5 Simple Ways To Improve Your SEO Today

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stairsYou don’t have to know everything about SEO to start reaping the benefits of it.

There are some small but important search engine optimization changes you can make right away. Here are 5 simple things you can do today to improve your SEO.

1. Sign up with Webmaster Tools

On-site optimization (making sure all the technical details of your site are how they should be for both search engines and searchers) can be complicated. Luckily, both Google and Bing offer a suite of webmaster tools to make it simpler.

If your website isn’t registered with Google Webmaster Tools, do that now. If you’re set up but not familiar with all of its elements, dig in a little and explore.

You’ll get information about your site’s health and speed, any crawl errors Google finds and lots more. Here’s a great guide from KISSMetrics to make the most of your Webmaster Tools account.

2. Set up Google Authorship

If you write online, make sure you get credit for your content with Google by setting up Google Authorship.

Authorship results are more likely to catch the eye of a searcher, as seen in this heatmap.

Google Authorship SERP heatmap

And authorship is also a significant driver in whether or not someone will click. A study performed by search marketing firm Catalyst found that clicks improved 150% with Google Authorship.

3. Consider your keywords

You don’t have to do a full dive into keyword research and optimization. It’s enough to begin with some empathetic thinking. Get into the mind of a searcher and create a list of words you think people might use to find you online.

You can also do a little sleuthing in your website analytics to help you out. It used to be really easy to figure out which keywords were bringing visitors to your site by using Google Analytics, but that’s not the case anymore thanks to Google encrypting keywords.

However, you can still use analytics to figure out which content on your site is getting the most visitors and then make the connection to the main keywords you use in those pieces of content.

Combine the main words searchers will use with the keywords your analytics tell you are already bringing visitors to your site into one big list. Those are your keywords, which you’ll want to be well represented on your site. Without overdoing it, use them as often as they make sense to guide users and represent your content. Wordtracker has a great list resource of all the spots on your site keywords should be present.

Here’s a nice keyword-focused checklist from Salesforce to get you started:

keyword checklist

If you blog on WordPress, the Yoast SEO plugin is a low-maintenance way to get focused on keywords.

P.S. Our recent “29 Free Internet Tools To Improve Your Marketing Starting Today” features a few keyword density tools that can help you out.

4. Create astounding content

Once your site is in order and you’ve got an idea of your keywords, you’re ready to create the kind of content that improves your SEO by bringing you social shares and quality inbound links.

But not just any content will do. Content marketing has exploded in popularity so quickly that it’s harder now to stand out. These statistics from Content Marketing Institute show the trend clearly.

content marketing growth

Only the most useful, most complete, most astounding, most well researched, most emotionally engaging, most “Holy smokes!” content will make it through the content marketing deluge.

Here are some great guidelines and tips from Marcus Sheridan on creating exactly that kind of content.

Remember: “Content” doesn’t always means “words.” It can also mean free tools, beautiful visualizations, how-to videos and much, much more.

Truly standout content attracts links naturally (this is sometimes called “link earning”), so you might be doing SEO  already – without even knowing it.

5. Make it easy to share

Astounding content is generally worthy of a Facebook share or a tweet. And social signals from Facebook and Twitter now correlate very strongly with good rankings in Google’s index.

us-ranking-factors-2013

That means it’s definitely worthwhile to make your great content as easy to share as possible. Focus on highly visible share buttons (websites that include social sharing buttons generate 7 times more mentions than those that don’t!), optimized meta descriptions – and may we suggest a Buffer button?

Beyond the basics, you can go further by maximizing your use of images, which we’ve found are a huge factor in helping content spread socially.

The text you use when you share to social networks can play a big role, too. Performing some A/B testing like so on your social media “headlines” can improve your viral performance.

A/B test headlines

Here’s the process we use at Buffer to test our headlines, and lots more great advice on headlines writing.

One more thing: Great SEO reading

To learn even more about SEO, here are some in-depth resources.

Are you making changes to your marketing based on SEO? If so, share them with us here!

