Today’s post comes from Gracelyn Tan.

Spring may not be here quite yet, but it’s never too early to get a head start on spring cleaning, especially in terms of SEO. Since SEO changes take time to show results, making the changes now ensures that your online store will be ready and waiting at the very top once big seasons and holidays roll around again. So without further ado, let’s dust off those rubber gloves and get to tidying up your website.

Here are five tips to get started with your SEO spring cleaning:

1. Check your analytics and web master tools

Volusion Blog - Graphic 1First thing’s first: You have to assess the current situation. Just like you wouldn’t want to mop the floor, clear the kitchen table of crumbs and then realize you have to mop the floor again, you want to know how you’re currently doing SEO-wise so you can move forward strategically.

When looking at your Google Analytics, look at your top ranking pages. Under the Standard Reports section, click on Traffic Sources, and then look through the different sub-sections to get an idea of where you stand. Which keywords are you ranking for? What is your webpage excelling in? And what are its weaknesses? Google Analytics is telling you, so lean in and listen.

When looking at your Webmaster Tools, check out your crawl errors, search queries and sitemaps and make sure everything is in order. If you have any major crawl errors, you’ll want to get those taken care of ASAP. Not found errors are less serious, since they don’t actively affect your SEO, but you’ll want to get those fixed as well.

2. Do more keyword research

As usual, the keyword research battles wages ever onward, and if you want to get to the top, you’ll need to stay in the fray. Use your Google Analytics data to look at how you’re ranking for the keywords you’re currently targeting. From here, you have to decide whether you’d like to a) keep targeting those same keywords or b) start targeting different keywords.

Things to consider when you’re making your keyword decisions:

  • Volume — How many searches is this keyword getting?

  • Competition — How much competition is this keyword getting? And how competitive is your site?

  • Long tail or short tail — Do you want to target a shorter keyword with more searches? Or target a long tail keyword and climb to the top more quickly?

Once you’ve made your decision, try visiting search engines and searching for them. See what comes up and who your biggest competitors are. And remember, your research won’t be one-size-fits-all. Your important pages should be optimizing for different keywords depending on what they’re about. And speaking of optimizing specific pages, guess what’s next on our list?

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3. Re-optimize important landing pages

One of your best tools in terms of long-term SEO strategy are landing pages.  With their ability to get you hundreds of views long after you’ve set them up, landing pages rank somewhere around red wine stains and coffee spills in terms of staying power. When a landing page is well-done, it’s targeted toward a specific audience, has plenty of helpful content and is a boon to your SEO efforts.

The first step in re-optimizing your important landing pages is identifying them. In all likelihood, your most important landing page is your homepage. But there will most likely be others which success you’ll want to capitalize on as well. Check Google Analytics and see which landing pages are collecting you the most traffic.

Once you’ve determined which landing pages are important, decide on the keywords you’re optimizing for using a combination of your keyword research and the landing page’s subject matter. Then, when you have those keywords, check your landing page and make sure they’re included in the following areas:

  • Title

  • Heading tag

  • URL

  • Images — in the alt text or the title of image

With that done, your landing pages have been re-optimized and are ready to start collecting views.

4. Diversify your traffic sources

When it comes to SEO, variety isn’t just the spice of life. It’s a form of insurance. Just like you wouldn’t depend on just a broom to get your entire kitchen clean, you don’t want to get caught relying too heavily on one source of traffic. And I think you know which one source of traffic I’m referring to: Google. With the number of people using Google for all their search needs, it makes sense that’s it’s become a large focus of many website’s SEO efforts. However, Google’s algorithms are always changing, and that means one day, an update could leave your website at the bottom of the barrel.

Where else can you get your traffic? One way is to build up your social communities, like Facebook and Twitter. Although this may not seem as directly SEO-related, creating a vibrant, active community of followers means you’ll have a receptive audience for any new products, deals or blog posts. No matter what’s happening with the Google algorithm, with a strong social media presence, you’ll be able to drive consistent traffic to your site.

Another idea in terms of diversifying your traffic sources is guest blogging. By getting your name out there on other blogs, you expand your reach and build beneficial professional relationships. If you have a blog, keep a look out for opportunities for you to trade content with an influencer in your field, or glance through your contacts list and see who in your professional network could benefit from some content from you.

5. Refresh your content

In the eyes of search engines, the more recent the content is, the better, so don’t want fall behind. All search algorithms are ultimately trying to provide their searchers with what they’re looking for, and searchers are looking for the newest, highest-quality content. Thus, to really keep ahead of the curve, you’ll want to make sure your content is recent, and as well-researched and well-written as it can be.

Look through your website for content you haven’t updated in a while and give it a quick update. If you’re at a loss to what to write, try putting yourself in a customer’s shoes. What kind of information do you think they’re looking for? What kinds of information would they like to see in product descriptions or category pages? Think about their intent, and don’t forget to sprinkle in a couple keywords here and there. (They can actually help your writing.) And if you’re still at a loss for what to write after that, try stepping away for a moment and focusing on something else. Writer’s block can often be helped by introducing other ideas into the mix and letting them marinate.

By taking the initiative to improve your SEO now, you’re setting your business up for a bright future. It’s worth remembering that SEO is much like cleaning, in that it’s not something you can just do once and be done with forever. Instead, it’s more like an on-going process that’ll require a little work here and there. However, if you keep at it, you’re sure to reap benefits far sweeter than a spotless kitchen or clear desk.

Happy selling!

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Gracelyn Tan is a member of the content marketing team at Volusion, an industry leader in ecommerce software. Outside of copywriting, her interests include digital marketing, blogging and all things UX.