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SEO has traditionally divided into two main areas; on-page optimisation which covers what can be done on the pages of the website itself, and off-page optimisation which covers activity that takes place elsewhere (e.g. link-building).

The most effective strategy in 2012 however (social media powered SEO) requires an integrated approach, with on-page content promoted off-page within the main social media channels. Please click on the following link to find out more about social media SEO - the future proofed SEO strategy that delivers outstanding results now.

Alternatively, click here to understand more about how off-page SEO has had to adapt to changes in the search engines’ algorithms to remain effective in 2012.

Finally, if you are more interested in on-page SEO, we should probably warn you that, although it’s still very important to optimise on-page factors, it’s extremely unlikely to work on its own unless your market is particularly niche. Please read on for:

A checklist outlining the key areas to consider when reviewing on-page SEO.

A list of common mistakes to look out for with regard to on-page SEO.

A list of old-school SEO (‘spammy’) on-page tactics that the search engines are now able to recognise (and punish accordingly).

On-Page SEO Checklist:

  • Always start with keyword selection, research and testing
  • Meta Description tag
  • ALT tags
  • H1 tags
  • URL structure
  • Internal linking strategy
  • Content
  • Keyword density
  • Site maps, both XML and user facing
  • Usability and accessibility
  • Track target keywords
  • Expect results in 6-12 months

Avoid common on-page SEO mistakes such as:

  • Duplicate content
  • URL variants of the same pages
  • Off-site images and content on-site
  • Duplicate title tags

Avoid spammy SEO tactics such as:

  • Hidden text
  • Hidden links
  • Keyword repetition
  • Doorway pages
  • Mirror pages
  • Cloaking 

 

Unlike On-page SEO, off-page SEO refers to activities outside the boundaries of the webpage. The most important are:

  • Link Building
  • Social Media
  • Social bookmarking

We will look at these in detail below but first let me explain about the importance and benefits of off-page SEO.

Why is Off-Page SEO important?

Search engines have been trying for decades to find a way to return the best results to the searcher. To do that, they take into account the on-site SEO factors (described above), some other quality factors and off-page SEO.

Off page SEO gives them a very good indication on how the World (other websites and users) perceive the particular website. A web site that is useful is more likely to have references (links) from other websites; it is more likely to have mentions on social media (Facebook likes, tweets, Pins, +1’s etc.) and it is more likely to be bookmarked and shared among communities of like-minded users.

What are the benefits of ‘off-site SEO’ to website owners?

A successful off-site SEO strategy will generate the following benefits to website owners:

Increase in rankings – The website will rank higher in the SERPs and this also means more traffic.

Increase in PageRank – Page rank is a number between 0 and 10 which indicates the importance of a website in the eyes of Google. It is the system invented by Larry Page (one of Google’s founders) and one of the reasons that Google was so successful in showing the most relevant results to the searcher.  Page rank today is only one out of the 250 factors that Google is using to rank websites.

More exposure – Higher rankings also means greater exposure because when a website ranks in the top positions: it gets more links, more visits and more social media mentions. It’s like a never ending sequence of events where one thing leads to another and then to another etc.

Link Building

Link building is the most popular off-Page SEO method.  Basically by building external links to your website, you are trying to gather as many ‘votes’ as you can so that you can bypass your competitors and rank higher. For example if someone likes this article and references it from his/her website or blog, then this is like telling search engines that this page has good information.

Over the years webmasters were trying to build links to their websites so that they rank higher and they ‘invented’ a number of ways to increase link count. The most popular ways were:

  • Blog Directories – something like yellow pages but each entry was a link back to a website
  • Forum Signatures – Many people where commenting on forums for the sole purpose of getting a link back to their website (they included the links in their signature)
  • Comment link – The same concept as forum signatures where you comment on some other website or blog in order to get a link back. Even worse, instead of using your real name you could use keywords so instead of writing ‘comment by Alex Chris’,  you wrote ‘comment by How to lose weight’ or anything similar.
  • Article Directories – By publishing your articles on an article directory you could get a link (or 2) back to your website. Some article directories accepted only unique content while other directories accepted anything from spin articles to already published articles.
  • Shared Content Directories – Websites like hubpages and infobarrel allowed you to publish content and in return you could add a couple of links pointing to your websites.
  • Link exchange schemes – Instead of trying to publish content you could get in touch with other webmasters and exchange links. In other words I could link your website from mine and you could do the same. In some cases you could even do more complicated exchanges by doing a 3-way link, in other words I link to your website from my website but you link to my website from a different website.

Notice that I used the past tense to describe all the above methods because not only they do not work today, you should not even try them because you are more likely to get a penalty rather than an increase in rankings (especially when it comes to Google).

The birth of black hat SEO

Link building was an easy way to manipulate the search engine algorithms and many spammers tried to take advantage of this by building link networks which gradually lead to the creation of what is generally known as black hat SEO.

Google has become very intelligent in recognizing black hat techniques and with the introduction of Panda and Penguin they have managed to solve the problem and protect their search engine from spammers. Of course there are still exceptions but they are doing advances in every new release of their ranking algorithm and very soon none of these tricks will work.

To “follow” or “nofollow”

In addition to the above and in order to give webmasters a way to link to a website without passing any ‘link juice’ (for example in the case of ads), search engines introduced what is known as the “nofollow” link. This is a special tag you can add to a link (for example: “<a href=http://www.somesite.com rel=”nofollow”>Some Site</a>) that tells search engines not to count the particular link as a ‘vote’ to the referenced website.

This was done so that you can link other websites from yours without taking the risk of being caught for selling or exchanging links.

As a rule of thumb, you should add the nofollow tag on all your external links (within your pages) that go to websites you cannot trust 100%, to ALL your comment links, to ALL your blogroll links and to ALL banner ad links.

