SEO in 2017 – What You Can Still Do

It’s been a very long time since I blogged… I’ve been busy =)

So people ask me all the time, if SEO is dead, what can I do. Well SEO isn’t really dead, people say this, but in actuality it’s the same as it’s always been. You see, SEO (search engine optimization) is not what most people think it is. SEO is simply do the right things to make it easy, clear and efficient for search engines to crawl your website.

Let me now dispel some myths:

  1. Keyword density is NOT SEO.
  2. Sitemaps are SEO.
  3. Link building for new pages IS SEO.
  4. Reciprocal linking is NOT SEO and NOT recommended ever.
  5. Server side optimization and proper canonicals is SEO.
  6. Rewriting URLs is NOT SEO.
  7. PageSpeed optimization IS SEO.
  8. Proper navigation IS SEO.
  9. robots.txt IS SEO.
  10. Meta description and keyword tags are NOT SEO.

I believe those are probably the top ten. Most things people consider SEO are really SEM (search engine marketing). In any case, there are still things you can do to help your website get more favorable organic and paid listing.

What you can and should so:

The most important thing you CAN do is to make sure your website has textual content which is relative to your shoppers. This means enough text, none spammy, on each page so that your shoppers have all of the information in a non-stuffed format. This builds a relationship with the shopper, builds trust and even helps the search engines deliver relevant visits by using the same words that normal shoppers would seek your products with.

New content, new content, new content…. I can’t press this one enough. You can train a search engine bot to crawl deeper, more efficiently and more often by creating content on a regular basis or regular schedule. For example your vendor has a new line of products, say a hundred of them, you will gain better progress by adding them more slowly over a longer period of time. If you bust out all 100 new products in a few days then you will likely create a problem. You see search engine bots are not very trusting things, if this is irregular behavior for your website, you can scare them in to wondering if you’re still in charge or if something more malicious is at play. So create new, not changed, NEW content regularly.

Server side optimization and canonicals remain as important as ever. In fact with the new speed pressures of mobile design, perhaps even more so as they go hand in hand. Make sure your server and website configuration have only 1 correct canonical either www or non. Also, make sure you correctly set this in webmaster’s tools. Use the rel-canonical tag correctly and if you haven’t already, switch your entire site to HTTPS.

PageSpeed and mobile design are crucial. Google and the other search engines are giving this a huge impact on rank. If you’re not mobile yet, do so, yesterday! PageSpeed has some things like script optimization, caching and more mechanical aspects that you will likely need help with, but there is also many things you CAN do. Optimization items like reducing the size and crunching images, reducing the number of images on a page and optimizing(crunching) CSS stylesheets can be done by most people if you look it up and educate yourself. Zen Cart hasn’t a single rewrite module for URLs which doesn’t affect speed and since the search engines prefer you didn’t rewrite your URLs and it reduces speed… Well you get the picture.

Sitemaps, search engine sitemaps and the robots.txt declaration are important for the search engines to navigate your website and get more done, more quickly. There are modules for Zen Cart to create sitemaps, but they lack the robust ability needed. Instead you need a sitemap generator that actually crawls ALL of your website, not just Zen Cart. This type of application can alert you to bottlenecks and broken links too! Declaring your sitemaps in your robots.txt using the correct syntax is not necessary, but it helps a great deal. Remember to submit all sitemaps and feeds in webmaster tools also.

Link building for new pages helps them get picked up more quickly. NATURAL link building helps all pages by bolstering their authority, but new pages are more quickly discovered from outside links. Social media plays a part here as well, you can bet your butt that the search engines care about what users, their customers, think about your pages… So share, interact and contribute to your niche’s community.

Navigation is king! Improving and un-mucking your navigation helps shoppers and search engines alike! If you only have a top dropdown menu, you are likely hurting yourself. People have been trained to looks for that left menu and dropdown menus behave differently in different browsers.

There is NO such thing as a met title tag, it is a title tag. Thhe title tag is really the only one that matters for today’s search engines. Keyword tags are dead for all major search engines and most smaller ones. The move to full context crawling has made this tag obsolete. So use it, for the few ancient search engines, but never more than 10 keywords or phrases. The meta-description tag is not used for rank and rarely shown in actual search results, however, use it. This tag should be 160 characters or less and page specific in natural language.

Use uncluttered and close up images. Multiple views and easy recognition will get the right clicks, paid and otherwise. Your price for the item should be clear and near the top of your product pages. The add to cart should be just under it. This is a proven layout for maximum trust and conversion. In fact, the very best layout is image top left just under title and price & add to cart top right. It’s just how we have programmed shoppers, but also it’s trust building.

Make sure you are using your own website. Test pages for security warnings, errors and bottlenecks. Test your checkout at least weekly…. This is so easy, important and can keep your progress moving in the right direction.

Your website’s phone number should ideally be at the top of all pages on the right. Make sure you have a dedicated privacy policy page, conditions, shipping, returns and contact. These pages are recognized by the search engines and they build trust!

Now go forth and be successful!