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SEO often gets a bad rap as being a time-consuming, long-term pursuit that requires significant investment on the part of webmasters and their consultants. And while it’s true that good SEO requires consistent effort over time, there are actually plenty of tasks that will boost your site’s natural search performance that can be undertaken in less than an hour.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
1 – Improve your title tags
Unlike your site’s meta description and meta keyword tags – which have been significantly devalued as SEO ranking factors over the past decade – title tags still play a role in both your site’s SEO and its user experience. So, if you have a spare hour, why not spend a little time making sure that your title tags are on-par with today’s SEO best practices?
Basically, the title tags on your website should serve the dual purpose of informing your readers what each page on your site is about, as well as providing some information to the search engine spiders as to how your web pages should be indexed and called up in the SERPs. Because over-optimization is a key issue these days, your title tags should include no more than one mention of your page’s target SEO keyword and one mention of a branded keyword (where applicable).
As such, using the title tag formula, “[SEO target keyword] + descriptive phrase | [branded keyword]” is a much better idea than the all-too-common option of, “[SEO target keyword 1], [SEO target keyword 2], [SEO target keyword 3] and so on.”
2 – Write and publish a web article
Both your readers and the search engines *love* seeing fresh content on your website. Not only does this new text give the search engines additional content from which to identify new keyword relationships, it helps to more firmly establish your site as a “go to” source of information for your readers.
And while you should certainly ensure that your site’s blog is packed full of high-value, pillar content articles, you don’t need to adhere to these rigorous quality standards on every post you publish. There are plenty of times when a shorter, faster-to-write post can still provide useful information to your readers.
For example, consider the following writing prompts – all of which can be written on and published in less than an hour:
- Write your reaction to a recent news item in your industry
- Share your review on a business book you’ve read recently
- Compile a collection of article links
- Talk about a recent personal experience that had implications for your business
- Put together a short, inspirational post to motivate your readers towards some type of action
Again, these articles don’t need to be complicated. The important thing is that you’re getting new content published on your website for the benefit of both your reader and the search engine spiders.
3 – Check for and repair internal broken links
Having too many broken internal links on your website can prevent the search engines from indexing your site correctly, which can lead to missed opportunities to have your pages displayed in the particular keyword SERPs you’re targeting. As a result, identifying these broken links and making the necessary repairs can be a fast and easy way to improve your overall SEO.
To do this, use one of the two following options:
aving too many broken internal links on your website can prevent the search engines from indexing your site correctly, which can lead to missed opportunities to have your pages displayed in the particular keyword SERPs you’re targeting. As a result, identifying these broken links and making the necessary repairs can be a fast and easy way to improve your overall SEO.
To do this, use one of the two following options:
- If your site runs on WordPress, install the “Broken Link Checker” plugin. This tool will scan your pages automatically and report back on any broken links it encounters. Then, all you have to do is go in and fix the links it identifies.
- If your site runs on any other platform, simply Google “broken link checker.” Free websites like http://www.brokenlinkcheck.com/ will scan through your pages and flag any bad links that should be repaired or removed.
Once you’ve repaired all of your site’s dead links (which may take more than one 1-hour block, depending on how large or neglected your site is), check the “Crawl Errors” section of your Google Webmaster Tools account for other indexing errors that should be addressed.
4 – Share one of your articles on Facebook, Twitter and Google+
By now, it’s no secret that your social media authority plays at least some role in your site’s SEO performance. So if you’re looking for quick actions that can have a meaningful impact on your overall SEO, why not take a few moments to share one of your most recent blog posts with your followers on Facebook, Twitter or Google+?
Or, better yet, since you have a full hour, spend a little time engaging with your networks on these social sites. Find new people to follow, share or retweet status updates from others in your industry, or respond to questions that people are asking throughout your stream. Doing so will help to build both your online authority and your site’s search engine optimization.
5 – Optimize your site’s images
Got a few minutes to spare? Why not improve your web image optimization?
Taking the time to do so offers two significant benefits. First, image optimization can improve the search engines’ understanding of your website’s content, increasing the likelihood that your site will be displayed in your target keyword SERPs. At the same time, image optimization can actually drive traffic to your website on its own by increasing the number of times your web pictures appear in the image search results.
Here’s how to do it:
- Use your target keywords in your image file names. If you upload a picture to your underwater macramé page, your filename should be “underwater-macrame.jpg” – not “img_098023480980.jpg.”
- Resize your image files to their online display size. Yes, you can control the display size of your image by adjusting the “height” and “width” tags in your image source code, but this can slow down your site’s speed by forcing browsers to receive pictures on the fly. Instead, save yourself some server space by resizing the files of any extra-large images you’ve already uploaded to your site.
- Add descriptive ALT tags. While your image ALT tags should include your page’s target keywords, they shouldn’t be stuffed full of meaningless keyword variations. It’s okay to include your target keywords, but make sure they’re couched in descriptive text that provides legitimate information about the subject of your images.
- Assign captions to your images. Photo captions are amongst the most-read pieces of content on any website, so you’ll want to take advantage of this guaranteed attention by adding important information or calls-to-action to your image captions.
6 – Add a caching plugin to your website
Since site speed is an important factor in overall SEO, one of the most important things you can do to improve your site’s natural search performance is to add a caching plugin to your site.
Caching plugins facilitate the storage of previously-accessed information, which improves your site’s performance by reducing the number of resources required to call up site files – thus increasing site speed. Overall, it’s a fast, efficient way to bring your site in-line with Google’s desire to reward speedy sites with high SERPs rankings.
There are plenty of different caching plugins available, though the right one for you will depend on your site’s platform and your own technical know-how. As an example, if your site runs on WordPress, take a look at W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache – both of which are free options that can improve your site’s natural search results.
7 – Set up “rel=author” tags
One final “quick and easy” way to improve your site’s SEO is to take a few minutes to set up your “rel=author” tags. “Rel=author” tags enable Google to provide additional information about your results any time they appear in the Google listings. When installed correctly, the “rel=author” tag can make it possible for your search results to feature your image, your name, any Google+ Circles that you’re a part of and links to other articles you’ve published (as pictured below):
Having these extra features can make a huge difference in your click-through rate by setting your listing apart from the standard search results. Not only is your click-through rate taken into account in your overall rankings, tying your name to the content you’ve produced can increase your overall authority in Google’s eyes – both of which should help your site to move into even higher listings in the future.
Setting up “rel=author” tags is easy, though you’ll want to follow different procedures depending on your site’s underlying platform:
- If your site runs on WordPress, use the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin to set up authorship tags for any and all contributing writers on your website, following the instructions found here.
- If your site uses any other platform – or if you’d like to claim authorship over the content you’ve published on other sites – go to your Google+ profile. Navigate to the “Profile” page of the social network, and then click “Edit Profile” in order to edit the “Contributor to” field. From this area, you’ll be able to add the titles and URLs of any sites you contribute content to.
Once you’ve set up your “rel=author” tags, be sure to use the Rich Snippets testing tool found within Webmaster Tools to ensure that your attributions have been setup correctly.
So forget the notion that SEO needs to be a long, drawn-out process! Any time you have an extra hour to spare, you can make a major difference in your site’s natural search performance by implementing any of the techniques described above.