18 Essential SEO Tips & Techniques

Businesses are growing more aware of the need to understand and implement at least the basics of search engine optimization (SEO). But if you read a variety of blogs and websites, you’ll quickly see that there’s a lot of uncertainty over what makes up “the basics.” Without access to high-level consulting and without a lot of experience knowing what SEO resources can be trusted, there’s also a lot of misinformation about SEO strategies and tactics.

1. Commit yourself to the process. SEO isn’t a one-time event. Search engine algorithms change regularly, so the tactics that worked last year may not work this year. SEO requires a long-term outlook and commitment.

2. Be patient. SEO isn’t about instant gratification. Results often take months to see, and this is especially true the smaller you are, and the newer you are to doing business online.

3. Ask a lot of questions when hiring an SEO company. It’s your job to know what kind of tactics the company uses. Ask for specifics. Ask if there are any risks involved. Then get online yourself and do your own research—about the company, about the tactics they discussed, and so forth.

4. Become a student of SEO. If you’re taking the do-it-yourself route, you’ll have to become a student of SEO and learn as much as you can. Luckily for you, there are plenty of great web resources and several terrific books you can read. (Yes, actual printed books!) See our What Is SEO page for a variety of articles, books and resources.

5. Have web analytics in place at the start. You should have clearly defined goals for your SEO efforts, and you’ll need web analytics software in place so you can track what’s working and what’s not.

6. Build a great web site. I’m sure you want to show up on the first page of results. Ask yourself, “Is my site really one of the 10 best sites in the world on this topic?” Be honest. If it’s not, make it better.

7. Include a site map page. Spiders can’t index pages that can’t be crawled. A site map will help spiders find all the important pages on your site, and help the spider understand your site’s hierarchy. This is especially helpful if your site has a hard-to-crawl navigation menu. If your site is large, make several site map pages. Keep each one to less than 100 links. I tell clients 75 is the max to be safe.

8. Make SEO-friendly URLs. Use keywords in your URLs and file names, such asyourdomain.com/red-widgets.html. Don’t overdo it, though. A file with 3+ hyphens tends to look spammy and users may be hesitant to click on it. Related bonus tip: Use hyphens in URLs and file names, not underscores. Hyphens are treated as a “space,” while underscores are not.

9. Do keyword research at the start of the project. If you’re on a tight budget, use the free versions of Keyword Discovery or WordTracker, both of which also have more powerful paid versions. Ignore the numbers these tools show; what’s important is the relative volume of one keyword to another. Another good free tool is Google’s AdWords Keyword Tool, which doesn’t show exact numbers.

10. Open up a PPC account. Whether it’s Google’s AdWords, Microsoft adCenter or something else, this is a great way to get actual search volume for your keywords. Yes, it costs money, but if you have the budget it’s worth the investment. It’s also the solution if you didn’t like the “Be patient” suggestion above and are looking for instant visibility.

11. Use a unique and relevant title and meta description on every page. The page title is the single most important on-page SEO factor. It’s rare to rank highly for a primary term (2-3 words) without that term being part of the page title. The meta description tag won’t help you rank, but it will often appear as the text snippet below your listing, so it should include the relevant keyword(s) and be written so as to encourage searchers to click on your listing.Related bonus tip: You can ignore the Keywords meta tag, as no major search engine today supports it.

12. Write for users first. Google, Yahoo, etc., have pretty powerful bots crawling the web, but to my knowledge these bots have never bought anything online, signed up for a newsletter, or picked up the phone to call about your services. Humans do those things, so write your page copy with humans in mind. Yes, you need keywords in the text, but don’t stuff each page like a Thanksgiving turkey. Keep it readable.

13. Create great, unique content. This is important for everyone, but it’s a particular challenge for online retailers. If you’re selling the same widget that 50 other retailers are selling, and everyone is using the boilerplate descriptions from the manufacturer, this is a great opportunity. Write your own product descriptions, using the keyword research you did earlier (see #9 above) to target actual words searchers use, and make product pages that blow the competition away. Plus, retailer or not, great content is a great way to get inbound links.

