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SEO Redux: Simple Tips for Effective Search Engine Optimization

Part of my daily routine is to check my incoming blog comments and emails that I’ve received. Every day I sift through dozens of emails (sometimes many more) to review and answer many of the questions that the followers of the ImSuccessCenter have.

Lately, I’ve been noticing an influx of questions regarding the use of SEO. When it pertains to search engine optimization, there seems to be quite a bit of confusion. This is not uncommon at all, believe me.

There was a time early on in my internet marketing career where researching SEO was like reading the tabloids. I simply couldn’t separate fact from fiction. Like many of my readers, I had a TON of questions.

I began turning to online resources in order to find the answers that I was seeking, but I often would receive mixed responses, which confused me even more! It would be even worse when I would stumble across information that was usable, but SO complex that I had no idea how to use it correctly.

I think we can all agree that SEO is an essential part of internet marketing. Sure, you can create a successful business without SEO, but you can build an even more successful business with SEO.

For instance, let’s say that you woke up one day and decided to drive your car across town. Simply ignoring SEO would be like taking that trip across town with a flat tire. Chances are you’ll make it there in one piece, but the ride would really suck!

So, as someone that had no idea about SEO when starting out, you could say that I definitely took the hard road to success.

Finally, I became proficient in SEO, but it took me many years. I know how it feels to be completely lost, so, I’ve dedicated this post specifically to basic SEO principles, and how you can use it to truly ramp up your marketing campaigns.

I’m not going to give you crazy linking strategies or anything like that, just some advice that you will be able to employ right away and begin seeing a great impact from day 1. I wanted to make these points as simplistic and easy to understand as possible so that ANYONE reading this could gain some knowledge.

Let’s get started!

A Simple SEO Strategy

In an earlier blog post I wrote about the KISS Method. KISS is an acronym for Keep It Simple Stupid, which refers to simplifying your problems so that they become easier to manage. Most people go in the entirely opposite direction and over complicate issues, which won’t get you anywhere.

For basic SEO, I would suggest the same advice. There’s no need to begin focusing on more advanced methods until you’ve mastered the absolute basics.

  1. Google now looks at the quality of content for ranking. Longer posts (in the 1000+ word range) do much better in the SERPS than shorter posts simply because the author is providing more value for their readers.
  2. Focus keywords on buyer’s intent instead of crazy long tailed keywords that detract value from your content. For instance, if I were to be selling an SEO guide, I could target the keyword phrase “Free SEO Guide for 2014.” It may receive a TON of traffic, but we can clearly see that the intent of the user is to receive information for free. Instead, I could target a lesser searched for keyword phrase like “Where to buy the best SEO guide.” Sure, I won’t receive nearly the amount of traffic, but the readers that do find my page are far more likely to convert to sales.
  3. Yes, quality is important, but so is quantity. Every post that you publish is another link to your site. It is also like receiving “trust points” from Google as the search algorithms favor sites that post regularly.
  4. Backlinks are 100% about quality over quantity. There may need to be a balancing act between quality and quantity when publishing content, but no such balancing act exists with backlinks. 1 extremely relevant link from an incredibly high ranked site will build more trust with Google than thousands of links from bottom tier sites.
  5. Don’t put all of your eggs into one basket. There is no single method of SEO that will bring you results. It is the culmination of many aspects that will ultimately bring you success.

Setting up Your Blog Posts

Obviously, you want your blog posts to display correctly in the SERP’s when someone searches for your specific keyword phrase correct?

  1. The extension for blog post url’s should be your focus keyword.
  2. The post title should include your focus keyword (preferably at the beginning). I don’t always follow this rule, but then again, my site is already established, so it may not impact my site quite as much.
  3. The Yoast SEO Plugin will be your best friend.
  4. Though Google doesn’t look at meta tag descriptions when ranking sites, it may make the difference between someone clicking on your site or choosing to click on your competitor’s site. If you add the keyword phrase somewhere within the description, Google will automatically make it bold when someone searches for it. Also, be sure to add a call to action like “Click here” at the end.
  5. Enable social sharing on all of your posts. As of right now, Google doesn’t rank based on social shares. However, I have a sneaking suspicion that they will begin to focus on Google +1’s within the next year or so.
  6. Diversify your anchor text. The Hummingbird updates put a strong emphasis on crushing sites that used too much anchor text and too many of the same words as anchor text.
  7. Keyword stuffing is old news. You only need to place the keyword a few times throughout the text and you will be fine. Instead, try to use similar words. For instance, if your keyword phrase is “buy gold,” then you could use “purchase gold.”
  8. Keywords in subheads, italics, bold or within ordered and unordered lists have slightly more power than keywords in plain text.

