Originally published on WebMarketCentral between July 2008 and August 2009.
Search, Social and Direct Traffic by ProBlogger
Darren Rowse provides a detailed analysis of his blog visits from various sources—which, given the obscene volume of traffic his blog draws, is probably fairly representative of blogs in general. Among his findings: organic search is the source of both the highest volume and best quality of traffic. Social traffic (e.g. StumbleUpon and Digg) is “spiky” and doesn’t convert well, but supports SEO through the links generated. There’s lots more red meat for web analytics data junkies as well.
Six Things You Might Be Doing Wrong (And How to Fix Them)! by Search Engine Watch
The insightful Carrie Hill writes that “In doing a wide variety research into what is and isn’t working for a small business Web site, I find the most frequent issues fall within the following six categories.” These include duplicate content, lack of keyword research, ignoring link building, and…read her post!
27 Quick Tips To Top Search Engine Rankings by Mike’s Marketing Tools
How to make sure search-engine users find your Web site by IT World Canada
In this SEO for Dummies-style piece, Christopher Null interviews Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz, Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land, and Michael H. Fleischner, author of SEO Made Simple: Strategies For Dominating The World’s Largest Search Engine to share their best tips and tricks for SEO newbies. Still, even experienced SEOs may find some useful tips here.
Is SEO Worth the Cost & Effort? by SEO Book
Aaron Wall makes the case for SEO with a brief case study of two similar websites. Though one may quibble with details here (on-page optimization accounts for only 5% of search position for competitive keywords?!) but his overall argument is pretty incontestable.
In this brilliant piece, Max Capener provides a dozen tips for optimizing meta description tags to help get the click even when your site doesn’t get a top 3 spot in the search rankings. These tactics range from adding a phone number or special characters to your description to catch the searcher’s eye to keeping title tags as short as possible and using friendly URLs. As Max notes, “No significant weight is given to the meta description for SEO purposes. It is therefore a great opportunity to use this space to help sell the click.”
Google’s Top Search Engine Ranking Factors by Green Marketing 2.0
While noting that “Google’s ranking algorithm takes into account approximately 200+ attributes when determining the position of websites in search engine results,” Lorna Li details the top 10 factors that account for most of the ranking results. This helpful post shows the relative importance of keywords, links, site age and other factors.
The SEO Success Pyramid by Small Business Search Marketing
In this outstanding post, frequent best-of contributor Matt McGee provides a visual model of SEO in pyramid form, with factors such as Planning and Patience at the base, rising to Trust at the peak. The post links to a full-size printable version of the model, handy for tacking up on your wall for inspiration and guidance when scoping out a new SEO project.
The Internet Marketing Handbook by SEOmoz
In one of the best lists of SEO resources ever—and I do not say that lightly—Danny Dover provides links to and short summaries of “almost 100 tools and learning resource that help to master Internet Marketing,” from tools for link building and keyword research to a wide range of learning resources and tools for social media marketing. Bookmark this page and keep it near the top of your list. Another great post from Danny is The Beginner’s Checklist for Learning SEO, a step-by-step guide to creating a well-optimized website.
Google’s SEO Starter Guide by the Google Webmaster Central Blog
Google made quite a splash when it published this guide last November. They not only provided practical, helpful information for SEO’s trying to optimize for dominant search engine but legitimized the entire practice as well. In this post, Brandon Falls briefly explains the purpose and content of the guide.
Redirects for SEOs by Search Engine People
Shannon Hutcheson does an excellent job of dissecting why redirects are important and the relative value of different types of redirects. A bit more instructional information about server-side redirects and using .htaccess for redirects—or links to such info—would have been a nice touch, but this is an helpful post nonetheless.
How to Find SEO Competitor Keywords, Social Media & Backlinks by Search Engine Journal
Frequent “best of” contributor Ann Smarty provides tools and techniques for analyzing your competitors’ keywords, backlinks and social media presence, noting that these tasks are critical because “promoting a site without proper competition research means to promote it blind (and) if you focus on finding what your competitor is doing profoundly wrong, you have good chances to get ahead of him.”
