Keywords

The 6-month guide to improving your SEO (Part 2)

Just a note: Because of the length of this post, we decided to publish it in two parts. You can find Part 1 of the series here.


Lead the way for your customers.

Lead the way for your customers.

In Part 1 of our SEO Improvement Guide, we reviewed how to run a technical audit, conduct keyword research, and verify that your site is mobile-friendly. Now that you’ve gotten those three things under your belt, it’s time to start curating high quality content and improving your links.

Continue your SEO improvement journey below — you can pace these steps out, or you can do them all at once if you’re looking to super charge your SEO strategy as soon as possible.

July: Curate a content calendar

Regularly producing SEO-optimized content is critical to your organic strategy. In Google’s own words, your content needs to be:

  • Useful and informative

  • More valuable and useful than other sites

  • Credible

  • High-quality

  • Engaging

When searchers type in their query, Google scours the web to find the most useful and relevant results. If you don’t have anything on your site that fits the bill, quite simply, you won’t rank. That means less visibility, missed traffic, and lost visitors. 

When we say content we don’t just mean the regular old blog post, either. Be creative. Test to see what works best with your audience. And don’t be afraid to experiment. Here are a few suggestions to get you going:

  • Articles

  • Guides

  • Videos

  • Webinars

  • Whitepapers

  • E-books

  • Case studies

  • Calculators

  • Infographics

  • Tutorials

  • News

How to create optimized content 

1. Keywords

Using the keywords you collected in April, brainstorm content topics that’ll be picked up in search engines. When putting this list together, try to focus on long-tail keywords, avoid highly competitive terms, and remember to match your topic to your keyword. 

It’s also important to take an audience-centric approach when spitballing your content titles. By this, we mean identifying your audience andthencreating the kind of content you know they wantto see. 

 

2. Put it in a calendar 

content calendar itself won’t aid your rankings, however, we’d recommend creating one to save you time and to help you get in a groove of posting regularly. It doesn’t needn’t be anything fancy, dumping it in a Word or Excel document will do.

 

3. Friendly formatting 

Make sure you lay your content out in a way that’s easy on the eye to ensure its readability and engagement. For example…

The 6-month guide to improving your SEO  |  Hue & Tone Creative

The good: This page is clearly divided with subheadings, the content is broken up with bullet points, and the paragraphs are short and digestible. It also has easy to see links. 

The 6-month guide to improving your SEO  |  Hue & Tone Creative

The bad: These paragraphs, on the other hand, are overwhelming long and the lines are very close together. Combined, it’s quite a strain on the reader’s eye.

4. The technical stuff

A few best practices for the technical side of content creation include:

  • Don’t go overboard on keyword insertion - it’ll look spammy

  • Remember to include meta titles and descriptions - they’ll help to improve the number of people who click through from search results

  • Make sure your URL’s reflective of the content’s title

  • Link to other useful and relevant internal pages to improve your site’s architecture and encourage visitors to keep exploring 


The 6-month guide to improving your SEO  |  Hue & Tone Creative

August: Implement a link-building plan

Link-building is arguably one of the most difficult aspects of SEO. But it can also be one of the most beneficial. It requires creativity, time, persistence and, more often than not, money.

There are several benefits that come hand-in-hand with link-building, like: 

  • Improve your domain and page authority

  • Earn extra referral traffic

  • Give your brand’s visibility and authority a boost

  • Increase your exposure to other industry leaders

  • Raise your trust and credibility profile

  • And, of course, aid your rankings

 

Link-building tactics 

If you’re new to the world of link-building and don’t know how to get your foot in the door, here are a few sample strategies to get you started: 

1. Ask your network: If you’ve got a pool of customers, partners or suppliers who have an online presence, start close to home and ask them to promote you on their site. Something as simple as a partnership badge linking back to your website would do.

