Looking for some tips on how to tackle SEO in 2014? Here’s 100 SEO tips that I put together that you can read over and use within your own online business.
1. Publish natural content
Whenever I sit with a client, I always emphasize publishing natural content. This is because that’s what a) your readers want b) the search engines want. If you’re building out pages stuffed with unnatural content to satisfy search engines, then you’re going to struggle long term. Natural content is best. (more reasons explained why below)
2. Discretely target keywords within your page titles
If you take a look at the title of this article, you’ll see I’m targeting the keyword “SEO Tips”. However, even though I am, the title still reads naturally. “100 SEO Tips in 15 Minutes or Less”, because that’s exactly what it is. 100 tips that you can read over in less than 15 minutes. I haven’t simply titled this page “SEO tips”, and nothing else. Target keywords of interest in your page titles but keep it natural.
3. Use WordPress SEO by Yoast
This is by far one of the best and most effective SEO plugins I’ve seen for WordPress. It’s so easy to use and guides you along the way. The support is great too.
4. Always be sure to have unique page names
When it comes to content, unique is always best, and your page names are no different. Unique page names will ensure your site performs well, is not likely to be penalised in any way, and isn’t competing with dozens of other sites with the same page names.
5. Always use lower case in your urls
Every now and then I see site owners using uppercase in their url structures and whilst its not the end of the world, it’s not recommended. Some server environments identify uppercase and lowercase variations as different urls, which can sometimes lead to 404 errors. Always be sure to keep your url structure all lowercase.
6. Avoid keyword stuffing
I wrote an article about keyword stuffing just recently, and in that article I gave a bunch of reasons why it sucks – but I think the worst part about keyword stuffing (apart from potentially being penalised by the search engines) is that your content reads like crap. Nobody wants to read keyword stuffed content, it’s just awful. Write for humans, optimise for search engines.
7. Interlink your sites content
If you take note of what I’m doing here (continually within each blog entry) is that I’m “interlinking” my sites content. See above? I interlinked “keyword stuffing” to an article about keyword stuffing. This does 2 things. 1) It helps guide my readers 2) It helps the search engines better understand my sites/pages content. (It also helps increase user engagement and lower bounce rates too)
8. Be sure to write relevant and meaningful page descriptions
Your description tag is very important. In some cases I see business owners not writing them at all. This leads Google to pull information from the page and insert it within the SERPS. Your description tag should include relevant keywords, be less than 160 characters and (if possible) include some sort of enticing call to action or something that gets the interest of the person performing the search (so that they click thru)
9. Be sure to have unique page titles
Page titles are without a doubt, one of the most important tags. These should include your target keyw0rds, and also be creative enough to get the interest of the reader. Finding a balance between focusing just on keywords and having a natural title can sometimes be tricky, but it’s a balance worth finding. Always make sure each page on your site has a unique page title.
10. Avoid linking to questionable websites
You wouldn’t invite drug dealers and murderers over for tea with your parents, so don’t do it online. Consider links “relationships” (much like associates or friends). Only hang out (link) with reputable sources. Ones that have credibility and authority in their fields. Avoid linking to just about any website you can – especially dodgy ones.
11. Use synonyms
Synonyms represent natural language, and that’s important in terms of SEO. Synonyms are words that have similar meanings to other words (eg buy = purchase) and so on. Synonyms are apparently a powerful way of backlinking to your site (but I won’t get into that here)
13. Use related phrases (LSI)
Firstly LSI stands for latent semantic indexing which in lamens terms means “related words”. So If I was talking about the gym, I might mention, weights bench, treadmills, dumbells and so on. Actually that example probably sucks. Have a read what Aaron Wall says over at SEO Book about it. In any case, when you publish natural content, you will undoubtedly begin using related phrases (which is a good thing) unlike stuffing your pages full of one keyword (keyword stuffing)
14. Link out to highly credible sources
If you take note of what I’m doing here in this article, I’m actually linking out to highly credible sources (eg seobook.com, wikipedia.org) and so on. I treat links out like friendships (or relationships as said above) I’m not interested in bringing my site down by linking out to unknown or crappy sites. I value outbound links just as much as I do inbound ones. I only want quality.
