You know the 80/20 rule, right?
It says 80% of results come from 20% of your actions, so therefore, focus on doing what makes the greatest impact first.
When it comes to SEO, however, the 80/20 rule does not apply.
It’s more like 95/5… where consistently implementing basic SEO tactics puts you far ahead of the competition. In this sense it’s a lot like dieting. There’s no magic button or pill which makes you fit overnight… but just by eating healthy and exercising you’ll see results.
This post outlines nine quick actions you can do today which will improve your SEO for years to come.
#1. Do Smarter Keyword Research
The Google Keyword Tool is a useful free tool which shows what people are searching for in Google. However, many people use it the wrong way.
By default, the keyword tool shows results for “Broad Match” which includes any time someone types in any of those words (instead of the exact phrase).
For example, if you type in “cabernet sauvignon” Google will include phrases like “cabernet sauvignon glassware” and Australian cabernet sauvignon” in the search results.
As you can see, these are very different phrases, which probably don’t even belong on the same page.
Instead, use “Exact Match” which only counts each time someone types in “cabernet sauvignon” exactly. This gives you a much clearer idea of how popular a phrase is… and how much time you can devote to capturing that audience.
#2. Speak Like Your Market
Chances are, your readers aren’t an inside part of your industry and therefore, they don’t use jargon. When I need my car fixed, I don’t search for an “automotive service technician,” I search for a mechanic.
Speaking like your market helps you rank for phrases which people actually use. More importantly, when they do visit your site they will understand you better because you are speaking their language, not theirs.
#3. Write Powerful Meta Descriptions
Your meta description may not improve your search rankings by much (though it does help to include your keywords), but a compelling description will increase click-throughs from Google.
In case you’re wondering, a meta description is the two-line description under your page’s title in the search engines.
Here’s a picture:
Strong meta descriptions tell the reader what’s in it for them and includes a call to action (like “Read more…” or “Sign up for free today!”).
#4. Build Links to Links
Smart SEOs build links to other site’s which are linking back to them.
Think about it: the internet is one giant, interconnected web, right? And each link to your site is a single strand. Therefore, by building links to important pages which already link to you, you’re making those pages more important which passes some of that authority to you.
In other words, you’re making the strands thicker and stronger, which makes it easier for other people to find you.
A quick way to do this is to publish content (through guest posts or interviews) and then promote those pages through your own social channels. Then ask other people to share the content with their social contacts.
#5. Create and Submit XML Sitemaps
There is no reason why you shouldn’t create and maintain up to date sitemaps. They provide an easy way for search engines to learn about your content, which helps you get indexed and ranked faster.
The Yoast WordPress SEO plugin for WordPress automatically creates sitemaps and submits them to major search engines. If you don’t use WordPress, this sitemap generator can create one for you (just be sure to submit the new sitemap to your desired search engines).
#6. Erase Your Keywords Tag
Search engines don’t use the keyword tag, so there’s no benefit to using them. In fact, using the keyword tag lets other people easily see which keywords you’re targeting. This means they can use your research to become your competitor in less time.
So if you are using the keyword tag, erase them!
#7. Link Out In Every Post.
Links are the currency of the internet. By linking to other authoritative sites you demonstrate to people (and by association the search engines) that you’re a valuable resource.
Plus, those websites you link to are likely to link back to you in the future, which helps your SEO.
#8. Submit Your Sitemap to Yahoo! And Bing.
Google may be the biggest, but there’s still roughly one-third of search traffic they don’t control. Once you’ve created your sitemap, submit it to Live Webmaster Tools and Yahoo! Site Explorer to start getting traffic from them, too.
#9. Use Your Canonical Tag.
Even those these webpages may look the same:
Search engines see them as three different pages. This is a problem, because even though you may have 1,000 links pointing to the same page, if they’re split up among these URLs you won’t get the full SEO benefit.
That’s where canonical tags come in. If you’re using the Yoast plugin (mentioned above) then it can automatically redirect “http://yoursite.com” to “http://www.yoursite.com.”
If you don’t use WordPress, you can read more about canonical tags here.
What You Need To Do Next
Is follow these simple nine steps. It won’t take long to do, and will greatly improve your SEO efforts for years to come.
What quick fixes have you used? Drop your advice in the comments below!