There is no one single right or wrong way to do virtually anything, and that includes building your site’s SEO. However, there are some tried and true techniques that have proven to consistently work in the realm of SEO. Below are 17 tips to help you as you work to take your site’s traffic to the next level:
#1 – Focus on great content
This is the cardinal rule of websites and particularly for SEO. The better the content, the better your chances of ranking high on Google. Length isn’t always the most important factor, though longer articles tend to rank higher. Make sure you do your research and see what articles are already performing well on Google, especially when it comes to attracting backlinks. Don’t just try to match the quality of what’s out there – try to make your content even better than the competition!
#2 – Research your keywords
Always – always – do keyword search before you start writing your articles. Google’s Keyword Tool is a great resource. This will provide you with a list of keyword suggestions based on what users already are looking for in Google. You can also type your primary keywords into Google and see what it suggests for popular searches. Make sure you’re not guilty of “keyword stuffing,” and that you keep your focus on great content for your readers and not for Google’s spiders.
#3 – Be unique with your titles and metas
Metas still play a big role in SEO. Every post should have a unique title and meta description.
#4 – Highlight your data with Google Webmaster Tools
Google Webmaster Tools‘ Data highlighter lets you spotlight parts of your website without having to make any code changes. This will help you display ratings, prices and reviews along with your own content, and that will increase your chances of getting a Google knowledge card that features your website. This is particularly helpful to sites that feature listings, reviews and events.
#5 – Use a sitemap
A sitemap will help Google more easily crawl your papes and index your site. For WordPress users, you can easily do this with a plugin. When you create your sitemap, make sure you go to Google Webmaster Tools and submit it to Google.
#6 – Avoid 404 errors
The biggest problem with 404 errors is that it damages your users’ experience, which generally results in poorer SEO performance. WordPress has plugins that can help you detect 404 errors, and Google Chrome has an extension called “Check My Links.” Just make sure you use something to ensure your links flow correctly throughout your site.
#7 – Use guest bloggers
Tapping into already established communities can help increase your reputation, build solid backlinks and gain exposure for your site. Use social media, including Twitter, to automate the guest blogging research process. When you give the readers’ a solid value you tend to get a lot more in return.
#8 – Learn from your competition
You can learn a lot by “spying” on your competition, especially from the techniques that are working for them. Focus especially on their backlinks and try to replicate them. If you link your account to Google Analytics and add your competitors, you’ll get a list of all of the websites that are linking to them. A feature called Monitor Backlinks will even email you with a report of the new backlinks earned by your competitors.
#9 – Keep track of your own backlinks
SEO depends on the quality of backlinks your site gets. In addition to building great backlinks, you need to monitor all of the links your site is earning and also when they’re being removed. This is another area where Monitor Backlinks can help.
#10 – Speed it up
Google puts a lot of weight on your site’s loading speed. Visitors expect sites to load in less than two seconds. There are a number of ways to speed up your site, but you can learn a lot from Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool and Pingdom Tool.
#11 – Use smart URLs
Your URLs should include your main keywords but also should be short and welcoming. Try to limit the character count as much as possible.
#12 – Remove duplicate content
This is one of the biggest pitfalls for any site. Google has been consistent about handing out penalties to sites with duplicate content. Once again, Google Webmaster Tools can help you avoid this problem.
#13 – Keep it fresh
Websites with constantly freshened content are given more authority and rank higher in the search results.
#14 – Make your internal links strong
When you write a new post, try to link to your previous articles that are relevant to this one. This helps users spend more time on your site by reading your original content. Make the navigation through your site as smooth as possible.
#15 – Optimize your images
Every image you use should have a relevant name, and should have ATL attributes, a description and captions.
#16 – Backlink to more than just your homepage
Too many marketers only link to the front of their site. It’s normal that most backlinks will go to the homepage, but if that’s all you’re getting, it can raise a red flag to Google. Make sure you build backlinks to other parts of your site as well.
#17 – Avoid advertorials and paid links
If Google finds that you’ve paid webmasters to build backlinks you’ll get hit with a penalty, guaranteed. If you feel you must pay-to-play, always use the “rel nofollow” attribute.