incoming search traffic to sites that are human friendly.

What can you do to keep your site user friendly?

  • Write content that you would enjoy reading and keep it clearly organized using headings
  • Keep your site clearly organized using categories and tags
  • Create sitemaps – one in HTML for real people, one in XML for Googlebot (not using a CMS? you can still create a sitemap here)
  • Keep the navigation simple – real people don’t enjoy clicking through six levels of navigation to get to your sterling prose

Increase your incoming links

Give potential visitors a good reason to visit your site multiple times, comment and even share your content. Provide your would-be visitors with content that offers value (without heavy marketing jargon) and they’ll be more likely to share the link with others. Since Google and other search engines place a high value on the number of incoming links from other high-quality sites, increasing your incoming links (known as inbound marketing) is a great way to raise yourself in search results.

What’s the best way to regularly update content in a simple, SEO-friendly format on a website today? You’ve got a handful of options, but the easiest is probably a blog. Post new content on a regular basis. Find other bloggers that are covering similar content or reaching out to the same target market and comment on their blogs. While it might seem like a simple strategy, it’s also very effective and easy for anyone to do.

Avoid duplicate content

Have you heard this one?

You’re a new blogger. A friend has been blogging for years. In order to help you get some additional traffic when you first start blogging, your friend copies your first blog post and posts it over on their site. A link at the bottom tells readers to “visit this site for more great blog posts like this one!”

While it might seem like your friend did you a kind favor, the reality is that they hurt your SEO. Duplicate content appearing on multiple sites is a no-no for SEO. In short, you’re in competition against your friend for ranking on the same blog post. Since your friend’s site is older, has more incoming links and likely more content, you’re going to lose.

Avoid posting duplicate content on multiple sites. Although SEO experts disagree on how dramatic the impact might be, the general consensus is that it’s to be avoided whenever you can.

Three simple, non-technical tips can go a long way toward improving how Google sees and ranks your site.

For more specific tips on how to optimize a site built with WordPress, don’t miss Joost de Valk’s excellent post and presentation on the subject (and thanks to Rebecca at Illuminea for sharing the link to the presentation on Twitter).

For more technical (and frequently comic) tips directly from Google, don’t miss the Google Webmasters Channel and more info from Matt Cutts on Twitter.