Gone are the days when SEO used to be easy, before the link algorithm and really, before Google even existed. SEO is now harder than ever and it doesn’t look like it’s going to get any easier, with the release of Google Panda, Penguin and the EMD penalties, it’s very easy to have one slip up and lose rankings overnight.
There is no quick fix for SEO, I believe the days of Black Hat SEO are behind us; I’ve done various experiments on this and cannot get a website to rank for more than a few weeks using black hat methods, Google is getting even more intelligent and the only way to truly beat Google is by playing by the rules. Below are my top 10 tips for a successful SEO campaign, they are in no particular order as each on is as important as the last:
1) Don’t just setup Analytics… Use Analytics:
Analytics is an extremely powerful tool, and best of all it is free. I’ve seen far too many SEO’s setup analytics and use only its basic functions e.g. finding out how many people have visited the site, demographics, landing pages, visitor medium and keywords. Analytics allows you to do a whole lot more than just the ‘basics’, event tracking and goals should be setup wherever an action is needed, profiles should be created to separate useful data, advanced segments should be made the most of and custom alerts and reports should be setup so you can always be on top of what is happening on the site.
If it is an ecommerce shop, ecommerce tracking should also be setup, making use of the funnel visualisation. This is a really good way of finding out what part of the sales funnel potential customers are dropping out on.
Google Analytics also has an A/B testing section, there is a lot of ground to cover on this so I will create a more in depth post on this later.
These are just some of the things Analytics can do, there are many more things!
2) It’s not all about links:
Yes links play a big part in SEO, they have done since they were brought into the ranking algorithm back in the day; but they do not count for 100% of the algorithm, so don’t spend 100% of your time building them. You should constantly be adding new fresh content to your pages, going back and improving past pages and keeping in touch with your visitors via social networks.
3) Concentrate on your On-Page SEO before building links:
Links are important, everybody knows that, but good On-Page SEO is equally important. I’ve seen so many SEO’s build a site and then concentrate solely on building links before they have even optimised their title tags or on page copy. Chances are if you have an established site you might find your pages ranking with just good on page seo so always do this first.
4) When building links, don’t just go for easy links:
Links, Links, Links; it’s not all about how many links you have, forget the saying ‘A link is a link’ it’s not; whoever made that saying up deserves a slap in the face. For example a link from the bbc.co.uk will be 1000x more valuable than a link from ‘freelinkshere.com’. Spend more time chasing the high profile links, rather than spending a day building 50 rubbish links that won’t move you up the rankings.
5) Make the most of rich snippets:
Rich snippets allow you to add extra things to your search results listing, like a picture of yourself or star ratings. Although these do not have a direct impact on rankings, it does have a good impact on the click through rate from the search engines results page. I’ve personally noticed since adding the author rich snippet my traffic and click through rate from the SERPS has increased even thought my rankings haven’t.
6) Keyword research, and more keyword research:
Any good SEO campaign should start with keyword research, without it you are just guessing what people are searching for and how competitive a keyword is. Keyword research isn’t a case of just using the Google Keyword Tools and exporting a list of hundreds of keywords. Good keyword research can take a day or more to complete, especially for your main keywords, analyse the competition properly by looking at their site and link profile, for a guide on Keyword Research check out this post.
7) Write for humans:
Nowadays you cannot simply repeat keywords to get high rankings in Google, in fact if you do this you are likely to get penalised. Write for the visitors to your site, not the search engines. What’s the point of getting lots of people to your site if they are just going to be met with rubbish unreadable content? They will just leave!
8) Use webmaster tools and Bing Webmaster Toolkit:
Google webmaster tools can give you some great data on your site, including crawl errors and HTML improvements; as well as showing you search data and average rankings for keywords. It also allows you to receive messages from Google, so you can always be informed of major changes on your site or if you happen to get a penalty.
The Bing Webmaster Toolkit has also greatly improved, in some ways it is better than Webmaster Tools so it’s worth signing up for both.
9) Don’t stray into the dark side (be patient):
It can take some time before you see results from your SEO campaign, and during this time it is easy to stray, you might see an ad for 1,000 links going cheap or a company offering 1st page rankings within a month. All of it is rubbish, good white hat ethical SEO can take a long time BUT this is the best way to go; why? Because if you start doing black hat tactics you could get penalised, this will make the whole process take even longer.
10) Get social:
Social media over the past few years has become extremely important, every big company has a Facebook page, Twitter account and Google plus profile; so should you! It helps you stay connected to your visitors and drive those visitors back to your site. And also not forgetting social links are now considered when ranking a site!
No top ten list would be right without a bonus 11th tip right?
11) Be organised:
I must admit, I have not always been the most organised person in the world, in fact I used to be quite the opposite. However I noticed this was a bad thing when I started to forget things, and always completed my weekly/daily tasks late so instead they became monthly tasks.
However I now create a daily diary using my outlook calendar (there are plenty of other tools that allow you to do this for example, Remember The Milk). Since I have started doing this my productivity has gone through the roof, there is nothing more satisfying then seeing a bunch of checked completed tasks at the end of the day!