14. Use your keywords as anchor text when linking internally. Anchor text helps tells spiders what the linked-to page is about. Links that say “click here” do nothing for your search engine visibility.

15. Build links intelligently. Begin with foundational links like trusted directories. (Yahoo andDMOZ are often cited as examples, but don’t waste time worrying about DMOZ submission. Submit it and forget it.) Seek links from authority sites in your industry. If local search matters to you (more on that coming up), seek links from trusted sites in your geographic area — the Chamber of Commerce, local business directories, etc. Analyze the inbound links to your competitors to find links you can acquire, too. Create great content on a consistent basis and use social media to build awareness and links. (A blog is great for this; see below.)

16. Use press releases wisely. Developing a relationship with media covering your industry or your local region can be a great source of exposure, including getting links from trusted media web sites. Distributing releases online can be an effective link building tactic, and opens the door for exposure in news search sites. Related bonus tip: Only issue a release when you have something newsworthy to report. Don’t waste journalists’ time.

17. Start a blog and participate with other related blogs. Search engines, Google especially, love blogs for the fresh content and highly-structured data. Beyond that, there’s no better way to join the conversations that are already taking place about your industry and/or company. Reading and commenting on other blogs can also increase your exposure and help you acquire new links. Related bonus tip: Put your blog at yourdomain.com/blog so your main domain gets the benefit of any links to your blog posts. If that’s not possible, useblog.yourdomain.com.

18. Use social media marketing wisely. If your business has a visual element, join the appropriate communities on Flickr and post high-quality photos there. If you’re a service-oriented business, use Small Business Search Marketing and can be found on Twitter at and/or on Google Plus. See more articles by Ajay Kumar Sharma

55 Quick SEO Tips Even Your Mother Would Love

Everyone loves a good tip, right? Here are 55 quick tips for search engine optimization that even your mother could use to get cooking. Well, not my mother, but you get my point. Most folks with some web design and beginner SEO knowledge should be able to take these to the bank without any problem.

1. If you absolutely MUST use Java script drop down menus, image maps or image links, be sure to put text links somewhere on the page for the spiders to follow.

2. Content is king, so be sure to have good, well-written and unique content that will focus on your primary keyword or keyword phrase.

3. If content is king, then links are queen. Build a network of quality backlinks using your keyword phrase as the link. Remember, if there is no good, logical reason for that site to link to you, you don’t want the link.

4. Don’t be obsessed with PageRank. It is just one isty bitsy part of the ranking algorithm. A site with lower PR can actually outrank one with a higher PR.

5. Be sure you have a unique, keyword focused Title tag on every page of your site. And, if you MUST have the name of your company in it, put it at the end. Unless you are a major brand name that is a household name, your business name will probably get few searches.

6. Fresh content can help improve your rankings. Add new, useful content to your pages on a regular basis. Content freshness adds relevancy to your site in the eyes of the search engines.

7. Be sure links to your site and within your site use your keyword phrase. In other words, if your target is “blue widgets” then link to “blue widgets” instead of a “Click here” link.

8. Focus on search phrases, not single keywords, and put your location in your text (“our Palm Springs store” not “our store”) to help you get found in local searches.

9. Don’t design your web site without considering SEO. Make sure your web designer understands your expectations for organic SEO. Doing a retrofit on your shiny new Flash-based site after it is built won’t cut it. Spiders can crawl text, not Flash or images.

10. Use keywords and keyword phrases appropriately in text links, image ALT attributes and even your domain name.

11. Check for canonicalization issues – www and non-www domains. Decide which you want to use and 301 redirect the other to it. In other words, if http://www.domain.com is your preference, then http://domain.com should redirect to it.

12. Check the link to your home page throughout your site. Is index.html appended to your domain name? If so, you’re splitting your links. Outside links go to http://www.domain.com and internal links go to http://www.domain.com/index.html.

