Search engine optimization can be extremely frustrating. Fluctuating performance, shifting algorithms, and varied industry perspectives make it difficult at times to isolate best practices. To win at SEO, a business needs to properly execute things for which it controls, in parallel with conducting external processes that build authority status within a unique market niche.
This paper discusses three SEO tactics that you have likely not heard of or embraced within your organic search marketing efforts. These tactics are what the SEO industry calls "white hat" (i.e. OK with Google) and are completely within your own control and development. These simplistic but powerful tactics connect marketing and technology together in an effort to increase your overall SEO penetration.
Tactic #1: Re-engineer your existing backlink profile
As you likely know, link-building is a paramount aspect of the SEO equation. Industry speakers, albeit not knowing for sure, have stated that linking represents approximately 70 at times.
By contacting these website owners or webmasters and requesting a change to the anchor text by incorporating target phrases, the business can make great strides in ranking for the non-branded phrases that your competitors covet.
For example, you would want to turn a link that had the anchor text of Trinity Insight to eCommerce consulting by Trinity Insight. Doing so, gives additional cues to Google for what your website is all about and provides positive impact to the algorithm.
Simply communicate with each site operator via email and offer some type of incentive to make the change. A $25.00 donation to a favorite charity is usually enough to convince someone to make the change, especially if it is a site that operates on a content management system.
Tactic #2: Bring external links back from the dead
If your business and/or website has been around for more than 5 years, chances are that your URL and/or systems have changed. A website re-design or a new platform integration may have caused URL strings to change or pages to become inactive.
Now what happens to incoming links from external sources that point to these pages? These links typically render a 404 error to a web user and have no SEO benefit since the page is essentially dead.
This does not have to be case however and your business can re-ignite the SEO benefit from incoming links that point to these dead pages.
Finding these links is easy and making the technical change so that the pagerank is not wasted is a fairly simple process that will take some legwork from a technical perspective but pay dividends.
The first step is to find out which sites are linking to you and receiving a 404 error and what pages are they linking to. Fortunately, our friends at Google have made this a very easy thing to find out. To isolate this data, you first need to sign up for Webmaster Tools - Google's search engine management interface.
Webmaster Tools allows a website owner to get valuable information on many aspects of their site outside of 404 errors and we at Trinity Insight sometimes compare it to looking under the hood of a car.
Within Webmaster Tools, simply navigate to the section for which you can isolate "crawl errors". From there you will be able to see the incoming domains that are linking to you and receiving the dreaded 404 error. Export this report to Excel and spend some time taking a look at the type of landing pages that were linked to but that no longer exist.
After getting a clear idea of the page content of these links, then associate an existing page from the domain that would serve to provide content to a potential visitor that came in through that link.
For instance, if a link came to www.mysite.com/schwinn-bicycles.htm and the page no longer exists - try to send the user to www.mysite.com/bicycles since the content is related.
After the correlation exercise is completed, you then want to leverage what is called 301 redirects to recapture the link value on the pages you decided upon. A 301 redirect essentially is a rule on your server that PERMANENTLY takes a user (and search engine) to a new page that you specify when visiting another page. This technical work takes place within your .htaccess file and documentation to do so is easily found online. Re-directing from the dead page to the active page saves your pagerank and provides your key pages with added value.
By executing this process, all of your selected pages will be receiving incremental "link juice" from old and respected web properties. This is a great way to kickstart a stagnant or dormant link development program.
Tactic #3: Use Widgets to maximize SEO benefits
In the last few years, widgets have gained great popularity. More and more of these user focused tools are embedded into blogs and popular websites as ways to further engage users.
Progressive search engine optimizers understand the viral marketing power of widgets and leverage them in a manner to drive backlinks.
First question you need to ask is "what type of widget could I create that will be valuable to a user"? The answer to this question depends on the unique marketplace you operate in and also the data/information that can be exported within an API to the widget once it is hosted on a partner/publisher site.
Say for example you are in the mortgage sector. You have a wealth of data relating to rates, states, loan programs, and trends. This information needs to be formulated in a manner that it can be exported to a widget and a user can leverage the information.
In this case, the example widget would allow a user to check rates and closing costs for a variety of rate programs, in a variety of states. The key is that the data and information that is rendered takes place within the widget - not on your webpages. By using feed technology to power the widget, prospective web publishers will be much more likely to embrace the idea and populate it within their code. But how does this impact SEO?
Simply put, within the widget code that would be utilized by the publishing partners, your business would integrate text and a standard html link that will point to a target page on your domain. The link just tells the user the creator of the widget and most web publishers see no problem with this.
An example is: "Widget created by: Horizon Mortgage | Providers of home loans"
By leveraging these three tactics your business can start driving improved SEO results. Remember that SEO is a marathon and not a sprint and that the "cream always rises to the top".
Focus on building your site with exceptional content, a great user experience, and be proactive within online communities that correlate to your business. Be sure to have the buy-in from executives, especially from within the IT arena. By following these suggestions, your business can be dramatically improve SEO performance and be on the fast track to online growth in the next 2-4 months.