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SEO Tips from Someone Who Learned the Hard Way

“Is SEO a gimmick?” one client recently asked us – a fair question, given the fact that many agencies selling SEO are peddling smoke and mirrors.

MarketPoint doesn’t provide SEO services, of course, but we know the difference between actionable advice and snake oil. And having seen the aftermath of many snake-oil salesmen, we thought it appropriate to share a few pointers. Here goes…

First, SEO is not a gimmick. There are many on-page steps you can take to improve your search rankings, and that’s the best place to start. Look for plug-ins (tools) that will help you “do it yourself.” (If you have a WordPress site, for example, you should try Yoast.) Start by writing good content – not content stuffed with Google-harvested keywords in search of ratings. Just write in terms your customers use. Next, be sure to add value. Visitors are quick to exit pages that offer them nothing in return for their time, and time-on-page and link clicks (visit depth and duration) both help boost your rankings. Optimize your photos and videos for fast loading, and tag them with titles, captions, alt text, and descriptions (that include your keywords). Establish a (new if possible) keyword for each page and make sure that word appears early in your SEO title and your slug and your meta description (all of which you can control). Try to get your total word count up to 300 words per page and your keyword density near 2% (averaging one out of 50 words). Make sure you have logical and user-friendly navigation controls and you provide at least two additional internal (in-text) links to every page (to encourage browsing and help the search engines index your site). Tag each article and blog post. Generate an XML sitemap and put a privacy policy statement link on your homepage. And make all your pages shareable on social media with plug-in tools.

Off-page SEO is trickier but still controllable. The most important thing you can do, here, is to establish links to your page from credible and highly trafficked sites. You might want to provide valuable and clickable content for news sources or trade journals, for example. And, of course, it helps to have lots of traffic. So go generate some. I’d start with Google AdWords, Tweets, and promoted Facebook posts.

There. That should get you started.

Now, take that ten grand you would have paid an agency for this same advice, and donate it to charity.