The New Best Practices in Search Engine Optimization
All of us doing search engine optimization over the past year have been kept guessing about what Google wants when it comes to giving our pages the needed boost to that coveted top ten ranking. They want to update their algorithm so much and throw out so many half-truths via their webspam leader Mr. Cutts so that anyone trying to increase their rank in Google will eventually give up and switch to adwords pay per click or just give up doing SEO in general and let the big brands dominate with their insider secrets.
Don’t fall into the trap and let this happen to you!
In my humble opinion I think that in a way SEO is easier now because these days “less is more”. I’m going to give you a brief overview of what you should be doing now and what Google updates these practices will appease.
Doing On-Page Stuff
All of your on-page issues for the most part are to appease Google Panda. Panda was and is an on-page issue so if you get hit by one of the Panda updates you need to check your site and NOT your back links.
The following are the biggest factors I think regarding Panda and keeping that big bitch happy.
No longer should you be optimizing your page too heavily for a keyword. Sure you can mention it a few times within the content and maybe put it in the H1 tag or the URL, but you don’t want to optimize it too much. By optimize too much I mean this…your keyword is in H1 & H2 tags, in the Title, in the URL, and in the article a bunch of times.
This might be OK sometimes, but if you create backlinks with this keyword and point it to this page, this is where you get into trouble. Google sees that you are optimizing for this keyword and “SEO’ing” the page. Google’s Penguin updates will bang you up for this (more on this below).
A safer thing to do, in my opinion, is to only put the keyword in the Title OR the URL. Then put a VARIATION of the keyword in the H1 and H2 tags if you use them.
Make sure your articles don’t overlap. Don’t make articles optimized with slight variations of keywords. For example, don’t make one article for “best vegetarian dog food” and then another optimized for “top quality vegetarian dog food”. Having a few is OK but if there is too much overlap, Google’s Panda update will shove some bamboo into your eyes.
Don’t have any “doorway pages”. These are pages that are obviously meant to funnel visitors to one particular page. You will see these on affiliate sites in which the page has 10 links to the same sales page. Again Google Panda.
Your content should be all original. This should be obvious. And it should bring value to your website and to the visitor. Make sure it’s edited well, looks good, and is thorough.
Make your articles as long as possible, at least 700 words although 1000 is better. They don’t ALL have to be this long, but the more the merrier.
Look & Feel
Don’t show too many ads, especially “above the fold”. Above the fold is what the visitor sees when they first visit the page and don’t scroll down yet. When the page loads, a large part of the page should be actual content and not mostly ads.
Content Amount & Frequency
Add as much content as you can. I think now more than ever long-tail traffic is more important to small businesses trying to make it online. And to get as much long-tail traffic as you can, you need to have as much content as you can.
The more content you have also indicates to Google that they should give you more “authority” in your niche.
How often should you post?
This is a tough one. Many people will suggest that you MUST post regularly. Well I know of LOTS of sites that rank well within their niches that hardly ever post new content.
But you know what? Error on the side of caution here and post as often as you can. You certainly won’t be penalized for posting TOO often, right?
You need to link out to other authority sites. Just do this where is makes sense. See a word or phrase that some of your readers might not be familiar with? Link it out to an authority site. Don’t be afraid to do this.
Disclosure & Contact Pages
It’s a super pain in the ass, but you need to interlink your site well. Make sure pages link back to the homepage. Make sure the homepage links out to a bunch of articles/categories. When you link around, it should make sense. Don’t just interlink haphazardly like a crazy person. This is done for the visitor, so keep a reader in mind when you do it.
In my next post I will give some insights on the “Off-Page SEO Stuff” you should be doing.
I hope this helps clear up any confusion out there. Trust me, I’m still learning every day so it’s no cake-walk for me either.
Any questions please hit me up in the comments!
P.S. If your traffic took a huge hit or takes a huge hit someday, check this page by SEO Moz that tracks them all in one place. By knowing what you got hit with, you will more easily know how to get out of it.