Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is part science and part art. The Search Engines are constantly changing their ranking factors as well as changing the way that results appear on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs); for example, for the past year or so, Google displays a custom set of results to every searcher based on past searches, location and so on.
This article is not about how to get links or what permalink structure is best but rather the three core high-level aspects of SEO. Without these three SEO essentials your hard optimization work will be to no avail.
Do your homework
There is a mountain of great SEO information available on the Web. From SEO gurus to Search Engine SEO recommendations to product features that support SEO there is so much knowledge available for no cost on the Internet. Everyone involved in SEO has to start at the beginning and even the most successful SEO experts read other SEO blogs.
By researching SEO you’ll learn what does and doesn’t work and it is a great way to learn from others mistakes. You’ll also find out what indicators Google, Yahoo and other Search Engines are giving as to what may make your Pages rank better in the SERPs (some SEO experts even trawl through the patent applications submitted by Bing and Google to get an idea of what the next trend in Search Engine indexing will be).
Set realistic objectives
Unfortunately you are not going to go from 2 visitors per day to 2000 with SEO techniques. Changes you make may take weeks and months to deliver results. I’ve found with my clients that it is hugely beneficial to set SEO objectives at the beginning of any engagement. Knowing what needs to be achieved makes it far simpler to prioritise SEO tasks e.g. SEO activities will differ for a client that wants huge visitor numbers as opposed to another customer that will accept low visitor numbers but is interested in high conversion rates (conversion from Website visitor to customer).
Remember to keep your objectives SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound).
Keep at it
Don’t give up. SEO takes a sustained ongoing effort and the results will come with time; SEO is not a short-term or once-off effort.
Good luck and stick at SEO!
P.S. Four Blogs that I read without fail are SEOmoz, David Naylor, FantomNews and SEO Black Hat (the first two are mainstream whereas the last two pride themselves on their ‘less than orthodox’ SEO. All however are excellent and well worth reading)