Jackie Hribar, Celtic’s senior PR account executive, shared these seven SEO tips on how to write content that both viewers and search engines like.

When you search for a product or a business, how often do you look past the first three pages of results? How about the very first page? SEO, or search engine optimization, continues to be a web strategy that every company needs to pay attention to. Here are seven tips on how to create effective, engaging content for websites and blogs in today’s marketplace as presented by Joey Donovan Guido of Cuppa SEO at a recent Public Relations Society of America luncheon in Milwaukee.

  1. Keywords. If you want potential customers to find you, your website needs to contain the same words one would type into a search engine. Someone looking for a hot cup of Joe might search for “coffee Milwaukee.” If your web copy only uses the words bakery or café, your business would not come up in the search results. To find the keywords relevant to your business or brand, use Google AdWords’ Keyword Planner. You simply enter relevant keywords one at a time and try to find a balance between the number of times that particular word is searched for and the amount of competition out there for that term. Think strategically; if you make athletic shoes and Nike already owns the term “tennis shoes,” perhaps you can own some other niche term like “sneakers?”
  2. Title Tag. Every website has a title tag. It can be found in the header bar on some browsers and as a tab on others. As an example, the title tag for JSOnline is “Milwaukee and Wisconsin News, Sports, Weather, Business, Opinion, Investigative Reporting | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.” Your title tag should include one or more of your keywords – and the first word has the biggest weight. It’s best not to lead with your brand or company name but, instead, with what people would type into a search engine. If a particular city or region is important to how someone would find you, be sure to include it. In the above example, JSOnline would easily come up if someone searched for “Milwaukee weather.”
  3. Headline. Websites that don’t have a main headline or welcoming copy are missing a huge SEO opportunity. Comparing web results for a search on “cupcakes Milwaukee,” Classy Girl Cupcakes is a clear winner over the competition with this opening statement, ”Milwaukee Cupcakes: Classy Girl Cupcakes is Milwaukee’s premier gourmet cupcake bakery and
    boutique.”  When writing your headline, be sure to strike a balance that is friendly to both readers and search engines.
  4. Copy. In the above example, the keywords for Classy Girl might be cupcakes, cake pops, weddings, and Milwaukee. You might think the more you use those works, the better, right? Wrong. Overusing your keywords can make you a target for something search engines call “black hatting.” These are unethical techniques used to gain higher search rankings. Sites accused of this are tagged as spam and pushed much further down in rankings. So, what is the right amount to use your keywords? Best practices recommend that you use your keywords once in the first paragraph, once in the middle, and again in the last sentence or two.
  5. Photos. Each photo on your site or blog should have a valuable keyword or phrase in the file name of the image. It’s surprising how little this tip is implemented! After an extensive web search, two sites that are doing an above average job are Wal-Mart and MarthaStewart.com. An image search for “Sumatra Coffee” reveals that you can order it from Wal-Mart’s website. On Martha’s site, a recipe for pancakes contains a beautiful photo of a stack with the word “pancakes” appropriately in the file name. With the growth of Pinterest and other image searching techniques, you can increase the chances of your blog, website, or even social media post being found organically.
  6. Hyperlinks. A hyperlink is a word, group of words, or image that you can click on to jump to another document or section of a website. An auto repair shop doing a blog post on winterizing your car should include hyperlinks back to their own service offerings for battery replacement, oil changes and more. Meanwhile, a restaurant would be best served creating hyperlinks for buzzwords such as seasonal menus, organic offerings, and gluten-free options.
  7. Google Places. If your business has a physical location, take a few minutes to get your business on Google with Places for Business.  This will help customers find you on Google Search, Maps, Google+ and on mobile devices. Simply take 2-3 paragraphs from your newly-optimized web copy and drop in a dozen or so of your newly-optimized photos. You can even get your happy customers and employees to write a review on your behalf.

Take an honest look at your website. Are there areas where your SEO can be improved? Share your thoughts!