15. Avoid using cheap SEO agencies
If you’re paying $100 a month for SEO, chances are you’re doing more harm than good. Any reputable SEO company will be charging $1,000 a month and upwards. Sure you might get something reasonable at less than that, but if you’re obsessing over price and nothing else – and it essentially becomes a race to the bottom, then it’s going to end in tears. Spend the money – do it once and do it right.
16. Avoid using automated tools and software
If you’re fussing around using software and tools to do your SEO, then chances are you’re missing the big picture. What is the big picture? SITE AUTHORITY. Site authority comes about when you publish good solid natural content that readers love for long periods of time. You don’t build site authority by mucking around with software that’s going to automatically blast your links out across the interwebs.
17. Transcribe videos
Videos are great, but they’re meaningless without written text. Whenever you shoot a video, make sure you capture that vocal element, then transcribe it to the page – just like what I do here on Bring the Donuts.
18. Transcribe audio
For the same reasons above. Search engine bots can’t “crawl” audio or video like they can with onpage text. So make sure you transcribe your audio too.
19. Use H1 tags
Get into the habit of using H1 tags. These are tags that often go overlooked, and it’s a shame. Header tags are a great way of helping search engines understand the content of your sites pages.
20. Use Google Analytics
If you’re not using Google Analytics then you should be. Start now. Google Analytics allows you to track and measure what’s going on with your website, and as with anything, if you don’t measure you can’t manage. One of the first things you should do is setup goal tracking and start tracking events on your site. (customer enquiries, sales etc)
21. Don’t fret over keyword density
Here’s one that just won’t go away – keyword density. I’ve had some interesting discussions about keyword density and it does my head in. Some people say 5%, other say 8%. When you read natural content you will find (in most cases) keyword density of around 2%. In any case, if you’re sitting around worrying about keyword density then you’re not seeing the big picture. Just publish natural good quality original content. Forget about fussing about over keyword density. Just keep it natural.
22. Use Google Webmaster tools
Much like Google Analytics, Google Webmaster tools is another “must have”. Some people get all weird thinking that Google might be “spying” on them, but I think that’s ridiculous. Webmaster Tools is great because it keeps you up to date with any potential issues that might be affecting you in the SERPS. It’s just a nice tool to have to ensure your site is healthy and doing what it should be doing – and not sitting there throwing errors all over the place without you knowing.
23. Don’t build artificial links
Here’s a thought – EARN your links, don’t build them. I know this will have plenty of people shaking their heads, and yes, even though I just said that, I still understand the importance of inbound links. However, there’s a big difference between a site that attracts natural links as opposed to someone sitting there all day every day submitting their sites to crappy free directories and ezines.
24. Avoid listing your site in cheap foreign directories
One of the most dangerous things you can do is submit your site to dozens of cheap foreign directories. These might be “free business directories” that accept just about anything that comes their way. I’ve seen plenty of well established website penalised as a result of doing this and it’s ridiculous. Don’t submit your business website to a free directory based in Russia, or I’ll slap you with a wet fish.
25. List your site in reputable directories
As said above, avoid crappy directories – especially FREE ones. Instead, consider listing your business on sites such as yellowpages, truelocal etc. These sites moderate everything and they keep them clean. They also rank highly in Google for a lot of small business service types – so they’re worthwhile. Just be sensible, only submit to directories with credibility (ones that you either use or have at least heard of)
26. Publish content frequently
This is where a LOT of small business owners fall down. They see having to publish content, a time consuming, boring and monotonous task. Guess what? You either do it, and your site performs, or you don’t and you end up wondering why on earth you’re not getting any traffic. Take a look around at some of the most popular sites on the web, and you’ll see that they ALL publish content regularly. This doesn’t mean you have to sit around writing articles all day every day. It just means you at least have to engage at some level – by promoting your services or products via content.
27. Optimize your images with relevant file names
img_193847483939.jpg means absolutely nothing to the search engines. Instead, a much better option would be to name your image small-child-horseriding.jpg. This will help the search engines understand what on earth your image actually is. Avoid the temptation to go crazy here though – just keep it natural and name your images what they actually are.
28. Avoid doing your own SEO
I spoke recently in a podcast about small business owners doing their own SEO, and I think it’s a complete and utter waste of time – not to mention potentially dangerous. If you don’t know what you’re doing – then hire an expert, or an agency. Be a business person, don’t try to become an SEO expert in one weekend.