2. Build your blog: Your content strategy is a gold mine for links. Once you’ve established yourself as a reliable, industry authority, it’ll become a link-bait hub, and naturally earn you evergreen links by itself.

3. Go viral: Easier said than done, we know, but creating a piece of shareable content (like a meme or funny video, for example) is a sure fire way to bank yourself a bunch of backlinks.

4. Be newsworthy: Whether it’s commenting on something in the headlines or creating your own news - like commissioning a study or sharing a company announcement, jumping on something time sensitive will point the press and bloggers in your direction, and boost your odds of coverage in their publication.


September: Enhance your appearance in SERPS

There are a number of ways you can improve how you display in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), but here are just a handful:

 

Optimize your meta data

Make sure your page titles and meta descriptions are a) relevant, b) include keywords, and c) written in a way that entice searchers to click through. Remember to stick to the recommended character counts too, so that your text doesn’t get chopped off sooner than it should:

  • Page titles should be within 50 to 60 characters, and

  • Meta descriptions should sit between 150 and 170 characters

The 6-month guide to improving your SEO  |  Hue & Tone Creative

Add schema markup

In its simplest form, schema markup is micro data that can be added to your site’s HTML to enhance how search engines read and subsequently display your page in their results.

Correctly applying schema data can give you a competitive edge in SERPS by giving searchers more, useful information about your company, which can result in a greater number of click throughs. Some popular types of schema markup include:

Ratings and Reviews:

Image via    moz.com

Image via moz.com

Organization markup:

Site navigation:

Video and media:

Adding schema markup might sound complicated, but you don’t actually need any coding skills to do it yourself. For step-by-step instructions on how to get started using Google Tag Manager, head over to this guide

Alternatively, if you’re not entirely comfortable dabbling in schema markup yourself, employing the services of an SEO specialist or web developer is another option.


Hue & Tone Creative: Your Greensboro Marketing Solution  

To see how we can fit into your SEO strategy and support your organic efforts, get in touch with our team at (336) 365-8559 or hannah@hueandtonecreative.com today. 

The 6-month guide to improving your SEO (Part 1)

Just a note: Because of the length of this post, we decided to publish it in two parts, and Part 2 will be published next Wednesday, April 3.


Get your content in front of the right eyes.

Get your content in front of the right eyes.

There’s nothing more rewarding than seeing your site featured in one of Google’s hotspots. It’s a coveted place to be. It’s a financially fruitful place to be. But it’s also a very difficult place to get.

Stiff competition and Google’s constantly evolving algorithms make mastering your SEO strategy an ongoing uphill battle. There’s no denying that making the investment in high quality SEO is worth it though. Here’s a few stats to back that up: 

  • Three in four people never scroll past the first page of search results?

  • 93% of visitors begin their online experience with a search engine?

  • SEO leads have a 14.6% close rate, compared to 1.7% for outbound leads (like cold calling, email campaigns and radio ads)?

If you’re an SEO novice, we would suggest starting with a few of our articles geared to beginners (here and here).

But, if you have some experience with SEO and are familiar with basic terms, then this six-month guide is for you. From technical audits and content calendars to schema markup and link-building, this six-month plan will give you one simple objective to focus on each month. In no time at all, you’ll be armed with the information you need to give your organic rankings, traffic, and revenue a healthy boost.


The 6-month guide to improving your SEO  |  Hue & Tone Creative

April: Run a technical audit

Poor technical SEO practices can harm your rankings. It’s as simple as that. It can make your site uncrawlable, unindexable, and inaccessible, all of which affect how search engines view and place your website.

While there’s no such thing as a perfect website, there isa whole host of errors you can look to correct, all of which will help give your SEO metrics a boost. 

Crawl reports: Carrying out a crawl report will help to identify things like: 

  • Broken links 

  • Faulty redirects

  • Meta descriptions and page titles that are either too long or short

  • Meta descriptions and page titles that are missing or duplicate

  • Matching URLs and on-page content

Hint: if you’re new to the world of crawl reports, Screaming Frog is a reputable tool and offers a comprehensive free version.

