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SEO Essentials

Before we get into the do’s and dont’s of SEO its important to start with a solid analytics package on your site. Something like Google Analytics is likely more than capable of providing you the data you’ll need. However a base install of analytics will likely fall short of delivering the real value. Most packages will always report on visitors and popular pages and links. You’ll see things like time on site and pages per visit as well. These factors are not to be ignored and do show value, but they are questionable indicators when we are talking about what was a quality visit, and that’s what we really need to know. The key data in any analytics strategy is to know if this person did what we wanted them to do. To do that, takes some planning.

The concept is easy, but tailoring it for your site sometimes takes some effort. What you need to identify (or create) are specific actions a user takes that lets you know they are a good fit, interested, made a purchase, etc. In general this includes submitting a contact form, downloading a PDF, watching a video, signing up for something, etc. Once these actions are chosen, tracking needs to be installed on those specific events, and labeled in such a way that identifies what the user did that we wanted them to. Those can be translated into “Goals” in analytics and all inbound marketing efforts can be measured by these goals. This sets our data up to give us as close to real world success, vs. something like number of site visits or length of time increasing being the only factors we count as a “win”.

This attention to value is a key differentiator at Asenka. Once this data is being captured we use the same data to optimize and report on progress for SEO, SEM and any other digital marking efforts be it social or email or otherwise. While we watch over things like rank and position, total traffic, etc., the thing we care most about is what matters most to you as a business. We’re only adding value if we can increase the market behavior that you need for your business success. Its so important to us, we make sure its in place before we recommend any optimization efforts.

With that out of the way, lets commence with the Essentials for good SEO. This is far from an exhaustive list, and with every algorithm change the importance may get shifted as well. We’ve found these to be good solid practices though to keep in mind without worry of the latest strange animal name you hear from the Google camp. With that mind, in no particular order, here are some tips to chew on.

1) Domain name importance
While this used to be a great boost, ts less important now, however if you are starting from scratch with a new site, you’d be wise to explore options that contain some relevant keywords.

2) Design the site for your visitors first, not Google
The search engines are actually trying to help your visitors to find you, if your information is pertinent to them. Build a good useful site for your users first and let the optimization be the icing on top. You should always question any SEO tactics that decease the communication value of your site.
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3) Research your keywords
Don’t just guess you know what people are looking for, use tools to verify the traffic of each keyword phrase before you settle on the ones you are going to integrate. Try out various keyword combinations and find out where you have a chance to get an edge over the competition. In most cases a weaker site will do better going for some lower searched and less competitive words then going right for the top dog.

4) Have a clear site architecture and U.I.
Visitors and search engines see the bold, clickable links and HEADLINES first. The clearer you make these elements, it can help on both fronts. Keep your navigation clear and well named for the same reason. Linked text to deeper content can be a great way to keep pages crisp and content focused while allowing deeper exploration for some visitors and more keyword opportunities at the same time.

5) Use the title & description tags
Meta tags remain important for your search engine visibility, less so these day for users. Each pages title should be unique to the content on that page, and the description unique to increase click throughs. Stay away from ALL CAPS and don’t repeat words in it. Only repeat the name of your site if it includes a high powered keyword in it. Otherwise save the space for good descriptive content.

6) Backlinks
After much abuse, the best practices here are changing. A safe place to start is to do things that are good for your business. If you are a local business, you’d probably seek to get listed on certain local and industry specific directories, that’s probably safe and good. If you are active in social that’s a help, though “nofollow” links are becoming more common out there, so you won’t get strength from them. PR drops can be helpful depending on who picks them up. Basically the rule of thumb here (for starers anyway) is if its good for your business and it inlcudes a link, it’s a pretty safe move. The links where you find yourself saying “Why would I want to add THAT link to my site?” you might want to stay away form.

7) Create a sitemap
Most search engine will appreciate seeing this list of all the pages on your site. Save it right in the site root as an .xml file, or better still, link it up via Google Webmaster Tools which you should also be using along with analytics.

8) Don’t worry too much about anything I just wrote
If you are not an SEO professional, this can all be confusing, stressful, or downright maddening. Take what morsels from here that you find helpful and remember that your first responsibility it to you visitors. At the end of the day, Google is really trying to connect your great content to folks looking for it. If you think there is something dreadfully wrong and you site is just not being found as is should, fill out our free checkup form and we’ll take a peek and see what can be done in your specific case.

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Testimonials

Brian and his team at Asenka have been diligent and responsive in helping us find ways to expand our online presence.
– Jonathan Shenk – Greenleaf Painters, LLC

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