Continuing our helpful tips for startups we've consolidated the tips that Google recommends for new websites to follow at and before launch.
Even if you don't have a new website, the information and review are still pertinent and a great check list to see how your current site stacks up against what Google says is important for placement on their search engine.
President, Medallion Fulfillment & Logistics
So you're ready to start building your start-up's website but you're a little unsure of how to proceed. All the rumblings you've heard about SEO being outdated and ineffective have you wondering which way to go. To paraphrase the great Mark Twain, rumors of the death of SEO are greatly exaggerated.
The acronym SEO is so commonly used that some people actually forget it stands for Search Engine Optimization. As long as companies are using websites with a goal of high rankings, SEO will have a place in their construction. What has changed are some of the methods used to achieve those rankings.
Search engines have evolved to a higher level of sophistication. It's become increasingly difficult to game the system by using artificial methods such as ad-stuffing and manipulating link profiles to boost the rankings of poor quality content. Your goal should be achieving organic placement based on relevance to the appropriate search terms.
Incorporating best practices from the start will make your job much easier. When you try to do it quick and dirty with a promise to go back and revise, it never happens. Google has compiled this list of tips on SEO optimization to help your website achieve clean, organic search rankings in a video. Make sure to take 5 to 10 minutes to watch the presentation.
1. Determine whether your URL will use the "www" version or non-"www" version. This preferred domain will be used in search results. You will probably want to set a 301 redirect to make sure traffic goes to the correct location.
2. Verify ownership of your URL using Google's Webmaster Tools. This enables email forwarding of critical messages informing you of hacker activity, malware and other updates.
3. Perform a background check on your domain. If it was previously owned by a spammer, submit a reconsideration request to Google. You should also check indexing with a [site:URL] search. Entering a "Fetch as Googlebot" request initiates a crawl to ensure correct redirection and confirm what content is downloaded. If you also submit to index, it will trigger the operation anytime you add to a page or create a new one.
4. Don't forget to include the analytics code, even if you're not ready to use it. You'll have a handy reserve of historical data collected once you are.
5. Consider developing users and personas for customized content. What you want your customers to see will most likely be different from what you want investors or the press to see.
6. Keep your site design streamlined and user-friendly. Does it meet the needs of each user/persona? Is it simple to navigate? For instance, if a searcher lands on a child page, will they be able to figure out where they are and where they want to go? Is your content focused? Each page should contain one logical topic. A common mistake is to add new content to existing pages, whether or not it makes sense to include it.
7. Define what will constitute a conversion. This is your ultimate goal and the major yardstick by which you'll be measuring your results. Do you want visitors to sign up for your newsletter, contact a sales associate or try your service? Enable relevant conversions on each page that are simple to fulfill and donít require additional clicks.
8. Relevant keywords should be included naturally, using terms that people would be likely to use in search queries. For example, a consumer would be more likely to refer to "running shoes" rather than "athletic footwear". AdWords has a keyword tool that is useful for researching common terms.
9. Every page should have a unique topic, title and meta description for the snippet.
10. Check your page-loading time. Studies show that two seconds is an acceptable time for most visitors, but Google aims for less than half-a-second.
11. Don't hire a shady SEO. If anyone tells you they can guarantee a ranking, that's a sign to turn and run.
12. Don't participate in link schemes to pass PageRank.
13. Don't focus on style over substance. Having quality searchable text is more valuable than a fancy-looking site. The better your product or service and your website content, the better your buzz and ranking. Let that concept guide your SEO for maximum results on rankings and conversions.
About the Writer Jan Stewart
Jan Stewart is a professional writer for Medallion Fulfillment & Logistics, a family owned Los Angeles based fulfillment firm. She writes exclusively for Strategies for Success on topics of business tips, how to promote your business online, and establishing your brand in the marketplace.