29. Invest in training
If you really want to get “hands on” and tackle a lot of this work yourself, then you’ll have no other choice but to invest in some form of training. Whether that be attending workshops, joining membership sites, or registering for online courses. Learning this business takes a considerable amount of time. Training is always a great option, and one that I recommend.
30. SEO takes time
I spoke to a small business owner just recently and he said “If I don’t see results in 3 months, then I’ll cancel your service”. This was pretty frustrating to say the least, especially with the market that he worked in which was super competitive. I’m sure ANY business owner, when they first got started said to themselves “This is probably going to take some time to get going and to become established, but I understand that, and I’m here for the long haul”. SEO is no different. SEO is always ongoing and ever changing. Thinking that you’ll have a swarm of customers in just one weekend just isn’t going to happen.
31. Don’t just invest into SEO
Here’s a huge mistake that I see a lot of business owners making. They obsess just about SEO, and keywords, and nothing else. When you do this, you become single source dependent (quote from James Schramko) and this is dangerous. Because when you lose your rankings, you lose everything, and that sucks.
32. Prepare yourself for algorithm updates
There’s nothing worse than hearing a small business owner say, “We’re number one in Google”, like its some sort of “end result”, or “final accomplishment”. Guess what? I can almost guarantee you in 12 months you won’t be. That’s simply because the algorithm is CONSTANTLY being changed. To think that you can kick back and put your feet up on the desk at the office because you’re now “No. 1” is foolish.
33. Avoid chasing SEO “loop holes”
The minute you start trying to “game” the system, is the minute you take on HUGE risk. I see business owners having invested tens of thousands of dollars into their websites, literally RUIN them just by getting involved in search engine manipulation – that is, trying to cheat their way to the top. Loop holes are constantly being closed, and trying to game Google is always only ever going to be a lost cause. It’s stressful and its silly. Have a long term mindset and keep it clean.
34. Fewer high quality links, not lots of crappy ones
I once sat with a client and he said, “John, my competitor has over 125,000 backlinks, how can I get more?”. This is such a ridiculous question because it makes no sense at all. Fewer high quality links are worth MORE than a lot of low quality ones. Think about this, how many links does it REALLY take to give your site a massive boost? I reckon ONE. One damn link on the home page of Google, or Apple, or Microsoft and you would be everywhere. Of course that’s not going to happen, but it does demonstrate my point.
35. Avoid publishing duplicate content
Here’s a great way to ruin your site – by copying content from other sites. Believe it or not I see business owners doing this, and infact just recently sat with a business owner that said, “That’s okay isn’t it? I just didn’t want to have to write it myself”. Urrgh. Write your own stuff, don’t copy, and for those of you who run ecommerce sites, DON’T just upload a product database that your supplier gave to you, because it’s more than likely that there are 500 other site owners out there doing exactly the same thing.
36. Follow credible sources for SEO advice
When I want to ask a question about SEO, or I’m curious about something – I’m very careful about who I ask (or follow). I ask/follow people like Rand Fishkin, David Jenyns, and James Schramko. (these are all people who are actively going to events and seminars on the subject matter) I also like to keep a close eye on Matt Cutts and other credible sources like SEO roundtable , Moz, and Dan Petrovic over at the SEO Hangout.
37. Add a blog to your site
Small business owners are often frustrated at the performance of their websites – and in almost every case, I find that their sites have little, to no content. Content helps attract visitors to your site. This means traffic. Traffic means conversions. It’s a lot harder to do any of this without content. A great way to solve this problem is to implement a blog. A blog allows you to continually publish content, which inturn allows you to constantly broadcast your message – which should be you, promoting your business’s products and services.
38. Use categories
Don’t hang all of your pages straight off the root. And by root I mean, yourdomain.com.au/page1.html It’s always best to create categories that are meaningful and put your pages inside those categories. Just as you would a filing cabinet. Here’s some examples…
39. Use search engine friendly URL’s
A search engine friendly url is a url that makes sense to firstly our readers, but also – search engines. Here’s an example of a non search engine friendly url ( yourdomain.com.au/index.php/0911_hrt.php?cat=9&col=red2 ) This means absolutely nothing to the search engines at all. Instead, use search engine friendly urls that reflect your sites content. For example yourdomain.com.au/bicycles/ladies-bicycles.php is a much better url – and is search engine friendly.
