Monday, September 17, 2012

The Best SEO Practices and Tips 2012

SEO, or search engine optimization has been a much discussed and debated topic. IMO, I think it will continue that way, for as long as there are search engines and most importantly when users continue to make use of them. There are studies all over the place, where results indicate that when someone is looking for something, they start generally by “searching for whatever it is” online. SEO is not dead as many would like you to believe, but it is constantly changing and as new factors come into play, others go. In addition, SEO is just a piece of the puzzle, now included in a much larger scale called “inbound marketing” (more on that later).

Best SEO Practices For 2012 :

As I mentioned before, the best SEO Practices have not really changed that much, as the most important ranking factors pretty much remained unchanged. At its basics, you need to know that there are only two essential elements for good SEO, on-page and off-page. On-page SEO are those that you as a publisher/webmaster can control directly, while off-page SEO essentially relies on user behavior, social engagements, visitors, and other publishers, although there are some cases where you too can control part of it.
Now and understandably, you might be a complete newbie to this whole SEO thing. If that is the case, I strongly suggests you to read the following, before anything else. While these material may have been published for a while now (not entirely – new updates included), they all provide a lot of information that are valuable. It will definitely introduce you to the basic concepts of content optimization for search engines and a bit more.

On-Page SEO Ranking Factors and Important Elements :Essentially, you will need to address the following – Content, Code and Site Architecture. Let’s put aside the need for quality content as that is the only one that is a given.

Best On-Page SEO Practices For…

Quality content is really what you should aim for, as this is what it takes to enhance or improve users experience. I won’t be discussing posting frequency as it depends a lot on your topic or niche and how often you can generate good content. If you ask me, it is way better to post a great article 2 –3 times a week than shooting for useless and low quality daily content. That won’t cut it. You should know however that search engines, and in particular Google, is now looking for “fresh”  content. Obviously, if you are talking about something that is “hot” or trending , the more updated the information is, the better. Otherwise, find a frequency that suits you best and stick to it.
Now, you may be asking what is quality content? Oh boy, we can stay here forever, but to keep this short, anything that can be helpful and enhanced peoples lives or experience is what quality is all about. Do not refrain yourself to just writing “text” posts. You can make use of all content creation methods such as Videos, Infographics, Videographics, Images or a combination of all. You can even be a great content curator, if you know how to do it properly, and having a hard time to self-create content. Read the “Quality Guidelines” as outlined in this article and you will know what it takes to have a quality website.

This is nothing more than the language that you use to generate “signals” for search engines bots. Content creation is geared for your readers, visitors and users in general, while the “code” is the part where you optimize your site and content for search engines. This is where you put in practice the proper use of words (known as keywords) in your title, description and body of your posts (no keyword stuffing please). Proper use of words here means that you are using the most relevant keywords that best describe your site or a specific posts. Words are important for your SEO campaign and while it is not “everything”, it is a very important piece of the puzzle. On a later stage (hopefully next week), I will provide the best SEO tools (and best SEO plugins), that you can use to assist you in optimizing your content, among other things. Watch out for that?
And let’s not forget about the theme you are using. For SEO purposes, one of the best recommended platforms is WordPress. Even Matt Cutts recommends it, and for a good reason. Why? Because according to Matt Cutts, WordPress takes care of about 70% of the technical issues required for your SEO. The remainder, or 30% of on-page SEO can be complimented by using the best SEO plugins and whenever possible using WordPress SEO optimized themes. Don’t get fooled by the later. There are many that will say that their themes are SEO optimized. Do some research first just to make sure. The only two SEO optimized themes that I know of, because I use them, are Thesis and Genesis (aff links). You should give them a try  .

Off-Page SEO Ranking Factors and Important Elements :

Once upon a time, the only critical element to off-page SEO was basically link building. Essentially the more quality links you can amass and point to your site, all the better. This was achieved in many ways, including but not limited to link exchanges (include wheels), article marketing (so, so), directory submissions, etc. These were effective back then, but as the game changes, search engines are now giving more and more importance to “quality and natural inbound links” and other external SEO factors, such as social engagement, trust factor of a website, etc.. These are the ones that we essentially do not control and have to rely on users, other publishers, to help us build credibility and trust. Hence, why it is now very important to have great content, build relationships and engage actively on the social sphere.

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