The internet has fundamentally changed the way people and companies do business; over 90% of decision makers start the buying process with a search on the internet and referrals from social and professional networks. If your company does not have a good internet presence, you are losing potential clients.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and your overall Online Presence are critical to your business success. Gartner predicts that by 2020, 85% of all sales will occur online, without a sales person interaction during the research, consideration and sales process. This CXGlobals SEO checklist will help you take those critical first steps to maximize your Search Engine Presence and capitalize on the growth opportunities it will deliver.
Among all of the SEO factors that play an important roll on your website's ranking, we would like to highlight 5 of them, as top priorities to start improving your company's online presence today:
1. Canonical Redirect
Each page of a website should be reachable from a single, consistent URL. This address is known as the page's canonical URL, and any others should be redirected to it, avoiding a potential “page rank leak”, which can lose potential ranking weight assigned by the search engine.
The reason behind this is that Google might interpret a link to the page http://www.website.com different than a link that directs to http://website.com, for example, so the page rank would be split between the two URLs, even though they present the same page. One popular method for dealing with this is to utilize the rel=canonical tag, which is part of the HTML head of a web page. For example:
<link href="http://www.website.com/canonical-version-of-page/" rel="canonical" />
This tag tells search engines that the given page should be treated as though it were a copy of the URL www.website.com/canonical-version-of-page/ and that all of the links and content metrics the engines apply should actually be credited toward the provided URL.
A sitemap helps search engine spiders to easily crawl your entire site. It is a separate HTML page that acts as a directory of the pages on your website. Each page listed in the site map is hyperlinked, so use keywords in the anchor text. Also, since search engines seem to place more weight on text contained in a bulleted or numbered list, use this format for your sitemap. Sitemaps also help with usability and site navigation, helping visitors to find even deeply nested pages.
3. Having a Robots.txt file on your server
This file tells the search engine spider which web pages of your site should be indexed and which ones should be ignored. It is a simple text file (no HTML), that must be placed in your root directory, for example: www.website.com/robots.txt
How to create a robots.txt file?
Open a simple text editor to create it. The content of a robots.txt file consists of so-called "records".
A record contains the information for a special search engine, consisting of two fields: the user agent line and one or more Disallow lines. Here's an example:
This robots.txt file will allow the "googlebot", which is the search engine spider from Google, to retrieve every page from your site except for files from the "cgi-bin" directory.
Here is another example:
In this case, both the "/support-desk/index.html" and "/support/index.html" pages, as well as all other files in the "support" directory, will not be indexed by search engines.
If you leave the Disallow line blank, you're telling the search engine that all files may be indexed. And you must enter a Disallow line for every User-agent record. If you want to give all search engine spiders the same rights, use an “*” on the “User-agent record. Here is an example:
4. Adaptability to mobile devices
More consumers than ever are staying connected using smartphones and tablets. If your website is not adaptable to mobile screens, or is taking too long to load on these devices, you might be at risk of losing quality leads. For example, a recent Google Research study showed that 91% search for tech products on mobile devices, so you should consider providing a great user experience for mobile visitors.
You can test your site's mobile adaptability by using Google Webmaster's Tool.
5. Having a Solid Keyword Strategy
Keywords or search phrases are foundational for any SEO or effective content distribution efforts. Finding the most appropriate ones for your business is still one of the most valuable activities in the search marketing field. A website that is well optimized for search engines "speaks the same language" as its potential visitors base, and through keyword research you understand better your customers and learn which terms to target to connect searchers to your site.
So, is keyword-focused SEO still really alive today?
Keywords once meant everything to SEO; search engines collected data about a site mainly based on the keywords a web crawler found on its pages and in its links. Even the keyword meta tag was important back in the day, and all this made it easy for anybody to start stuffing and ranking.
Those days are long gone, and search engines are constantly refining their algorithms, increasingly looking for meaning and not just isolated words, but they still need some kind of text to figure out what a given site is about. Today’s major search engines are able to interpret the data on a website, making conclusions about what your site and your business really deliver by, for example, deriving meanings from synonyms.
In the same way, semantic search is another functionality that’s starting to have a major impact on SERPs. Search engines can also infer meanings from user queries, aiming to find the best answer to any specific question.
So you could show up in the results even if you don’t have that exact phrase on your site, but good keyword research and implementation will make it easier for search engines to understand your content, increasing the possibility of pairing your site with a search query perfectly related to what you offer. After all, it is not about getting visits to your site, but about attracting the right kind of visitors, the ones who will convert in the end, so the usefulness of the intelligence and overall value generated through good keyword research cannot be overstated.
This article gives you the necessary advice to begin your SEO process. Please consider that this is an ongoing process that requires continuous testing and measuring. To achieve high search engine rankings, increase the visitor flow and convert it into sales, leveraging different assets such as social media profiles, having an active blog or promoting your content through link building and social media.
Now you have the necessary knowledge and tools to start optimizing your digital presence, remember that whenever you need help, CXGlobals is here to help you.
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