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10 Rules of Thumb for SEO in 2013

The best practices of SEO are constantly changing every year. In fact, almost every month search marketers are faced with new advancements, algorithm updates, and techniques that shape their SEO strategies. SEO Rules of Thumb

In this short post, we summarize 10 rules of thumb that have seemed to remain consistent over the years with respect to SEO best practices. Each rule of thumb should be well ingrained in your SEO practice.

1. You Can't Out-Smart the Search Engines

There are no tricks to getting good results with SEO. Sure, in the past there have been some automated processes that have made SEO easier (automated blog/link building networks,) but the easy ways of SEO seem to become obsolete (if not complete risky to the website being optimized.)

2. Optimize Pages for Only 1 or 2 Keywords

It's not uncommon for some search marketers to try and optimize a page for 4 or 5 different keyword targets. Although the keywords might be related in some respect, this is not ideal. Either pick your top 1 or 2, or determine if it's logical to create a dedicated page for the outliers. You'll find it's much easier to write short and concise page titles and Meta descriptions when your on-page optimization efforts are more focal.

3. Build an HTML Sitemap

One of the most important aspect of a website that often gets overlooked is the HTML sitemap. This page, which acts as an index or reference source (particularly for search engine spiders,) is considered by many search marketers to be the second most important page of the website (next to the homepage.)

4. Link Logically

Whether your adding internal links throughout your website, or building backlinks from other sources, it's important to link logically. That is, build links that make sense from a user's perspective, not just for SEO value. The link anchor text you use is a major consideration. Instead of using exact keyword match anchor text, use descriptive text and other natural forms of anchor text. Especially for backlink building, it's critical to use a blend of anchor text so that your website's link portfolio appears as natural as possible.

5. Start Integrating Social Media

There's no question that social media is having a profound impact on SEO. Social signals (such as Google +1's and Facebook Likes) are becoming a stronger ranking factor every month. If you have a blog, social media is the place to share your content. This will help inbound traffic to your website, in addition to racking-up the social signals (and search engine authority) of your website. By the way, if you have yet to set-up a Google Plus page for you website or business, this should be a marketing priority.

6. Start Producing Content

With Google Authorship shaping the search results, content creators can earn an upper-leg in SEO. Google values strong content (especially content that's socially favored and marked-up with Authorship.) It keeps a website fresh with newness, and also helps make a website more keyword relevant. Whether weekly or monthly, starting a blog or articles section on your website can offer massive SEO advantages.

7. Keyword Optimize Consciously

The process of keyword optimizing a page is rather simple. In the old days, it was all about cramming the keyword for high density. That is now a risk that can result in your website being penalized. To successfully keyword optimize a page, consider the following rules of thumb.

  • URLs: include your primary keywords in the URL (and avoid including words like "the" or "an") - shorter URLs are preferred.
  • Meta Titles: include your primary keywords only once and keep the title under 70 characters.
  • Meta Descriptions: include your primary keywords once, but more importantly, write a compelling description that motivates users to click into your page.
  • Page Copy: try to use your primary keywords once in an H1 (header) and variations of your keywords in H2's and H3's. It also helps to mention the keyword a few times in the copy (but don't over-do it!)

8. Install Google Analytics

In order to properly track and measure visitor traffic and the level of interaction users have on your website, it's imperative that you install Google Analytics on all pages of your website. Analytics is a must for all web marketers and it can help you troubleshoot issues as well as find new opportunities for optimization.

9. Get Listed on Trusted Directories

Being listing on trusted directories only makes your site appear more trustworthy and credible. In addition, most directory listing that you create will offer a link back to your website, which can significantly help for SEO. A few of the most trusted directories are Yahoo! Local, Bing, Yelp, LinkedIn, and DMoz.

10. Verify Google Webmaster Tools

Similar to Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools enables search marketers to check-up on the health and overall performance of their websites. You won't gain the same level of insights as with Analytics, but you can find out if your website is being flagged for certain problems like: duplicate content, short Meta titles and descriptions, HTML code errors and warning, and other SEO-unfriendly ailments. You can also create and submit a XML sitemap on Google Webmaster Tools which tells Google your website is ready for fresh crawling and indexing.

There are your 10 SEO rules of thumb to keep top of mind with your optimization efforts. Do you have additional questions or concerns regarding SEO? Ask us in the comments section below, or contact us directly to learn more.

