By Ahmed Bilal
If you were given the task of summarizing the whole wealth of SEO knowledge in 10 concise tips, what would you come up with?
Hereâ€™s my list:
1. Buy / rent an old site
The benefits are well-documented, but an important factor often overlooked here is time. Yes, you can spend 6 months, put together all that content, get all those links, then wait for another 3 years while the site â€˜maturesâ€™â€¦but you donâ€™t have that much time, do you?
Buying the â€˜rightâ€™ site gives you a fantastic head-start in any niche,
Youâ€™ll always find â€˜potential sitesâ€™ with owners who donâ€™t have the time to tend to their website. Thereâ€™s a growing awareness online on the value of websites, but in most niches you can still get good bargains.
2. Optimize Title tags
A Title tag will tell the search engines and users what the current web page is about. To improve your search engine rankings, use that pageâ€™s target keywords in the Title tag. To cater for regular readers, keep your Title tag short and readable, and if you wish, you can also brand each page with your main domain url.
3. Optimize URL structure
Rand tells it all in his 11 Best Practices to URLs. A few key highlights:
â€¢ Use static URLs
â€¢ Keep it short (instead of long folder sequences and sentences) and descriptive (instead of numbers)
â€¢ Use keywords
â€¢ Use hyphens for term separation
â€¢ Remove extra data
As Darren observes, you can miss one or two of these and still rank well. However, when youâ€™re building a new site you need to get as many things right out of the box as possible, and URL structures are fairly easy to get right.
4. Site information architecture
Michael Gray from his experiment on deep crawling for mini-sites:
For sites that are brand spankinâ€™ new to relatively new (less than 1 year), or have less than 30 pages in total, go ahead and link everything to everything, using a combination of top, side and footer navigation. Once youâ€™re â€œoldâ€?, and more importantly have some trust (ie organic rankings and traffic) itâ€™s time to start thinking about siloing.
If you want your web pages deep-crawled and indexed (and they arenâ€™t already), read that article on siloing.
5. Quality content
A few thoughts:
â€¢ Initially, forget about getting links and focus on providing information that you KNOW your audience needs. Do it in quantity, do it quickly and get it out there on your website early.
â€¢ Itâ€™s not hard to create something unique and useful that is focused towards your niche audience â€“ the main difference between success and failure is the ability to take action and actuality implement your ideas.
6. Get links from these directories and sites (if you can afford / manage it)
â€¢ Yahoo Directory
â€¢ MSN bCentral
â€¢ Best Of The Web
These are more directories and websites that could be useful, but in getting your website the early link juice and search engine trust, these 11 are the most effective (and some websites, like About.com and Wikipedia.com, are very tough to get links from).
7. Linkbait the A-list
Controversial, but I advise you to approach this with the target of gaining ideas for adding value to your website.
â€¢ Find out who the top bloggers / websites are in your niche (in search engine rankings, mindshare and influence).
â€¢ Study their websites and learn â€œwhatâ€? they link out to.
â€¢ If it fits in with your siteâ€™s focus, determine what you must do to create something unique, compelling and useful, and then get busy doing it.
â€¢ Donâ€™t expect the world when you send your article in an e-mail to your A-list.
8. Go cherry-picking for links
Iâ€™ve always believed that if you listen to the experts, you will learn most of what you need to know about any subject. If you want a quick explanation of how to find the best links for your websites, learn from Jim Boykin and read this, this and this.
And if you need a step-by-step walkthrough on the actual link building process, hereâ€™s a fantastic post by Todd Malicoat on link building cycles.
9. Network like crazy
You cannot overestimate the importance of networking, especially online where you have no physical interaction with your clients or your competition.
â€¢ Make the best use of your time by targeting the â€˜hotspotsâ€™ of networking in your niche.
â€¢ Visit forums and comment on other blogs so you can build a presence in your industry.
â€¢ Email and IM are meant for you to stay in touch with contacts and turn strangers into friends. Use them.
â€¢ Contacts are everything, especially in the competitive industries.
10. Learn how to â€œget luckyâ€?
Scott Adams says it a whole lot better than me, but the basic principle is that in order to be â€˜luckyâ€™, you have to put yourself out there and give yourself the best chance possible of getting lucky.
The best way to be lucky in business is to make sure you take advantage of the long tail of opportunities â€“ if youâ€™re not putting your â€˜calling cardsâ€™ out far and wide, how do you expect to get noticed and have opportunities come your way?
How does this apply to SEO? In terms of getting natural backlinks, of course.
Soâ€¦youâ€™ve read my list, now itâ€™s your turn – what are your top 10 tips for SEO success?
[The above article is a submission for Marketing Pilgrimâ€™s Search Engine Marketing Scholarship Contest. Each Monday in October, entries will be published and the most popular article of the week will qualify for the $5,000 grand prize. If youâ€™d like to submit an entry, please view the contest entry-requirements and guidelines.]