Best Search Engine Optimization strategy is simple and ethical

What are the best SEO techniques and strategy, bloggers often ask. 

Google says, SEO should help search engines find content with high quality. It also says, if someone claims that he can get your website on the first position on search pages, he is cheating you outright. In 2019, that does not happen. 

In addition, SEO need not be technically cumbersome. It need not cost money. It is mostly good commonsense with a bit of technical effort and supportive actions that improve engagement and content discovery.  

The present post lists out the SEO actions that are simple and yet work well in 2019. For bloggers, these serve as quick reminders. Hardcore SEO actions are better left for SEO experts - most bloggers need not bother about them. 

Please remember that what worked a few years back might not work in 2019, and some positive actions of the past may be red-flagged by search engines. So, this list contains 1. actions that the search engines find genuine and good today; 2. supportive actions fo bringing more traffic to the blog; and 3. actions that may invite penalty from search engines. 

Before I take you to the best SEO strategy tips, let me refer to a knowledge-base article on this very blog: Fundamentals of SEO. You will find this link very useful if you have doubts about how SEO works, whether it is useful still in 2019, what tools to use, etc.

Remember the underlying spirit of good SEO: 
Serve the visitor useful and sharable content and avoid bad unhealthy SEO techniques.

Simple SEO techniques that work in 2019

  1. Give your site/ blog a good title. Keep the title below 70 characters (if that is not possible, give the most relevant expression within this limit). 
  2. Give the blog a relevant, well-written description within 130 characters. It should contain the highlight of the blog. As search engines have started giving more importance to mobile phones, a bigger description might bleed away from the space available. 
  3. Give the site an independent domain name, not a sub-domain of a free domain (e.g. example.com vs. example.blogspot.com). 
  4. Make the domain name memorable, short, with an expression that defines your blog (keyword).
  5. Use 'rel=canonical' HTML attribute so that Google and other search engines know which of your websites (out of many that arise due to www or no-www prefix, etc) is to be considered for search.
  6. Make one of the two variants as your main blog URL: with www or without www. The other should direct to the one you choose.
  7. Regularly publish original content. 'Original' does not mean you need to make inventions in every post, but you must speak in a voice that is your own and not copied from others.
  8. Keep the quality of your writing high. Have well-researched and detailed articles and without grammatical errors.
  9. Write for visitor, not for yourself or the search engine.
  10. Write long content, of over 1600 words, at least occasionally. The content of these long posts should be ever-green. Link these posts on other related posts.
  11. Do not put too many ads or widgets. They make the blog look unprofessional, reduce stay time on the blog and hurt SEO indirectly.
  12. Give relevant sub-headings to different thoughts, especially in a long post.
  13. If you know how to do it and your blogging platform allows that, use H1, H2 HTML tags for heading and sub-headings. 
  14. Get SSL / HTTPS security for your blog. Blogger and Wordpress do that automatically; for self-hosted blogs, there are free HTTPS certificates available.
  15. Highlight sub-headings by way of bigger font and/or colored text so that they catch the attention of visitors.
  16. Put visual content to support text content: have images, info-graphics and/or videos.
  17. Give relevant description to individual pages/ posts.
  18. Don't ignore to put a relevant ALT attribute on images. It helps search engines to know the subject of image.
  19. Do not have a messy design that hurts navigation and readability. Go for a simple design.
  20. Put keywords in top and bottom parts of text content. But keep them in a way that the keywords look natural. Instead of the same keyword, use synonyms and different ways of saying the same thing.
  21. Use long-tail keywords (two-three word phrases) rather than one-word keywords.
  22. When giving links, use relevant anchor text (the hyperlinked text). It should look natural too.
  23. Give links to useful information on other pages/ posts on your website/ blog. However, do not over-do it.
  24. Bring your content to the notice of authoritative bloggers on your subject. You can send them email to seek their opinion, or regularly comment on their blogs.