HTTPS status codes: Studies have shown that HTTPS is now a very strong ranking factor which, suffice to say, makes it a must. So, if you haven’t already made the switch, there’s no time like the present - here’s a checklist to help you through the stages.

Page speed: The time it takes for your pages to load is another important SEO metric. As well as harming your rankings, slow load times can lead to a poor user experience and increase your site’s overall bounce rate, too.

Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool can be used to analyze your URLs. Within this, you’ll get a score (fast, average or slow), along with a list of issues that are dragging your page speed down. It’s worth noting some of these problems might be quite technical (like deferring unused CSS and eliminating render-blocking resources, for example) and may require input from a web developer or SEO specialist. 

XML sitemap: A Sitemap is an XML file that lists the URLs for a site. Your XML sitemap is how Google and other search engines get around your website, discover your pages and subsequently rank them - if you don’t have one, you need one. 

Your XML sitemap must be properly formatted in an XML document, follow XML sitemap protocol, include all your website’s pages, and be submitted to your Google Search Console (GSC). 

To help you visualize the end product, here’s a snippet from one. And don’t be put off if you think it looks scary, in reality, it’s just a list of your page’s URLs along with the date they were last modified. Like this:

Image via    wordpress.org

Image via wordpress.org

Most popular CMS’ have plugins that’ll create your XML sitemap for you. If yours doesn't, you may have to build it manually - check out this guide to find out how, and this one for a step-by-step look at uploading your sitemap to GSC.

For example, you know we’re always recommending Squarespace – and your sitemap is something else they help with. “Your Squarespace site comes with a site map using the .xml format, so you don't need to create one manually. It includes the URLs for all pages on your site and image metadata for SEO-friendly indexing. We automatically update it with any pages you add or remove.” (via Squarespace) 


May: Conduct keyword research

Find the right keywords… they’re out there!

Find the right keywords… they’re out there!

There’s no denying keyword research can be laborious at times, but the more you invest in this stage at the beginning, the greater return you’ll likely get in the long run - so don’t rush it.

Your keyword research lays the foundation for your future content strategy. It’ll help you optimize existing pages, identify opportunities for new pages, and construct a well thought-out content calendar.

 In addition, having a comprehensive list of long and short tail keywords - along with their monthly search volumes, ideally - will enable you to set-up your ranking reports, which play a pivotal part in monitoring your organic efforts. 

What’s a long-tail keyword? A phrase containing at least three words that’s used to target specific demographics opposed to mass audiences. Long-tail keywords are more niche, have a lower search volume, and are less competitive.

What’s a short-tail keyword? A phrase including one or two words that’s used to capture large volumes of search traffic. For example, “social media” is a short-tail keyword, and “improve social media engagement” is a long-tail one.

How to conduct keyword research

There are lots of different ways you can go about gathering keywords relevant to your business, but the most complete approach is amalgamating several different methods.  

Step #1: Brainstorm a handful or two of key topics related to your product or service. Using ourselves as an example, this might be phrases like ‘digital marketing’, ‘web design’, ‘social media management’, ‘email campaigns’ and ‘personal branding’.

Step #2: Get a few heads around a table and start to fill in some of the blanks based on what you think/know your customers are searching for. Using ‘web design’ as an example, this might be:

  • What is web design?

  • How does web design improve revenue?

  • Web design agencies in Greensboro, NC

  • How to find a quality graphic designer

  • Web design cost

  • How to do web design myself


Step #3
: For more inspiration, drop the phrases you’ve accumulated from steps one and two into Google and see what comes up in their related search terms section:

The 6-month guide to improving your SEO  |  Hue & Tone Creative

Step #4: Scour your competitors’ sites and see what terms are trending throughout their pages. If they’re tapping into words you’re not and they’re relevant, you could be missing out and so they might be worth throwing into the mix. 