Bare Lying Google Myths by HomeBiz Resource
Louis Liem summarizes the Q&A from a Google webmaster event by dispelling a number of common myths about SEO and how Google ranks websites. Among the myths flayed here: duplicate content isn’t that big of a deal, although webmasters should “make it easy for us (Google) to find the preferred version;” XML sitemaps harm your rankings (quite the opposite!); and PageRank is everything (no, Google uses this, but it’s only one of more than 200 factors that determine where your pages will show up in searches for specific search terms).
The Art Of The SEO Proposal by SEO Book
Peter Da Vanzo offers an outstanding primer on preparing SEO proposals, from really understanding the client’s world and using tools like Google Traffic Estimator to show the value of search traffic to determining if there’s a suitable fit between you and the client.
Preparing the Ultimate SEO Proposal by SEO Today
An excellent follow-up to Peter’s post above is this one from Eric Lander, in which he outlines how to draft an ideal SEO proposal that both educates and “sells” the client. Eric contents that a proposal is not to be confused with an estimate; in his words, “A proposal is a document that outlines the goals of a project, states the objective, target audience, assignment of responsibilities, and so on. In the ideal situation, offer some ‘sell’ information as well – or credentials that justify your staff and organizations legitimacy.” An estimate is a preview of the expected costs of the project—which can be affected by how well your initial proposal is crafted.
Translating the Language of Search by ClickZ
Julie Batten translates “SEO speak,” providing definitions for more than a dozen commonly used terms / jargon in search marketing. Experienced SEOs know what these terms mean of course, but it’s helpful to keep in mind when talking to clients or prospects, particularly when drafting a proposal (see above), that most other people don’t. In many communications, it’s best to avoid jargon or at least define it.
The 3 Cornerstones of SEO by SEOmoz
Duncan Morris recommends explaining SEO to prospective clients using a simple triangular diagram to show the three core areas of SEO: content (on-page factors), technical issues and trust (links and ratings). It’s a highly simplified model for SEO, but as Duncan astutely notes, “often SEO is about doing the simple things right, and being able to communicate with your potential clients.”
Site Architecture and SEO by Spinfield
SEO projects often begin with keyword research, but this post recommends stepping back and beginning with solid architecture instead: assuring that CSS and Java are handled properly, the site has a solid internal link structure, and both HTML and XML sites maps are utilized.
These 10 SEO Tactics Bring Me Over 2000 Visitors Daily by Site Reference
The spammy title aside, this is a solid piece on SEO basics. Titus Hoskins has compiled a useful list of 10 factors to include in SEO projects, from the basic content /keywords / links to taking advantage of Google Webmaster Tools, article marketing and building traffic hubs within your site structure.
SEO on a shoestring by iMedia Connection
Noting that “more than 70 percent of internet users start off with a search engine before they buy a product or service,” Claudia Bruemmer covers an impressive amount of ground in this article. She provides an excellent primer on SEO staring with objectives, keyword research and onsite optimization techniques and continuing on through SEO tools, local search, image optimization, video, online PR and blogs.
10 SEO and Marketing-Friendly Title Tag Formulas by Conversation Marketing
The brilliant and creative Ian Lurie offers ten (well, eight really) title tag formulas that provide both SEO and branding benefits along with suggestions for best practices to satisfy both search engine bots and your human site visitors.
Evolution and the art of SEO by HuoMah
Beating down the SEO is dead argument that pops up periodically, David Harry provides a “mental 301 redirect” by noting the continual stream of new techniques and technologies SEOs need to master (such as mobile search and universal search), core SEO topics that are often overlooked (e.g., TrustRank—Google and Yahoo versions), and underappreciated concepts related to modern search (for example, Yahoo Personalized PageRank and HarmonicRank) capable of inducing a deer-in-the-headlights stare from many if not most SEO practitioners.
SEO Wireframing by SEOmoz
Suggesting that “If the individual pages are wired together (with SEO in mind) at the early stages of design, this makes for easier implementation of other key components for on and off-page optimization,” this brief but instructive post provides a four-step plan to lay the groundwork for effective on-site SEO before the design stage begins.
The 5 Goals Of A Search Optimized Page – SEO 101 by SEO Scoop
DazzlinDonna Fontenot nicely explains the basic goals of SEO: to help search engines find, index, understand, evaluate and rank the pages on your website. Not just for newbies, this is also a helpful post for experienced SEO consulants to use in explaining the goals (and limitations) of SEO to prospective new clients.
