SEO Best Practices

Since the release of Google’s algorithms Panda and Penguin, a lot of SEO practitioners have been left wondering how effective the traditional optimisation practice are, which formed the foundation of SEO.

But many misunderstood the purpose of these algorithms, which was to make web crawlers more intuitive of human interest and cut down on spamming practices, not make SEO redundant.

Keyword Rich Metadata and Content

Keywords are one of the best ways to get web-crawlers to notice you. Including keywords into the meta-elements such as the title, description and alt text tags give indexers and people viewing the results a good idea of what your website is about.

Keep it above board, though. Don’t include too many, as this will be considered keyword stuffing. And make sure that whatever you include in the meta-data is strongly connected to the content of the site. If your website content is just keyword rich spam and false meta elements, not only will Google eventually penalise it, but visitors to your site will feel tricked.

Value-adding Crawlable Content

Make sure that the content that’s on your website can be indexed by web-spiders. Content such as images, video and flash animation can’t be indexed properly so make effective descriptions for them in the alt tag.

At the end of the day though, you’re trying to entertain, assist or inform human visitors not just appease web-crawlers. Some tips for your content, to appeal to users.

• Vary the medium of the content: images, videos, infographics etc.
• Never put keywords in a place that seems unnatural.
• Don’t use too much text, particularly not in large uninterrupted blocks.

Website Architecture

If spider-bots find the structure of your website unnatural or struggle to find certain content, they may penalise you or just simply won’t index the content at all. Some issues to address for crawlability on your site:

• Canonical URLs
• Robots Exclusion Protocols
• Your site map
• The load speeds of pages
• A custom 404 page

Logical Link Building

We’ve discussed, at length, the best practices of link building. Most people know that Google’s link weighting algorithm PageRank, is less important these days. And spam and paid links are being heavily penalised by search engines.

The point isn’t that you should stop link building, just that your links should be valuable. Only link to reputable sites that add value to your content. Make links the most human-experience focused part of your site, because that’s where the most value lies.

Social Media

Use social media campaigns to engage with existing and potential customers on a personal and informative level rather than just for sales promotion. Once you start one though, you can’t just stop. You must stay engaged or risk losing face. Social media campaigns can help:

• Build your brand image
• Increase social signals
• Gain a larger web presence
• Respond to customers in real time

Black-Hat SEO

The overall message of the above points: Always take the human experience into perspective when designing and maintaining your website. Every algorithm update brings search engines closer to ranking websites the way a human would.

So if you’re trying to cheat web-crawlers with your SEO, you’ll always be under threat. Rather focus your efforts on making a quality website that also happens to appeal to web-crawlers. That way you’ll be rewarded on both avenues.