As we approach the end of 2012, many businesses are looking at their digital strategy – what worked, what didn’t, and what they can change going into 2013. This year was rough online for many businesses, with Google rolling out some major changes, including the Penguin update, which changed the playing field somewhat when it comes to SEO.
With Google constantly changing its algorithm, how can you ensure your business reaches the top of the search results and stays there for the long term? The key is to keep your strategy in line with Google’s long term goals (high quality search results) and avoid the temptation to jump on every new SEO bandwagon or fad.
Here are five fundamentals of SEO for 2013 and the years to come.
1 – Keyword research
There’s no point ranking for keywords no one is searching for, and there’s little point targeting keywords that are so competitive you’ll take years to reach Page 1 of Google. The key is to balance your strategy and target moderately competitive keywords which you know will deliver traffic.
2 – Honest on-page SEO
Forget about trying to manipulate Google through keyword stuffing or anything similar – the Big G is incredibly efficient at recognising on-page manipulation. Keep it honest: put 1-3 keyword phrases in your META tags, headlines and content on each page, and leave it at that.
3 – Authority links
Quality over quantity is the name of the game when it comes to links now and in the future. Focus on generating high quality inbound links from relevant, authoritative websites through techniques like guest posting.
4 – Community participation
Get active in online communities related to your business, like blogs and forums. No communities out there to participate in? Create one! Surround yourself with other people who are passionate about your industry and you’ll soon become the go-to expert – and that means people will link to you naturally, and help your rankings as a result.
5 – Analytics and tweaking
Your strategy is never complete – there are always improvements to be made. But you can’t identify those areas for improvement without tracking results religiously and making adjustments based on the hard data. Install Google Analytics and make a habit of checking your stats regularly to see where you can improve.
Follow these tips and you’ll help ensure you rank well, both now and for the long term. And remember: don’t be tempted by short term, quick fix strategies that you know are outside Google’s guidelines. Google is committed to ensuring high quality search results, and they aren’t about to change their mind on that. Stay on their good side and you’ll position yourself to reap the rewards for the long run.