Getting to the top of the search engines for your chosen keywords takes careful planning and an effective strategy. This post on the do’s and don’ts of SEO will help to keep you on track.
Do SWOT Analysis
Before you can start any digital marketing campaign, you need to understand the current state of your website by doing a thorough SWOT analysis. Typically we would look at what you are currently doing, understand what you are doing well and what your weaknesses are; looking for opportunities and threats, taking into account industry trends and competitor insights. It is from here that we would put together an action plan.
SEO went through a huge amount of change in 2012 with Google releasing Google Penguine and sites being penalised for having a poor link profile. The SEO industry for some time had been moving away from manually built links and towards links generaed naturally through effective content marketing – essentially great content being shared online. Done well this is highly effective and removes any chance of being penalised by the search engines. In this post I’m going to go through the fundamentals of ranking a website, illustrating what to do and what not to do. It isn’t an SEO blue print and rather a post to ensure that you keep on track and put your efforts into the right areas.
Do understand your audience and target keywords
Before you start directing qualified traffic to your site, you need to understand who your target is and where they hang out. This takes lots of research and a good place to start is on blogs and forums. Typically you will find people that spend a lot of time researching, you get the hobbyist types, the more serious people and the experts. Understand the ones that you are after and where they hang out and the sort of information that they are after. You can then start to formulate a plan on the content that you are going to create that will bring qualified traffic to your site.
Understand what terms they use to find your products or services. There are a number of keyword tools that will show you the search volume for each. A popular keyword tool is the AdWords keyword tool. It’s a free tool that anyone can use and will give you a great insight into exactly what the search volumes are for each keyword. The most important thing to remember when using this tool though is to search for exact match keywords otherwise your search volumes will be distorted.
Don’t have any duplicate content
This probably sounds really obvious but you would be amazed at how many sites do it and most of the time they do it completely unknowingly. Assuming that you are writing all of your own content, most duplication errors are cause by a poor site structure and consequently pages are appearing in multiple categories, causing content to be duplicated. For example, if you have an e-commerce site and place a product in 2 categories, you are likely to have 2 identical pages unless you have set up measures to protect against this. Another common error is to copy manufacturers’ descriptions. Don’t do it!
Don’t stuff content with your keywords
A lot of people believe that they will gain rankings by stuffing their content full of keywords but in fact, the complete opposite happens. If you stuff your website with keywords, you are likely to be hit with a Google Panda penalty and your rankings are likely to tank or for those who have always done it, not rise to where they should be. Really no keywords should have a keyword density higher than 2.5% on a particular page unless you are deliberately putting them in.
Do know your link Profile and do regular live link checks
Off-site SEO plays a huge part in the ranking of your website, however it is very difficult to improve you link profile unless you know what is wrong with it in the first place. Before doing any link building you should first run a backlink check (This is normally covered in the SWOT analysis) and run through the number of links you have, the type of links, the anchor text diversity, the number of indexed links vs. unidexed links etc. Only once you know this information can you set about link building otherwise you will be blundering around in the dark and could potentially be making it worse. Don’t forget that bad links will count against you now.
Many people record the links that they have built to a website but how many actually check whether they are live 3 months later? Blogger outreach is an effective way of broadening your reach and building good links to your site however some blogs have a habit of removing the links after a while and claiming your content. This can be a completely genuine error where they have altered the author by mistake and sometimes it can be a less genuine error. There is no point going to the effort of blogger outreach unless you keep a tally and make sure they are still crediting you as the author.
Do set the right redirects you are setting up
Sometimes it is necessary to set up redirects to direct an old URL to a new one. The link juice will pass across if they are 301 redirects but it won’t if they are any other type of redirect like a 302 for example. Make sure that any redirects that you set up are 301 redirects
Do check indexed Links
As most people know, it is vital that your site is indexed. If it is not indexed, the search engines don’t know about it and it won’t rank. The same is true about links. Unless the web page they are on is indexed, the links going to your site won’t be known about by the search engines and won’t count for anything. When building links, make sure you are actually looking at what links are indexed and which are not. If you have a load of live links that aren’t indexed, get them indexed!
Do know your anchor text diversity
With the introduction of Google Penguin back in April 2012, it is now vital that you keep track of your anchor text diversity. Unless you keep track it will be very difficult to keep a high anchor text diversity and you will be treading on very thin ice and are asking for a penalty.
Do know your link diversity
Your link profile needs to look natural otherwise you are inviting penalties. In theory, if you build links in the correct way you should end up with a natural link profile. Theory though is a wonderful thing and there is a lot of money at stake if you get it wrong. Make sure you monitor the type of links going to your site and diversify them as much as possible to avoid any potential penalties.
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