Ranking well in the search engines is not going to happen by accident. With thousands of new sites coming online every single day, you HAVE to be proactive if you want your site to perform well in organic search results over time.
Here are 7 things you can do immediately to get the best results:
1.) Invest the time in keyword research – or hire someone to do it for you. Believe me, its time and/or money well spent. This step will make the rest of your search engine optimization efforts so much easier because it will give you a clear idea of where you want to go.
2.) Make sure you use your targeted keywords in your Title tags. In other words, be sure to incorporate your targeted keywords or phrases into your page names (or article titles). Many premium WordPress themes and some free plugins will allow you to customize these even further. (Contact me if you want more details).
3. ) If you are launching (or relaunching) a new site, select a domain name that includes your most important keywords.
Update: Google’s most recent update – October 2012 – is aimed at exact match domain names. My understanding is this is mostly targeting those long domains with lots of “-” in them. (The ones that are clearly trying to stuff keywords into the domain name.) Still, something you need to be aware of when choosing new domain names going forward.
4.) You will want to use headings and subheadings throughout your copy for a number of reasons. For one, headlines (and subheadlines) are meant to grab your readers’ attention and pull them into your copy. They also help break up large bodies of copy and make skimming the contents easier for your human visitors.
Plus, keywords wrapped in H tags (h2, h3, etc…) are given more weight in search engine ranking algorithms. So, it definitely makes sense to include your keywords and phrases here, too.
5.) Optimize your alternate text (or Alt Text). All this means is if you have any photos or images on your site, you will want to take the extra step of adding appropriate “alt tags” to them. Search engine spiders can’t “see” images, so this copy allows them to “read” what the image is.
6.) Of course, all this talk about optimizing your site has to flow through to the actual page content. One word of caution, though, is don’t go crazy! Remember, your content is PRIMARILY meant to appeal to and benefit human visitors. Keyword ‘stuffing’ hasn’t worked in ages (at least 8 years, to be more exact) and is frowned upon by search engines. More importantly, it is annoying to human visitors.
Most sources recommend using a 1 – 3% keyword density, meaning if you have a 500 word page, your keywords should appear anywhere from 5 – 15 times. Personally, I think 3% is WAY too high, so I normally shoot for .5 to 1%.
7.) Add an XML site map. This will quickly and easily allow search engine spiders to find what your site has to offer. Using a free plugin, such as Google XML Sitemaps for WordPress, will also automatically ‘ping’ both Google and Bing when you make changes to your site. Very cool!