Step #5:
Make the most of free tools. For starters, you can see which phrases are already leading visitors to your site in Google Analytics, and then there are resources like SEMrush, Moz Keyword Explorer, Google AdWords Keyword Planner Tool, Google Trends, Microsoft Bing Ads Intelligence or Wordtracker’s Free Basic Keyword Demand.


June: Make sure you're mobile friendly 

It’s perhaps no surprise that mobile’s now the predominant platform used for searches. In 2018, the split sat at: mobile (49.06%), desktop (47.2%) and tablet (3.74%).

All’s not lost if your site isn’t mobile friendly- your desktop version can and will still be indexed. That said, if you’re providing a less user friendly experience to visitors, it couldnegatively impact your mobile rankings. Equally, organizations with streamlined mobile sites could potentially see an uplift in their rankings - and that includes desktop searches, too.

If you’re not sure whether your site’s mobile friendly, you can easily find out by using this tool. And if the outcome’s that you’re not already on the mobile-friendly bandwagon, here are 10 steps to help you make the move


Hue & Tone Creative: Your Greensboro Marketing Solution  

To see how we can fit into your SEO strategy and support your organic efforts, get in touch with our team at (336) 365-8559 or hannah@hueandtonecreative.com today. 

13 easy to implement SEO tips

14 easy to implement SEO tips  |  Hue & Tone Creative

In need of more in-depth information? Check out our articles on finding relevant keywords, discovering new keywords, and essential do’s and don’ts of SEO.

Implementing proper Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tactics isn’t a quick fix marketing solution – but when done properly it is worth the long-term investment. If you’re new to the world of SEO and are in need of a few quick tips to get your feet off the ground, then you’re in the right place -- because we’ve got 13 easy to implement tips for you.

  1. Make sure the meta descriptions for your images are enticing. That way, when people do come across your image in search results they’ll be more inclined to click through – it’s a great place to use your page’s keywords too. 
     
  2. Keep internal linking front of mind when you’re creating new pages. Linking to your own content will help define your site’s architecture and encourage visitors to explore other pages of your site.
     
  3. Don’t underestimate the power of title tags. Title tags are the HTML title element used to briefly and accurately describes the topic and theme of an online document. They’re rumored to be the most important on-page SEO element (behind the content itself), so make sure they’re reflective of the content, catchy, and inclusive of relevant keywords.
     
  4. Make sure your content is fresh. Google is always crawling for new content and to avoid being left behind you need to be constantly updating your site. A blog is a simple way to do this – but can backfire if you set one up and never update it. Minimum, we suggest updating your blog a few times a month. Ideally, you’ll be updating it a few times a week.
     
  5. Keep an eye out for broken links. Broken links can stop search engine spiders from crawling your site, which can impede your SEO efforts. Use an online tool like Screaming Frog to find broken links and fix them. 
     
  6. Optimize your page speed. In July of 2018, page speed will become a ranking factor for mobile search. To make sure your users aren’t left hanging around, let PageSpeed Insights’ report help you iron out any issues.
     
  7. Stay concise to reach featured snippet status. A featured snippet is a summary of an answer to a user's query, which is displayed on top of Google search results. It's extracted from a webpage and includes the page's title and URL. Increase your odds of having a featured snippet by creating great content that answers specific questions.
     
  8. Optimize your images. Make sure your file name, caption, ALT text and title text all include relevant keywords. While you’re at it, make sure the file size isn’t too big either -- this can slow down your page load speed.
     
  9. Make sure your XML sitemap is up-to-date. An up-to-date site map means search engines can find your pages easier. Remember, Google ranks your pages, not your website.
     
  10. Research your keywords before you start adding pages. Proper research will ensure you get the most out of your content and rank for the right terms.
     