The Yin Yang of PR and SEO by Online Marketing Blog
The ubiquitous, oblivious Lee Odden explains the symbiotic relationship between PR and SEO: PR tools and techniques (such as online press release distribution, social media relations and blogger outreach) build valuable links that help with your SEO efforts, while producing well-optimized, relevant content for your industry increases the odds that harried journalists will find you and write about you.
As It Turns Out, Content Is King by Court’s Internet Marketing School
Correcting an earlier post entitled “Content Has Never Been The King,” the author notes that “If your site doesn’t have quality content, a Google search engineer can crush it with a simple push of a button. On the other hand, if your site’s content is of stellar quality, a Google engineer who came across it would love it. This doesn’t mean they will give you a manual boost—Google doesn’t work that way. It does mean that you are protected because of the quality of your site. Google isn’t going to smack the legitimate, solid sites.” This post also inspired an amazing 172 comments; suffice it to say, opinions on this topic aren’t exactly universally in sync.
Deadly SEO mistakes that even an expert may make by Newbornbusiness
Even SEO tactics that are common knowledge can cause problems if poorly applied. With that in mind, this post warns against potential SEO errors like crafting less-than-optimal page titles, writing too much for search engines (and not enough for human readers), and building links from low-value sites or bad neighborhoods.
The exceedingly modest Darren Slatten demonstrates in very entertaining fashion that keyword stuffing doesn’t always harm your search position—even if you want it to. Okay, so it’s not the most useful SEO post of last year, but c’mon, how often do you read a post about search that’s actually kinda funny?
Julie Batten helps SEO novices short-circuit the typical, excruciatingly painful SEO learning curve with 10 resources that provide a solid foundation for further exploration and education.
Joomla SEO Solutions for 5 Common Issues by Internet Marketing Blog
Frank Levert offers some crucial SEO tips to anyone tasked with building a site on open-source CMS tool Joomla, including instructions for changing the ugly (and SEO-unfriendly) default URLs Joomla creates, fixing title tags, and avoiding duplicate meta tag issues.
Top 5 Reasons Your Search Engine Rankings Dropped by Duct Tape Marketing
If you’ve ever experienced a sudden, gut-wrenching drop in your site’s search engine position, Karen Scharf presents five possible reasons. SEO efforts themselves (making too many content changes or adding too many new links in a short time period) can even sometimes trigger a drop, though this is generally a temporary situation.
7 Ways to Get Your Website to Page 1 Organically – Day 2 SES San Jose by Top Dealer SEO
This dispatch from last August’s Search Engine Strategies event details a presentation from Shawn Moore of Think Profits on tactics for getting a site to the first page of Google. Among Shawn’s tips: write a blog, make sure your database is crawlable by search engine spiders, and create optimized press releases.
The future of search by The Official Google Blog
Writing that the ideal engine would be “Your best friend with instant access to all the world’s facts and a photographic memory of everything you’ve seen and know,” Marissa Mayer, VP Search Products & User Experience at Google reveals several attributes of the future direction of search at Google, which will incorporate new modes (e.g. voice, natural language, images, audio), a wider variety of media, personalization, and machine language translation.
Get Indexed and Ranked in Google News by Search Engine Journal
Noting that “Google News can bring tons of traffic and boost your site performance, ” the brilliant Ann Smarty explains the technical requirements for inclusion as well as recommendations (i..e use properly labeled images and video, mobile-friendly design, update frequency of at least three times per day) for high ranking.
SEO expert Brent D. Payne summarizes nuggets of SEO knowledge gleaned from an interview Eric Enge did with Matt Cutts. Among his conclusions: social media marketing is a valid link-building activity, widgetbait is helpful for SEO, anchor text should be natural (i.e., not too many links pointing to your site with the same exact text), and, wait, there’s more!
100 Awesome Webmaster Videos on YouTube by Inside CRM
The editors at Inside CRM compile their list of favorite videos about SEO, link building, web design, blogging, usability and other issues, including this bit of geek humor—the SEO song:
The ubiquitous Ann Smarty explores the relative SEO value of .com top level domains (TLDs) vs. .net, .edu, .org etc. Not her best stuff perhaps, but still interesting.
