With the vast amount SEO tips and tactics found on the web, it can be difficult for small businesses trying to learn how to do DIY SEO to cut through all the clutter and find sound advice. Below you will find a list of SEO basics, and the 9 truths you need to know about doing SEO that Ive learned from my last 10 years of doing SEO for small businesses, large content websites, and eCommerce websites.

1. Quality Links Be Quantity of Links

Links are still a valuable metric and asset for a website to acquire. Where sites get into trouble is when they think they can take short cuts when building links. They get enticed by the “get 100 backlinks for $9.99″ emails and think there is a quick fix or automated tool for building links. Building links is a process that includes creating valuable content and then marketing that content to other blogs, websites, and social networks. Acquiring quality high-value links (that wont hurt your website) is a slow and difficult process, yet is a necessary evil for any new or existing website.

2. Don’t Forget The Users

Many SEOs get so focused on ranking well that they forget that Google and the other search engines are taking into account bounce rate, user metrics, and overall content value when ranking websites. Balance is the key to most things in life, and SEO is no exception. There needs to a balance between creating amazing web design experiences for the users, and building a strong SEO foundation to help drive traffic; going to far in one direction will have negative affects overall.

3. Diversification Wins

Keyword Diversity

Before Google launched in 1996 the larger search engines operated almost entirely through on-page metrics. One of these on-page metrics that became a factor was how many times a website repeated the targeted keyword on a page. This became known as “keyword density”, and the methodology behind it flowed into how people thought Google ranked pages which is not entirely the case. Yes Google uses keywords on a page as one of many variables they use to rank a web page, and yes you need to have the keyword youre targeting on the page, but saying if you include a keyword a specific number of times that it will help rankings, it not the case.

If you write for the user and include a diverse set of valuable keywords, it becomes about keyword diversity and content depth, and not about how many times you repeat a keyword on a page.

Link Type Diversity:
To show that you’re not only getting one type of links, Google wants to see you get a diverse set of links to show depth to your reach.

  • Guest Post Links
  • Relevant Local Sponsorship Links
  • Editorially Given Links
  • Citations

One of the value metrics Google uses is diversity of linking domains. This means they want to see more domains linking to your website and not the same ones linking multiple times.

Anchor Text Diversity
What the anchor text of an inbound link says, is a strong indicator to Google of what the page being linked to is about. Make sure youre getting a diverse set of anchor text.

4. Content Is And Always Will Be King

At the core, Google finds and rankings valuable content. So it makes sense that no matter what random SEO strategies come and go, creating high-value content that mixes evergreen and timely content for your primary personas will always be king.

Valuable in-depth content is a key asset to any successful SEO campaign. Strong content gives you the ability to build trusted links, satisfy the users intent when they come to your website, capture mid and long tail keywords, and position your website as a leading resource and thought leader in your industry.

5. SEO Is A Business Strategy

User-Focused SEO is a business strategy inclusive of traffic acquisition, publishing, and branding. It includes tactical planning of a website’s structure to allow value to flow properly, planning content that satisfies both the users intent and search engines algorithm, technical, content, and structure audits and competitive insights and analysis, and creating an experience that fosters social sharing and link acquisition.

One of the most frustrating parts of an SEOs job is getting called into a meeting and being told that a new site, which is completed and is launching next week, needs to be SEOed. SEO needs to be included in the planning and transition phases through the QA phase for SEO to be most effective.

6. You Must Measure It

With the search engines making over 500 tweaks to their algorithm each year, it becomes vitally important that webmasters measure as many data points as they can. Some of these data points might be traffic, traffic by site section, total keywords sending traffic, total URLs receiving traffic, and conversion rate. The more you can measure, the more data points you will be armed with when trying to determine why your rankings dropped, conversions tanked, or traffic was stunted by an algorithm update.

7. Basic SEO Should Always Be Completed

Even if a website is not planning to embark on an SEO campaign in the near future it is still important that they build a strong SEO base for their website. This includes an optimized site architecture, keyword research, and on-page optimization. Why you ask? because at some point down the road almost all sites wonder why they are not ranking for a keyword or want to drive more traffic from search. Without that strong SEO base it will take more time and resources to rebuild or restructure the website so that the SEO basics are in place.

8. SEO Is Not A Quick Fix

Unlike PPC or even media buys, SEO is not a light switch that you can turn on overnight. The search engines don’t suddenly trust or value a website and give it long lasting rankings at the top of the search results. Sites need to prove they deserve the rankings by building value over time through quality links, good user metrics, valuable social metrics, and building quality content.

9. Align With User’s Goals Because That What Google Is Doing

This was an interesting statement by Matt Cutts (former lead spam engineer at Google) and speaks to SEOs who chase the Google Algorithm. What he is saying is that SEOs need to be forward thinkers and understand enough about what the search engine’s end goal is, so that they can build SEO campaigns that provide value and align with client and search engine goals.

Learning how to do SEO does not have to be a difficult or frustrating experience. Like with most things, SEO does take time to learn, but once you understand what SEO tactics will give you the most value, it then comes down to staying focused and being persistent with your SEO efforts.

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