40 (of the) Best SEO Guides, Tips and Insights of 2011 (So Far)

November 14, 2011

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a key component in designing and developing an effective website, as well as the core of web presence optimization (WPO). And with continual algorithm changes by the search engines and the emerging importance of social signals and content, SEO ranking signals, responsibilities and best practices continue to evolve.

How to keep up? Here’s a good place to start: 40 of the best SEO guides to strategy, tactics, considerations, common mistakes to avoid and more from some of the best SEO bloggers and writers around.

SEO Guidance and Tactics

Dropping In To See What Condition Your Condition Is In – Part I by Search Engine Guide

Stoney deGuyterStoney deGeyter details five guidelines for establishing credibility for a site with search engines, such as making it “easy to verify the accuracy of the information on your site” (for example,through citations and references) and making it easy to contact you (i.e., by providing a phone number, physical address and email address).

Rules for beating Google at SEO by iMedia Connection
***** 5 STARS

Brandt Dainow lists 173 positive and negative ranking factors compiled from members of the Search Engine Land group on LinkedIn and believed to influence Google rankings. This is one outstanding checklist.

4 Reasons Why SEO is Underfunded by Search Engine Watch

John LynchNoting that “Google has confirmed that CPC costs are trending above inflation year over year. This combination of factors makes SEO risk mitigation, diversification, and an investment in ensuring affordable long-term traffic,” John Lynch presents four common challenges to properly funding SEO efforts and how to successfully address each.

Without CRO & On-Site Optimization, It’s Tempting to Abandon SEO by The Daily SEO Blog

In an excellent complement to the post above, this piece demonstrates, through charts and narrative, how conversion rate opimization (CRO) is arguably more important than SEO–but ideally, both practices will be incorporated in a coordinated fashion to drive business results.

Why SEOs Shouldn’t Fixate on Keyword Rankings by Search Engine Watch

Rob ChantRob Chant contends that “focusing on position, especially for a small group of keywords—and especially to the detriment of other factors—is a terrible idea. It’s usually isn’t best investment in a campaign or a good indicator of the overall health of a campaign,” then explains why this strategy is difficult, and what to do instead.

Why Rank Checking is Still Useful by SEO Book

Eric CovinoArguing against “the school of thought which postulates that ranking reports or ranking data is either essentially dead, useless, or pointless” (perhaps Rob’s post above?), Eric Covino makes a compelling case for the continuing value of ranking reports, along with interesting stats on the typical percentage of clicks for each search position.

20 SEO Tips You Either Forgot or Didn’t Know! by SEO Design Solutions

Many of these tips are commonly known, but some will be helpful reminders for experts and new information for others, such as “Primary pages should have 750 words or more (preferably with unique content free of excessive stop words)” and “If you cannot create enough unique content for a page to (a) rank on its own or (b) act as a stable supporting page, then consider using the robots meta tag to add a noindex, follow command (don’t index the page, but follow the links).”

The Responsibilities of SEO Have Been Upgraded by The Daily SEO Blog

Rand FishkinRand Fishkin how the role of an SEO consultant/expert has evolved over time from primarily tactics duties (e.g. basic keyword research, HTML sitemaps, on-page keyword targeting) to significantly more strategic priorities (reputation tracking, social media promotion, content strategy).

SEO Tactics Chart: Creating content is the most-effective tactic — here’s how to get started by MarketingSherpa Blog

Adam T. SuttonAdam T. Sutton reports on research showing that content creation is viewed as most effective tactic for increasing search traffic–but is also viewed as the second-most difficult (behind link building). Then,noting that “Even though creating content is the most effective SEO tactic, it comes in sixth in terms of popularity with 60% of marketers using it. This disconnection could be due to the difficulty of creating content,” he presents some quick case study-based guidance on how to plan and execute a productive content development strategy.

Content Optimization Tutorial: How to SEO your Content for Rankings by Search Engine Guide

Acknowledging that “Copywriters are resistant to having to use particular words to get their point across and, rightfully, don’t want their content cluttered with dumb sounding ‘keyword’ phrases,” Stoney deGeyter outlines the “correct” way to optimize content for SEO using core terms, supporting phrases, related words, page headings, internal hyperlinks and meta tags.

Our Online Reputation Management Playbook by The Daily SEO Blog

Brian PattersonBrian Patterson supplies a case study and example of an aggressive plan to assist a client whose name was appearing alongside “scam” in Google Suggest. The techniques outlined are helpful for promoting any type of content, but crucial in a crisis reputation management situation.

Search and Social Media

What Social Signals Might Search Engines Use by Graywolf’s SEO Blog

Michael Gray (aka GrayWolf)Michael Gray speculates on how Google may incorporate social media signals into search results, and provides guidance on how to capitalize on these signals for optimization such as “Strive to build up as much trust, authority, and reach as possible with your accounts.”