Ditch the index.html or default.php or whatever the page is and always link back to your domain.

13. Frames, Flash and AJAX all share a common problem – you can’t link to a single page. It’s either all or nothing. Don’t use Frames at all and use Flash and AJAX sparingly for best SEO results.

14. Your URL file extension doesn’t matter. You can use .html, .htm, .asp, .php, etc. and it won’t make a difference as far as your SEO is concerned.

15. Got a new web site you want spidered? Submitting through Google’s regular submission form can take weeks. The quickest way to get your site spidered is by getting a link to it through another quality site.

16. If your site content doesn’t change often, your site needs a blog because search spiders like fresh text. Blog at least three time a week with good, fresh content to feed those little crawlers.

17. When link building, think quality, not quantity. One single, good, authoritative link can do a lot more for you than a dozen poor quality links, which can actually hurt you.

18. Search engines want natural language content. Don’t try to stuff your text with keywords. It won’t work. Search engines look at how many times a term is in your content and if it is abnormally high, will count this against you rather than for you.

19. Not only should your links use keyword anchor text, but the text around the links should also be related to your keywords. In other words, surround the link with descriptive text.

20. If you are on a shared server, do a blacklist check to be sure you’re not on a proxy with a spammer or banned site. Their negative notoriety could affect your own rankings.

21. Be aware that by using services that block domain ownership information when you register a domain, Google might see you as a potential spammer.

22. When optimizing your blog posts, optimize your post title tag independently from your blog title.

23. The bottom line in SEO is Text, Links, Popularity and Reputation.

24. Make sure your site is easy to use. This can influence your link building ability and popularity and, thus, your ranking.

25. Give link love, Get link love. Don’t be stingy with linking out. That will encourage others to link to you.

26. Search engines like unique content that is also quality content. There can be a difference between unique content and quality content. Make sure your content is both.

27. If you absolutely MUST have your main page as a splash page that is all Flash or one big image, place text and navigation links below the fold.

28. Some of your most valuable links might not appear in web sites at all but be in the form of e-mail communications such as newletters and zines.

29. You get NOTHING from paid links except a few clicks unless the links are embedded in body text and NOT obvious sponsored links.

30. Links from .edu domains are given nice weight by the search engines. Run a search for possible non-profit .edu sites that are looking for sponsors.

31. Give them something to talk about. Linkbaiting is simply good content.

32. Give each page a focus on a single keyword phrase. Don’t try to optimize the page for several keywords at once.

33. SEO is useless if you have a weak or non-existent call to action. Make sure your call to action is clear and present.

34. SEO is not a one-shot process. The search landscape changes daily, so expect to work on your optimization daily.

35. Cater to influential bloggers and authority sites who might link to you, your images, videos, podcasts, etc. or ask to reprint your content.

36. Get the owner or CEO blogging. It’s priceless! CEO influence on a blog is incredible as this is the VOICE of the company. Response from the owner to reader comments will cause your credibility to skyrocket!

37. Optimize the text in your RSS feed just like you should with your posts and web pages. Use descriptive, keyword rich text in your title and description.

38. Use captions with your images. As with newspaper photos, place keyword rich captions with your images.

39. Pay attention to the context surrounding your images. Images can rank based on text that surrounds them on the page. Pay attention to keyword text, headings, etc.

40. You’re better off letting your site pages be found naturally by the crawler. Good global navigation and linking will serve you much better than relying only on an XML Sitemap.

41. There are two ways to NOT see Google’s Personalized Search results:

(1) Log out of Google

(2) Append &pws=0 to the end of your search URL in the search bar

42. Links (especially deep links) from a high PageRank site are golden. High PR indicates high trust, so the back links will carry more weight.

43. Use absolute links. Not only will it make your on-site link navigation less prone to problems (like links to and from https pages), but if someone scrapes your content, you’ll get backlink juice out of it.

