One of the questions that a lot of people asked me when I was running my ecommerce store was, how did I stay on the first page of Google and rank organically as number one for several key-phrases.
Was it because I could trick the search engines, or was it just because I had worked in the web industry and specialised in SEO and knew all the tricks?
Well, I can assure you there were no tricks involved. Google knows how to sniff the tricksters out and then penalises them accordingly.
A lot of my SEO success came from common-sense, being aware of changes in SEO algorithms (just kept an eye on SEO news from reputable sources) and being consistent with working on my SEO strategy.
Here are my top 7 tips for getting your SEO on track
1. Meta title tags: Do not duplicate, keep them different and use keywords and key-phrases that describe the content on the page. Up to 55-60 characters is good, longer than this the search engines generally disregard the characters after 55-60.
2. Meta Descriptions: Describe the content on that page, using keywords and key-phrases and again, do not duplicate the descriptions on other pages. Yes, sometimes it can be hard, but remember to read what the content is on the page and create your descriptions based on that content. Search Engines generally take into account the first 150-160 characters.
3. Product descriptions: If you have an ecommerce store it is very tempting to either repeat product descriptions for similar products or copy the description from the manufacturer’s website. In short, “Don’t”.
Google does not like duplicate content and you also may be infringing on copyright if you copy a product description. Look at the product and write your own description (include any good keywords or key-phrases in this description) and remember to include valuable customer information such as size of product, sizing if clothes, colours, if it is machine washable or dishwasher/microwave safe. Think about all the things you would like to know about a product and include the relevant information. If you have difficulty writing the descriptions and keeping each one unique, consider outsourcing to a copywriter.
Remember to also make sure you don’t duplicate Meta titles or descriptions even if products are similar.
4. Fresh content – this can be in the form of blog posts or articles, how to or fact sheets, video, images or rewrite/update a page that may be a little outdated. If you have a number of updates that need to be done, maybe consider doing them a day or so apart. This way the search engines can see that fresh content is being released regularly. Space out the timing of your updates.
5. When writing content for your website you need to write for the “human” visitors, but keep in mind the search engines. It can be a balancing act sometimes, but write for the people you wish to sell your product or service to and research the keywords that people use when searching for this product or service and include these (sparingly – don’t overdo it!).
6. Try to do an update to your website at least once a week. Whether it is fresh content, updating some product descriptions, a blog post or revamping a page on your website, take the time to do it, it is surprising how much it helps.
7. Be active on social media platforms – Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest etc. The search engines like to see activity and people visiting your website from social media sites. It appears to the search engines that you have something valuable to offer and they will sit up and take notice. But remember balance is key on social media, it’s not about plugging your brand, its being social and communicating with your target audience.
While nobody can really guarantee 1st page or 1st rankings in any of the search engines, by following some common-sense approaches and not being seen as “tricky” you are stacking the odds in your favour and working towards better search rankings.