The world of SEO has seem some significant ‘changes’ with Google’s major and much publicized Panda and Penguin updates, along with the less known but equally important constantly-updated algorithmic changes being tracked by MozCast. Countless articles, blog posts and podcasts have proclaimed major changes in the SEO world and along with it, numerous catch phrases like “inbound linking is dead,” or “link purchasing is dead,” and the classic “SEO is dead.” But the reality is: Google has finally stamped its foot down and assertively enforced the best practices it’s been encouraging all along. Updates like Penguin and Panda simply codified these best practices by punishing the bad practices we’ve been told to avoid overwhelmingly depending on (or engaging in whatsoever) all along. Here is a list of 10 SEO strategies to pursue in 2013 (not in any particular order). They are not significantly different than in the past, but they overlap with one another in new ways.
Optimized Meta Title tags
Title tags are still very important. They are (ideally) the first thing the search spiders ‘see’ in terms of your content.
Guest blogging/authoring (Google AuthorRank)
One way to build up your brand AND get contextually relevant inbound links is to provide guest blog posts and/or articles on related websites. The key phrase here is related websites. Find websites (blogs, news sites, etc) directly related to your industry/niche who themselves have links from authoritative websites in that industry/niche and offer your expert authorship in trade for links back to your website.
This brings us to Google Authorship (and AuthorRank). Google now has a system for recognizing and assigning credibility/relevance to authors. This increases the credibility/relevance of their articles and thereby that of the site(s) the articles (or blog posts) are hosted on, as well as any websites they link to.
Link Purchases (Directories, enthusiast sites, etc)
I can already hear the “gasp” at my suggestion that you buy links in our post-Penguin world. But let me explain: I do not mean link wheels, link farms, or any other SEO scheme. I am referring to the very legitimate business model that established websites use.
Link Directories for example, are in many ways the Yellow Pages for search engines. They may not be the towering solution they were in 2005, but the stringent standards many of them maintain provides a sort of buffer against websites not providing valuable content, providing a sort of litmus that verifies a certain level of quality. Here are few link directories with credibility and lifetime listings.
Also, many of the enthusiast sites will require some sort of sponsorship in trade for an inbound link or may bundle linking with a larger advertising package. Sometimes this is the only way to get guest blogging activities. Sometimes they are happy to do this in trade for product donations. Each website (and its owner) is different. Gage their asking ‘price’ against their PageRank, and number and quality of inbound links to see if this makes sense for you.
The truth is, big companies online buy links (because it works).
Highly optimized structure (use of CSS, Image ALT tags, link title tags, etc)
On-page SEO is still very important so don’t skip out on adding image ALT tags (as well as optimally-named images) are especially important given how often Google displays images as part of their organic search results.
A combination of CSS and jQuery can provide an excellent way to add content and spider crawlability to your website without bogging down the user with too many visible options. Just make sure your options are intuitive and make sense to the user (do not ‘hide’ or cloak the content or you are drifting into black hat techniques).
Social Media links/citations
A couple of years ago Google and Microsoft both openly admitted that they factor in social media links and citations as a ranking signal. This is an excellent source of branding. Remember, the real power of social media isn’t really your ability to post content but rather for users to readily share your content and create a viral effect.
So there are two ways to go quickly taking advantage of social media’s virability
Place your social media buttons on your website
Share entertaining information on your social media channels
Sitemaps allow the search engines to quickly crawl your pages, including many pages which would otherwise be difficult to access. Aside from the standard HTML and XML sitemaps, you should also include image and video sitemaps if applicable. The point here is to let the search engine spiders know you have lots of (hopefully) relevant content .
Fast load time
There are two parts to this.
Light code structure
Aside from allowing for faster load times, light code structure also means less non-keyword rich content search spiders have to sift through. One common problem are large, code/text-heavy navigation headers that push highly relevant content far down the page.