  25. Also give links to authoritative sites when these add value to your own site.
  26. Check broken and dead links and remove them once in a while. 
  27. Place a 'broken link'page so that if for any reason a page is not available to the visitor, he sees a page in which you say sorry for that and request him to visit another page.
  28. The site should have trust signals for search engines: Google has stated that it finds high trust in websites that have contact details, an 'about us' page and a customer service page (if relevant). 
  29. If you want to host the blog independently [e.g. not as a free blog on Blogger or Wordpress], choose the host wisely as the web host's quality impacts SEO a lot. 
  30. Make sure that your site is not too slow to open. That can happen if the server is slow, the site is heavy or poorly structured, or there is not enough internet bandwidth available to the site. Google has stated that since 2017, it has been taking site speed as a signal to rank pages.
  31. If your blog is hosted on a small server and the server is shared by many sites, make sure that the site is available all the time (over 99.5% uptime) and the site does not hang when there is heavy traffic.[That's why we said earlier that web hosts can impact SEO in a big way.]
  32. All sites are automatically indexed by major search engines. However, check on Google, Bing and Yahoo if almost all of your site's pages are indexed or not. If not, check for HTML/ crawling errors. You can check them on the Google Search Console.
  33. On the blog, have prominent links and buttons for social networking and bookmarking accounts of yours.
  34. Make sure that your site is mobile-friendly, because more and more searches are now carried through mobile phones.
  35. Put a sitemap on the website. It need not be a page visible to visitors.Blogger and Wordpress automatically do that.
  36. Guest blogging on other sites/ blogs is useful, but search engines do not like it when used for back-linking and on sites that are not in a related field or not trust-worthy.
  37. Have a subscription widget for email and RSS feed, so that people follow you and get updates on email or through RSS feed.
  38. Tell your friends, relatives and colleagues about your blog.
  39. After publishing a new post, send an email to people who might be interested in that content. But do not bombard them with too many emails in a month.
  40. Have your blog's URL and a short description on your visiting card, stationery and other items that you share. Business bloggers can put the URL on carry-bags, advertisements, products, back panels of cars, etc.
  41. Engage with others by leaving valuable comments on their blogs and social accounts.
  42. Be active on social media and its communities as sharing of content on social media gives a positive signal to search engines. 
  43. Be on an industry forum or 1/ 2 groups on Facebook on your subject, participate in a Twitter chat. 
  44. If your blog is on a subject that is visually appealing (photography, food, fashion, travel), cross-publish on Instagram and/ or Pinterest. 
  45. Cross-publish your blog posts on Facebook page and  LinkedIn article. Tweet about your posts. 
what is good seo

Bad SEO actions or tricks that you should avoid

  1. Don't copy-paste others' content.
  2. Do not keep outdated or misleading information on webpages.
  3. Don't write primarily for search engines. While doing SEO, do not ignore the reader.
  4. Don't put exact keywords or one-word keywords too often, whether in title or description or the body of articles.
  5. Don't put keywords and make them unreadable by hiding them through background coloring etc.
  6. Don't be part of link farms (where you link to others in return for others linking to you).
  7. Don't ask for back-links.
  8. Don't purchase back-links. Do not buy PBN.
  9. Avoid having links to spammy, bad sites. 
  10. Don't spend money on an SEO service without being sure of the quality and genuineness of offer. In most cases, bloggers hardly need the services of SEO experts.
  11. Don't fall for offers of thousands of followers etc in a few dollars.
  12. Don't waste time on submitting to directories, search engines or pinging, except for a few genuine directories or local/ trade directories.
  13. Don't make duplicate sites. Don't copy paste the same content on different blogs/ sites.
  14. Don't make websites that have poor content but are there to drive traffic to one particular site.
  15. While being active on social media, remember that it sucks time and energy. Do not be on too many platforms. Also, do not post too much and too frequently or people will mark you as a spammer.