16 Things to Look for in a Website Health Check by PluginHQ
Glen Allsopp offers his list of SEO health check items for websites, including use of proper use of the non-WWW to WWW redirect, unique page titles, sitemaps, anchor text, header tags and more. My only quarrel would be with the inclusion of insidious no-follow tags, which should be banned not encouraged.
How to Fix the Bloated Code that is Jacking Up Your SEO by Search Engine Guide
First off, you gotta love that title. Web design guru Stoney deGeyter explains four coding issues that can “screw up your on-page optimization processes,” such as a very high code-to-content ratio, and how to fix them.
10 SEO myths debunked by iMedia Connection
Writer Michael Estrin interviews a group of SEO experts to dispel some “common misperceptions about SEO” such as that SEO is about secret tactics, submitting your site to thousands of directories is helpful, SEO is a one-time event, and my favorite, “SEO is free.” Among the experts are Danny Sullivan, Aaron Wall and Shimon Sandler.
The SEO makeover: simple tools for better traffic by iMedia Connection
SEM Bootcamp: Five Steps to Organic Success by Search Engine Guide
SEO educator Jennifer Laycock offers small business owners and SEO newbies “five steps that…can go a long way toward helping you build a good understanding of what organic optimization is all about,” including search-friendly design, proper keyword research and on-page optimization.
Taken together, this post and the resulting comments provide an interesting discourse on why microsites are bad for SEO—but why you may want to use them anyway (to support multiple brands, for time-sensitive campaigns, etc.).
Interview With Aaron Wall from SEOBook.com – SEO Legend by PingPongPie
In this interview transcript, SEO guru Aaron Wall discusses future trends in search, the difficulty in scaling SEO, coping with Google’s mood swings, competition, social media and more.
How to Optimize for Google – Part 1 of 3 by Internet Search Engine Database
In part one of this series, SEO pro Scott Van Achte provides a comprehensive guide to the factors that need to be considered on-page website optimization, including title and meta tags, synonyms, headings and navigation. Even for experienced SEO practitioners, this post serves as a good reminder of what not to forget.
When, Why and How to Construct a Meta Description Tag by Search Engine Guide
The ubiquitous Stoney deGeyter delves into the details behind the meta description tag, demonstrating how its value lies more in generating higher click-through rates than purely SEO.
The Importance of Internal Linking, and How to Do it Right by Search Engine Guide
In another post from Search Engine Guide, Scott Allen provides an in-depth guide to maximizing the value of internal links, which, as he points out, provide two key benefits when done right: improving search engine rank and usability.
Introduction to Google Search Quality by The Official Google Blog
Since Google is the most important search engine for SEOs, it’s helpful to understand how its engineers view search. Udi Manber, VP of Search Quality, provides a glimpse behind the curtain. He doesn’t share any deep, dark secrets in this post, but does reveal some interesting information, such as the reduced importance of Pagerank and the sheer volume of changes Google makes to its algorithm each year (more than 450 in 2007; no wonder search positions for individual sites are so volatile).
Cheap SEO: it’s about quality, not price by Internet Business
U.K.-based SEO consultant Brian Turner makes a compelling case for buying SEO services based on your specific needs—but most definitely not on price. As Brian bluntly points out, “”Buying SEO services by price point alone is definitely in invitation for poor quality services, and even worse, can invite a penalty in Google. India has probably done more than any other country to position itself as the ‘SEO spam’ capital, with a huge number of companies fighting to offer the cheapest service that delivers the smallest results.”
Gain the competitive edge with SEO by iMedia Connection
Craig Macdonald, VP of Marketing and Product Management at marketing analytics provider Covario, outlines a “a strategic, scalable system for success” at SEO. His advice, which includes setting up a search “center of excellence” and performing sophisticated analysis, is targeted primarily at very large enterprises, though other pieces of information—such as noting that page file names are much more important to Google than Yahoo results—are more universally helpful.
The new SEO: organic search by iMedia Connection
In another noteworthy article fro iMedia, Andrew Rodrigues of Geary Interactive explores how the emergence of social bookmarking, blended search, link competition and other developments have forced a more strategic approach to SEO.
