Search engine optimization will never go away, but how to go about it is constantly changing, and the pace in which it does accelerating. However, by following the right SEO strategy, it is possible to optimize a site so that the efforts made will always have some value no matter what the search engines do.
There are actually a lot of different SEO strategies that various people have created over the years, so how do you know which one is the best SEO strategy to choose?
The real secret of search engine optimization does not involve crazy tricks or automated software. The key is to simply build websites using unique content in a logical, structured manner and combine it with a sound strategy to build reputation and links.
The game is always changing
In the recent past, SEO was more of a process of using SEO tools, SEO services or just hard work to build as many links as possible. As long as more legitimate white hat, rather than black hat SEO, methods were used, building enough links for the right keywords was almost certain to bring a site up in the search engines.
However, search engines, which have always frowned on such practices, have been adjusting their algorithms to lessen the effectiveness of brute link building. More than before, links need to be relevant and appear to be natural. While the traditional forms of link building still have value, they do need to be matched by strategies that establish a site as an authority on a certain topic and attract links from those who find the content useful. When done properly, authority and natural links can feed each other and give site higher rankings on their own.
Have a vision
In part, authority comes from creating an image as a trusted and a reliable source on a topic niche. Increasingly, webmasters need to make themselves or sites known with more than just a link posted somewhere. They have to contribute or participate at the same time, and efforts should be made to appeal to people across different platforms. The following methods are ways to share content, contribute to the web or interact with people in some way. When using them, remember that establishing the site being promoted as a trustworthy source on the topic is usually more important than any direct links earned.
- Social bookmarking and social buzz
- Blog commenting
- Participation in niche forums
- Press releases
- Video marketing
- Games, contests or other strategies that encourage visitors to interact with a website
- Social network marketing
- Viral marketing
- Guest blogging
- Article marketing
While these methods will always offer SEO value, the average person is not going to be able to use all of them. The trick to an effective SEO strategy is to look at the key areas and make sure each of the following four stages are covered.
- Selecting a niche, keywords, planning the site and creating great content
- On-page SEO
- Off-page SEO
- Utilizing social media
The best way to build websites to gather free, targeted search engine traffic is to limit them to a specific subject or niche. This enables search engines to recognize that website is specialized in a certain niche. How to find a niche covers the process of selecting a niche in more detail. Some factors to consider are personal interests, and the number of sites that exist on the internet for a particular topic in a niche.
To truly make an impact on existing search engine rankings, it is important to be able to create enough pages to compete with the number one website in the niche. Just because a huge website is ranked #1 doesn’t mean that the website cannot be beat. It makes a big different whether a competing website only has one page or a thousand that related to the niche. In other words, you can often beat a large website if your website is more focused on the particular niche, and the content is better.
Planning site pages with keyword research
Use keyword research tools to find a long list of related keyword phrases for the niche. These phrases can then be and targeted on individual website pages. A single page can target more than one phrase that is very similar, like a plural version of the page’s main keyword, but do not build more than one page on a website to target an extremely similar phrase.
As a site grows, it becomes necessary to target the niche more broadly with a general authority site. As this occurs, content should be compartmentalized into separate themed categories of related content. These categories are somewhat like different sites connected under a common theme (some may choose to create a number of smaller sites rather than one big one). Keep in mind that even an authority website cannot cover too broad a topic and must stay focused. This is how websites can be built in a structured manner that makes sense to both website visitors and search engines. This process is described further in siloing.
How to create search engine optimized content
The soul of every website, and its SEO strategy, is its content. As explained in website writing, content on web pages needs to be laid out in ways that make it possible for users to find what they need easier. Using header and other tags to highlight essential elements of text has the added bonus of offering a way to highlight keywords for search engines.
This content also needs to be easy to navigate for both people and the search engine spiders sent out by the search engines to index the web. Sites should be planned and laid out so that has every page within a few clicks of the top page of the site whenever possible. Use SEO checkers to ensure that the site also looks good from the standpoint of search engine spiders.
Using automated content in a SEO strategy
Automated content should only be used sparingly on a website, and all pages should have some kind of unique content to avoid being dropped as duplicate content from search engines like Google. Nobody wants to spend hours or even days writing content for a new website, but people who dedicate themselves to this task are the ones that reap the rewards with top ten search engine rankings.
That being said, if automated content is adding value to a site, it can sometimes offer SEO value. Even automated content can add value if it is bringing information on a topic together so that users can access it easier. However, when it is used, the author should add something to the page to give it a unique spin, since this kind of content will likely be posted elsewhere on the web.
In addition to making sure sites are carefully planned out organized, unique and ready for search engine spiders, each page needs to be properly optimized. This starts with keywords in the content. There are a number of other places that a search engine will look for that keyword phrase, relational keyword phrases or even pieces of the phrase. Although it’s important to use the targeted keyword phrase in some of these particular places on a page, it is in addition vital to remember that placing the phrase in all of these areas on every single page of a website can result in the site getting flagged for keyword spam. With this SEO strategy plan, it can also be extremely helpful to use the keyword phrase naturally, which includes using a few variations of the same phrase. The most important places for keywords are in the following locations:
- Page title
- Page URL address
- Page header tags (H1, H2, etc.)
- First sentence or paragraph on the page
- Last sentence or paragraph on the page
- Anchor text (internal & external links)
- Image URL addresses
- Image ALT tag text
- Special HTML markup tags (bold, italics, underline, etc.)
- Page title, URL & content of pages linking to the site
Latent semantic indexing (LSI) is a process of using words related to the main keyword in the article. This is growing in importance as search engines put less emphasis on keyword placement and should be taken into account by every webmaster.
On-page SEO covers all these in more detail.
This consists of the kind of link building that people traditionally associate with SEO. These tactics are listed above as well as at off-page SEO. Although these techniques do not matter as much as they once did, they still are needed. The goal should be to slowly but surely build quality links from sites with related content. While it is best to vary the methods used, people will generally concentrate on what they are most comfortable with.
While social media is listed last here, it certainly is not least. From social bookmarking to various social networks to include Facebook and Google+, there is a lot to choose from. It is important to choose a least a couple of these networks and participate in them in a positive way. Search engines are increasingly moving away from only looking at content and links to what is known as authority. What this authority means is still being defined, but it basically comes from people being involved in their niches and having followers. Carefully create an image on these networks that offers people useful content they want to follow while not being overly promotional.