Microformats are syntax that help a search engine identify the specific types of content on your website.
The best resource for assistance with microformatting is schema.org. This site will help you find and use the HTML syntax you need to optimize your site for search engines.
In particular, microformatting:
- Uses specific syntax to identify types of content
- Tells search engines what kind of content they are indexing
- Helps return content to users who are seeking it
SEO: User Generated Content
Hark! A prize we all fight for: user-generated content.
This includes comments on our blogs, votes, product reviews, guest blogger contributions, articles, and social media interactions.
User-generated content is valuable because it can establish trust/authority and help other users find your content through sharing.
But it also requires an approval process (to filter out irrelevant or damaging content) and reputation management (when negative comments or reviews arise, they must be addressed.)
SEO: Optimizing Non-Text Components
Non-text components include images, videos, audio, infographs, and other media that are not purely text. In order to maximize their effectiveness, the HTML surrounding these items requires additional attention.
- Optimize text around these components. Focus on descriptions, HTML elements, and transcripts.
- Make use of microformatting. See Schema.org for microformatting guidelines.
- Use a video sitemap to make sure the search engines understand your content. Check out this video sitemap guide from Moz.
- Analyze content quality. One tool for doing so is the Moz On-Page Grader.
SEO: Keyword Research
Before diving into keyword strategy, a research plan needs to be developed. This includes uncovering the effectiveness, frequency, relevance, and competitiveness of particular keywords.
One misstep that should be avoided at all costs is approaching keywords from one’s own perspective. Instead, the SEO strategist must get into the minds of customers and understand the rules by which search engines operate.
Strategies for developing a keyword research plan
- Brainstorming – trying to unpack every possible angle, association, and aspect of the business that could yield valuable keywords
- Collecting search volume metrics – shorter keywords will be more competitive, while long-tail keywords may be more relevant to your customers and less sought after by your competitors
- Categorize the keywords – sometimes referred to as “clustering,” this process allows you sort keywords by topic and possible derive new keyword opportunities
- Google AdWords Keyword Planner (In AdWords, click the wrench icon in the upper right hand menu and select “Keyword Planner.”)
- Google Trends
- Moz Keyword Explorer
- ahrefs Keywords Explorer
- Raven Tools
- Keyword Discovery
- Alexa Marketing Stack
- Longtail Pro
In addition to those listed above, there are other research tools available.
- Search Volume
Keyword Evaluation: Adapt, Test, Adapt, Retest. And so on.
- One solid strategy is to use less competitive, but highly relevant keywords.
- If you have a keyword with no page dedicated to it, create one.
- Download keyword data into a spreadsheet to make it easy to sort and filter.
- Align your page’s content to your keywords.
SEO: Earning Experience in the Best Way Possible
In addition to teaching myself SEO and content marketing through reading, earning certifications, and watching online tutorials, I’ve been reaching out to friends and family who have business websites.
The pitch goes something like this: I need experience putting together SEO analyses and strategies. If you let me use your website for my research, I’ll share my results with you so you can put my recommendations to work. Free help for you, free experience for me.
So what am I doing for them?
The SEO Analysis
First, I’ll take a look at some key performance indicators:
- SE results for Google and Bing – quick check to see the site’s current visibility and which competitors may outrank it
- URL check – I’ll want to make sure the site’s URL contains the site name or some descriptive text. This helps the SE understand the site’s purpose and how to categorize it.
- Meta-description tags – I’ll be making sure this bit of information (which shows up on the SERP) contains critical keywords and accurate descriptions
- Look at global rankings – I want to drill deeper into how the site is faring in the search results and rankings, especially compared to their competitors.
- Check on domain + page authority – How well is the site trusted by the SEs? The higher the authority, the more often it will appear in the SERP. I’ll use Moz Open Site Explorer for this.
- Check bounce rates
- Look for incoming links
This information provides the basis of the SEO analysis, but there’s still more to do. I’m running late this morning so the rest of this post will have to wait.
The keys to successful SEO efforts are research, planning, and patience. SEO strategy is a moving target in which available information and goals are continuously evolving. This is a long-term process that produces long-term value.
The basic steps for SEO implementation include
- Developing a strategy
- Researching keywords
- Creating content
- Building links
- Resolving technical issues
In addition, successful SEO requires optimizing for two audiences: real people and search engines. Of the two, the priority generally be optimizing for real people, because search engines are continually improving their ability to read and process text in the same way humans do. Of course, a balance must be struck between the technical and creative aspects of SEO so that both audiences find your content accessible and useful.