As always in the SEO community there are ongoing discussions about various search engine algorithm updates which might affect the tactics used for search engine optimisation. These include debate around updates on weighting given to brand authority (the Google Vince update), the value of PageRank sculpting and the ever reducing value of link acquisition schemes.
Despite all these issues and discussions, the core principles of SEO remain steadfast. These principles determine our overall approach to search engine optimisation and I have given a breakdown of the top 5 below:
Optimise your site for humans NOT search engines. Every penny of your website development budget should be invested in producing a website that is relevant and engaging for users and effectively converts them to a valuable action. This is what the search engines want to see too, so why invest in short term, black hat techniques (that may result in blacklisting) when you can address long term SEO and Conversion objectives with the same budget?
Keep your site visible and accessible to the search engines. Without investing tens of thousands of pounds you can easily ensure your site is open to search engine crawlers, flag significant changes on your site using the various webmaster tools available and create a site that has a clear, structured navigation. It is also important to make sure certain areas of your site (and any test sites in development) are NOT accessible to search engines. There are certain pages you don’t want to see appearing at position 1!
Content, Content, Content. Not just for the search engines, but for the users too. Regularly refresh your content with updated information and include relevant, keyword rich content (NOT spam) where you can. Make sure the search engines can see your site is an authority on the market you are active in, by publishing content that demonstrates this. If you want to appear in the listings above your competitors, then you need to show that you are more of an authority than they are.
Develop your online presence. If you run a successful business, then you no doubt have good relationships with key people in your industry. You’ll have suppliers and customers who you deal with on a regular basis. You’ll have sales and marketing activity. You may even have PR activity. All of this can be used to develop your online presence. The more positive online content that this network can publish for you, the better.
Benchmark performance and continually work to make improvements. Make sure you’ve got a clear idea of what you are trying to achieve. Are you targeting positions against one specific term on one search engine? Are you targeting overall organic traffic from all search engines? How does this fit in with your PPC strategy. In order to compile a strategy, then benchmark and measure the success of it, it is critical to use your web analytics data and to see the development of your site as an ongoing process, not a one off task.