Are You Making This Dumb Mistake With Your On-Site SEO?
A lot of really smart webmasters are making really dumb mistakes with their on-site SEO. Everyone knows what SEO is, right? It's all about optimizing your keywords on the pages and posts of your site, making sure you have good H1 tags, that you bold keywords, that you do good interlinking, and so on. That's all there is to is, right? Right? Not so fast. What about qualitative factors? What about user experience. Believe it or not, user experience is these most important thing you can do to improve your site's ranking.
Let Google Take Care of Ranking
A lot of folks try to use anchor text and other link building tactics to increase their rank. On-site, they try to optimize keywords (whatever that means). The truth is that no one knows what future changes Google will make and no one really understands the algorithm at Google except employees that work there - that work on the algorithm.
The point is this: focus on creating relevant content for your users and let Google rank your site accordingly. That's not the answer you might want to hear, but that's the only answer that makes any sense in the long-term. Google's going to do what it wants to do. If you spend all of your time chasing vanishing algorithm updates, it's going to drain the energy (and money) right out of you.
Improve Your Navigation Menu
If your navigation menu is confusing to your lowest level employee, it's going to be confusing to your users. If you don't know whether your nav menu is simple enough for users, ask them. Pull aside 10 or 20 people that you know (or, what the heck - total strangers) and ask them to help you with a usability study for your site. Allow them to navigate your website while you sit in the background and take notes. Don't sit directly over their shoulder, but be close enough to observe how they interact with your site. Do they find it hard to know where to click? Do they seem initially confused about how to get where they want to go? Does your navigation menu look like an ad or does it blend in too much with the rest of your site, rendering it practically invisible?
Ask users to tell you what they like and don't like about your site. You might be surprised by what you discover.
Don't Use Annoying Ads
It's tempting to use ad networks to monetize your blog. A lot of folks do it. Unfortunately, ads have a way of ruining user experience. Especially when the ads are of the pop-up variety. When you use ads that interfere with what the user is trying to do on your site, you're sending a clear signal that you don't give two hoots about your visitor. Nothing drives away users faster than a website that looks like a minefield of advertisements.
Use A Simple Layout
Your site's layout shouldn't be confusing or obfuscate the purpose of the site. Users should be able to easily find their way around. To accomplish intuitiveness in your site design, make liberal use of white space. Use breadcrumbs in your navigation menu. Structure posts, so that they are easy to read and don't make pages look overly cluttered. The more things you try to cram into your site design, the harder it will be for users to actually find what they want to find. If users can't find what they're looking for, they'll leave.
Engage Users With Unique Videos
Video is underutilized. Put yourself in front of a camera and start engaging your users. So few webmasters actually do this, and it's a breath of fresh air when they do. By engaging your users using a new media (other than print), you're coming out from behind the wall of cyberspace. You're not really a stranger anymore. Your visitors can see and hear you talk about something that you're very passionate about - your site and your business. You don't need high-end production equipment. In fact, keeping things "real" by using a simple digital camera and a clean background in your office can make your business look personal and inviting instead of drab and cold. Sometimes, being too polished is a bad thing. Your visitors want to see the real you, not the you that you think they want to see.
If you're having a tough time doing all of the work yourself, consider hiring a professional SEO firm that specializes in branding and content creation. Even if you do hire an outside SEO firm, be prepared to do some of the work yourself, especially the video content. Hiring an SEO firm simply takes some of the weight off your back and allows you to focus on important things like creating great content and engaging your users.