Sometimes we all forget the basics. This is especially true when it comes to SEO. Search engine optimization is such a volatile and ever changing landscape that even the pros sometimes forget, or over look the basics. We get wrapped up in dissecting the newest Algorithm change and adapting to them that we sometimes overlook the obvious. Let's touch base on a couple that we see happen often when business owners attempt SEO on their own.
Yes, keywords are still very important to on page and off page SEO. While Rank Brain is learning away, we do see that with some of our clients sites that they rank for words and terms that are NOT on their site, and are synonyms or LSI keywords. Still, it's very important to have as many sprinkled throughout your content AND in your backlink profile, (use sparingly for backlinks).
Failing to do keyword research.
Nailing a keyword list is going to be the bread and butter for your site’s SEO. In fact, you can think of every keyword as a breadcrumb, trailing users to your site. But in order to create a successful list, you need to not only think of the most basic words to identify your brand. These are the words that consumers are going to be using to start their search. But you also need to consider your competitors.
If, for example, you’re a locally-based eCommerce site for specialty foods, such as gourmet cheese, the terms “specialty foods” and “gourmet cheese” are probably first going to come to mind. But how many other sites out there are already using these words? Probably millions. So, you need to take things one step further by creating a long tail keyword. This would be something along the lines of “best gourmet cheese in Denver.” And here’s where our third what-not-to-do comes into play.
Forgetting to localize.
In the above example, choosing to feature one of your specialty foods—cheese—was a smart move in narrowing down the search competition. But smarter yet was the choice to incorporate the name of your city. This step localizes your search terms, an extremely important SEO step, especially for retail brands with physical locations. In fact, 50 percent of Smartphone shoppers, who search locally on Google, end up visiting physical stores on the same day.
If your brand is failing to optimize itself for local searches, you are going to miss out on an entire pool of customers. Most importantly, given their close physical proximity to your brand, these customers are the ones you should be converting into brand loyalists. When creating your target keyword lists, be sure to include local search terms.
That's good content from Gabriel, especially about not forgetting to add Geo modifiers to your keywords. Local is important for most businesses as they don't serve the entire US but only their local city or county. As Google gets smarter it picks up on users location and will direct them to businesses that solves their search query. In fact, with most searches now when you search for something you will see in Google suggests the "near me" appended to your search term. So don't forget to localize!
We recommend you check out Gabriel's article because of his next point being speaking like a human, which kind of ties in with keywords and voice search.
Poor URL architecture
URL architecture can be a difficult thing to fix without breaking other aspects of your SEO, so we don’t recommend rushing into this, or you might do more harm than good.
That said, one of the most frequent issues I come across is a lack of solid URL architecture. In particular, folder organization is often spotty.
A few common issues:
- Blog posts listed in multiple categories, resulting in blog posts listed in multiple folders, creating duplicate content issues as a result.
- URLs with no folders other than the parent domain. While this is precisely the form your most important pages should take, pages further down the hierarchy should be listed in folders to categorize them.
- URLs with folders that are, themselves, 404 pages. If a URL is listed under a folder, many users expect that folder to be an operational page. From an architecture perspective, it’s semantically confusing, and from an internal link perspective, it’s ideal to have links to these pages from a parent folder.
- Junk URLs full of numbers and letters. These days, these are primarily reserved for search result pages and database queries that aren’t intended to be indexed and found in search engines. Your URLs should contain useful information intelligible to a human if you want them to contribute positively to your performance in the search engines.
In addressing these issues, there are two complications you want to avoid: creating 404 pages and losing existing link authority. When you change your URL architecture, you need to make sure that the old pages 301 to the new ones. Ideally, any internal links to the old pages should also be updated, since PageRank is reduced by the damping factor every time it passes through a link or 301.
As an exception, if blog posts are listed in multiple categories, a 301 isn’t always necessary, but in its place you should canonicalize to the preferable page.
His first point is one that we see all to often. A blog post that is listed in several categories resulting in duplicate content penalties. It's important to note that in every test we have ever done on duplicate content, the only time it ever results in a penalty is when it is duplicate content on the SAME site.
His last point is also another one that can't be overlooked, not properly setting permalink structure. We do run across this from time to time. We have seen that through updates that sometimes the permalink structure gets changed for whatever reason and must be reset.
Summing It Up
Don't forget about the basics, they still work. Keywords in your content and backlinks as well as keyword rich titles and descriptions, H1 and H2 tags with LSI's. Lastly, make sure your permalink structure is correct and hasn't changed or been altered by mistake.
As always, if you need help with your Local SEO for your small business, visit us at MD Internet Marketing Solutions
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