How to Take on a Major SEO Client by Search Engine Watch
When it comes to SEO, size does matter. William Flaiz, VP of SEO at Razorfish, offers a guide to SEO for very large websites, from site architecture and internal linking strategies to social media and reputation management.
Google Previous Query Reason For Crazy Google Rankings? by SiteProNews
This posts suggests that Google’s “previous query” feature may be one explanation for volatile search rankings, though as one commenter points out, later changes to the algorithm may have blunted this effect somewhat.
How to Prioritize Your Optimization by GrokDotCom
Interactive marketing guru and best-selling author Bryan Eisenberg maps SEO priorities against Abraham Maslow’s famous hierarchy of needs. As with Maslow’s pyramid, Eisenberg’s maps out progressive levels of website impact, from being merely functional to truly persuasive.
An outstanding post from DazzlinDonna listing her favorite resources and guides for help with everything from SEO and online reputation management to blogging and social media marketing. It’s almost like a syllabus for your own self-paced interactive marketing guru course.
The SEO Website Overhaul by PromotionWorld
Writer Brandon Cornett gets to the heart of SEO in this concise and practical article, detailing “five simple tasks you can perform on your website over the next few days to improve your search engine visibility and traffic levels” from validating your keywords to creating an XML site map.
Learning SEO and SEM – Where to Start? by High Rankings Advisor
A look at the various options for getting SEO training, including online courses, in-person training at industry conferences, and customized training classes. A tad self-serving, but informative.
Q&A With Google’s Matt Cutts About SEO and the Future of Search by the Epicenter blog from Wired.com
Betsy Schiffman posts a brief interview with the head of Google’s quality team. Included is Matt’s response to the question of whether SEO really works: “It does to some degree. Think of it this way: When you put a resume forward, you want it to be as clean as possible. If the resume is sloppy, you’re not going to get interviewed for the job. SEO is sort of like tweaking your resume . . . It’s helpful if you just think about which words people would use to search for your content. If you’re writing something about Mount Everest, for example, people are probably going to look for ‘How high is Mount Everest?’ . . . If done responsibly, [SEO] can be a great thing.”
What you need to know about SEO in 2009 by BlogStorm
Patrick Altoft notes that by the time an SEO strategy becomes popular, it generally doesn’t work anymore. While no one (other than Matt Cutts) knows what will be important next year, Patrick takes some guesses.
Combining PPC and SEO to Completely Dominate a Niche by Slightly Shady SEO
It’s no secret that SEO and SEM are each more effective when used together, but this post goes beyond the obvious to detail some specific strategies to use these tools together to dominate the home page of Google (or any other search engine) on a core set of specific terms.
Google Benchmarking and how it can generate more traffic by Latest SEO Buzz
A concise basic explanation of how to use Google Benchmarking to identify the most promising potential areas of improvement for a site.
In-Bound Linking Vs. On-Page SEO by SEO-Space
Thoughts on the relative importance of on-site SEO efforts vs. link building (do the on-site stuff first) and the use of microsites for expanding external links.
The SEO Industry Survey Results by SEOmoz
A wealth of data about working in SEO, with an interesting high-level summary as well as links to detail data. Among the conclusions: the vast majority of SEOs are self-taught (ranging from close to 60% in SEM agencies to more than 80% of “self-employed, non-consultant” whatever that is); SEOs are underpaid (even in the U.S., close to half earn less than $60K per year and nearly 60% make less than $75K); and far too many use insidious no-follow tags.
Analyze Your Competition before Starting an SEO & Marketing Campaign by PromotionWorld
Wendy Suto provides an excellent guide to improving your own SEO efforts by analyzing what competitors are doing in areas such as spider-friendly code, navigation, volume of content, meta tags, keyword density and external links. Understanding how the sites that rank higher than yours (or your client’s) for certain highly relevant key phrases can help you implement changes to leapfrog them.
A white hat super affiliate? by CDF Networks
A concise and compelling argument for using white hat over black hat (or gray hat) tactics in SEO. Judging by the volume of comments, apparently the topic of online ethics is anything but boring.