If you liked this post you might also like The Complete Beginner’s Guide to SEO and Google hides keywords from marketers: The complete guide to using alternatives from the experts

Top Photo Credit: paul bica via Compfight cc

  • http://www.alexisrodrigo.com/ Lexi-Web Copywriter

    Good tips here. I’d like to add there are many opportunities for getting high-quality backlinks easily. You already mentioned links in social media. I’ve noticed recently that Google+ updates appear in Google SERPS (surprise, surprise!). So a Google+ update with your target keyword and a link back to your site is a powerful way to get a backlink. Even better if someone gives your update a +1, shares it, or comments on it.

    Another often-missed SEO opportunity is blog syndication. It can take some work, but it’s possible to find sites that aggregate content from other blogs. Alltop is one example, but it doesn’t allow you to create your own anchor text link back to your blog. Nevertheless, I’ve found Alltop can be a source of traffic.

    It’s even better to get syndicated in a site that’s relevant to your blog, because those would be considered authority links.

    One of the blogs I write for is being syndicated in Yahoo! News, and I wish I knew how that happened so I could replicate it with my other blogs, lol! Anyway, the point is, the more links you have pointing back to different pages of your site (not just the home page), the better for SEO and traffic.

    • Courtney Seiter

      Good tips; thanks for sharing! in a future post I think I’d like to dig into the research and explore the SEO pros and cons of syndication/republishing content.

    • http://atraincreative.com/the-edge/ Blaine Fallis

      although it appears like that, try the search after logging out of google, or using private browsing. In my experience that kind of serps result was based on my own search prefs and google+ friends. Nevertheless it’s cool to see.

      • http://www.alexisrodrigo.com/ Lexi-Web Copywriter

        You’re referring to Google+ posts appearing on SERPS, right? You’re probably right – which means they’ll probably also show up on the SERPS on people who have you in their G+ circles. Which would not be bad at all.

  • LucidGal

    Excellent article!

    • Courtney Seiter

      Thanks so much!

  • http://7ucy.com/ Lucy Clark

    Appreciate your level of detail and excellent tips for SEO. Will share with my contacts.

    • Courtney Seiter

      Thanks, Lucy! Hope they’re helpful for you and your colleagues. :)

  • http://www.seannisil.com/ Sean Nisil

    Love the checklist. Thanks!

    • Courtney Seiter

      The best part about researching Buffer posts is finding great resources like that one. :)

  • http://thirdmanlabs.com/ Third Man Labs

    Great write up, some really good tips here. Noticed the Buffer blog lives on a subdomain blog.bufferapp.com .. why not use bufferapp.com/blog ? Helps w passing link equity, unless you want to rank for the term ‘blog’ that is ;-)

    • Courtney Seiter

      A great thought! We’ll look into that. Although maybe ranking for “blog” is a good thing…SEO is always so ambiguous. :)

      • http://www.zineuk.co.uk Dan Smith

        Enjoyable read!

        With regard to the comment from Third Man Labs above, I do believe the answer to the ‘sub-domain vs sub-folder’ discussion is, for the majority of cases, down to personal preference.

        It’s been talked about and tested several times before and unless you have specific requirements (such as language-based requirements), they both provide the same value.

        I’d personally always go for a sub-folder, but only because that’s what I think looks better!

  • Susan

    These are by far the best SEO tips ever EVER! Thank you Buffer! I have shared them with my colleagues and can’t wait to start

    • Courtney Seiter

      You’re welcome! Hope they help you get found. :)

  • http://www.ripenn.com/ Josh Sturgeon

    Nice addition sharing Marcus’ presentation. We are really trying to vary our “diet” of what we share, making sure we don’t neglect videos, visualizations and the like!

    • Courtney Seiter

      Great idea! I still struggle with that one myself.

  • Akash Agarwal

    Yes, all the techniques are very useful for SEO. It’s really a great tips for SEO. Thanks for sharing your nice tips.

  • Packards King

    Great tips… feww are really new for me and I will definitely follow these… Thanks for posting…

  • http://atraincreative.com/the-edge/ Blaine Fallis

    Great piece of content you… crafted.

  • http://www.winedinedaily.com/ Wine Dine

    Hi, would changing domain names, the current is http://winedinedaily.com/ , impact seo even with redirects in place?

    • Courtney Seiter

      Hey there, I’d hate to give you incomplete advice and that’s what it would be here. I’m no expert, especially on the technical side of SEO. Definitely ask a professional you trust!

