With over 500 algorithm updates each year, SEO best practices are constantly evolving to keep up. Failing to do this will probably land you with poor ranking results or, at worst, in the dreaded penalty situation.
Each of the topics covered in this article deserve their own post and we will be covering these in the coming months but today we’re going to look at modern SEO as a whole and exactly what you should and should not be doing to improve your rankings.
What is Modern SEO All About?
Google is constantly updating their algorithm but the underlying goal really never changes; produce a website that offers a quality user experience and don’t perform any tasks purely to manipulate the search results.
If you’re ever left questioning whether or not you should implement a new SEO idea or feature, there is a simple yes/no question you need to ask before you begin:
“If SEO did not exist, I would I do this?”
If the answer is no then 9 times out of 10 you should move on to other ideas because even if current algorithms won’t catch you out, you can bet they will in the very near future. You should be aiming to “future proof” your SEO to stand the test of time, not looking for cheap and temporary results.
WHAT TO DO
Use Engaging Page Titles and Meta Descriptions
These two elements are the first chance you get to grab a user’s attention so don’t waste it! With Google’s recent font change in the SERPs there is plenty of research to be done on new character limits and exactly how they should be written.
Moz has done a great job of covering this topic recently.
High Quality Content
Content is arguably the most important on-site SEO factor and something you really do need to get right for a number of reasons. Your copy should engage the user and provide them with all the info they need, fast.
This is a topic I covered in more detail last month, take a look at 6 Simple Steps to Effective Website Content for more info.
Once you have some quality content on your website, its time to start sharing and earn your site some more traffic. Whether you’re pushing a new infographic through email outreach or sharing it across Social Media, effective content can potentially drive thousands of new visitors to your site.
Simplify Your Navigation
Your navigation should make it easy for your visitors to find what they need without digging around through multiple nav bars or 3 levels of drop-down lists. Consider exactly what your visitors are looking for when they visit your site and make sure that you offer this in a simple way.
Users typically expect your more important pages to exist in the top navigation and Google follows this same assumption. Keep it simple and don’t feel that you need to include every single landing page directly into your main navigation bar! Listing all 100 of your products under a “Products” drop-down is nothing more than overwhelming; consider shortlisting your most popular items and adding a “more” link at the bottom which takes them to a page listing your entire range instead.
Attention to Detail
When you’re building a website, make sure you do it properly and don’t be tempted to take shortcuts. Even if the user won’t see these shortcuts, Google will and it may be enough to lower the perceived overall quality of your site. Always include:
- Image alt text
- Image width and height
- A thorough check of content spelling and grammar
- Correct CSS and HTML formatting
The quickest way to check most of these elements is to run the site or new page through the W3C Markup Validation Service and Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider Tool. This tools provide you with all the info you should need.
WHAT NOT TO DO
For the best SEO tips, tips for seo, how to seo and seo how to, you’ve come to the right place!
Sound familiar? Thankfully, the days of keyword stuffing are little more than a distant nightmare though we do still see it from time to time. Following the Hummingbird update, Google is learning to understand what your content really means so there is no need to spam various keyword combinations over and over again.
Forget about keyword density and cover the topics your visitors need to know, the keywords and focus of your content will take care of themselves naturally.
This has been a massive no-no for quite a while now yet at least once a week we hear about SEOs offering thousands of directory links and promises of page 1.
Unless you find a genuine, moderated directory specific to your niche and it does seem to get some genuine traffic, avoid directories at all costs. They exist for no reason other than manipulating the SERPs and are likely to do more harm than good.
Much like directory links, article submissions are something you should be avoiding 99% of the time for exactly the same reasons. Submitting a quality article to an appropriate niche is fine but if you’re submitting them for the sake of a backlink then its time to divert that time and effort to more effective tactics.
If you’re paying for a legitimate ad placement in an industry magazine or website then that is perfectly fine. If you’re looking at paying for backlinks however, save your money! In the eyes of a search engine, a paid directory link is still a directory link.
Excessive Content Markup
Several years ago it was reasonably common practice for SEOs to highlight keywords in bold and/or italics and jam the content full of links to their other internal landing pages.
In my opinion this was never a great idea but it happened often and is unfortunately still being done by a lot of SEOs today. Excessive use of bold, italics and hyperlinks appears to be incredibly spammy and is sure to lower your visitors’ trust almost immediately.