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Search Engine Optimization(SEO). Sure, it is good to get some quick wins and early traffic to your site with Paid Search, but to run and win in the longer race you need strategic, sustained and quality search marketing. Never before has quality copy been so important. Randomly examine a bunch of sites that you browse regularly. If these are sites that actually encourage you to take the desired actions, they are most definitely good content sites. Mind you, “good” does not necessarily mean “a lot”. What it does mean is “compelling”.  Look at these tips from seocowboy.co.za.

Ok, so you want to get the basics right for your site and get some sort of visibility in Google. I have come up with a list of fairly simple SEO tips for beginners to get started. These simple changes may just jump you up the listing. You may not be in the number one spot on Google but I can assure you that this simple optimisation will increase your visibility.

1) Title Optimisation

Make sure that every page on your site has a unique title that is descriptive and precise. Try and fit everything you need to in 70 characters or less as Google does not really like very long titles. There is no need to put your company name in the title as Google will usually know this from browsing through your site, rather save this space for nice keyword phrases that best describe your page.

What makes a good title?

  • NEVER duplicate titles if you can help it, each page must have its own unique title.
  • Don’t make titles too long or short, about 70 characters is right.
  • Use proper English, don’t just bunch up keywords

2) Heading Tags

It is a good idea to make the heading of your page a <h1> and make sure you only have one. Like the title you should make sure that this best describes the main topic of the page. Any sub topics can get a <h2-h5>. It is sometimes a good idea to match your <h1> tag with your title (these are allowed to be exactly the same).

3) Write natural quality content

One of the most important SEO tips one can learn is that the quality of your content is what ultimately gets you ranked in Google. DO NOT repeat words over and over. Write as naturally as possible. If you please the user with something that is interesting and easy to understand they will come back. Google knows if a visitor is interested in your content and keeps track of bounce your rate (when someone leaves your site without exploring). If your site becomes popular because of its content Google will reward you for being so popular.

What is good content?

  • Content that is simple and makes sense to the reader.
  • Try not to be too repetitive.
  • Offer some value to the reader that makes them want to come back
  • Make another option for the client once he has finished reading. eg. related article or call to action.
  • It is also a good idea to us a fresh content marketing strategy.

4) Create a sound structure

You can have the best looking site in the world but if it is too hard for a user to navigate then everything is lost before you even start. Always make sure that the most important parts of your site (products etc) can be found easily. Link to them directly from your home page as this is your strongest page. IT IS OK TO SCROLL! There is no need to put everything in a little box, the more content you have on your home page the better. I’m not saying you need to ramble on forever but you may want to mention briefly what is in each section of your site and then link to a target page.

5) Be social

It is important that you become active in social media and make use of serviceslike Twitter and Facebook to promote all that great content you have written.A great place to do this in South Africa is using a blog aggregator like myScoop or a micro-blogging platform like My Chatbox to post your new entries and tell the world what you have that is so cool. You may not be the most social person but Google is counting all your little rants and comments every time you link back to your site.

6) Don’t post to 1000′s of directories and Don’t submit to Google

One thing a beginner needs to learn very quickly is that posting to 1000′s of directories will do no more for SEO than waste your time while you could be writing more quality content. These submissions can get you into a lot of trouble as many of the auto-submit directories are considered unethical. Rather play around with social media more. I’m not saying that you must not put your info in directories or post articles on external sites, it is ok to do it in one or two key local directories but don’t  go posting in every directory possible and NEVER us an automated service.

Yes, I did say DON’T submit to Google! If Google finds your site through another website or through social media it will hold far more weight than saying “Google, look at me, here I am!”

7) Get rid of the keywords tag!

The keywords tag has never been used by Google and I feel it will get a beginner into more trouble than good so go ahead and remove it completely… just trust me on this one

8) Create a Webmaster tools account

Open yourself a Google Webmaster Tools account and create a profile for your account. This is a simple service that will tell you what Google thinks of your site and if it has come across any errors in its crawling process. It is always best to hear it from the horses mouth rather than guessing. You can also upload a XML sitemap into Webmaster Tools so Google knows exactly what is on your site.

9) Create an XML sitemap

If you are using WordPress just use the XML sitemap plugin otherwise you can manually create a XML sitemap here. Then upload the sitemap to your new Webmaster Tools account.

10) Stay away from Joomla!

If you want to use a CMS system then rather use WordPress, you can save yourself a lot of time by starting on a platform that is already SEO friendly. A theme like Thesis is great for any beginner as it has most SEO tools and plugins built in to it and the creator of the theme put a lot of SEO thought into the theme.  Joomla does SEO well BUT the amount of time and effort that needs to go into it is really not worth it. With Joomla you have to spend endless hours playing with modules and hacking for SEO just to get the same result Worpress does in minutes. Joomla also has a hard time with duplicate content.

Conclusion

Stick with quality content and write for your readers, make a great title that best describes what you just wrote and then publish your article to the world through social media. Like I said from the start… keep it simple.