Five Simple Steps for SEO and Social Media Beginners

by : Steve Mullen

I'm frequently asked to look at a website and evaluate it for usability, SEO, and social media optimization (SMO). At times, I'm asked, "What should I fix first?" Below are the five most important things that can usually be done by novices to optimize a site for both the search engines and social media sites.

1) Write good page titles: These titles, which are shown at the top of your browser, are the most important thing you easily control when optimizing a site. Even if you're using an online "fill in the blank" template program, you can usually control the names of the pages. Just putting the name of your business isn't enough. You need to have targeted keywords in that title. For example, if you're selling widgets with a company called "Widgettes", and your customer base is mostly in the Albequerque, New Mexico area, don't make the front page title "Widgettes, Inc.". Instead, try "Albequerque, New Mexico Widgets, from Widgettes, Inc." Also, make the title different for each page and make it reflect what's on the page.

2) Maintain your website: You'd be surprised how many people overlook this one. Some search engines will lower your ranking for things like broken links or images. More importantly it looks bad for the people who do find your site. You should check your site every few days to make sure nothing is falling apart. You do that with your house or your office building (I hope). You should do it with your virtual storefront too!

3) Blog (the verb AND the noun): Blogs are painfully easy to build these days. If someone is building your site for you, ask him or her to set one up. If you're doing your own site, check with your host. I use GoDaddy, which makes it extremely easy to install Wordpress. The most important things about blogging are to do it frequently, and give people quality content. Three posts a week should be your goal. If you're selling widgets, why not talk about a novel use for a widget or even how to select the right one? If you do that, they may link to your blog, and links are the ultimate goal. Additionally, if you see an interesting article that someone else wrote about widgets, post it on your blog and give the author credit. One last point - if you're creating a blog for link building, don't use free services like Blogger. If someone links to your blog on Blogger, it only helps Blogger's search engine ranking. If the blog is on YOUR site, the link helps you.

4) Build links: I mentioned this above, but I'll say it again: Link building should be your top goal. Search engines look at links as recommendations. If your site has enough recommendations from other relevant sites, then you'll be rewarded with higher search engine rankings. There are a lot of ways to build links. Not many of them are easy, but not many of them require you to be an expert in search engines. Building a blog and keeping it populated with quality content is one way to build links. You might also contact a complimentary business and suggest they use some of your blog content. Additionally, get involved in the blogging community for your business, if there is one. If people see your name on smart blog comments enough times, they may consider you an expert. Additionally, when you post on other blogs, use a signature that has your website address in it. In some cases, that will count as a link back to your site. At the very least it might get them to visit your site.

5) Submit articles and blog posts to social media sites: There are literally dozens of different social bookmarking sites. My favorites are Digg,, Ma.gnolia, Reddit, and Stumbleupon. You can find a great list and explanation of each in this article on the site SEOmoz. Sites like these were created so people could list interesting content and share it with others. So, obviously, it's a great place to gather links and credibility if you have interesting content. Don't spam these sites with every little announcement about a new employee or whatever. Use it to spread your good content.