We all want our links to appear high in organic search results, and trying to muscle your page rank above others is far from a straightforward process. Even so, no matter how many algorithm updates are unfurled, the basic principles of search engine optimization continue to hold true. Surprisingly, we often forget to emphasize these fundamentals and focus myopically on what is new and different. While there is nothing revolutionary about the following SEO tips, sometimes we need a reminder of what always works in an ever-changing world.
- Research your keywords. Finding great keywords, regardless of length, requires research. Use Google’s Keyword Tool to generate ideas and identify keywords that may not have occurred to you. Keep in mind that this data is changing all the time and keyword research is an ongoing project. Holidays, seasons, and current events can drastically alter web traffic. Successful search engine optimization requires being responsive to trends and reflecting the current state of the world. The best way to stay on top of that is by monitoring search data.
- Longtail keywords matter. We tend to focus on singular keywords and two-word phrases, but longtail keyword searches can also drive a significant amount of traffic to your website. Longtail searches are highly specific queries that usually contain three to five words. Unfortunately, since they are so unique, they can be difficult to predict. That does not mean, however, you should not incorporate them into your optimization. Simply keep in mind that while most of your traffic may come from longtail keyword searches, they will vary greatly and each string will have low search volume. Thorough research should help you narrow down which ones to target.
- Keyword integration and keyword stuffing are two very different things. Keywords should directly correlate to the subject of your content and occur in a natural way. Some experts feel that keywords should not appear more than twice in a post, and while it is not a bad rule of thumb, it may not always make sense. The best way to avoid keyword stuffing is to write your article without worrying about how many times a particular word or phrase appears. Once it is complete, review your work and revise it appropriately, just as you would with any piece of writing. It is more likely you will be searching for synonyms than scrambling for ways to incorporate your keywords.
- Make sure your content is unique, substantive, and well written. While organic search results are driven by keywords, the most important factor will always be quality. If you write original, substantive articles with proper spelling and grammar, you are more likely to rise to the top. If you generate flimsy, uninteresting content or dare to plagiarize someone else’s work, however, your page rank will plummet. Frankly, this is the way it should be. No one wants their time wasted with inferior articles that do not contribute anything of value.
- Mechanics are just as important as content. Meta descriptions, anchor text, and site speed are constantly mentioned as essential SEO components, but people still neglect these factors all the time. Some of these directly affect a user’s experience and others simply make it easier for search engines to crawl your content. A little extra effort and attention to detail can go a long way when it comes to page rank.
It is easy to become distracted by shiny and new SEO practices, especially when confronted by an algorithm update that requires time consuming changes. Still, that is no reason to ignore the fundamental practices that influence organic search results just as much, if not more so, than the next big thing. Devote your time and attention to these essential elements with an eye towards creating the best user experience possible. Fads will come and go, but good SEO remains the same.