July 20, 2011
As a practice and industry, SEO is constantly evolving. Sites are seemingly at the mercy of the search engines, who usually can’t be bothered to give the site owners a heads up before they update their algorithm. Every few weeks it seems like someone is heralding the death of SEO, but evolution does not equal demise. Over time, tactics and methods change to work inside the guidelines of the search engines and to meet the needs of the online user, but the core fundamentals of SEO have remained the same.
Here are 7 basic rules of SEO:
1. Understand User-Intent
Keyword research is the cornerstone of any SEO campaign. Understanding user-intent when conducting and selecting your keywords is critical to getting your SEO off on the right foot and helping the right audience find your site. For instance, are “gym shoes,” “sneakers” and “tennis shoes,” the same thing? For some consumers those three words are completely interchangeable. But if a tennis player were looking for a new pair of shoes, they would search using “tennis shoes” and expect a very specific result. It doesn’t matter how you would search for your brand/products, it only matters how your target audience searches. Targeting the wrong keywords because you failed to understand the intent of the search means you’ll miss out on potential traffic and customers.
2. Don’t Rush Your Link Building
It is crucial for the search engines to see a diversified approach to link building that slowly grows over time. A blended approach demonstrates your commitment to white hat link building and building your online presence naturally. The search engines are very aware that they are playing a game with spammers and black hat SEO users, and they don’t plan on losing. If you develop too many links too fast, even if they are good quality links, this can raise a red flag with the search engines and your site could be penalized.
3. Content is King
Content is anything that is public and shareable. This includes blog web page content, blog posts, articles, podcasts, videos, whitepapers and more. It is also the most important factor of a website’s long term SEO success. Content should always be written for the end user, not for the search engines. You have to remember that the search engines are not going to be the ones purchasing your products or services, people are. Optimize your content so the search engines can find it, but don’t forget that it has to be human friendly first.
4. Be Strategic, Not Spammy
This is especially important in regards to social media marketing and social SEO. If you really wanted to, you could create a hundred different Twitter profiles to promote your content through. But what kind of real value are you getting from those profiles other than a link? You don’t have to tackle every aspect of SEO at once. Frankly, there just isn’t enough time in a day to take on that much work upfront. Pick and choose your battles so you don’t overdo it. Flooding the online market with low-quality SEO doesn’t help build your brand or
5. SEO is Long Term
This is probably the hardest thing for those new to SEO to wrap their heads around. SEO is not a quick fix to your online marketing. No, you won’t be ranking on the first page of Google for all your keywords by tomorrow, next week, or even next month. This is especially true if you recently launched your site. It takes a long time to build up your trust factor with the search engines.
SEO builds upon itself over time, but that doesn’t mean that once you have reached the first page in the search engines that you get to pack it up and call it a day. The Internet is continually growing and evolving. If you want to stay at the top, you have to keep working for it. It doesn’t take long for your site to slip down in the results pages if you abandon your SEO.
6. Follow Search Engine Guidelines
Google, Bing and Yahoo want you to do well with your SEO because it helps clean up their search results. A better SERP makes for a happier search engine user. Search engines are in the business of pleasing the customer, just like everyone else. If your site can’t help them do that, you won’t ever rank well. That’s why every site owner and marketer has to read the Google and Bing Webmaster Guidelines. Consider those guidelines your SEO line in the sand. If they call something black hat, then treat it as such and avoid it. It can be very tempting to test out the black hat side of SEO, especially when you see your competition doing it and seemingly getting away with it. Just don’t! Sooner or later the search engines catch on and your site will be penalized.
7. Integrate Everything
Just about all your online marketing (and offline marketing) efforts can be leveraged for SEO. One of the biggest mistakes you could make is keeping your actions in separate silos. SEO works best when it is incorporated into the mix, becoming an essential component of your online marketing. If your company has a large marketing department, don’t segregate the SEO guy back to the IT department. Bring him aboard the marketing team and you’ll achieve greater online success.
Nick Stamoulis is a Boston SEO consultant and President of Brick Marketing, a social media marketing management and SEO firm. With over 12 years of industry experience, Nick Stamoulis shares his knowledge by publishing daily posts to his blog, the Search Engine Optimization Journal (or SEO Journal), and the Brick Marketing SEO Newsletter, read by over 140,000 opt-in subscribers. Contact Nick Stamoulis at 781-350-4365 or firstname.lastname@example.org