How to Build Strong SEO Foundations – Your Guide to Success

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Local SEO

There is more to creating a successful website than just a beautiful design (although, it definitely helps). The keys to your website’s success are being
visible to your target audience and then getting them to convert; enter SEO. As we all know, a strong foundation is an essential component of a building;
a weak foundation can cause structural damage which can lead to eventual collapse. The same applies when it comes to your website’s SEO strategy.

First things first – BUILD FOR THE USER – Keep it clean, resourceful and user friendly! Users want your website to work and work well! Most of all they
want to be able to find what they need quickly. In times where mobile search is more prevalent than ever, sites need to be responsive and need to load
quickly (both are attributed to the quality of your website as well).

TECHNICAL

Allow the search engines to find your website, navigate through it, and assess your content so they can index your pages to appear in search
results.

  • Create HTML and XML sitemaps as starting points for search engine spiders. Direct them of where and where not to go in your site by utilizing robots.txt,
    and what and what not to index by properly utilizing html attributes such as rel=”canonical” or rel=”noindex”
  • Clean Site Structure and Navigation – Clearly define hierarchy throughout the website, with clean user friendly URLs. This means keeping pages close
    to the root, categorized as necessary but, not buried deep into the site.

    • While it is important that the search engines make their way through your site, it is most important that a user is able to navigate your site
      easily. Always structure your site with user intent in mind!
  • Keep your navigation logical – Users need to be able to find what they are looking for. Properly label your navigation to guide users and crawlers
    through your content.
  • Make sure your site is responsive! Search is being performed more and more frequently on mobile devices, you are not providing a good experience for
    the user if your site is not responsive!
  • Make sure the site is accessible for everyone; screen readers and spiders included. Include alt text on images, text should not be images, use h elements
    to give your content a descriptive hierarchy, use descriptive anchor text on links.

ONPAGE

These are the things that you see on your site that will send quality signals to the search engines and assist in giving the users a good experience
on the site. They help to provide your page content with contextual relevance (for all of that pain staking keyword research you have done) to what
is on the page or in other sections of your site.

  • Title and label your content (and navigation) in a way that informs the user of what they are reading and where they are going. Implement your keywords
    (short and long-tail) as well.
  • Support your high quality content, send relevancy signals to the search engines by linking to other related areas of your website. Utilize your navigation
    to help tell your story and assist users in finding the information they need.
  • Linking to other related areas of content improves the user experience by providing users with additional resourceful material. Ideally, this will
    also help to funnel users towards your goals.

CONTENT & KEYWORDS

Content is the meat of your website, this is why people are here. They need the information, the services or products that you
provide. Development of strong content targeted to your niche audience is necessary from the get go. A strong content base is essential, and you can
continue to build out from there.

 

  • Keyword targeting is an aspect of SEO that has changed over the years. Save yourself wasted time and energy and a potential penalty and do not do shady
    stuff!
  • Think about how you personally search on the internet. Do you type in a single keyword? Probably not; you use phrases and maybe even ask your mobile
    device. Rather than targeting a single (very competitive) short-tail keyword, think about the variations in which it is searched for, think of
    the intent of the user who is searching it and gear your content around that intent.
  • Keep in mind that, yes, your website is a means to an end (converting the user), but it is not just about shoving your product down the users throat.
    Make content of value. Useful and trustworthy content builds your brand recognition and engages the user.

TRUST

Trustworthiness is an essential piece to a site’s performance in search and links are a still a major indicator of trust in the eyes of the search
engines. Have no doubt, links will be closely monitored to make sure they are real and trustworthy!

  • The quality of the sites linking to you is still a major indicator of the quality of your site to the search engines. Inbound links to your website
    from other trustworthy sources give your site validation that you are providing quality and resourceful information.
  • Outbound links are also important. Many of these are links to relevant resources that either show your trustworthiness or provide valuable information
    to your users. They also help search engines to place you in a ‘neighborhood’ and understand the niche you are in.
  • Social media is also important in understanding trust and engagement. Users that share your information and engage with you are important players in
    your visibility! Be an active participant in your community, provide resources regularly, it is not just an advertising channel.

Once your foundation is set and framework is built you can begin to fill it in and expand as necessary, just be ready for the building inspector (search
engine spiders) to come in and look around quite frequently to make sure everything is up to code and operating properly. Keep in mind that SEO is
not a one and done task, things will change over time and you will need to adapt/update the tactics you use accordingly. It is necessary that you show
you care about your site, that you keep it fresh and continue to keep it relevant and resourceful for your users. The foundation is your base for the
future, the user is who you have created the site for, in whatever you do keep them in mind!

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