There is still a lot of confusion about the search engine optimization or SEO for short. Due to the relatively recent Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird Google updates, most of the outstandingly well working SEO techniques went down the drain over night.
The new Google algorithm updates do what the search engines are supposed to do… they try to determine what content is the best: most authoritative, most to the point, most helpful and most readily available, so that Google can then serve this kind of content to it’s end users… the people searching for information online.
When you think about it like that, SEO becomes easier and it helps you not to think of is as a struggle and war against Google’s updates, but more in the sense of “What kind of information would interest and be most helpful to my readers”. When you make this shift in thinking, you’ve done half of your work.
However, even though the algorithms are getting smarter and smarter and will soon outsmart even humans in determining what kind of content is the best, they are still just algorithms and as such favor certain types of rules and look for almost two hundred different parameters to determine what site should be served at the top of the results. Furthermore, due to past search engine spamming via the black hat techniques, there are certain things on your site, that you would normally use and that are common sense and completely legitimate, that can get you in trouble and you have to look out for.
I will point those dangers out to you here.
As a site administrator, though, it is also your job to help the search engines – to a certain degree – to determine what the content on your page is about. These are completely white hat methods that are welcome and even encouraged by the search engine algorithm developers. There is sometimes a thin line between the white hat and black hat methods, methods that play the search engine algorithms to achieve higher ranking and they can work in the short run but usually will stop working eventually and can even get your site penalized for using them.
If you write for your readers and provide quality, relevant and to the point information, you will probably do fine, but there are certain SEO techniques you should use to get higher results than your competition.
SEO consists of three parts
Search engine optimization is divided into three parts. The first two parts are dependent on the author of the web site and the third is a way for unbiased determination of the quality of the content. The three parts of SEO are:
– Keyword research – This is a critical first step to a successful SEO campaign so you have to do it well. Keyword research is an important and big subject in and of itself, so we’ll explore it in another article.
– On-page optimization – The elements on the website itself. They are the responsibility of the author of the site.
– Off-page optimization – Strictly looking, there’s very little you should do to influence this part (other than writing exceptional content that gets shared and linked to around the web eagerly). But there are a few still things within the realm of white hat techniques you can do to help the process go faster. Most of the techniques of off-page optimization are considered black hat and should be avoided. You can use them at your own peril.
The most important on-page optimization elements are the <TITLE> tag, the <META description> tag, the <H1>, <H2> and <H3> tags, internal linking (this not only helps the search engines determine the important keywords of the internal pages but also helps reduce the visitor bounce rate), submitting your .xml sitemap to Google Webmaster Tools (which you should be using), adding pictures and most of all, videos to your content. Videos not only help make your site look more relevant but they also increase visitor length on the site, also one of the major determinants of site’s quality.
You can create an .xml sitemap on your own or use plugins and online .xml sitemap creators.
It’s also important to include your keyword in the first paragraph and near the end of the article. It used to be important that your keyword was the last word of your article or very near it but I don’t think it’s very important any more. As long as it’s near the end because that’s where it is usually logically ends up showing up.
If you can, also post some links to other authority sites. There’s no need to link to the sites explaining the same theme, but it’s good to link to some related high authority pages (like Wikipedia, major news sites articles if they happen to talk about your topic and so on).
Before all the algorithm changes, keyword density was also a major factor but I would rather go with natural flow as opposed to getting it to a certain percent because not only will it usually look unnatural to the readers, the search engines will probably know your’e trying too hard to optimize your page for them instead of your readers. If you write good, targeted content, you will probably naturally use just the right density of direct keywords and the theme-associated keywords that will help you rank higher.
Off-page optimization mainly consists of the social markers and links pointing back to your website and the amount of traffic the site receives.
You should not attempt to play the system here. But of course, do share your new posts on your social networks (FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, StumbleUppon, Tumblr, and so on. Beware of doing self-promotion on Reddit, though. The members there can smell it form miles away and jump on it quickly and pretty aggressively. These ones are the most popular and important and can help), and ask your friends to do it too. Furthermore, create a FaceBook page for your new site and regularly post links to your new articles as well as other interesting stuff. Maybe even do a contest every now and again and give rewards for helping spread the word.
Don’t buy FaceBook likes, or any other social promotions, though, that’s a huge red flag and believe me that Google knows what sites are really popular and what received only purchased likes. Don’t buy any “link building packages” and don’t but cheap traffic to your site.
Adwords, Yahoo!, Bing and other reliable pay per click advertisements are OK, if you want to use them. Also getting included in the Yahoo! directory is a great but expensive idea (you should weigh the ups and downs) and first thoroughly test your site for performance before doing that.
One of the rarest potentially “link purchasing techniques” I encourage is the press release services on sites like www.PRweb.com. But… this comes with a disclaimer: Only do it if your news is really newsworthy. Don’t spam the PR services each week for links and traffic because sooner or later it will come back to bite you in the “you know what”.
As far as your own link building, I recommend creating some 1-2 minute informative videos and posting them on YouTube and make sure your videos rank high in YouTube, writing some quality articles and include a link to your homepage on HubPages (they can be very tricky, though. Be careful that your site or inner page very closely matches the article theme you’re writing and that it really adds to the information presented. Otherwise your article will be quickly marked as “Spammy” and you won’t receive so many benefits as you would otherwise).
Make sure, though, that you use only your URL and not an anchor text. Overusing anchor text with your desired keyword can get you in trouble.
If you’re doing a guest post, make sure it’s of greatest quality on a high-quality blog. Google is carefully watching out for low-quality guest posts for the purpose of link building!
You can make a quality guest post on related high authority blogs from time to time, if you can find them, and include a raw link to our site in the articles. Avoid creating new blogs for the purpose of linking back to your site (this will get you penalized).
You can read more about the risky techniques in the black hat methods post.
Hope this clears some mess about search engine optimization. This section of the site, like all others, will grow and the links will appear inside the article itself. I encourage you to come back often as you work on your websites SEO.
Below you can watch some very educational videos about how to optimize your website for search engines…