 

About the Author
Tyler Tafelsky is highly engaged in many facet's of search engine marketing. He currently heads the Peoria SEO team here at OIC Group, Inc. You can email him directly at Tyler(at)oicgroup.net or follow him on Twitter.

3 Common Website Optimization Weaknesses That Hinder Organic SEO

Many marketers have come to realize the immense advertising potential that organic SEO has to offer. This has made optimizing a website a marketing mission for many businesses.

But what many fail to realize is that search rankings are mostly determined based on factors that are off the website, primarily from inbound links and social signals (e.g. Google +1's, Facebook Likes, LinkedIn Shares, etc.)

So no matter how well you optimize your website, it's probably not going to rank until your do some off-site SEO work (which takes a lot of time and effort.) However, that doesn't discount the website optimization process from being important.

Website optimization is still incredibly essential for SEO, but more importantly conversion rate optimization (OIC's Marketing & Operations Manager, Chris Everett, explains it well in his article Why Top Rankings Just Don't Cut it Anymore. In short, a properly-optimized website "sets the stage" for SEO and the future influx of search engine visitors.

In this article, I want to share with you 3 common weaknesses that most marketers can address to better optimize their website. Unlike other tips that are more intricate on a specific aspect of website optimization, these weaknesses are big (but rather easy to fix,) and will have a momentous impact on you organic SEO efforts.

1. The Ever Important Sitemap

The HTML sitemap is considered the second most important page of a website (next to the homepage.) In essence, the sitemap is the search engine spider's roadmap to your website, directing the spider to crawl and index all of the optimized pages of your site.

Not having sitemap is like not having tire's on your car. It tries to move forward, but is inefficient at getting anywhere. The sitemap should contain links to all of the pages found on your website. Additionally, each link on the sitemap should use semi-optimized anchor text. For example, if you build a page on your site optimized for "Men's Road Bikes," it's wise to use that exact phrase as the link's anchor text when linking that page on your sitemap.

Lastly, make sure the sitemap itself is linked on all pages of the website, preferably in a set of footer links or navigation links.

2. Duplicate Website Content

Upon taking on a local SEO project, I was confused as to why this website was no where to be found in the search engines. It was decently optimized and offered great content, but the only page ranking was the "about our staff" page, and that was in the middle of page 3 on Google.

Come to find out, the owner of the site had another website. "Oh s**t," I thought to myself. "We got duplicate content." Sure enough, his other website was a complete mirror image of the site I was working on.

Duplicate content is a common issue that plagues a lot of websites. And it's not just an issue that involves duplicate content on other sites, but in most cases, it's having duplicate content on similar pages throughout the same site. This is especially common on ecommerce sites that have thousands of pages, many of which that overlap in relevancy.

Perhaps the most common culprit involving duplicate content stems from the page title and meta description. These are two elements that are both very important for organic SEO and can often become auto-generated based on CMS software. This auto-generation can cause duplicate content without the website owner even realizing it.

Fortunately, there's a pretty easy way to pinpoint duplicate content on your site by checking your website's Google Webmaster Tools. In the left hand navigation, click the option "Optimization," then "HTML Improvements." Here can you drill down on the specific pages that have either duplicate page titles and/or meta descriptions.

3. An Accurate Citation

The three pieces of information that define the citation of your business are its name, address, and phone number. The most essential place to mention the citation is your website's "contact us" page. However, I recommend including the citation in the footer so that it's present on all pages of your website.

Including your business's citation on your website is important to display credibility to Google. This is especially important if any of your search engine traffic derives from local search. In a nutshell, Google spiders will crawl the citation on your website and align the information with other citations found about your business on other sites (such as your Google+ page, LinkedIn page, YellowPages listing, and various other social sites and web directories.)

In summary, it's important to have an accurate citation on your website that exactly matches all other citations of your business found around the web. Any misalignment in citation information will cause Google confusion, and you definitely want to avoid that.

Well those are just three website optimization weaknesses that may be hindering your site's organic SEO performance. To discover more insights on how to make your site rank higher in Google, visit our branch of website optimization specialists and sign-up for a free organic SEO assessment. They will audit your site and provide you with honest recommendations to further optimize your website.

This article was produced by Tyler Tafelsky, Illinois SEO and Internet marketing manager here at OIC Group, Inc. You can contact Tyler Tafelsky directly via email at Tyler@oicgroup.net, or connect with Tyler on Google+.

 

Peoria Web Design Company Offices:
OIC Group, Inc.
Phone: (309) 680-5600

Mailing Address:
PO Box 1111
Peoria, IL 61653