  11. Make sure your content is high quality. Google can easily recognize quality content, so don’t think you’ll be able to fool the algorithm by posting a high quantity of subpar articles. To rank well, you’ll want to write content that is conversational, informative, focused, clear, and easy to digest (tables and numbered lists help with this). And, don’t forget to link to reliable outbound sites. 
     
  12. Utilize a clear URL structure. Utilizing an SEO-friendly URL structure will help with the indexation process of your website. Your URL should be structured like this:  http://domainname.com/subdirectory/filename.
     
  13. Diversify your keyword strategy. Don’t just focus all your efforts on basickeywords -- target longtail keywords too. Although long-tail keywords are usually searched for less often than their shorter counterparts, they tend to bring in a high conversion rate because they are so specific.

Hue & Tone: Your Greensboro Marketing Partner

Don't get stuck trying to figure out your entire marketing strategy yourself. Focus on what you do best, and let us do what we do best. Whether you're a new business or just in need of some fresh ideas, we can help you plan your marketing strategy from social media and SEO to print and radio advertising. Give us a call today to get started. 

Why You Need To Be Blogging

When business is booming, it’s easy to put blogging on the back burner. If you blog frequently, it can seem logical to cut back on something that can require a lot of your thought, time, resources, and skill. However, investing all that time and skill has a very real payoff -- 74% of businesses say that engaging blog content increases their quality and quantity of leads. Surely worth the investment, right?

There are umpteen reasons you need to be blogging, but for the purpose of this post we’ll focus our attention solely on some of the top SEO and brand authority benefits.
 

Why you need to be blogging  |  Hue & Tone Creative


Blogging is a staple part of your SEO strategy


Linking

First and foremost, blogging gives you significantly more opportunity to link internally. The logic is simple -- the more quality content you have on your site, the more relevant pages you can point visitors to.

The second opportunity comes in the form of external links. If you’re pushing out engaging, authoritative, and useful content, other sites will want to link to it, so that they can add value to their audience, too. Evergreen content (timeless content that attracts both first time and repeat readers) is especially great for this, because it can earn you links until the end of time - for free!
 

Enhance your engagement

Blogging not only helps to get visitors landing on your site, but it helps to retain them too. So, why does this matter? Low bounce rates and longer session durations are signs that you’re providing people with quality content, which is exactly what search engines look for when serving people search results. 

Long-term, this will boost your rankings and help you come up higher in a Google search. 
 

Target your keywords

Blogging is the perfect platform to target all your keywords – as long as you’re incorporating them organically, of course. It allows you to answer the questions your audience is asking, to engineer your content strategy towards what’s being searched for, and to produce intent-based blogs that help to convert.

The end result? Higher rankings, greater organic visibility, more traffic and an increase in sales.

 

Blogging build your brand’s authority


Become an industry leader

By pushing out timely, high-quality, accurate, and interesting content on a regular basis, you’ll prove yourself as a leader in your arena. People will trust you. When they’ve got a question, they’ll come directly to you. They’ll recommend you to others. And they’ll build a rapport with you without a single word being spoken.
 

They’ll keep on coming back

Great quality content wins lasting relationships. Poor quality content turns people away. One less than interesting article can lose you a visitor for life - it sounds extreme, but it’s true. Cast your mind back to a time when you landed on a poorly put together piece of content: what impression did it leave? And, how fast did you click away from that site? 
 

Get your name out there

Having a regular flow of posts helps you get your business out there. Whether it gets traction from external sites, is shared on social media, included in your weekly newsletter or promoted in paid ads, it gives you something to shout about. Without it, you’ll soon run out of things to say.

 

So, that’s it for our handpicked pros of blogging. What else do you need to know? Leave us a comment below! 


GRAPHIC DESIGN FOR GREENSBORO, NC AND BEYOND

Let us take the headaches out of managing your blog. Whether you need help developing keywords, creating fresh content, or moderating comments, Hue & Tone Creative has you covered. Contact us today. 

