Search engine optimization, for many, can be an extremely daunting and intimidating task. Many of our own clients struggle with the very basics when we are building their sites, which is why we help them out in the beginning. In an effort to help SEO newbies and first-time website owners, I am prescribing the minimum effective dose for SEO. For anyone not familiar, the minimum effective dose can essentially be defined as the minimum amount of dosage or activity (i.e. change) needed to produce the desired effect. This term is often used in the world of exercise science or pharmacology, but I think that it applies to the world of search engine optimization as well. Here are three "easier-to-accomplish", but very important tasks that will help the foundations of SEO for any site.
Create an XML Sitemap
This is the easiest task that I can suggest. Simply put, a sitemap is a list of all the pages on your website that allows users and search engine robots alike to see the “map of your site”. An XML sitemap is preferred by Google and actually allows you to assign importance for specific pages within your website. Here is a hint, the homepage should be a 1.0 (the most important). If you are utilizing an open-source content management system, you can probably find a widget that will create an XML sitemap for you…just beware of what you’re installing (like any widget). Other content management systems, like Marketpath CMS, automatically create a sitemap for you, so chances are, you’ve already accomplished this step. Nice Work!
Optimizing the Homepage Title Tag
Arguably the most important piece of on-site architecture, other than great content to support it, your site’s homepage title tag is your first chance to tell users, and Google, the topic of your website. Implementing your keyword strategy here should be priority number one. Do some keyword research and make sure that the first words in your homepage’s title tag are the most important for your business, not your company’s name. Also, don’t exceed 65-69 characters (spaces included), as Google will begin to truncate the listing at this point. For more information on creating a great title tag, download our free SEO guidebook.
So you’ve just put in a bunch of hours designing and launching a website…congratulations! Now, it’s time to get to work. You may be thinking “wait, what? The company that built our site promised us 1st page rankings!” Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it’s probably not going to happen without a lot more work on your part (especially if you have a brand new domain). Why is this part of the minimum effective dose SEO prescription? Because this is one of the least technical SEO strategies that exists. While it’s not necessarily easy to create good content, you are the expert in your business, so share some of that knowledge and post it via your blog. Commit to a content creation strategy and you’ll begin to see the desired results.
SEO is not easy, nor should it be. Search engines like Google are designed to keep out the lower quality sites and provide the best user experience for their customers. These three tips cover just the very tip of the ever-changing iceberg. If you have any other basic, or easy to accomplish SEO tasks, feel free to leave them in the comments section.