Drew’s note: Here’s a guest post by Brad Shorr on a topic everyone wants to know more about — how to improve SEO.
Don’t be daunted by the complexity of SEO – especially now. Google has introduced a ton of changes to their ranking formula recently, most of which penalize complicated, manipulative SEO tactics. As a result, SEO has become simpler. Today the keys are:
- • Having a clean site that communicates well with Google
- • Creating great content that naturally attracts backlinks
Here are 10 crucial items for a 2012 SEO tune-up. The first five are onsite SEO activities, and the next five are offsite activities.
- 1. Update keyword research. Popular search terms change. Your business model may have changed as well. If you’re ranking well for keywords that have lost strategic value, all you’re doing is attracting visits from the wrong prospects.
- 2. Update title tags and content. Once your keywords are updated, put them in meta title tags and on-page content. Don’t just cram the keywords in: if necessary, rewrite pages to make the new keywords completely relevant.
- 3. Add new pages for additional keyword terms. Google loves fresh content. Add pages or blog posts steadily over time, using less popular (“long tail”) terms with strategic value.
- 4. Run an SEO diagnostic. Google’s Webmaster Tools is a great, free online resource that itemizes your site’s SEO issues making cleanup easy for you or your developer.
- 5. Set up a good internal linking system. The pages you link to most often on your site are the ones Google thinks are most important. We often recommend displaying links to your top lead-generating pages in the footer of the site, using keywords in the anchor text of the links.
- 6. Update good backlinks. Let’s move to offsite SEO issues. If you know of links coming into your site from popular sites/blogs, check the anchor text on those links. Ideally, anchor text should include keywords. If not, ask if they can change it.
- 7. Remove bad backlinks. If you know of links coming into your site from content farms, ad sites, and other sources with bad online reputations, remove them. These links could lower your rankings.
- 8. Do guest posts. A great way to create valuable backlinks is to write useful content on high quality blogs. Guest posts normally include a link(s) back to the writer’s site.
- 9. Update directory listings. Many people list their site in directories when it launches and never look back. Make sure those directory listings are up-to-date in terms of keywords and pages you’re linking to.
- 10. Update social media profiles. Along the same lines, keep keywords and links current for your profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter – and Google+ if you’re there. People tend to forget about their profiles on peripheral social sites such as Twellow and FriendFeed, so keep those on your SEO radar as well.
Brad Shorr is Director of Content & Social Media for Straight North, a Chicago marketing firm. They work with B2B clients in specialized niches, such as knife safety gloves and high visibility clothing. Brad writes frequently on SEO and its relationship to social media and content strategy.
Great advice here Drew – and it’s nice to see someone stressing the importance of internal links!
Back when I started blogging, internal links were all the rage. There was a lot of linking to other content, other bloggers, etc. It added a lot of depth to the content. But as people are scrambling to produce content, they seem to skip that step. I miss it.
Unfortunately, linking has been so much abused that it is no longer a consistently good indicator of authoritative domains. The other day we were talking about the fact that Bing, a newer search engine, has an algorithm that doesn’t weigh linking as heavily as Google. In the long run this may be a big advantage for Bing.
Now, I think Guest posts will also become obsolete pretty soon, One of my blog which I hardly use, is receiving 100’s of guest blogging requests daily! just imagine how much much I would be receiving for my best blog!
One thing that really came as a surprise to me is that, some of the guest bloggers are directly sending me the content, they dont wait for my approval, they send the post to me and then ask, will you be interested in publishing it?
Even if guest posting loses its luster as an SEO technique, properly managed, it offers other important benefits, such as exposing a blog to new audiences and adding variety of style and substance to the content.
Do you really think guest posting will go away? As I mentioned to Darin — I get more and more requests, but fewer of them add value to my readers. So I take a pass. But when I get a good offer, like yours, my readers always reap the benefits.
Thank you, Drew. It’s so hard to talk about marketing in absolutes, but it’s hard to imagine guest posting going completely away. As a matter of fact, if guest posting declines as an SEO technique, its popularity might improve, as there will be less noise and more valuable content being published.
I think part of the problem is that everyone is trying to guest blog… whether they have an expertise or not. I get a lot of requests where they’re clearly trying to get a back link but they have nothing to offer my readers. So I don’t think guest posts will be obsolete. But I do think we need to be very choosy about who we let write them for us. For example…this guest post by Brad has generated a lot of conversation and my blog readers are loving it.
That kind of guest post is always welcome here!
Thanks for the tips, Drew. I know that not too long ago, a pretty high percentage of web designers / developers didn’t implement SEO tactics into the structure of the site. I think that’s the real value of engaging a marketing firm to develop a web site – developing the site with the business objective in mind – which means SEO is constructed into the site.
You are so right… the world of web development and creating a digital footprint is really evolving. Savvy marketing agencies like hmc2agency are weaving SEO strategy into their web projects, which benefits their clients from day one.
But not every agency bothers to do that, as we both know.
Veronica, this has been my experience as well. The whole issue of site architecture is more important than ever for SEO, because so many of the offsite SEO techniques are undergoing greater scrutiny from Google.
Thanks for the tips, Drew. This list is a great checklist for SEO initiatives. All 10 are great suggestions, advice, and reminders for SEO.
You’re more than welcome. That Brad is one smart cookie!
Matthew, “Free reign” – my two favorite words on a web development project! Congratulations for taking a smart and disciplined approach to web design from an SEO point of view. It’s rare.
Regarding #9, I think we should also say that only directories relevant to your niche should be bothered with. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of “web directories” out there that are just being submitted to for backlinks and recently Google starting deindexing some of them. Stay away from the crap directories!
I was one of the first Denver therapists to create an online presence and then promote it through SEO. I admit once I got good rankings, I got lazy… and with that laziness came reduced rankings (Duh!). Your tip(s) to update content regularly I’ve found to be extememly important, as well as updating keywords. Yes, people do change the way and how they search. Whoda thunk?! Thanks, Brad (and Drew). Your guest post kicked me into action again.
Thank you! I spent all weekend working on new quality posts and internal linking!
Having brand name and website URL as top category of anchor text improves SEO rankings. your Anchor text should not be exactly matched with your keywords. Exact match Anchor text key words will rank lower because of latest Algorithm updates. It is good practice to have track of usage of anchor text for determining optimum propotion.
I think that measurement of SEO activities is very important thing. There are many tools for this, like ColibriTool, Google Analytics, and more. It keeps you on the right way.
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Awesome tips, very clear and easy to understand.I absolutely agree with your 10 tips here. Posting regularly and consistently helped tremendously in getting traffic.I do guest post and one thing that is for sure, creating a quality content helps a lot in ranking a site.
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