Tools to discover your most relevant keywords

Tools to discover your most relevant keywords  |  Hue & Tone Creative

When it comes to finding the right potential customers, utilizing the correct keywords in your paid search and web content will help you increase your leads.

While it can be tempting to just make educated guesses about the right keywords, it's crucial to take the time and research what will be most effective. But, before we highlight a few handy tools for keyword discovery, it's important to understand what that there's a few different type of keywords. 

 

Long-tail Keywords

One of the most effective types of keywords is a long-tail keyword. A long-tail keyword is a highly detailed phrase made up of three to four words. Although long-tail keywords are usually searched for less often than their shorter counterparts, they tend to bring in a high conversion rate because they are so specific.

For example, someone looking for "organic gluten-free birthday cakes" are more likely to find your bakery and place an order then someone who just typed in "buy cake" and just wants any old birthday cake that's available.

 

Local Keywords

Think about times when you’ve searched for services or businesses like hair salons, dentists, or a place for decent pizza. You’re automatically going to weed out a business that isn’t anywhere near you.

If you own a small business, it’s important to get the word out to your local clients through geo-targeting. Instead of only using keywords like “animal hospital,” get more specific with words like “animal hospital in Greensboro, NC.”

While local keywords often have lower search volume, they often have higher conversion rates. Long-tail local keywords will deliver even less traffic, but chances are these visitors are really serious about finding a business. For example, "animal hospital greensboro open 24-7" has a good chance of capturing someone looking for a midnight pet emergency. 

One word of warning? Don't shoot yourself in the foot by casting too wide of a net. Stick to the location of your brick and mortar store and a few surrounding counties -- don't try to capture the whole state or you'll just end up reducing your potential to rank for your actual location. 

 

Keyword Planner

One of the best ways to discover keywords is through the free Keyword Planner in Google AdWords. Using this tool, you can search through relevant phrases and terms related to your business and see how often they are searched through Google. The Keyword Planner also allows you to research historical statistics and predict the click rate of potential words before you add them into your AdWords plan.

 

Google Trends

Not utilizing Google AdWords? You can still give Google Trends a try. This is when it's time to make an educated guess about what you think your keywords would be. Start with things like your products or services and check the popularity of one or multiple keywords at a time by searching them on the site. You can narrow down the trends even further by searching in a specific region, state, or span of time.

Tools to discover your most relevant keywords  |  Hue & Tone Creative
Tools to discover your most relevant keywords  |  Hue & Tone Creative

For instance, the amount of people looking for “pumpkin patches” in Greensboro and Winston-Salem increased dramatically around September 24th of this year. Google Trends also provided some suggestions for related topics and search terms like “farm,” “maze,” and “pumpkin patch near me.” 

If you're looking to do something like holiday advertising or capture the back to school crowd, being able to track these types of trends can help you predict when your ads will be most effective. 


 

Moz Keyword Explorer

Moz Keyword Planner has a great analysis and keyword suggestion feature for marketers. If you’re on a budget, the site offers 20 free search queries every month, with the option to upgrade by purchasing the premium plan.

Another helpful feature of this tool is how it breaks down each search term by monthly volume, priority, difficulty, and organic CTR. This will help give you an idea of how competitive it will be to gain clicks -- and how much it will cost. 

 

keywords --> COntent

After you've done your keyword research, you're probably ready to get out there and buy some ads or bid on some keywords and start driving traffic to your site. But don't forget one of the most important ways that you can build authority -- through your blogging and site content! 

Make sure to write about topics you want to rank for and let your newly discovered keywords influence your blogging. As you might remember from this blog, Google knows what you're blogging about and they rank you accordingly, so don't fall into the trap of only paying for traffic. Strong, organic content can bring you some of the best traffic around! 


Marketing and Social Media Experts in the Triad

Looking for to develop your brand? Hue & Tone is a creative graphic design agency specializing in logo design, web design, social media management, and more. Be sure to check out our portfolio to see clients we’ve helped in the past, or give us a call if you're ready to get started building your brand. 