40. Improve site speed
This kind of touches on hosting, because if you’re using a crappy host, then chances are it’s going to be slow – like watching a snail slide over a Jatz cracker covered in peanut butter. So what can you do about it? There are a few things. 1) Use dedicated hosting, which essentially means you get your own server. This means that you’re not sharing bandwidth with hundreds of other sites (less congestions means faster load times) 2) Don’t stuff your site full of bloated code and other elements like huge images and photos that slow it down. 3) enable browser caching. For this I use W3 Total Cache Or of course, all of these things combined.
41. Make your website responsive
Making your website responsive means it’s viewable across multiple devices. Whether they be a regular desktop computer, laptops, or mobile phones. Google themselves have given preference to sites that adopt this technology over sites that don’t. They say, “Google recommends webmasters follow the industry best practice of using responsive web design, namely serving the same HTML for all devices and using only CSS media queries to decide the rendering on each device.” You can read more about what Google thinks about responsive designs here.
42. You must have content
Unfortunately I sit with clients almost every 2nd day that expect to rank a website with no content for several dozen keywords. It’s madness. If you take your online presence seriously, at least make the effort to publish content. It’s an essential part of SEO
43. Use Google’s Keyword planner
If you’re interested in checking the amount of searches a particular phrase or keyword might get, then Google’s keyword planner is a great option. Google often changes this tool, but the basics remain the same. It really is THE go to tool in terms of keyword research. A word of caution though – don’t get too bogged down in data, and certainly don’t make the mistake of simply generating content around “keywords” only.
44. Use the Mozbar to determine keyword difficulty
I’ve always found keyword research to be relatively easy that is of course, using Google’s keyword planner as mentioned above. However sometimes it can be a bit tricky to determine just how difficult it might be to rank for certain keywords. Over the past few months I’ve started using the Mozbar. Essentially this is an addon for both Firefox and Chrome browsers and allows you to quickly analyze important SEO metrics. I’m enjoying using it, and I highly recommend it. You can find out more about it here – as well as download it.
45. Find out what keywords your competitors are targeting
This is something I rarely get into, but there are numerous tools around that essentially let you “spy” on what keywords your competitors are targeting. Two that come to mind are keywordspy.com and the other is semrush.com. Both are well known and spoken about quite a lot. I’ve always found the accuracy of these kinds of tools a bit “off”. The best way to know is to spy on your own sites and see if the results look accurate. Another tool you might want to take a look at is Alexa
46. Don’t build flat keyword heavy doorway pages
Something that a lot of cheap seo experts do is build out flat non informative (or helpful) web pages that do nothing except target one specific keyword. One terrible example of this are service providers that want to capture search traffic across dozens of potential suburbs. They end up with yourdomain.com.au/suburb-name1.php and yourdomain.com.au/suburb-name2.php and so on and so on. In the end the entire website ends up being this total mess that’s designed specifically for search engines and not for humans.
47. Forget about chasing keyword rich domain names
Look, exact match domains do work, and they can work well. But seriously, do you REALLY want to hand someone your business card that reads “cheapplumberinnorthsydney.com.au”? I spoke about this once before here. Oh, and be sure to check out another article I wrote about thin crappy exact match bridging domains here. Just don’t do it.
48. Don’t continually link back to your home page
One of the easiest ways to have your site penalized is to continually link back from external sources to your home page. This is especially true for anyone that’s involved in building artificial links. If 100% of your inbound links are pointing to your home page, then that’s really starting to look a bit “unnatural”. If you’re going to get involved in link building (which is always a sensitive subject) then at least diversify the “depth” your landing pages. Link to deeper pages, mix it up a bit.
49. Use ahrefs to examine a sites link profile
Ahrefs is a great tool and one that I use almost daily. Essentially it allows you to see exactly where a sites inbound links are coming from (backlinks) This is definitely something worth knowing. It’s really easy to use and shows the data in nice pie charts and bar graphs. It really will make you feel all warm and fuzzy.
50. Build relationships
Okay, this might have plenty of seo experts rolling their eyes, but seriously, at the end of the day, don’t discount “relationships”. By relationships I’m actually talking about getting out and meeting people. Of course you can network online as well, but by meeting people (at seminars and events and so forth) you increase the potential for opportunities to come about. Just recently I attended a business networking group and was asked to do a presentation to a large number of business owners. This brings about opportunities for people to a) talk about you b) buy from you c) refer you, either by word of mouth or by linking back to your site.
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