SEO tactics have morphed again over the past year, including the many Google updates we’ve seen.
For nearly any type of business, keeping up with these changes can be a challenge, but if you prioritize the tasks necessary for success in search and social media marketing, the efforts can pay large dividends.
Below are my picks for the top SEO tactics to focus on in the coming year. These tactics can bring you more relevant traffic and conversions for improving your bottom line in 2013.
- Optimize your pages using SEO best practices
- Implement social media tactics
- Build mobile pages and/or mobile apps
- Build local pages
- Optimize map listings with local landing page URLs
- Optimize IYPs & data aggregators for consistent data validation & relevant backlinks
- Improve SERP visibility with semantic markup
Optimize Pages With SEO Best Practices
The best guide to SEO Best Practices is the Google 2012 Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide, which includes the following topics in its Table of Contents.
- Unique, accurate page titles
- Description tags
- Improved site structure
- Improved URL structure
- Easy navigation
- Optimized content
- Offering quality content and services
- Writing better anchor text
- Optimizing images
- Proper use of heading tags
- Dealing with crawlers
- Elective use of robots.txt
- Using rel=”nofollow” for links
- SEO for mobile sites
- Submitting mobile sites to search engines
- Guiding mobile users accurately
- Promotions and analysis
- Promoting your website appropriately
- Using free webmaster tools
If you take the time to implement these tactics as time allows, you will get gradual improvements in your rankings along with increased conversions.
Implement Social Media Tactics
Today’s consumers are increasingly going to social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for information, influencing their purchasing decisions. They also share their own retail experiences with others on these sites. This results in brand mentions and recommendations from friends and strangers alike.
As a result, consumers have been turning to social media for product research before purchase.
- 76 percent of consumers recommend companies they trust to a friend or colleague (Edelman Digital)
- 62 percent of all online shoppers read product-related comments from friends on Facebook, and 75% of these shoppers click through to the retail site (Sociable Labs, 2012)
- Customers who participate and/or interact with you on YouTube, Twitter or Facebook are 150% more likely to buy merchandise (eTail Blog, 2012).
With increased social recommendations influencing product search and discovery, it is important that Web merchants take advantage of these touch points, creating opportunities for consumer engagement.
You can encourage your customers to share positive experiences on social media sites, and you also have the opportunity to defend yourself from complaints on these sites. Some brands can benefit by using social media advertising to target their audience and drive new customers to their sites.
Build Mobile Pages And/Or Mobile Apps
Optimized mobile pages and mobile apps provide a great user experience for consumers on the go. In fact, shoppers expect to find them when searching on their mobile devices.
Optimize your mobile site and apps with the following features:
- Location Specific Calls to Action
- Location Phone Number, Address, Hours
- Driving Directions
- Local Store Promotions
- Local Store Pictures
- Company YouTube Videos
- In-Store Offers
- Social Network Sharing
- Links to Promotions
- Click to Call Features
Build Local Pages
In addition to the most basic local business information, aggregators wish to acquire as much “enhanced data” or local business details as possible. The more enhanced your local business data is, the more value it has for display to searching consumers.
Enhanced data can include, but is not limited to:
- Additional business category types
- Business descriptions
- Operating hours
- Web page links
- Images and logos of the business
- Images and descriptions of products your business offers
The white paper, How to Achieve Remarkable Results in Local & Mobile Search: A Step by Step Guide, can provide you with more information.
Optimize Map Listings With Local Landing Page URLs
First, ensure there are no data inconsistencies in your listings; then, manage and update your Local Maps data.
Fix Data Inconsistencies
There is a single point of contact for managing multiple business listings in the map areas of search result pages. Increase local map rankings for targeted categories relevant to business service offerings.
Ensure consistency in your local business NAP (Name, Address, and Phone) information to local maps when changes are made to your local business listings. Always link your local landing pages to your Maps pages to increase local relevancy.
Manage & Update Local Maps Data
Data consistency reinforces confidence from search engines and provides the best user experience and search engine rankings.
When claiming and managing listings directly on Google, Yahoo! and Bing, it enables the optimization and distribution of enhanced data with video, images, local descriptions, targeted categories, social media links, areas served, specials, hours/holiday hours and other enhanced content.
Local maps distribution networks include: Google+ Local, Yahoo! Local and Bing Business Portal for listing optimization and management. This includes direct management of all business data, validated business listings, targeted keyword categories, easy updates with landing page control.
Optimize IYPs & Data Aggregators For Consistent Data Validation
You can overwrite incorrect Local Business data and achieve higher rankings through “data consistency.” Local search ranking algorithms used by the search engines to determine rankings are heavily dependent upon consistent local business data.
To maximize local search rankings, it is critical to manage your listing presence on all information services – not just a single or limited service.
Manage and update your Local Business Data including the information below:
- Business name, address, telephone, manager information, neighborhood information, areas served, logo and storefront images, description, categories, operating and holiday hours, landing page URL, special offers and events, social networks URLs, local map URLs and review site URLs.
- Local Search Directories and Internet Yellow Page Distribution Networks Include: LocalEze, InfoUSA, Axciom, Yellowpages.com, Superpages.com, Yelp, FourSquare, Facebook, Local.com, GPS Devices and more than 300 Local IYPs (Internet Yellow Pages).
Improve SERP Visibility With Semantic Markup
Adding semantic markup to your pages will enhance your page-one listings with increased click-through rates (CTR). GoodRelations RDFa is frequently used by e-commerce sites. You can find more information on GoodRelations markup on the GoodRelations Community Wiki.
Schema.org was adopted by the three major search engines in 2011 and will be increasingly implemented on websites in 2013. For more information on using structured markup, see Aaron Bradley’s article, E-commerce SEO Using Schema.org Just Got A Lot More Granular and Barbara Starr’s article, How To Leverage Structured Markup To Create E-Commerce Web Portals.
Takeaways for 2013
Since SEO tactics have transformed over the past year, it’s important for website owners to update their websites and marketing tactics. Two tactics I highly recommend are local search optimization and implementing structured markup on your pages. These tactics can give you better visibility in the SERPs fairly quickly.
In closing, all the Web marketing tactics above can improve your presence in the SERPs, drive more traffic to your site and increase your conversions in 2013.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.