SEO: Improving keywords + search results

If you’re totally new to SEO and want to learn more about it in depth, check out a great beginner’s guide here.

According to Google, the World Wide Web is comprised of over 60 trillion individual pages. By understanding and using SEO effectively, you can make yourself stand out from the trillions of other pages vying for you customer’s attention.

Search engines work by crawling and indexing all of the sites on the Internet. In order to generate relevant results complex algorithms are used to help sort the results and rank pages by popularity.

When searching for a restaurant, dentist, or a new pair of shoes online, we are naturally inclined to click on the websites near the top of the page. That’s because as consumers, we’ve instilled trust in those top tier search results. As a business, you want to be in those top results.

Today we’re going to dive into two elements of proper SEO marketing: keywords and search ranking. Keywords are the specific words a search engine uses to match your web page up with a search query. Understanding which keywords to use for your business is crucial because the right keywords can work as a guide to draw your target market to your site.

A common mistake people are guilty of is solely focusing on the amount of traffic being directed to your site. Traffic is important, but what’s even more important is attracting the right traffic. If you’re not using the right words, you’re missing the opportunity to help your target customers discover your business. 

Driving visitors who are looking for a different kind of site will only result in frustration for them – and no sales for you. If you’re just starting to brainstorm keywords for your site, the most important thing to ask yourself is what keywords fit the content on your website.

You want to consider clever keyword that capture your brand – but aren’t terms that are so niche no one would ever search for them. If you’re selling organic gluten free vegan cookies, simply using “cookies” or “bakery” is far too broad. Consider terms like “vegan muffins” “Greensboro, NC” or “unique vegan muffins.”


Tools like this keyword explorer can help give you real-time data on the terms you should be using!


So, are keywords the only thing that determine your search ranking? Not by a long shot. The usability of your website also plays a big role. Just like with a brick and mortar store, the experience a customer has when they visit you influences their impression of your business and determines a potential sale. If your website is easy to navigate, welcoming, and stimulating, more people are likely to visit, make a purchase, and return.

If you’re interested in allllllllll the other factors that can effect a website’s rank, take a look at this in depth study from Moz.

Social media can also be used to improve your site’s rank. Social media sites rank in searches, many people use social sites to perform searches, and most people agree social accounts have an impact on your website ranking. The easier viewers can share your content the better off you’ll be!

Keyword selection, usability, and social are just a few of the factors that influence ranking. If you’re out on the web searching for different ways to keep increasing your ranking remember there are some SEO methods that you’re better off avoiding. Paid links, deception, and spamming to boost popularity are considered black hat SEO. Using black hat methods can result in a loss of credibility and even cause your website to become banned on search engines.

For more on SEO, check out our rundown of do's + don't. Then, jump in and put the SEO tips you've learned to use! 

5 Easy to Accomplish Do's + Don'ts of SEO

One of the most common questions we hear is “How do I make my website come up first on Google?”

SEO Do's + Don'ts -- Hue & Tone Creative

That’s a great question -- one with a complicated answer. The short answer is SEO, but the long answer requires diving into what SEO is. It’s important to understand that there are a number of ways to improve your SEO, some of which require a developer or paying for ranking -- but the ideas we’ve compiled here are meant to be easy to execute, no matter what your skill level.

First things first, what does SEO even stand for? SEO means Search Engine Optimization. It can refer to anything that helps increase the authority and relevancy of your site.

Let’s let Cristers Media explain more about how that process works:

“The way Google and other search engines display websites is this: Google has automated computer systems working around the clock that randomly visit websites all over the Internet, take snapshots of each page, and file them away in a massive database.

As part of taking a snapshot of each web page, Google's system reads every word and other content on a web page in order to determine the specific subject of the page. Google uses this collected data to determine which web pages to show, and in what order, for a particular keyword search.