44. See if your hosting company offers “Sticky” forwarding when moving to a new domain. This allows temporary forwarding to the new domain from the old, retaining the new URL in the address bar so that users can gradually get used to the new URL.

45. Understand social marketing. It IS part of SEO. The more you understand about sites like Digg, Yelp, del.icio.us, Facebook, etc., the better you will be able to compete in search.

46. To get the best chance for your videos to be found by the crawlers, create a video sitemap and list it in your Google Webmaster Central account.

47. Videos that show up in Google blended search results don’t just come from YouTube. Be sure to submit your videos to other quality video sites like Metacafe, AOL, MSN and Yahoo to name a few.

48. Surround video content on your pages with keyword rich text. The search engines look at surrounding content to define the usefulness of the video for the query.

49. Use the words “image” or “picture” in your photo ALT descriptions and captions. A lot of searches are for a keyword plus one of those words.

50. Enable “Enhanced image search” in your Google Webmaster Central account. Images are a big part of the new blended search results, so allowing Google to find your photos will help your SEO efforts.

51. Add viral components to your web site or blog – reviews, sharing functions, ratings, visitor comments, etc.

52. Broaden your range of services to include video, podcasts, news, social content and so forth. SEO is not about 10 blue links anymore.

53. When considering a link purchase or exchange, check the cache date of the page where your link will be located in Google. Search for “cache:URL” where you substitute “URL” for the actual page. The newer the cache date the better. If the page isn’t there or the cache date is more than an month old, the page isn’t worth much.

54. If you have pages on your site that are very similar (you are concerned about duplicate content issues) and you want to be sure the correct one is included in the search engines, place the URL of your preferred page in your sitemaps.

55. Check your server headers. Search for “check server header” to find free online tools for this. You want to be sure your URLs report a “200 OK” status or “301 Moved Permanently ” for redirects. If the status shows anything else, check to be sure your URLs are set up properly and used consistently throughout your site.

SERP Analysis

Analyze the Competition on Search Engine Results

The SERP Analysis Tool is a must for every SEO Professional.

This tool allows you to analyze the Search Engine Results of a specific keyword and gives you useful recommendations and the action plan in order to achieve high rankings. Thus not only it helps you optimize your Website’s SEO performance, but also it enables you to build a new solid SEO strategy.

Additionally this SEO tool provides great assistance during Keyword Research, because it helps you to easily distinguish the keywords for which you are likely to achieve good rankings from those for which you have no chance to rank.

Competition Estimation & Statistical Reports

The SEO Report provides you with detailed Charts & Diagrams that illustrate how intense the competition is and estimates the probability to achieve good rankings. Additionally the SERP Analyzer provides several Statistics and Pie Charts about the identified Languages, the TLDs, the Titles, the Keyword usage and more.

Analyze Competitors’ SEO Strategy

The Search Engine Results are analyzed according to all the known SEO factors providing useful information about the SEO Strategy of your competitors. Few of the parameters and ranking signals that are taken into account are:

  • Domain & Page Authority
  • Link Quantity and Quality
  • PageRank
  • WuzzRank & Social Media Popularity
  • On-page Optimization & Keyword Optimization
  • Other useful information are also available such as Traffic data, Load Time & Speed, Website Size, Domain Age and more

Ranking Estimation & SEO Recommendations

At the end of the Report the Tool evaluates the possibility for a given URL to Rank for the selected term and defines the actions to proceed with in order to improve the rankings.

20 Tips for developing a Successful Email Marketing Campaign

E-mail marketing is a cost effective marketing tool that aims on building long term relationships with your customers. With clear objectives and messages, e-mail marketing can effectively support your marketing efforts on and off line with a relatively low budget. As the objectives can vary depending on the industry and the audience, we decided to focus on the contact list developmentwhich is probably the most important part of any serious e-mail marketing strategy. In this article we will share with you 20 tips on how to increase and maintain your subscribers and on how to develop a solid e-mail marketing campaign.

