If you’ve been asking around about Search Engine Optimization, then you’ve probably been told to check out Google’s SEO guide at one point or another. Although this guide won’t tell you all about the latest SEO tricks, it is definitely worth reading or at the very least, skimming.
Among its many advantages is that it presents the most basic rules and the best practices in terms you’ll be sure to easily understand. Remember, though, that it may not be a very good idea to rely completely on this document if you’re looking for some real SEO tips. Why? Read on to find out.
When you look more closely at the Google SEO guide, you’ll find that it doesn’t really reveal anything much about SEO. What it does in general is tell you to just keep creating excellent content. That’s it. Of course, high-quality content is important to any online business, but it’s not the only thing that can get you to the top of search rankings.
Yes, content is still king of SEO, but there are other kings out there and they’re worth focusing on as well. So, once you’re done skimming through the pages of Google’s guide, you should start paying attention to the things the guide fails to tell you about.
Choosing Your Keywords
Among the most important things any online business should do and which the Google guide fails to discuss is the act of choosing keywords wisely. Bear in mind that your choice of keywords can affect all the other aspects of your website. In general, shorter keywords fare a lot better than longer ones, as they’re likely to match a lot more queries.
This makes it very important for you to do some research before you actually choose your keywords. And when you find one good keyword to use, try using a related keyword or two as well so you can maximize the original keyword’s potential.
What you should be very careful with is using keywords that are already being used by larger or more popular sites. Remember that it can be quite difficult to outrank these sites. Take the risk of using the same keywords they’re using only if you already have concrete plans that directly address the issue on how you can possibly outrank them.
You may have heard of the usefulness of placing Meta tags that Google’s crawlers can index at the head of your web pages. The Google SEO guide, however, doesn’t make any mention of these tags.
The truth is that before the advent of Google, search engine spiders primarily checked keyword tags to determine what a certain page is all about. The sad thing is that these tags became practically useless when people started stuffing them with senseless keywords. And when Google arrived and put in place its PageRank algorithm, inbound links increased in importance as compared to keywords. As a result, the number of SEO experts using these tags diminished.
But, that doesn’t mean search engines have stopped crawling these tags. When you fill in your Meta tags, particularly the keywords tag, you’re making it easier for search engines like Google to determine what your website is all about.
Of course, you’ll have to be careful when choosing the keywords to include in your tags because Google still has a built-in anti-keyword stuffing algorithm. Make sure all the keywords in your tags truly pertain to the page they’re used in.
Although Google’s SEO guide mentions PageRank, it goes on to downplay the importance of inbound links. Make no mistake about it: Inbound links are still very important in this day and age. In fact, the importance of links for SEO purposes may be second only to excellent content.
You are probably aware that there are both legitimate and illegitimate ways of getting inbound links. Legitimate ways include guest posting whereas illegitimate ways include link farming. Naturally, the Google SEO guide advises against using illegitimate ways and you’d do well to heed this advice.
As previously mentioned, guest posting is among the best ways of getting inbound links. All websites need relevant content, so it’s only logical for a webmaster to welcome an offer of a free article in exchange of a link. When you send your offer, be sure to let the other site’s webmaster know that you’re familiar with their target audience and what they have to offer.
Another option you may want to look into is link baiting, which is essentially the act of posting a controversial opinion on forums such that people are encouraged to link to your site for further discussion on the topic.
Getting inbound links can also be successfully done by proactively linking to other sites. Most sites link back to sites that link to them first. In case a site fails to link back to you after one month, strike that off your list and find other sites to link to.
When you do get a link back, it’s a good idea to stop revising the article you used to link to that site as a show of respect for that other site. You may also want to consider running a contest that’ll encourage site visitors to link to your site.
Perhaps the most important thing the Google SEO guide fails to tell you is that you shouldn’t focus your SEO efforts entirely on Google. If you were working on SEO three years ago, then it’s true that all you needed to do was optimize your sites for Google and you’re all set.
These days, however, there are a number of other players you need to give due consideration to. While it’s true that Google still holds the distinction of being the world’s most popular search engine, its dominance has been greatly diminished. If you truly want your SEO efforts to succeed, therefore, you should take the time to optimize for sites such as Bing as well.
You should also bear in mind that social SEO has become increasingly important in recent years. So, while the Google SEO guide is meant to help webmasters who are just starting to dabble in SEO, it shouldn’t be the only resource you check. And while the document does discuss some of the best practices in SEO, you shouldn’t expect your sites to automatically rank on top as soon as you apply the guidelines set in the Google SEO guide. Don’t just take everything at face value. Do your own homework.
Guest Author – Emma-Julie Fox writes for Pitstop Media Inc, a Vancouver company that provides SEO services to businesses across North America.