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SEO Best Practices For Google and Bing

Posted on  by Rob Vinciguerra

SEO NinjaAs a company that specializes in, among other things, SEO, (that’s search engine optimization for laymen), we get a lot of questions on how we are going to do SEO for a particular site.

This article will address frequently asked questions, identify common methods of SEO, many of which are “black hat,” and discuss the best methods for SEO.

What is Search Engine Optimization?

SEO is a concerted effort to increase the visibility of a page in search results. It’s to make a particular page show up in a higher ranking on both Google and Bing. That’s it.

What are common inexpensive SEO methods?

There are lots of SEO services all over the internet that consider themselves experts in SEO. A simple Google search will result in pages of such services. Often SEO is offered for next to nothing on places like Craigslist or Freelancer.com.

Common sense, however, dictates that if you’re paying pennies per hour for a service then it’s only worth pennies.

That’s because these so-called experts are only experts in what is called Black Hat SEO. Essentially, they are spammers. They comment sections on news articles, internet forums, and social media to spam links and keywords. They set up link farms and add your link. They hide outbound links on your page that search engines can see but no one else.

Why do they do this? The concept is called link building. Having links is important to SEO. We’ll discuss link building later on.

Not only are these techniques shady and generally frowned upon, but they will get a domain delisted from Google and banned from Bing.

Further, these methods aren’t so much effective (as we discussed in our recent blog post about how blogs are crucial). It doesn’t get the product in front of the right people. It’s damaging to brand reputation. It is also largely ineffective due to Google and Bing’s persistence in stifling such practices.

What is real SEO?

A firm that performs actual SEO isn’t going to charge $1 to $3 per hour. They’re going to charge a market rate that one would expect in the developed world, and depending on the services provided that should range from $12 per hour to $120 per hour.

This day and age there are only three effective methods of SEO.

1. Website optimization.
2. Quality content.
3. Be social.

That’s it. Just one, two, and three. No shady tricks. Just real good hard work. Let’s break down each category.

Website Optimization

Having your website configured correctly is the first step to being visible on search engines. What does that mean and what does that include?

1. Use SEO Friendly URLs

SEO friendly URLs contain the title of the page, and that tile should include keywords.

Here is an example of an SEO friendly URL:
domain.co/-seo-friendly-url

Here is an example of a URL that is not SEO friendly:
domain.co/content/1019292/content.html

What’s the different? URLs that have relevant information to the page will get ranked higher by search engines.

So, we want our URL to match the page title, and we want the page title to match keywords in the body of the page.

Here’s a scenario. Let’s say we have a page about SEO friendly URLs.

Example:

Page title: How To Use SEO Friendly URLs
Page URL: domain.co/how-to-use-SEO-friendly-urls
Page content: “SEO friendly URLs are vital to search engine visibility…”

2. Use Metadata and Schemas.

Metadata is information that appears to the search engine, like a description of a page. Meta descriptions do not directly increase page rank, but does help with click-through because it tells the search engine what the page is about. Further, it does increase page rank indirectly. As the page is shared the metadata gets embedded in other pages. This increases the links visibility.

Schemas are html tags that should be included in content. These are tags that don’t appear on the page, but search engines look for. They look for them because their goal is to get the most relevant content.

There are a multitude of properties that can be used in concert. Fortunately, Google and Bing have already gotten together and published them. For detailed information on schemas visit Schema.org.

3. Be crawlable.

Crawability is a search engine’s ability to index a website. The website must be indexed for it to appear in search results. This means having a solid website structure, including a sitemap. Ever wonder why most websites still include a sitemap in addition to their navigation menu? Now you know.

Interlink your pages together. Are you discussing a product, service, or concept previously talked about on another page? Link to it. Speaking of linking, be sure to link outside of your own website as well. This improves credibility.

For the love of SEO use RSS. You may not use an RSS reader to keep track of new content on websites, you may not even know someone who does. It doesn’t matter. Search engines sniff out the XML and it makes your links easily indexable. A website cannot afford to be without RSS.

Do not use flash, frames, iframes, Java, or Silverlight to build your site. Yes, these things can look cool and flashy. But they can’t always be indexed, and in many cases they simply won’t be. If sparkle and zazz is the goal, use the HTML5 standard.

