Navigating the turbulent waters of the SEO world is always tough – even the experts can use some helpful advice from time to time, hence the popularity of SEOMoz, Search Engine Land, SEJ and the other big SEO blogs that are dedicated to providing helpful advice to SEOs of all standards. So, in that spirit, here are a handful of useful tips to improve your SEO across the board.
1. Deliver Long-Lasting Value
Quality content is the cornerstone of your SEO success online. You can’t effectively promote garbage that’s lacking in substance. Put in the time and effort to produce peerless prose, viral video and addictive graphics a la the Oatmeal that are truly compelling. Of all my SEO tips, this has to be the most important in today’s Search landscape.
2. Field a Rich Content Mix
Page after page of text-based blog posts aren’t enough anymore, no matter how well-written they may be. Mix up your content by including plenty of images, videos and interesting layouts to appeal to a broad spectrum of users. Google’s Panda algorithm was designed to reward sites with great content, so make the most of it.
3. Select Keywords Intelligently
Choosing the right keywords and phrases is the cornerstone to dominating your niche. Carefully picking and choosing the search phrases you’d like to target is best accomplished through tools like the Google Keyword Tool and third-party utilities like Ubersuggest.
4. Mind the Technical Details
A good portion of effective SEO is purely technical – and as a bit of geek this is something that you’ll see from the majority of my posts containing SEO tips. Ensure that your website is impervious to malicious hacks by hardening your security. In addition, optimize the mobile version of your site to guarantee a uniform experience for users on all devices.
5. Write for Humans, Optimise for Machines
Ultimately, human beings are going to be reading and interacting with your content. Craft it with your audience in mind and don’t allow SEO practices to degrade their experience. Remember, it’s reader first, SEO second. I’m not going to spout the old ‘content is king’ adage – the most important thing is your readers – but bear in mind that anything you do should make a statement. Whether that’s being amazing, controversial, or downright offensive… just make sure that your audience will react how you want them to.
6. Choose Your Software Wisely
Today’s highly competitive SEO landscape requires constant attention to detail to stay in the game. Helpful apps and platforms like the Yoast SEO for WordPress, SEOMoz, SEMRush, Majestic SEO, Raven, Buzzstream and Ahrefs are invaluable tools that’ll save you a lot of grunt work. Spent time choosing the one that’s best for you and harness your new-found power.
7. Keep Your Meta Data Current
There haven’t really been that many SEO changes in the realm of meta and title tags in the last couple of years, other than the recent release of the ‘news keywords’ tag. Regardless, they’re still important to your SEO because the META Title and Descriptions act as your advert on the result pages. One SEO tip that people often neglect here is ‘Don’t be boring’. Write something interesting about your page (in less than 150 characters) that people will actually want to click on!
8. Rich Snippets
This particular consideration is important enough to warrant its own bullet point. Rich Snippets are a type of meta data that give web searchers a quick peak at your site’s content by displaying product information, author bios, reviews and event information directly in the SERPs. They don’t take much time to implement and are invaluable when it comes to making your site stand out on the SERPs.
9. Ditch the Web Spam
Don’t covertly spam your readers by using an avalanche of keywords to disguise poorly written content. Readers will quickly catch on to the ruse. More importantly, the search engines will eventually punish you in their rankings. Yes, remember to use keywords (‘SEO Tips’ anyone?) but do this as an afterthought – as I said earlier, humans first.
10. Stress Link Quality Over Link Quantity
Once upon a time, Google’s SERPs rankings could be gamed with an ocean of low-quality backlinks from article sites, SEO link directories and paid links pages. Thanks to the Penguin update, those days are over. Only build relevant links to your domain from respected and high quality sites. Industry news, niche directories (that will actually send you traffic), related blogs and places like that are a great way to get started.
11. Reinforce Your Brand Identity
Nowadays, your identity online isn’t just a function of your website’s domain name. If you haven’t heard already Exact Match domain names are going the way of the dodo, so you’ll need to focus on creating a brand that resonates with readers. Do some investigation into ‘Author Rank’, understand it, and realise that it means your entire online persona influences how well your site(s) do in the search engines. Forget this at your peril.
12. Don’t Skimp on Hosting
The responsiveness and dependability of your site is important. For one, it improves the overall user experience for your audience. Furthermore, Google and Bing factor in server response times in their rankings. As such, it’s worth it to spend a little extra on quality web hosting to make sure that the fundamentals of running a site aren’t hurting you.
13. Build a Deep Social Web
Your website’s social popularity is slowly but surely becoming an important indicator of quality to the likes of Google. Even a little social media promotion can substantially boost traffic, raise brand awareness and increase high-quality organic links pointing to your website.
14. Make Extensive Use of Internal Links
Inbound links from outside domains are fairly critical from an SEO standpoint. However, you can also demonstrate the value and quality of your website to Google with a lot of internal links between your various pages. Internal linking also increases user satisfaction by allowing visitors to get more out of your site.
Getting in Gear
Each year, the exact makeup of a winning SEO strategy becomes more and more difficult to ascertain. There are so many variables to juggle that it’s impossible to do everything perfectly. Regardless, the tips and tactics outlined above are a great starting point.