Site Structure

Google prefers to rank sites that are properly structured as this improves the user’s experience. The majority of site templates are compatible with what Google is looking for. However, over time, most site owners alter them in a way that may not be so Google friendly. So, here is a quick rundown of what a properly structured site may look like.

  1. Avoid long blog rolls on the sidebar. This didn’t used to be an issue, but once people began to abuse this by using this area to inflate the rankings of other sites, Google shut it down.
  2. Link exchanges should be avoided at all costs.
  3. Google’s Webmaster Tool will help you identify broken links or any other site issues.
  4. Watch this video and use the kickass plugins suggested to drastically increase the speed of your site, which is essential not only for SEO, but for retaining traffic.
  5. Create your site in a silo structure. I promise the benefits will be amazing. Here is a quick low down on the basics of a silo structure found HERE.

On-Site SEO Videos and Images

Statistics show that videos and photos engage audiences more than plain text. By adding these onto your site, you can create a powerful blog that keeps readers on the page for longer 9which is important for ranking as well).

  1. Use keywords or similar keyword phrases for video and image names.
  2. Use a plain sentence format and write a descriptive sentence or two for your ALT tags.
  3. Use the W3 Cache plugin to minify and compress image files in order to improve site speed.

Basic Off-Site SEO

Google views backlinks as votes of confidence. If an authoritative site links to yours, then in the eyes of Google’s algorithm, your site must be legit as well, thus your rankings will improve. However, it is a slippery slope as there are tons of ways to get penalized, which can ultimately sink an entire business overnight. That is why managing a solid link profile is essential for any business.

  1. Only guest blog on sites that are relevant and that are in good standing.
  2. The majority of directory links are garbage. However, there may be a few very select niche directories that may yield good results.
  3. Avoid backlinks that aren’t of the highest caliber. If you must use low quality backlinks, make sure that they point to your tier 2 sites so that they don’t negatively affect your money site if an issue does arise somewhere down the line.
  4. If you’re having difficulty finding links, then try this strategy. If used correctly, it may shoot your site straight to the top of the SERP’s.

When Dealing with an SEO Company

Many marketers simply don’t have the time to focus on SEO so they simply outsource it to a company or contractor. If done correctly, you should be able to focus on the other areas of your business while your site gains traction within the SERP’s. However, if the wrong company or freelancer is hired, it can be incredibly costly and potentially detrimental to your business. Here are few rules to follow when outsourcing your SEO.

  1. If they promise you a #1 ranking, then run far, far away.
  2. If they don’t specifically state what their methods are, then there is a good chance that is automated or entirely blackhat.
  3. Choose only the SEO companies that provide reports of their work.
  4. If an SEO company can’t provide testimonials, then they either lack experience or have poor referrals.
  5. Many SEO’s will try to confuse site owners with a lot of mumbo jumbo in order to make them feel inferior and that their only recourse is to purchase their service. If a company cannot simplify their methods down so that it is easily understood, then they may just be blowing smoke up your rear about their service.

Hopefully you gained something of value with the lists above. Yes, SEO can be a complex game, but you’d be surprised at the results you could receive by simply following a few of the basics.

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About Sean Donahoe

Sean is one of the most recognized industry leaders in business and marketing. As a popular speaker, author, consultant he has helped over 50,000 students world wide find success in their businesses and has consulted with Fortune 500 companies and businesses of every size grow and thrive...

3 comments

  1. Very good blog post with lots of great information, although I think that Google itself cannot be trusted and overloading all the effort toward a Google page rank is a dire mistake. I just learned today how Google is ripping people off as to buying keywords that make people who
    find them and build their sites around them, have to protect their keywords from Google, as Google is no longer giving them the data information as to what keywords people are buying from. This was from an article on Market Samarai, not taken as totally gospel but considering all the moves Google has made over the last few years, not ignoring it either.

  2. Thank you so much for posting this Sean! This is very loooooong guide for a newbie blogger but I know this is very helpful for me.

  3. Very useful up to date information Sean. Overall it looks like the search engines are looking for good quality content which is original. Without some type of scheme or cheat behind the SEO stagey. I think they are getting smarter than what a lot of people think. I watched the video in the link above under “Site Structure” on increasing site speed and plan on trying some of the testing and optimizing you suggested. And congrats on your Alexa score!

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