We all start the new year hoping to do better than we did the year before. It's a great concept, but success requires a specific and realistic plan. So when it comes to improving your website's visibility (and ultimately, your bottom line), here is a manageable list of five easy to implement strategies for a great SEO year:
1. Be More Informed
Whether you do your own SEO, hire a professional, or ignore the issue and hope for the best, you will always be missing something if you're not personally in the loop on best SEO strategies and search engine penalties.
Reliable, expert sources include Google's webmaster tools, Search Engine Land, Search Engine Watch and Moz. Commit 10 or 20 minutes per day to learning how to leverage your web site through useful, unique, high quality, interlinked content, active social media, organic and paid search strategies, and SEO friendly code.
2. Be Mobile
More and more consumers are using their phones to find Internet-based information. For some people, a smartphone has replaced desktop and laptop computers all together. Make sure you have a clean, functional, inviting mobile site that comes as close to your full site as possible, with optimal speed and intuitive ease of use. Implement niche apps where a need exists for your customers.
A successful site is one that serves people in some way that others cannot. Put yourself in your customers' shoes. What do your customers want and how can they get it through you or your company, online? Take yourself on a treasure hunt through your own site, pretending to be a customer in need.
4. Focus on Quality
I've said it before, content is king. You can follow all the technical aspects of SEO to the letter, but if your content is not well written, engaging, informative and to the point, visitors will go elsewhere. Too many people underestimate the importance of good writing and professional photographs, videos, or art. Don't be one of them: Vow to stand out in the crowd.
5. Test, Test, and Test Again
What do medicine, study habits, and SEO all have in common? What works for one person (or site) may not work for another. Don't blindly follow SEO advice (even from the pros) and just assume it will work for you. Track, analyze, and change up your strategies to nail down exactly what works best for your genre and audience. Each site will have its own best formula. Find out what yours is.
The wise know that failing to plan is planning to fail, but the good news is that the opposite is also true: Plan, and you're expecting to succeed; in SEO, in business, and in the brand new year ahead.
Peter Wipf is an SEO, web marketing, and online PR specialist, managing both organic and paid search for his clients. He is a published author on a variety of topics, and has worked for About.com and The New York Times online, among others.