Social PR: 6 New (+ Old) Ways to Win Friends and Influence Search by Search Engine Watch

Lisa BuyerNoting that “both Google and Bing continue to use social signals to help rank regular search results (and) studies show friends are more likely to follow friends in search results,” Lisa Buyer supplies a half-dozen tips and techniques for increasing both your social influence and search rankings.

Social Media & SEO at Search Congress Barcelona by TopRank Online Marketing Blog

Lee OddenObserving that “Search is increasingly social with the incorporation content from social sources (video, blogs, images) into standard search results..(and) all major search engines take data feeds from Twitter and Facebook,” Lee Odden provides two tactical approaches (nicely illustrated with diagrams) for incorporating social media efforts into SEO processes.

How Google+ Affected Social Shares and +1 Adoption Rates by The Daily SEO Blog

John DohertyJohn Doherty demonstrates in rich detail how Google’s release of +1 has impacted social signals and Facebook content sharing, and concludes by recommending that webmasters–particularly in technology (my realm), opinion and celebrity gossip–should implement a +1 button on their sites.

YouTube Video Optimization from A to Z by Search Engine Journal

Harrison Jones explores why online video has become so popular, then steps through how to optimize a YouTube channel and individual videos, and how to promote videos through social networks, social bookmarking sites and blogs.

SEO Ranking Factors

The Next Generation of Ranking Signals by The Daily SEO Blog

Rand Fishkin illustrates how key SEO ranking signals for the search engines have evolved and become more complex over time, then offers details about and strategies for optimizing on “the next generation of ranking signals (that) will rely on three relatively new groups of metrics.”

Introducing: The Periodic Table Of SEO Ranking Factors by Search Engine Land
Danny Sullivan***** 5 STARS

Danny Sullivan presents a must-have infographic for SEO pros that graphically shows the key on-page and off-page SEO ranking factors and techniques, along with black-hat tactics to avoid. This is a great illustration to print and keep handy.

2011 Search Engine Ranking Factors by SEOmoz

Rand Fishkin (again) uses a series of graphics to illustrate the key SEO ranking factors based on research, as well as another graphic on the future of search which attempts to predict which ranking factors are likely to become more or less important in the coming year.

30 (New) Google Ranking Factors You May Over- or Underestimate by SEOptimise

Tad ChefTad Chef supplies his updated list of “new or current ranking factors that get underestimated by webmasters and neglected,” including site speed, outbound links, branding, search CTR (write compelling meta description tags!), page age and link decay (broken outbound links).

SEO Post-Google Panda

4 Profound Google Changes and What They Mean for Industrial Marketers by The Industrial Marketer

This post briefly reviews the four major updates to Google’s search algorithm since April 2010 (Places, Mayday, Caffiene, and Farmer/Panda) along with “opportunities” for dealing with each change.

5 New Tactics For SEO Post-Panda by Search Engine Land

Adam AudetteAdam Audette reviews recent Google algorithm updates and how each one affected search, then provides five tips for success in the post-Panda world, including link building via social media efforts and building internal links, along with some more technical recommendations.

More Guidance on Building High Quality Sites by Google Webmaster Central Blog

Amit SinghalWho better to ask than Google about to improve rankings after the Panda debacle? Amit Singhal lists 23 questions webmasters can ask themselves to determine if they have high quality content (as Google defines it). such as “Was the article edited well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?,” “For a health related query, would you trust information from this site?” and “Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?”

Lessons from brands that were spanked by Google by iMedia Connection

Observing that “it’s best to learn from the mistakes of other marketers than to learn these lessons on our own, let’s take a look at what we can glean from past black-hat scandals,” Ramsay Crooks details the best-to-avoid-less-than-white-hat techniques that have gotten some big-name websites into hot water with Google, including link farming (J.C. Penney), low-quality content (WiseGeek.com) and cloaking (BMW).

How Google’s Panda Update Changed SEO Best Practices Forever – Whiteboard Friday by The Daily SEO Blog

Aaron WheelerAaron Wheeler and Rand Fishkin review some of the history behind Google’s Panda update, how Google’s algorithm attempts to evaluate the “quality” of a site, and which ranking factors are most important in the post-Panda world. Along the way, Rand notes that “It is almost like the job of SEO has been upgraded from SEO to web strategist. Virtually everything you do on the Internet with your website can impact SEO today.”

Avoiding Common SEO Mistakes

7 tragic SEO oversights by iMedia Connection

Ramsay Crooks explores seven common SEO errors and their solutions, among them excessive use of dynamic content, failing to consider SEO during the new website design phase, and not leveraging internal site search data for keyword research.

