SEO is a minefield, what can I do, all this talk of Pandas and Penguins. Many people ask themselves these type of questions. There are literally hundreds of tasks you can undertake to improve your ranking positions; we have listed 10 in this article. These are a real mix of on page and off page optimisation techniques.
1) Be aware of the latest Google Updates/Guidelines
Google regularly change the way that search ranking positions are calculated. Changes occur every day. Keep yourself abreast, read the SEO press, learn as much as you can and implement what you learn on your site. The two main changes to be aware of in the recent past are Google Penguin (April 2012) and Google Panda (February 2011).
An Infographic about the Google Penguin update.
2) Utilise Social Media
Definitely implement Social Media as a part of your “Search Engine Optimization Strategy”. Just like a website benefits from links to it on other sites, social media activity is also seen as a signal/recommendation for a site.
Webmasters now need to grow their Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and other social media presences. Webmasters who increase their followers/friends etc and regularly post content (every day is great), will notice an increase in their ranking positions.
Webmasters should add social sharing buttons to each page of their site. These encourage visitors to share your site and increase visitor interest/participation. Tools such as AddThis are easily implemented.
Don’t forget to add social media buttons to your site.
3) Avoid bad neighborhoods like the plague!
You wouldn’t probably be keen to go to bad neighborhoods in real life so why do it online? Bad neighborhoods include using link farms, blog comment spam, linking to bad sites (e.g. malware sites, low quality sites, etc) Also be careful about buying links, Google want results to be natural and not just a case of cash talking. There are dozens of bad neighborhoods checkers out there, to check how well a given site is performing (or not).
4) Post content updates regularly
Serious sites update their content on a regular basis. Commercial websites tend to be fine on updates but many personal blogs are updated very infrequently. Google picks up on this and eventually the site will typically be penalised, often in a loss of PR. Think about it, a lack of content, suggests a lack of passion for the site, any users visiting the site are also bound to lose interest and go elsewhere too.
5) Create a sitemap
A sitemap is very valuable in a number of ways. Sitemaps are great for users as a search aid to finding content on your site; they can be used as a supplement to a search box. Sitemaps are just as great for search engine indexing bots. The “bots” will detect changes to a site by looking through all the pages on the sitemap. Additionally new pages can quickly be indexed as the “bot” works its way down the sitemap and realises a page is new. As you can see the use of a sitemap will increase rankings in one way or another.
An example sitemap, this one is generated by Joomla CMS.
6) Mix anchor text keywords up on articles you submit
Article submission has long been a key part of many webmasters SEO campaigns. The Google Penguin update changed the “playing field” here though. Many webmasters have created large numbers of links to the same term, e.g. “holiday in Spain” – 500 times. The Google Penguin update punishes this type of behavior as Google sees excessive anchors for the same phrase as non-natural. Therefore webmasters should seek where they submit articles to have a variety of anchors/keywords, mix it up, this should look natural. Use a variety of brand terms (e.g. “company abc”) as well as product info (e.g. “villas in Madeira).
7) Link to a variety of your pages, not just the home page
Again in article submission, many webmasters have just linked to their homepage. This to some extent is expected, but even better why not link to some deeper pages. It’s the deep pages that should contain the real detail that search engines are looking for when sending people to pages. These appear to have often been under-used in the past by some, so use deeper pages and this will impact their ranking positions in a positive way.
8) Don’t link to other domains on the same IP address – it’s not clever
Everybody knows this trick. You have “X” domains, so you cross-link them all to each other. It might sound innocent, but Google class this as an attempt to manipulate the ranking positions. It’s advisable not to do this on the same IP address as this is highly likely to receive a punishment. This practice can still make sense in the small number of circumstances where traffic from clickthroughs is sufficiently attractive to make any penalty bearable.
9) Avoid black hat techniques
“Black Hat” techniques are many and various. Avoid them, the short-medium term gain may be good, but the penalties are often massive. “Black Hat SEO” is too broad to explain here but can include keyword stuffing, invisible text, article spinning, hidden links, cloaking, etc
10) If you can’t manage SEO in-house use a reputable SEO Agency
Many webmasters are afraid of outsourcing SEO (even partially). If the work is too much, or SEO isn’t clearly understood, it’s a good idea to seek some external advice. There are many good and bad SEO agencies out there. Before working with an Agency check them out, do your research and if you can get an independent recommendation. The use of an SEO Agency will undoubtedly improve your ranking positions; one I rate from my experience is Distinctly Digital Hertfordshire.
These are just 10 quick tips to improve your SEO rankings. Typically only some of the above will be needed for well managed sites. Implement these as part of a “SEO Strategy” and always be on the lookout for new tips.