The key to your business’ online success is to have an effective SEO strategy. But not many people understand the components of SEO and what steps they can take to improve their rankings in search results.

But first, to clear any confusion about what SEO actually is, I’ll go over the definition again. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of improving a site’s visibility in the unpaid / organic section of search engine result pages (SERPs). The usual ways to improve your site’s SEO is to determine the keywords most relevant to your site, featuring high quality content on it, regularly updating your site with new content, optimizing your site’s HTML and the overall user experience.

Knowing which strategies you should use to improve your desired results is the key. Here are five ways that you can improve your SEO strategy and raise your site’s rankings:

  1. Start with the Right Keywords: You really need to research the keywords and phrases that online users are using to search for your industry or type of site. Use Google Insights or Google Adwords Keyword Tool to identify keywords that are popular, drive traffic, and that you can rank for in the search engine results pages. Once you do have some traffic to your site, analyze the phrases that people entered into the search engines and then click through to find your site. Write some more articles on the same topics since you know those topics are popular for your niche.
  2. Maximize your Link Juice: The best possible situation is to get high authority sites to link to your site and additionally, make sure those links contain keywords in the anchor text (clickable text in a hyperlink). The search engines value backlinks from high authority sites more than ones from lesser known and trusted sites. Download the free SEOmoz toolbar, this measures the authority and trustworthiness of any site you visit with a Domain Authority score (0-100). A high Domain Authority can deliver more “link juice” to your site, and the more link juice your site has, the higher your chances are for ranking well in the search results pages. A valuable way to encourage someone to link to you is by following them on Twitter, engaging with them on Facebook, and regularly reading and posting insightful comments to their blog. All of these will help build trust and improve your chances of getting a quality backlink. If you are running multiple online projects, put a lot of effort into one site so it can achieve a high Google Page Rank. When you have one site with a Page Rank of 3+, you can use that site to feed link juice to your other sites.
  3. Spend Some Time Creating your Title Tags: Title tags are the HTML elements that create the title of a web page. They are usually displayed in the web browser title bar, or as hyperlinked text in search results. Title tags should always contain targeted keywords. Additionally, title tags should only be 65-75 characters in length. Anything longer than that will not be fully displayed in the search engine results pages and can dissuade online users from clicking them. Use a WordPress plugin such as All in One SEO Pack to make SEO optimization and maintenance easier for you.
  4. Ensure your Anchor Text Reflects your Keyword Strategy: Anchor text is also important because it is the text that is clickable in a hyperlink. Search engines use these to determine the content of the linked-to page. Make sure that your anchor text reflects your keyword strategy so that it continues to improve your rankings for that particular term.
    One beginner mistake to avoid is stop adding meaningless links to your text such as “click here”.
    For example, instead of writing “… the most popular search engine is Google so click here to enter your search terms…”, write the following “… use the most popular search engine Google to enter your search terms”. Make sure that the anchor text contains the keywords that reflect the target.
  5. Monitor your Site’s Performance: The search engines know that online users enjoy fast-loading sites. This is why they all reward high performing sites with better rankings in the organic search results. Compressing your JavaScript and CSS files is a great way to improve page load speed times. If you’re operating a WordPress site, consider installing caching plugins like W3 Total Cache or WP SuperCache and uninstalling poorly developed ones that slow down performance.
    I have a number of websites on a shared hosting plan (with a fast Web Hosting provider). But as my traffic increased across my sites, my account kept getting suspended for causing too much load on the server. I tried everything to optimize my sites, but in the end I was still overloading that server, so eventually I had to upgrade to a VPS account which is much faster, but more expensive. Your shared web hosting account can easily max out with just 1000 visitors per day across all your sites.

A well thought out SEO strategy can make the difference between having your site show up on the first page of the SERPs and virtual obscurity. SEO is not some mysterious phantom science, but rather a series of practices that are aimed at improving your online visibility. The key is to stick to your efforts and test the different strategies and methods mentioned above until you find a streamlined strategy that works for your site.