      • http://www.winedinedaily.com/ Wine Dine

        Thank you so much for the reply Courtney, we will ask!

        • http://www.glamorousbite.com/ GlamorousBite

          We did finally change it to http://glamorousbite.com/ and are at least excited about the name!

  • http://www.venturestab.com/ Jerome Gentolia

    Courtney

    How do you find the “All-in-One SEO” WordPress plug-in? Is comparable to Yoast SEO?

    • Courtney Seiter

      Hi Jerome, I haven’t tried that one but I’ll definitely check it out!

  • Mavis Flixar Enriquez

    Keyword relevancy is one of the keys to success with Google AdWords. While it may be tempting to include all sorts of keywords you can get your hands on, be aware that this is often the #1 mistake advertisers make when creating their first campaign. You only want prospects who “Need You Now” and are going to be motivated to contact your company, or purchase your services if they click your ad. People bid on the wrong keywords all the time and it hurts them big time. My company was losing an average of $0.67 per click until Simon over at RDM helped us get our ducks in a row with the campaign and now it makes $2.19 per click on average instead of -$0.67. He’s really helpful on the phone, his number is 888-648-5526.

  • joanna@xposureuae

    Fantastic blog! I’ve just been having the URL keywords discussion with a developer who is working with one of my clients. I say we need keywords in every page URL, he says not…. Am going to send him this very write up. You have very knowledgeable commentators on here too – so, win-win for me :) I’ve enjoyed reading it.

  • Spook SEO

    It’s really a big advantage if you have Google Authorship. You can have higher pageviews and increase your online visibility.

  • http://www.auroin.com/ AuroIN LLC AuroIN SEO

    This is very useful post. I want to appreciate this guy who has shared an important concept regarding SEO strategies. I am ok with this post and suggest to everyone to atleasr read this once. It will prove helpful to all who are associated with SEO field.

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  • Portman

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  • Shashank

    Would surely implement those tips and hope that both of my blogs JavaCompile and DealsCompile acheive success .

    Thanks Courtney Seiter !!!

  • Magesh FPS

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  • john

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  • Portman

    I really don’t have words to appreciate your efforts. This article is too good. It’s true that building high quality backlink is very important. But it’s also important to follow the procedure to build it i have been reading about how to have an effective do follow blog. to add, links coming from Blog are an excellent source to boost your website’s PageRank and also to attain domain authority because any link which is made out of a content rich webpage is a link builder’s delight.go here

  • cort

    I was wondering if anyone considers time spent on page to be a big SEO factor? It’s an indicator of quality. Shouldn’t this be something google looks at in the post panda world of SEO?

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  • Cameron

    I think now it’s just about content just write useful and high quality content and share your content through social networks that’s all that is left in S.E.O, I don’t think you need to make back-links these days, I think Content is enough these days to rank your site.
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  • Khakan

    Google authorship is no more affective but the others tips you mentioned are really great and if you follow them properly then you can see a significant improvement in your site in terms of Seo

  • http://www.keydifference.com steve martin

    hy hi great article!
    i just love this while reading.ya links adn keywords for each page are very important for SEO.

  • Jack

    I’ve read a lot of articles about SEO lately, trying to find something that works for my website (http://jackmarchant.com), and this is one of the best I’ve come across because it’s concise

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  • http://www.keydifference.com John Bernaldo

    Hi, This article is very much interesting as the article was very good. About the steps that are explained is very useful who uses Google+ with SERp techniques.I want more articles to make the Google+ a very pleasent among the articles used.

  • Stacy Keller

    Hi Courtney,

    Thanks a lot for the valuable advice. I have tried almost all of your tips on my blog – http://www.pentagist.com . However, can you enlighten me on the aspect of the amount of time that it takes for these changes to get inculcated and for the SEO to show marked improvement. While I understand that it varies from site to site, it would be really useful if you can share your thoughts in this matter.

    Thanks in advance :)

    • Courtney Seiter

      I’ve read that it generally takes about 3 months to see the results of any new SEO strategy. Hope that helps!

      • Stacy Keller

        Thanks a lot for your valuable input :)

  • http://lotaliving.com/ Lota Living

    Good information, and I must say that I have been reading your links and trying to absorb your content for hours now and bed is truly calling … thank you for providing good, clear content. I will attempt to make good use of it.