How To Sell “Mom and Pop” On SEO Services by Search Engine People Blog
A wonderful post on the challenges and rewards of working with small business owners on SEO. One key is to not overwhelm them with everything that needs doing at once; simply fixing title meta tags can often provide a significant bang for a small number of bucks. And it’s true that small business owners are frequently more appreciative and loyal than are big companies.
SEO Step Ten Of Ten: Keeping It Up by WebProNews
Jim Hedger writes about what to do once an SEO project is “done,” such as monitoring analytics and tweaking content, or as he puts it, “continuing to update the blog, link building and social media marketing.”
SEO Best Practices: Essential To Do’s for A New Website by Search Engine People
Dev Basu outlines five areas that form a foundation for SEO efforts, including proper internal linking, sitemaps and developing a blog. This was actually from December 2007, but I overlooked it last January. Oops.
Prioritizing SEO Tasks by Shimon Sandler
A concise, easily digestible post that covers half a dozen high priory basic SEO tactics (such as title tags, H1 tags and keyword links) with links through to more detail on each.
25 SEO-Related Things To Do During Must See TV Thursdays by Cape Cod SEO
In this witty and very useful SEO post, Derek Edmond pretty much skips the usual tips about title tags and internal links and instead provides some fresh, off-the-beaten-path ideas such as “Research 2 or 3 of your main competition’s websites for 1 or 2 things they have (on their site) that you don’t have (and want),” “Check your Google AdWords reports for three profitable keyword referrals that you had not been optimizing organically for” and “Find 2 industry related resources that offer opportunities for article submissions, record the contact information and set a goal of contacting them for information on how to send one of your articles.”
Recession Proof Search Engine Optimization Tips by TopRank Online Marketing Blog
Search guru Lee Odden recommends getting creative rather than conservative when it comes to beefing up SEO efforts during a downturn. He recommends aggressive content promotion, using social media, and experimenting with universal search among other tactics.
The Meta Tag Question by PromotionWorld
Writer Carrie Marie Haggerty attempts to cut through some of the confusion over the value of meta tags, which ones are most useful and how to use them.
SEO is fundamentally about driving website traffic. Generating clicks isn’t only a matter of top ranking, but also having a well-written description meta tag that appeals to searchers. Somewhat lower ranked sites can outdraw those in the top position with a description tag that is carefully crafted to appeal to both search engines and people.
22 Considerations for Improving Natural Search Performance by MediaPost Search Insider
How to hire an SEO Rockstar by Search Engine People
Author Jennifer Osborne offers a useful checklist to use when determining what type of SEO talent you need and then evaluating candidates.
Link Building Campaigns That Work by Link Building Best Practices
Because search engine algorithms are constantly changing, a solid link-building strategy shouldn’t be “trendy” but rather balanced between different types of link sites including blogs, forums, directories, articles and reciprocal link partners.
4 questions every web site owner needs to answer by Search Engine Marketing Exposed
A fairly short yet very thoughtful post that is more strategic than tactical. Stepping back and answering some basic questions about why someone would visit your site and what exactly you’d like them to do there provides a helpful starting point for SEO efforts.
The Ultimate Guide to Directory Submissions by SiteProNews
While this article doesn’t quite live up to its headline, it’s nevertheless an educational quick read for anyone starting link building efforts as well as a helpful refresher for more experienced SEO practitioners.
SEO Your Site in 60 Minutes by Search Marketing Blog Online
Another excellent post with a somewhat misleading title, this piece from Jon Clark is packed with three dozen checklist items to make sure your SEO tactics are on track, divided into home page, site and external activities. Items range from basic (formatting of title tags, use of H2 tags, internal text links) to advanced (setting up a domain name redirect, “link funneling” using insidious nofollow tags). While going through this list will take considerably longer than 60 minutes, but it’s a worthwhile effort.
Deconstructing Search Engine Bias by MediaPost Search Insider
This post helps SEO pros understand, at a high level, the “biases” built into search engine algorithms in order to craft strategies and tactics to capitalize on them. These biases include factors like “spamminess,” authority, blog buzz and links.
A thoughtful piece from Scott Buresh on the value of adjectives for search; using modifiers in search phrases can simplify SEO efforts while delivering more highly qualified traffic. This works with descriptors (e.g. “B2B email marketing” vs. just “email marketing”), location (e.g. “search marketing services Minnesota”) and other attributes.