Implementing SEO basics that can increase traffic dramatically

At most large organizations, doing just the basics can help you out tremendously, the value of your domain itself is huge. That said, it doesn’t mean that you can implement the basics and just walk away, SEO is still a holistic process that is important to continuously follow up on. At the same time, it still means that you need to nail the basics, and if you do, it will pay off in spades!

Image (or Photo) SEO Basics:

I feel like every time I work with clients, startups, or inhouse and I am auditing their pages, the most basic image SEO principles are not thought through at all. Implementing these changes can really help your image search traffic and overall SEO traffic to media content right away.

Image Names

Making sure that your image names are contextual and relevant to the content is important. You don’t want an image name with 29234a.jpg because it does not have any keywords and no relevant to anything. Rather, something like lindsay-lohan-2923a.jpg would be just fine.

ALT attribute:

Not only is it important for SEO to add relevant keywords to a photo, but, it is also important from an accessibility standpoint. Sticking with the example from the image names, the alt text should be ALT=”Lindsay Lohan arrested” or something of that sort.

Image size:

Larger images are more relevant to a user searching. Think about it for a second before you discredit the theory behind it, but, it does make a lot of sense. I don’t want to see a bunch of 50×50 images, probably looking for something about 400×300 in size.

Canonical Tag Basics:

When the canonical tag first came out, I don’t think anyone really understood how to use it or what to use it for. There were so many cases where it was implemented the wrong way and the incorrect usage caused many site issues. We actually didn’t plan to implement them at Yahoo! initially as well because I’m a big believer in not using a shiny new object until I really understand the implications. That said, now that the canonical tag has been around for a bit, it’s become very important for Online Marketers/SEOs to implement as part of your strategy to take care of duplicate content. I’ve seen some really interesting situations for “creative” uses.

Canonical Tag On-Site:

The canonical tags main usage is to remove duplicate content issues and it works great for that. I’ve seen some solid increases after just fixing the canonicalization issues on the site by implementing the canonical tag where it was previously missing or implemented incorrectly. At Myspace we had two situations that were particularly interesting. The team had implemented the canonical tag on all the artist profile pages, but, all subpages also had the canonical tag implemented to the top level profile. So, for example, If you were on a song page for Lil Wayne, the canonical tag was still:

<link rel="canonical" href="http://www.myspace.com/lilwayne">

The problem was very few song and album pages on artist profiles were ranking, let alone being crawled or index. If you tried to do “site:” searches, they were no where to be found – needless to say – this was a problem. By correcting the problem, within two months, all song and album pages were being crawled and indexed on a regular basis by search engines and we saw 3-4x increases in search traffic to those pages.

Another example here was that the canonical tags on other sections of the site were implemented only using the relative path to the URL. As an example, the music homepage was “/music” and not “http://myspace.com/music”. Once fixed, the music homepage jumped from second page rankings to lower first page rankings and led to traffic increases as well.

Cross-Domain Canonical Tag Usage:

This is a new and fun beast to tackle and I actually did a post on the cross domain canonical vs. 301 redirect. And, it was pretty interesting to see that the cross-domain canonical tag was faster to update SERPs than a 301 redirect.

Also, we recently consulted on a project for a fairly large group of e-commerce sites where they had multiple sites with the same types of products, but some had specific ties to the sites. (Confusing, I know). This was a great case study and good example of how to use the cross domain canonical tag to get rid of duplicate content across multiple domains in hopes that some of the content would rank, rather than none of it.

What we recommended to the client was for the products that were specific to “SubBrand A” across the various domains on their network to be canonicalized and the tag should point to the product page on “SubBrand A“. Then, for more generic products, we would have the tag point to the “Major Brand” product pages. This would, in theory, tell search engines that the various domains with products that belong to another brand should be pointing to their specific domains. It is too early to see results, but, one would assume this would fix many duplicate content issues across e-commerce platforms.