Quality Content

If you’re going to have content, make it valuable. When it comes to SEO the content is king. Of course, the previously discussed optimization techniques need to be in place first.

1. Have a blog.

Why is a blog important? This is the development of quality content that will lead people to your site. Blog posts should be relevant, they should be quality on their own, they should relate to the site’s primary demographic, product, and/or service.

2. Make cool images.

Info graphics are currently all the rage. But so are simple memes. Let’s not forget that grumpy cat was featured on national news. Incorporate trends into your own content to be more visible. Don’t steal images and don’t use clip art so as to not be sued and to not look generic.

3. Integrate your blog into your website.

A lot of people realize that they need a blog because somehow that will help them sell products and services. They just don’t get how.

First, the blog needs to be on the domain.

Good Examples:

www.domain.com/blog
blog.domain.com

Bad examples:

companyname.blogger.com
companyname.wordpress.com

By not having the blog on your own domain, you’re giving away the search engine visibility, keywords, content and all, to whichever company hosts the blog. You’re not trying to get more business for Blogger.com. You want to use your blog to get more traffic for you.

What is meant by integration? Have the blog in your website’s framework. If they land on your blog post, which is what you want them to do, then you want them to see that on your site they can buy related products or use related services.

Without full blog integration, you can have the best blog content, tons of traffic, and a massive bounce rate because no one knows that you’re selling what they’re looking for.

As an example, this is a blog post about SEO on a website that provides SEO services. The idea is that people interested in SEO will land on this blog post, become informed about SEO, and use our service if they require it. That same principle should be used in practice by any other company in any other business.

4. Build Quality back links.

I promised at the beginning that I would touch on this subject again. Search engines rate the credibility of a domain based, in part, on the number of other sites that link into it.

The only way effectively build these links are over time, by having quality content. If the content is good then other people will repost it and link to you organically.

There are other methods of doing this. One is to give away free products and services to bloggers to get them to blog about you, and therefore link back.

Get listed in directories. For example, if someone has a list of “websites that provide X service,” and you provide X service, then email them and ask for inclusion.

Build a Wikipedia page (if plausible).

Use press releases. This is a good method for building early stage SEO. However, after a website is established, it’s not a good practice.

Replicate content. Repost your content on other sites, or post articles about your product or service on other sites. This can be a person blog, or services like Yahoo! Voices or CNN iReport. Again, these are good tactics for early stage SEO only.

Be Social

Being social requires two things. Have your social icons built-in to your framework, and also have sharing tools on your content pages. These are two separate but equally important concepts.

1. Your social icons.

As stated, your social icons should be built-in to your framework. Preferably they should be very large and obvious, and in the upper right corner. However, in some schemes they can be effective elsewhere.

Your social icons are icons that link directly to your website’s social media feeds. This is your Facebook, your Google+, your Twitter, your YouTube, and et cetera.

Too often I’ve seen these be sharing icons, or worse, link to private personal profiles and not business pages.

2. Have sharing icons.

Sharing icons are widgets that allow visitors to share your content in their own social feeds, or into content sharing networks. When people share content in their Facebook or Twitter then their friends are likely to trust it, and it can be shared again. Thus is can go viral.

Content sharing social networks, such as StumbleUpon and Reddit and amazing for popularizing. Be careful when using such networks for marketing purposes as they frown upon spam.

3. Incorporate social media.

Don’t leave your social media icons off of your page. If you have a YouTube channel or a podcast, work them into your core website. Also don’t forget to link back to your page from your social media. Sounds like common sense, but 50 percent of companies fail to do this.

Is that all there is to SEO?

Of course there’s much more to SEO. These are the bare basics. The wrong ways, the right ways, and the kinds of things that are actually involved in terms of content and website structure.

In most cases, to truly achieve good return on investment (ROI) for a SEO campaign, some – if not a significant amount – of web development will be required.

This article serves as a good resource for a person to begin to optimize their own website. It also serves as a blueprint of what to expect when hiring a firm for SEO. If they only talk about black hat methods and don’t analyze your website, then they don’t know what they’re dong.

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