1. Identify your target audience’s needs

Find out what could provide value to your target audience and brainstorm on the content.

2. Build a landing page for the subscription form

A dedicated landing page should include all the features that are needed in order to make user understand the reasons why to opt in to your newsletter. You can read more on how to develop effective landing pages on the article “Build effective landing pages to Increase conversion rates”.

3. Use A/B testing

Use A/B testing to check which subscription box works better. Experiment with styles, colors, fonts and call to actions and let your target audience indicate you the sign-up box that they prefer.

4. Subscription Form Visibility

Add the subscription form above the fold. This practice increases the possibility of subscribing since it makes the call to action and the subscription form more visible to the user.

5. Easy Subscription process

Make the subscription process easy. By keeping the numbers of required fields as low as possible and by eliminating the obstacles you increase the probabilities of subscribing.

6. Social Media integration

Integrate the subscription form with your social media campaigns.  You can provide either a subscription form within your  Facebook fan page or drive traffic from your social media efforts to the landing page of the subscription form. Both practices work but their results vary depending on your target audience.

7. Publish your Newsletters

Upload your previous newsletters on your blog and share them through social media. This practice enables you to show what you are offering to your subscribers. On the other hand, you generate new content and links supporting your SEO efforts.

8. Keep stable frequency

Remember that e-mail marketing is a tool that empowers your efforts for long term relationships with your clients. Consequently you need to stay in touch and keep the frequency stable.

9. Inform users about the frequency

Make clear to the users that you will not send e-mails every day and inform them about the frequency. It may seem obvious to you, but this is a sign that you are not a spammer.

10. Have a clear Privacy Policy

Privacy is a hot topic for millions of people. Thus you should make users feel safe, state clearly your privacy policy, let them know why you collect their information and how you plan to use it.

11. Mind the Timing

Ask for a subscription at the right time. When a user is satisfied with the experience you offered within your website there are more chances to collect their information.

12. Newsletter Templates

You need to focus on the template of your newsletter. Make sure that not only it is attractive and well designed but also that it is simple and easy to understand even before images load.

13. Add Sharing buttons in Newsletters

Make sure you add sharing buttons within your newsletters. This will give to the users the opportunity to share easily the posts that they find interesting.

14. Add call to action in your Blog

Add a call to action on the footer of each blog post and encourage users to subscribe to your newsletter. The user that took the time to read your article is more likely to subscribe to your newsletter in order to get “more like this”.

15. Segmentation and topics of interest

Provide users the option to select specific topics in order to ensure the relevance of the content that they receive. Use multiple newsletter lists or groups of interest to create more effective e-mail campaigns.

16. Focus on the Quality of the Content

Make sure that you provide relevant content to your subscribers. Also note that you can add more value by providing access to exclusive content. Remember that e-mail marketing success is not to increase the number of subscribers but to maintain and keep a fruitful relationship with them.

17. Offer E-books or Guides

Offer downloadable e-books and guides in exchange for their email addresses. People love a free piece of information, especially when your website is known to offer great content.

18. Run Contests

Contests can help you gather email addresses, attract more visitors and generate buzz around your website. Check out our previous article  “Social Media Case Study” to find out how you can run successful contests by using social media.

19. Get user’s Feedback

When a user unsubscribes from your email list, make sure to get his feedback. This will help you understand what went wrong, whether you should improve the frequency, the relevancy of the content or something else. Also make sure that you run surveys and ask your subscribers what you can do to improve your service. This will give you new ideas on how to maintain and increase your subscribers.

20. Give Incentives

Provide bonus or incentives if someone forwards the e-mail or accepts to participate in a survey of yours. Make sure you reward the people that help you and rest assured that they will return the favor.

As we always stress in these blog posts, you should never forget to be honest with your users. By being patient & creative, by thinking out of the box and by following the above tips you will certainly be able to develop a solid email marketing campaign, increase your sales and improve the relationship with your users/customers.