15 Must-Knows for SEO
Search algorithms seem to change more frequently than the latest fashion trends. Although the Panda and Penguin updates have received lots of the attention lately, experts say that Google alone makes adjustments to their algorithm several hundred times per year. Every time Google makes another update there’s a mini-panic from webmasters and small business owners – “oh no, now what?!?”
Take a deep breath and stay calm because there are some things in SEO that stay consistent. Here are five SEO constant concepts to consider and build upon:
1. Don’t cheat. I’m a firm believer in playing fair. If you don’t want to get de-listed or bumped down to page 50+, be a white hatter (aka – do the right thing). Don’t spam, keyword stuff, buy links, cookie stuff, create fake profiles, buy “likes” or any other shady tactics. The last thing you want is to have your site to be removed from the Google index. Yes, this does happen!
2. Get links. Put your wallet away, you don’t need to buy links. The right way to get links is to create link-worthy material. You can create guides, infographics, interactive calculators, a unique article, comparison charts, an illustration, a storytelling photograph or dozens of other content types. No matter what it is – the more thought and care you put into it the better. Another great way to gain new links is to guest-post on a blog relevant to your brand’s services or products.
3. Use Keywords. Use relevant keywords in copy that users may use in search to find you. Unsure what they are? Check the AdWords keyword tool for ideas. Don’t over-optimize by stuffing these terms too much throughout the copy (remember #1 above). Include it only where it makes sense when reading. Include it in the page title, description and throughout the copy a few times. You can also include it in the image name if it’s relevant, as well as the alt tag attribute.
4. Build your site for people, not for ad dollars or search engines. When creating your site, remember who you’re building it for. Don’t bombard your visitors with too many ads or anything other than what will provide a positive user experience. Don’t make them click “next” 25 times to see 25 ways to make Ramen. Put your readers first and deliver the user experience they’re looking for. This improves bounce rate, repeat viewers and, maybe you’ll get a new newsletter subscriber (if you have your opt-in form on a page), which could lead to sales.
5. Be a resource. There’s no Candyland slide for good content. Create content that will reach your desired audience. Make useful pages that educate and inform, and ensure that it’s easy for viewers to navigate and find what they’re looking for. Teach, share and most importantly, don’t limit your site to just selling. Show some personality, your artsy side and/or spread knowledge through guides, articles and examples. Show Google what a good resource you are by including outbound links, plenty of images and even a video or two. Don’t forget to include social sharing icons so your website visitors can easily share all your great content with their own social networks!
These five simple concepts have been consistent in SEO for the last 10 years and will most likely hold true for many more. Although this generally means working harder than some folks, rest assured you won’t be banned, blocked or have to duplicate your efforts to regain visibility. Learn more about webmaster best practices.
Sourced from: Bonnie D’Amico Rogers
- Create XML sitemaps and upload them to the root of my site
- Ensure navigational structure can be accessed by search crawlers
- Ensure a clean down-level experience to expose content when rich media is used
- Ensure a clean, keyword rich URL structure is in place
- Create a robots.txt file and place at the root of my domain
Site Structure for SEO
- Ensure content is laid out in a logical hierarchy
- Ensure content is well linked to with internal links
- Ensure a clean, keyword rich URL structure is in place
- Ensure URLs contain no extraneous parameters where possible (sessions, tracking, etc.)
- Create both HTML & XML sitemaps for humans and search crawlers respectively
Inside the <head> code
- Titles should be unique, relevant, and approximately 60 characters long
- Descriptions should be unique, relevant, grammatically correct, and 160 or fewer characters
- Must have only one title and description per page on my site
Inside the <body> code
- Should have only one <H1> tag – content held in tag should be keyword rich
- <ALT> tags should be available for all content-related images. They should contain content that explains the image and uses targeted keywords
- Ensure the keyword targeted by your page appears within the actual content of the page
- Use targeted keywords in anchor text when pointing links to other internal pages
- Ensure content is built based on keyword research to match content to what users are searching for
- Ensure a dedicated down-level experience exists to enhance discoverability of content held in rich media
- Ensure as much written content as possible is kept out of rich media and images
- Produce deep, content rich pages; be an authority for users by producing excellent content
- Set a schedule and produce new content frequently
- Be sure content is unique – don’t reuse content from other sources
- Use 301 redirects to transfer value to new pages when content is moved or retired
- Use the <rel canonical> tag to help engines understand which duplicated pages should be indexed and have value attributed to them
- Use 404 error pages to help cleanse old pages from search engine indexes
- Plan for incoming & outgoing links – plan how to encourage users to link to content
- Create a plan to manage internal links ensuring the engines see deeper content
- Create a social media plan to promote content via social spaces
- Be sure to manage anchor text to help define content inside the site
- Avoid buying links in an attempt to influence search rankings