In other words, Google's computer algorithms dynamically determine which web page on the Internet is the most relevant for a specific keyword or key phrase and displays it first. It then displays the second most relevant page, and so on. The resulting list of web pages is known as a Search Engine Results Page (SERP).”

So now that you know what SEO is, how do you improve it? And what should you avoid doing?

DO:

  1. Do keep your content fresh with high quality content. The more frequently you update the content on your site, the happier your customers (and Google) will be with you. Providing customers + clients with original content on a regular basis ups the frequency with which a search engine will crawl and recatalog the pages on your site. The more frequently your pages are cataloged, the more opportunities you have to rise in the search rankings. To provide a frame of reference, a site that is updated daily, or at least 2-3 times a week, is considered a frequently updated site.  
     
  2. Do include keywords where it counts. Keywords are words or phrases in your content that people will search for in order to find your site -- it’s how the search engine matches up a query with your specific website. You’ll want to do research on which words to use, because you have to think like your customers in order to narrow down the proper search terms. Keep in mind that people will often perform a search using general or plain language terms instead of technical jargon.
     
  3. Do get social. Social media serves as a way to push your content out -- this puts it in front of more eyes, increasing the chance of getting an external link to your site. An external link is simply any other website (hopefully one with high authority) that points to your site. External links demonstrate and increase the credibility of your site.

    Secondarily, if your content is widely shared on social media it can contribute to a website's authority just like external links can (more on that in a minute). It’s another way that Google validates your content, leading to a small bump in domain authority.
     
  4. Do utilize Google Webmaster Tools. Google Webmasters is a free toolset by Google, for, well...webmasters. They help you do things like track your website’s search presence, see subscriber stats, and measure your overall website performance. Specifically, Search Console will help you make sure Google can access your content, hide content you don’t want show in the results, and monitor any malware issues.
     
  5. Do include outbound links. Practically the opposite of an external link, outbound links refer from your site to someone else's. When you link out to other domains, it helps the search engine to understand your “niche” and it helps increase the perceived quality of your site.

DONT:

SEO Do's + Don'ts -- Hue & Tone Creative
  1. Don’t have a slow load speed. A faster page speed (the time it takes for each individual page to load) is show to lead to a higher rank and conversion rate. Google’s also indicated that site speed (the speed of a sampling of all the pages together) is an influencing factor on page rank. Plus, no one likes waiting around for a website to load, so your customers will be happy too.
     
  2. Don’t use paid links. Google is firmly against manipulation of their site results -- specifically people sneakily buying their way to the top. Things like display ads are fine, because they’re a regular tool of marketing, but just regular linked text can come across the wrong way to Google. If you want a search engine to ignore something that really is a paid link, you should use a “nofollow” tag -- but, we promised this wasn’t an article for developers, so if you need to learn more about that check this out.
     
  3. Don’t keyword stuff. When you’re blatantly cramming tons of keywords in the content of your article, or in the meta tags of your site it’s called keyword stuffing. It’s obvious you’re trying to up your rankings (in a way that isn’t valuable to the reader) and it can lead to your site being penalized -- or even banned.
     
  4. Don’t duplicate content. Content that appears on the Internet more than once is called duplicate content. When there are multiple pieces of identical content on the Internet, it’s hard for search engines to decide which is more relevant. It’s important to note that there is no penalty for duplicate content, but rather rewards for original content (source).
     
  5. Don’t have broken links. In addition to harming the user experience of your website, broken links can stop a webcrawler from seeing the rest of your site. Web crawlers function by moving from the root of your site (main page) down to the different pages, subpages, and blog entries. When they hit a broken link they can’t crawl any further -- and might end up missing other pages on your site.

As you can see from all these do’s and dont’s, SEO can be pretty complicated. But the impact of doing things right can mean transforming your site from a deserted corner of the innerwebs to one of the most popular Internet hangouts around.

Looking to read more on SEO? We’ve got even more in-depth reading for you here and here.