It’s not easy to say what the top 10 best SEO tips really are, especially with all the so-called “experts” claiming to know the latest SEO tricks and “secrets Google doesn’t want you to know about.” It would take you days, even weeks to sort through this mess. So we thought we’d make it easy for beginners at SEO and condense all the clutter into what we call our Top 10 SEO tips and tricks.
Keep in mind, though, that we did not list these in any particular order. #1 will be just as important as #10 and so on. Our goal is not to say which tips are more or less valuable, but rather, to give beginners a starting point in their SEO efforts. These are all important and they apply to any industry or organization.
So without further ado…
Top 10 SEO Tips and Tricks
10. Free SEO is Still SEO
There’s a misconception out there that SEO has to cost an arm and a leg. And while it’s true that the very best SEO services will cost you (mainly because it costs the SEO company to provide it!), there are plenty of free SEO optimization techniques you can apply to your blog or corporate website. You can:
- Shore up your on-page SEO
- Analyze your competition with free SEO tools
- Research keywords with the Google Keyword Tool
- Contact other bloggers for guest blogging opportunities
- Write an epic, pillar article for your blog that will attract links and visitors for years
On top of that, if you’re willing to spend some time separating the wheat from the chaff, there are legitimate SEO bloggers out there willing to impart free SEO tips and tricks to any reader willing to put in the time to get an edge. Some of the best SEO blogs out there are written by Glen Allsopp, Michael Gray, Aaron Wall, and the SEOmoz SEO Blog run primarily by Rand Fishkin. Pay extra close attention to what these guys have to say because the information they give out for free is usually better or at least as good at the information you’ll receive from a $500/hour SEO consultant, and they’re just as easy to implement.
9. Start With Local SEO
It can be tempting to shoot for the stars and set your goals on keywords like “Accountant” or “Auto Insurance.” But before you go after these blockbuster keywords, it makes a lot more sense to target easier local SEO keywords like “Houston Accountant” or “Miami Auto Insurance,” depending on where your business is located.
Here are three local SEO tips that show why this is the case:
First, beating out established corporations for highly-prized keywords will take a lot of time and money. There’s just no way around it. But if you focus first on ranking #1 for local keywords, you’ll start to get some cash rolling in while at the same time making progress for your target keyword. For example, building up a backlink profile for the keyword “Houston accountant” will actually help you rank for the keyword “accountant,” even if you don’t see yourself in the top 100. Google needs to see that you’ve proven yourself with lower-volume keywords first. Only then will you have a chance at higher-volume keywords down the line.
Second, targeting local keywords will gain you clients much sooner than you would have otherwise, which is important because this allows you to gain positive testimonials and referrals. This is a much better situation to be in than to finally reach the Top 5 for “Accountant” and not have any clients under your belt.
Third, it’s much easier to track your progress for easier keywords. Even if you’re doing everything right, you still might not see much progress for a keyword like “Accountant” because the competition is just so stiff. This makes it hard to know if you’re taking all the right steps, whereas if you just targeted an easier keyword, each positive step you take is probably going to have a noticeable effect in the Google search engine rankings.
No matter how well you take heed of Google SEO tips and tricks, the process is going to be slow.
This isn’t to say that local SEO is easy–far from it. But it’s a heck of a lot easier than trying to rank for the big kahuna right out of the gate, especially for beginners at SEO.
8. Google SEO is a Slow Process
This is one of the more simple SEO tips to understand, although one of the most frustrating. No matter how well you take heed of Google SEO tips and tricks, the process is going to be slow. No one is able to rank a site #1 overnight unless the keyword is completely useless. No one. And this makes sense for Google, too, as it prevents the SERPs from fluctuating too much. You have to prove yourself for more than just a week for Google to reward you with a top 10 ranking. And if we’re talking about the top keywords, it very well might take you or your SEO company an entire year. This goes for Google as well as Yahoo and Bing, and for any CMS–Wordpress, Joomla, whatever. No one is exempt from this trust-building phase.
But see, smart SEOs take this as an opportunity rather than a problem. The thing is, most bloggers and webmasters will notice that they haven’t made any real progress in weeks, and so they must not be “cut out” for SEO, and they eventually quit working on their SEO optimization. You may have the temptation to quit, too, when ranking your own sites. But don’t give in because before long, Google will begin to place trust in your site. With all the junk out there today, all Google wants to see is that you gain backlinks consistently for an extended period of time. Since most sites tend to be trashy, this is a great way for Google to weed them out.
So my Google SEO tip to you is this: don’t let up. Google has a random nature, and they’ll push your site up from #500 all the way to the top 10 seemingly out of nowhere. But of course, it’s not out of nowhere because you’ve been working hard for that ranking for months. Sometimes it just takes Google a while to warm up to your site.
7. SEO Copywriting is Everything
Link-building gets all the attention, but just remember that the only reliable information Google has about your site is the content you write on it. Think of your blog posts as little spider webs, each of them serving to “catch” another segment in your target audience. Let’s say your site is about cars. There are sports car fans, luxury car fans, convertible fans, monster truck fans, etc. It would be impossible to attract all of these different types of fans with a site just about “cars”–that’s too generic. But writing a blog post about sports cars, another post about monster trucks, etc, will help you capture all of these different types of fans.
The best SEO copywriting tips I’ve ever read come from Copyblogger, run primarily by the fantastic Brian Clark. Whatever you need to know–headline writing tips, content writing tips, SEO writing tips, it’s all in there.
Not only will copywriting gets you a wider audience, but it will convert a much higher percentage of your audience once they’ve reached your site, too. It’s a win-win.
