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Top Five SEO Best Practices (updated with bonus tips)

Which is more important: Google? Or your customer? Of course, you want your site to rank well within Google. Oh, and I guess MSN, Ask and Yahoo. They’re probably important, too. ;-) But I’m much more interested in Customer Experience Optimization (CEO) than search engine optimization.

Still, there are a few simple tips that most site owners should make use of to cover the basics. These are culled from best practices revealed by a number of sites and double-checked against the wonderful Grappone and Couzin SEO book (All references cited below).

Don’t look for anything earth-shattering here. These are the basics. They aren’t guaranteed to give you top ranking, but should help keep you away from the bottom. Plus, they’re good for your customers, too. Which is as it should be.

  1. Have a relevant keyword strategy. Choose the keywords that best reflect the benefits you offer your customers. After all, that’s what your customers are looking for when they search: an answer to a problem. If you’re the right answer, make sure the words on your landing pages show it. See SEOmoz, Search Engine RoundTable and SearchEngineLand.
  2. Create quality content using your chosen terms. It’s good for your customers. And for spiders. I like to think of a search engine spider as a little Pac-Man, eating dots of content all over the Net. Give ’em good eats.

    Separately, good content helps lead to…

  3. Link building. Research methods for attracting relevant links. And read LinkWeek over at Search Engine Land. Every week. They understand.
  4. Clean up your markup. Write well-constructed titles, unique to each page titles. Ensure you have one – and only one – keyword-rich H1 per page. Make sure every page you want indexed has at least one crawlable link to it. Different folks dispute the value of header and meta tags. But title tags get much love from SEOMoz (among others).
  5. Measure your results. OK, this one takes some doing. But you can’t manage what you can’t measure. Establish appropriate metrics for your SEO efforts – I like measuring increased rank and decreased bounce rate on search-referred pages – and track your progress over time.

Happy optimizing. These are the items that consistently work for me. What techniques have worked for you? Tell us about them in the comments.

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Tim Peter is the founder and president of Tim Peter & Associates. You can learn more about our company's strategy and digital marketing consulting services here or about Tim here.

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