What is a good link?

So, if the above links are not useful, what is a good link?

First you should understand that link building it’s not only a matter of quantity but it is a matter of quality as well. In other words it no longer matters how many links are pointing to your website but it is more important from where these links are coming. For example a link from a normal blog does not have the same weight as a link from New York Times or a link from Matt Cutts blog (head of Google Quality team) is not the same as a link from my blog.

The obvious question is how to you get these links?

If you ask Google they will tell you that any links pointing to your website has to be natural links. Natural links are exactly what their name implies. A website owner or blogger likes another website or blog and naturally adds a link to his/her blog.

Does this happen in reality or is it another myth?

It certainly does but you have to try really hard to get to this point. Take for example this blog, there are many incoming links because other webmasters find the content interesting and I also link to other sites in my articles because I find their content interesting and want to inform my readers about it. This is natural link building where a link has more value from the readers’ point of you rather than the search engine point of view. The best way to attract links is to publish content (text, images, videos, infographics etc) that other people would like to link.

If natural links are what I have just described above, in which category do all other links belong?

They belong in the category of artificial links and by adopting such techniques you increase the risk for getting a manual or algorithmic penalty by Google.

Is guest blogging a valid way to build links?

Guest posting can be a valid way to get links back to your website provided that you don’t do it just for links and that you don’t overdo it. You can read these 2 articles to get a complete picture as to when to accept guest posts on your blog and when to guest post on other blogs.

Social Media

Social media is part of ‘off-site SEO’ and if you think about it, it’s also a form of link building. It should be noted that almost all of the links you get from social media sites are “nofollow” but this does not mean that they do not have any value.

Social Media mentions are gaining ground as ranking factors and proper configuration of social media profiles can also boost SEO.

Social Bookmarking

Social bookmarking is not as popular as it used to be in the past but it is still a good way to get traffic to your website. Depending on your niche you can find web sites like reddit.com, digg.com, stumbleupon.com, scoop.it and delicious.com (to name a few) to promote your content.

What Is Social Networking?

Social networking is the grouping of individuals into specific groups, like small rural communities or a neighborhood subdivision, if you will.  Although social networking is possible in person, especially in the workplace, universities, and high schools, it is most popular online.

This is because unlike most high schools, colleges, or workplaces, the internet is filled with millions of individuals who are looking to meet other people, to gather and share first-hand information and experiences about cooking, golfing, gardening, developing friendships professional alliances, finding employment, business-to-business marketing and even groups sharing information about baking cookies to the Thrive Movement.  The topics and interests are as varied and rich as the story of our universe.

When it comes to online social networking, websites are commonly used. These websites are known as social sites. Social networking websites function like an online community of internet users. Depending on the website in question, many of these online community members share common interests in hobbies, religion, politics and alternative lifestyles. Once you are granted access to a social networking website you can begin to socialize. This socialization may include reading the profile pages of other members and possibly even contacting them.

The friends that you can make are just one of the many  benefits to social networking online. Another one of those benefits includes diversity because the internet gives individuals from all around the world access to social networking sites. This means that although you are in the United States, you could develop an online friendship with someone in Denmark or India. Not only will you make new friends, but you just might learn a thing or two about new cultures or new languages and learning is always a good thing.

As mentioned, social networking often  involves grouping specific individuals or organizations together. While there are a number of social networking websites that focus on particular interests, there are others that do not. The websites without a main focus are often referred to as "traditional" social networking websites and usually have open memberships. This means that anyone can become a member, no matter what their hobbies, beliefs, or views are. However, once you are inside this online community, you can begin to create your own network of friends and eliminate members that do not share common interests or goals.

As I'm sure you're aware, there are dangers associated with social networking including data theft and viruses, which are on the rise. The most prevalent danger though often involves online predators or individuals who claim to be someone that they are not. Although danger does exist with networking online, it also exists in the real world, too. Just like you're advised when meeting strangers at clubs and bars, school, or work -- you are also advised to proceed with caution online.

By being aware of your cyber-surroundings and who you are talking to, you should be able to safely enjoy social networking online. It will take many phone conversations to get to know someone, but you really won't be able to make a clear judgment until you can meet each other in person.  Just use common sense and listen to your inner voice; it will tell you when something doesn't feel right about the online conversations taking place.

Once you are well informed and comfortable with your findings, you can begin your search from hundreds of networking communities to join. This can easily be done by performing a standard internet search. Your search will likely return a number of results, including MySpace, FriendWise, FriendFinder, Yahoo! 360, Facebook, Orkut, and Classmates.

What is Blogging?

Blogging is the act of posting content on a blog (a Web log or online journal) or posting comments on someone else's blog.

Why Blogging is so Popular

Blogging is very popular today because it allows people to interact with each other. Blogging has also become a popular search engine optimization (SEO) tool because search engines like Google and Yahoo know that a blog is frequently updated with content or visitor comments, so their spiders visit blogs frequently looking for new content to include in their index.

Additionally, blog content can be delivered automatically via electronic RSS (Really Simple Syndication) data feeds. Visitors subscribe to a blog's feeds in order to stay up to date with content that's being posted on subjects that interest them. Blog feeds are then read by what's known as blog feed reader software, widely available for free, so users can scan for recent blog posts of interest on the blogs to which they subscribe.

Finally, blogging doesn't require that writers and contributors know a lot about HTML (Web page code). If a blogger or visitor can fill in an online form, they can blog and post comments on other blogs.

Pronunciation: blahg - ing

Examples:

The About Home Business home page content is a perfect example of blogging. Each posting written by me is dated and presented in chronological order. Each post has a link visitors can use to post their own comments. When I write and publish these posts using blogging software, I am blogging. When my visitors click the link and leave a comment, in a sense, they too are blogging because they are interacting with my blog.

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