6. SEO is Always Tough for Beginners
It can be a rough first few weeks and months for beginners who want to learn SEO. There’s a lot of new terminology to memorize (what the heck is Joomla?), lots of outdated information (do meta keywords still matter?), and the competition is getting fiercer by the day. But here’s the good news: every SEO expert today was a beginner at some point in the past, and they reached guru status by a constant focus on improving their SEO game. No one is born with SEO knowledge; it doesn’t “come naturally” to anyone since SEO itself was invented years after each of us was born.
So how do beginners become pro? Well, the first step is to forget everything you think you know about SEO because there’s a good chance most of it is either wrong or outdated. Most of the top SEO tips and tricks that were repeated over and over again back in 2002 will probably no longer be relevant in 2012. This is one of the toughest parts of being a novice at SEO. I suggest that the greatest education in SEO you can have is to reverse engineer top-ranking sites and see where they are getting their links from. No matter what the experts say, nothing beats looking at the evidence first hand.
Where are sites getting their links from? Article directories? Footer links? Contextual links on other high ranking sites? Studying the backlink profiles of sites ranked in the Top 10 in Google is the best first lesson you can learn.
The next important step is to experiment. It’s great to read all the best search engine optimization tips, but until you go out there and try implementing what you’ve learned, it’s just theory. The best motivator to keep learning SEO is getting high rankings. Once you learn how to do it, you won’t want to stop.
5. SEO Comes Before Web Design
Web design is inherently sexy. SEO…not so much.
And although we’re the first to admit that web design is extremely important, it’s a good idea to take care of your SEO before you work on your web design, or at least, your web designer should have a professional SEO at his side to consult him.
This simple SEO tip will save you hours of headaches later down the line, as it’s an absolute pain to go back and have to change your core web design to make it search-engine friendly. Much better to fix this at the start.
One of the best SEO web design tips I’ve come across is to pick a WordPress or Joomla theme that has SEO already build into it. A good example of this is the Thesis Theme, the theme that our site is built on. It’s possibly the very first theme that is completely optimized for web design SEO, and it’s easy to see why. Practically everything that has any SEO relevance is customizable with just a few clicks and there’s nothing you can’t do with Thesis. If you’re looking for beautiful WordPress themes with a bit more style than Thesis out-of-the-box, WooThemes are your best bet.
4. Bing SEO = Google SEO
A common mistake SEO bloggers make is they think they have to optimize their website for Google and Bing separately, somehow thinking that these two search engines have drastically different ranking algorithms. The truth is that yes, their algorithms are different, but it’s no use trying to use two separate strategies to rank your sites on both. What works for one will probably work for the other, and most of their algorithm differences are things you can’t control anyway (keywords in your domain name, for example).
All the top SEO tips you read can and should be applied to all search engines, including Google, Yahoo, and Bing. If you do happen to notice that you rank in the Top 10 in Google but not even in the top 100 in Bing, there may be some steps to take in order to fix that problem. But unless the discrepancy is that big, don’t assume that you need to employ a “Bing SEO strategy” because for the most part, SEO is the same everywhere.
3. Focus on Link Diversity
Recently, research out of SEOmoz confirmed what many top SEOs already knew: it’s not just how many links you receive, it’s from how many different websites. Google loves to see link diversity in your backlink profile, so give them what they want to see and try to score links from as many different sites as possible.
Here’s a snippet of the data that came out of the SEOmoz research study:
What the graphic basically means is that SERP rankings have a 0.25 correlation with SEO rankings. In normal human terms, this means that link diversity makes up about 6.25% of the entire Google algorithm. This might not seem like much, but it actually is pretty important. Google has stated that they look at more than 200 search engine ranking factors when calculating their rankings, which means that the average ranking factor accounts for 0.5% of the entire algorithm. This makes link diversity 12.5x more important than your average ranking factor.
Long story short: it matters. A lot.
2. Read the Top Online SEO forums
This is probably the most simple SEO tip on this top 10 list. It doesn’t take any special software or expert knowledge. All you have to do is read.
Although the top SEO experts tend to stay away from the forums (they’re too busy running their own firms!), there are still plenty of knowledgeable people who are more than happy to help you succeed in your SEO efforts. There is an absolute goldmine of free SEO tips and tricks available on SEO forums. If you’re paying attention, you’ll be able to recognize the experts from the novices. Once you do, pay extra attention to each of their posts, as they’ve been through it all and back.
A word of caution, though: there is a lot (and I mean a lot) of junk on SEO forums. Actually, depending on the forum, over 75% of stuff you will read is pure bogus and/or spam. You really just have to know where to look.
1. Don’t Give Up
OK, I know I mentioned at the start that these top 10 SEO tricks and tips are in no particular order, but I’m going to have to take that back, because this last one is of prime importance.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen beautiful websites go to waste because their owners just gave up on the SEO game. Too much work, too much time, too much money, so they say.
To achieve something you’ve never had, you need to do something you’ve never done.
And at Emineer, we happen to agree. Great SEO does take more work than you think, it takes more time than you have, and more money than you can spend. But remember the goal: to achieve more traffic and business clients than you can handle!
There’s an old saying that goes, “To achieve something you’ve never had, you need to do something you’ve never done.” Great SEO will give you and your organization something it may never have had before: a surge of new, hyper-targeted clients who are ready to do business. But see, to reach this point, you need to do something you may never have otherwise done. And in the SEO game, that usually means you need to continue to optimize beyond anything you ever imagined before, because hard work does pay off in the end.
Take it from us: don’t give up, because the longer you can sustain a high degree of commitment and determination, the higher the chance that your competitors will give up first. And once they do, you’ve achieved what you set out to get. It’s as simple and easy as that.