Common URL Related SEO Mistakes by The YOUmoz Blog

Paul MartinPaul Martin outlines 11 mistakes commonly made in URL structure (who knew there were that many?) including lack of keywords, improper directory structure, use of session IDs and “the trailing slash conundrum,” and provides fixes for each (several of which involve 301 redirects).

The 10 most common website SEO mistakes by iMedia Connection

Rebecca LiebThe brilliant Rebecca Lieb recounts an experience reviewing a website that was “attractive and functional, but also a textbook example of the 10 most common errors seen among non-SEO friendly website builds.” Among these ten mistakes: no keyword research, duplicate (and un-optimized) meta page title tags, and vague copy.

Common SEO assumptions that are actually incorrect by iMedia Connection (yes, again)

Erez BarakErez Barak reports results from an Optify study which contradicted several commonly held beliefs, such as “it’s always best to be on page 1 of the search results.” Optify found that, actually, “The CTR of result 11 (top of page two) is actually greater than result 10 (bottom of page one).” Terms with a lower cost per click in paid search generally got higher CTRs than keywords with a high CPC value. And more.

SEO and Competitive Research

Enterprise Level Competitive Keyword Research by SEO Himanshu

This post provides a detailed six-step process for researching competitors’ keywords that can work for even very large websites in under 60 minutes.

SEO Competitive Analysis: Your Roadmap to Ranking #1 On Google by Search Engine Journal
***** 5 STARS

Zeke CamusioZeke Camusio outlines a dozen key factors in competitive SEO analysis (e.g., number of incoming links, quality of inbound links, number of indexed pages) and tactics for success in a succinct “Why It Matters,” “How to Check” and “What to Do About This” format.

Defining Your True Competitors by The Daily SEO Blog

Benjamin EstesExplaining that “competitive research can show you which of your potential strategies is most likely to provide your site unique value, value that your competitors will probably have a harder time getting or which they seem to have neglected so far,” Benjamin Estes details a process for competitive SEO assessment and strategy development. The post gets a bit technical, delving into statistical analysis and Excel pivot tables, but may be helpful for those working on enterprise SEO projects.

Mobile Search and Local SEO

What’s the Future of Mobile Search and SEO? by The Daily SEO Blog

Pointing out that “search – the process, the intent, the results -  just isn’t that different on mobile devices vs. laptops and desktops,” Rand Fishkin (yet again) explains what SEO pros need to do—and more importantly, don’t need to do—in order to optimize sites for search on mobile devices.

How To Optimize Your Website for Local Search by Entrepreneur Magazine
Jon Rognerud***** 5 STARS

Noting that “Local search is essential to small businesses. In 2010, Google revealed that the proportion of Google result pages that show a map is one in 13,” Jon Rognerud provides a five-step process for local search optimization, along with helpful lists of local directories and niche marketplaces as well as links to local SEO resources.

SEO and Google Webmaster Tools

Top Seven Reasons Search Marketers Should Use Google Webmaster Tools by MediaPost Search Insider

Janet DriscollMillerJanet Driscoll Miller details her top seven reasons why webmasters (and SEO practitioners) should use Google Webmaster Tools, including identifying top search queries, impacting sitelinks, and analyzing inbound links.

Google Webmaster Tools – 6 Key Pieces of Information by StayOnSearch

Kristi HinesKristi Hines explains how to set up Google Webmaster tools, walks through some of the key features, and provides guidance on analyzing the results reported.

Technical SEO

What Makes A SEO Friendly Web Design And Why You Need It by Link-Assistant.com

Alan Rosinski concisely explains three key elements of SEO-friendly website design (such as using Divs in place of tables) and why each element is important.

The Canonical Tag Can Save You from the Duplicate Content Monster by Search Engine Watch

Ray Catfish ComstockRay “Catfish” Comstock explains why duplicate content is a problem in search, then details the circumstances in which the canonical tag is a better option than a 301 redirect for correcting duplicate content issues.

301 Redirects: Formatting Bulk Redirects In Four Quick Steps by MediaPost Search Insider

Janet Driscoll Miller outlines what she terms “an easy way to quickly format your 301 redirect mapping for non-dynamic pages to match .htaccess formatting.” As oxymoronic as that sentence is, this process is just about as simple and straightforward as this complex task can be.

Rich Snippets Update: Introducing Schema.org by MediaPost Search Insider

One final post from Janet Driscoll Miller. In this one, she writes that “Google, Bing and Yahoo have teamed up to develop a standardized microdata format that the three engines will use to better understand the content contained on Web pages” and explains what this means for promoting specific types of content (e.g., reviews, products, events, TV listings) and how to use rich snippets in accordance with Google’s guidelines.

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