Google recently posted quick and easy tips for the holiday rush and, after reading back over it, I quickly realized, these tips aren't just for the holiday season nor should they be recommendations limited to Google search.
As a result, I have compiled a list of quick and simple tips for websites to increase traffic – whether it's to make the sale online or to increase foot traffic to your brick-and-mortar location, your web presence is a critical part of your business plan. The tips below are fast, free, and can make a big difference in your organic SEO! Best of all, they were inspired by Google:)
Verify that your site is indexed (and is returned in search results)
Check your snippet content and page titles with the site: command [site:example.com] — do they look accurate and descriptive for users? Ideally, each title and snippet should be unique in order to reflect that each URL contains unique content. If anything is missing or you want more details, you can also use the Content Analysis tool in Google's Webmaster Tools. There you can see which URLs on your site show duplicate titles or meta descriptions.
Label your images accurately
Don't miss out on potential customers with poor or missing alt text. Good 'alt' text and descriptive filenames help search engines better understand images, make sure you change non-descriptive file names [001.jpg] to something more accurate [NintendoWii.jpg]. Image Search has the potential to send significant search traffic, so you should take advantage of it.
Know what the search engines know (about your site)
Check for crawl errors and learn the top queries that bring traffic to your site through Webmaster Tools. You can use Google's diagnostics checklist or MSN's crawl issues tool to aid in this process.
Have a plan for expiring and temporary pages
Make sure to serve accurate HTTP status codes. If you no longer sell a product, serve a 404. If you have changed a product page to a new URL, serve a 301 to redirect the old page to the new one. Keeping your site up-to-date can help bring more targeted traffic your way and provide an overall more useful visitor experience.
Increase foot traffic too
If your website directs customers to a brick-and-mortar location, make sure you claim and double check your business listing in Google Local, Local.com, MSN's Local Listing and Yahoo Local.
Test the usability of your checkout process with various browswers and ensure the coding is valid. Ask yourself if a user can get from product page to checkout without assistance. Is your checkout button easy to find?
Tell the search engines where to find all of your web pages
If you upload new products faster than the search engines crawl your site, make sure to submit a sitemap and include 'last modification' and change frequency' information. A Sitemap can point searchbots to your new or hard-to-find content. Both Google's webmaster tools, MSN webmaster central and Yahoo!'s Site Explorer allow for sitemap submissions. You can read a quick question and answer on Google sitemaps for more details. Additionally, be sure to utilize robots.txt to funnel the search bots to content you want crawled and content that should not be indexed.
So, that's all for now. I know there are many, many more tips but these should help capture some low hanging fruit. Have your own tips? Feel free to add them in the comments section!
Be sure to check out PPC For Hire's SEO Basics series on Title Tags, Meta Description, Hx tags and Link Building.