As a member of the SEO community, I spend a ton of time in the webmaster forums. I like to keep my finger on the pulse and be a part of the discussions. I also like to watch for interesting SEO tips that might be tossed around in these forums that I may not have heard before. Unfortunately, I would say that 95% of what I read is really not worth my time. It is only about 5% of the time that I find a suggestion that makes me think or re-examine my approaches. I mostly see the same things. Unique content. Inbound links. Sites built with users in mind. Intelligent on-site organization. Nothing black-hat. But why are there so many thousands of SEO tips entries that all tell us the same thing? Whey are there are so many people out searching for SEO tips?
I think the reason is that people like to believe that there is "magical information" out there that if they could locate would make them tons of money. It's an extreme case of "the magic bullet" syndrome. So here is my top list of SEO tips distilled from over 2 years of daily forum reading, as well as our work with clients. This will be different from the usual on-site and off-site SEO stuff you usually see. In fact, we have that too (see here). But no. This is more important than all that simple html stuff. In fact, if you can digest these SEO tips, you will be well on your path to success with the search engines.
1) Recognize that the "easy" days of SEO are well behind us.
Yes, the days of posting something on the web stuffed with targeted keywords and waiting for traffic are simply over. Unfortunately friends, the secret about how to get free traffic from Google is out. There is now immense competition for high traffic keywords in the search engines. If you don't believe me, do a little research yourself. If you want to pretend it's 1997, that's your business. But if you really want to success for your online business, read on.
2) Understand the scope of an SEO project.
I have many intake calls with clients and they say things like "how much traffic will I see from your 1 month free SEO trial? This illustrates to me that many people just don't understand the challenge they are up against. There is simply no better way to help you understand this than to have you try. A simple experiment will help you understand this. 5 easy steps:
a) Start a blog at Blogger.com (free).
b) Write a 400 word entry where you use the phrase "purple bananas for Christmas" 4 times.
c) Write a 400 word entry where you use the phrase "SEO services" 7 times.
d) Digg both entires individually at Digg.com.
e) Wait 7 days. Then Google both phrases.
Your blog will come up on page 1 for "purple bananas for Christmas". However, your blog will not be in the top 1,000 websites for "SEO Services". I seriously hope you try this. There is simply no better way to learn the real SEO tips other than trying this stuff out for yourself.
3) Approach SEO as you would exercise.
Now that you have run the purple banana experiment, you are starting to understand the scope of what you are up against. As a result, you will realize that this is going to take some time. Perhaps years. Just like a marathon runner in training, you need to pace yourself if you have any hope of getting to the big race. This means daily SEO. The best possible SEO tips will not help you if you don't have the discipline to consistently execute. Just like exercise, you need an SEO routine that involves a little work every day. You also need a feedback loop to help you know if your training is working and to help motivate you on those dark days. If this is too much for you to organize, hire someone to do it for you. If you can't afford that, at least use the free tools out there that will help you get organized (see our free SEO trial).
As I warned, this is far from the conventional SEO tips blog entry. Most of those are filled with the little html tricks you can do that will magically make your website perform (read with sarcasm). I am not saying you should avoid those. In fact, you should read those regularly. But I'm taking you back a step to make sure your frame of mind is appropriate for the task at hand. If you are serious about ranking on a competitive term, you need to read over 500 blogs with SEO tips over the next two years as you fight your way to the prized position.