SEO Tips for Niche Marketers
So, you’ve figured out your niche market and have a website, and now you’ve arguably reached the toughest part – how do I get traffic to my site? Paying for traffic via banners and PPC does not always make sense and may not be feasible for your business. Or maybe you just want to supplement your current traffic sources. After all, SEO traffic is typically the best you can get – targeted, high-converting, and best of all, free (nothings actually free, but we often have more time than resources).
A general rules to follow is to make things descriptive and useful to your users. And just be natural! Over-optimizing wastes time and energy and can often hurt more than help.
Doing a little search engine optimization is usually a no-brainer, as you can often do 80% of the work with little time and effort. Here’s my list of 10 quick seo tips and advice to help get you started and improve your rankings.
- Determine a couple keyword phrases for each page on your site. Don’t just guess what users will be search for – use Google’s and Wordtracker’s keyword tools to make the final descision. You can spend all your time optimizing for “green foosball tables”, but if only 10 people search that in a month, it’s obviously a complete waste of time. Before deciding on a keyword phrase, check how competitive it is. Search for your phrase and take note of the top 10 results in Google. Could you see your site ahead of some of the current results? Do you think you offer something more relevant? Last thing you want to do is to start an endless uphill battle with little chance of success.
- Optimize all of your page titles. Your title has the most ranking weight for keywords, so you should at least make sure every page has a title containing the keyword phrase(s) it’s targeting. Make sure your title is 70 characters or less (here’s a great tool for optimizing site titles and descriptions. Unless your brand name is extremely important and will be searched by users, put your keywords first and and your brand name last (e.g. Regulation Foosball Tables | Foosball City).
- Make use of the heading tags (<h1>, <h2>, etc). Make sure each page has an <h1> tag containing the main keyword phrase for the page. You can line up your h1 tag with your page title if you want, although I would consider changing it up a bit to be a little more natural (e.g. “Regulation Foosball Tables for Sale”). Use <h2> tags for secondary keyword phrases, if any.
- Make sure your images have descriptive alt tags containing your keywords. Make it natural, and don’t make everything word-for-word the same (e.g. “professional foosball table”).
- Make use of META descriptions, and write a unique one for each page. If you do not have time to add a unique one per page, then don’t bother adding one (identical descriptions may signal duplicate content to Google and the other search engines). Keep in mind that your page description will not provide any actual ranking power, so don’t bother keyword stuffing them – make them helpful to users to improve click-thru rates.
- Link out to high quality, related sites. Some people speculate you can improve ranking by linking out to relevant sites. Even if that’s not the case, it still provides valuable resouces to your users, and may encourage sites to link back to you. If you’re linking to a spammy, shady, or otherwise non-trusted site (maybe from user-generated content) make sure you include the rel=”nofollow” attribute.
- Make sure every page has unique content. It shouldn’t be too hard to have at least 200 words per page. Your content should of course contain your keywords, but don’t worry how often it shows up – use slightly different phrases in different contexts, keeping with the “be natural” theme (e.g. “foosball tables”, “regulation foosball table”, etc.).
- Link to your own pages from within your content. This is especially important for blogs, as older posts get shoved into the archives or moved to page 3+ of your category pages. Look for terms that relate to other pages on your site and make them links. Ideally every page on your site will be within 2 clicks from your home page. You can also accomplish this by creating a sitemap page, linked to from your home page, that links to every page on your site (with appropriate anchor text for each page).
- Sign up with Google Webmaster Tools. It’s completely free, and is a great resource for SEO. You can find out which of your pages are having issues, what pages are missing, what search terms your site is ranking for, and many other great things. You can also manually submit an xml sitemap, which can help Google index your pages faster and find new content. If you run a WordPress blog, there are several great plugins for automatically generating the sitemap.
- Build backlinks, but make sure they look natural. If possible, have links to your site contain your keywords, although make sure to change them up a little bit. And have links pointing to pages other than your home page. You can do a few reciprocal links between sites, but try not to go overboard. Don’t waste too much time with link directories besides Yahoo! and DMOZ. If you really are a quality resource, you should be able to get at least a few relevant sites to link to you. And experiment with social networking sites like Digg and Stumbleupon to promote your site.
If you’re still hungry for more SEO tips and discussion, be sure to check out SEOmoz! Great resource, even if you just read the blog.