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July 26, 2013

100 SEO Tips and Internet Marketing Insights: Takeaways from 100 Days with Bruce Clay

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About 100 days ago, I packed up my desk as a newspaper editor and joined Bruce Clay, Inc., ready to learn everything there was to know about SEO from the man who named it. After SEO training sessions and myriad research, interviews and Q&A sessions, my brain is abuzz with facts, figures and SEO tips … and since search is social, it only makes sense that I share these SEO tips!

So here they are: my top 100 SEO tips and online marketing takeaways from 100 days at BCI: on SEO, on technical matters, on content and on social media.

100 SEO Tips

  1. The objective of SEO is to increase traffic, and ultimately conversions, by ranking very high search results based on targeted keywords. (Tweet this!)
  2. When I explain where I work, I’ve come to discover a lot of people don’t know what SEO stands for.
  3. There is no end to SEO; according to Bruce, if your SEO is “done” … it just means “you didn’t have enough keywords.” (Tweet this!)
  4. There were more than 5 billion daily searches on Google in 2012.
  5. If we can believe the memes, even Ryan Gosling cares about SEO. #HeyGirl (Tweet This!)

    Ryan Gosling and George Clooney with text reading "Hey girl, this SEO is on fire"

    See SEO Tip #5.

  6. According to a report by HubSpot, 61 percent of Internet users research products online.
  7. That same report found that 44 percent of online shoppers begin the buying cycle by using a search engine.
  8. Google, launched in September of 1998, had 67 percent U.S. search market share in June 2013 according to comScore.
  9. Google owns YouTube, and nearly 100 other companies.
  10. Google reports that 15 percent of daily search queries have never before been searched for.
  11. When doing organic search optimization, focus on Google. And what works for Google generally works for Yahoo!, Bing and the rest of the gang.
  12. A great first place to start your SEO campaign if you have a brick-and-mortar is to get into Google Places – it’s easy, free and effective!
  13. Google tailors your search results based on your history and location unless you tell it not to in your search settings.
  14. Your goal should always be to rank on page 1 of the SERP,within the top three results. As Bruce would say, the top three results are the new page one.
  15. Google is constantly changing its algorithm; Google Fellow Amit Singhal reports there have been more than 500 changes in a single year.
  16. One way to manage the flow of PageRank though your site is to be strategic about internal linking, especially in global navigation.
  17. Google doesn’t index stop words (and, but, the, an, a, etc.)
  18. Don’t be evil. To clarify, I already knew that. But since diving into SEO, “don’t be evil” has taken on new meaning.
  19. While we “optimize” in America, they “optimise” in Australia.
  20. 70% of the links search users click are organic results, according to Search Engine Journal.
  21. Using “two” vs. “2” in a headline can affect your click-through rate.
  22. Everything seems to have a TLA, or three-letter acronym: SEO, SMM, SEM, PPC,  ROI, XML, API, URL, FTP, EMD, B2B, B2C, CRM, LSI, KPI, CPA, BBM, CTR, RSS, SEJ, SMX …
  23. And speaking of SMX, the takeaways from last month’s SMX Advanced were many and mighty.
  24. If you missed out on SMX Advanced, no worries! SMX East hits NYC Oct. 1-3. The super early bird rate closes on July 27 (tomorrow!), so register now if you’re planning to go! You can also use the Bruce Clay discount code to save an additional 10 percent: WS-BC10.
  25. If your website can get paid search results on the same page as organic search results, there is often an amplifying effect. A notable case study showed that “the total revenue generated by combining SEO and PPC together yielded a profit over 27 percent higher than SEO alone.”
  26. And speaking of PPC, negative keywords aren’t pejoratives, as one (like my former self) might think. Negative keywords refer to keywords that a PPC campaign manager does not want his ad to display. For example, if you were targeting VW bugs, but you only sold red bugs, then black, silver and white, etc. would all be negative keywords.
  27. Browsers are biased by location and history, unless users take pains to adjust their settings. This means all SERPs are not created equal, and complicates the job of an SEO. Sigh.
  28. Bruce Clay’s method of SEO works just as successfully in India as it does in the U.S.
  29. “Panda” and “Penguin” no longer only signify cute little animals.
  30. Google likes to play pranks on April 1st. Since 2000, they have unleashed havoc (albeit harmless) onto the web. 2013 pranks included treasure mode for Google Maps, the ability to search for smells and an all new form of Gmail — Gmail Blue. It’s Gmail, only bluer — inspired by the blue that comes from nature.
  31. Distinguished Google Webmaster Matt Cutts is awesome. His genius knows no bounds, his personality is delightful and his videos are always filled with critical SEO tips. I have tweeted so many pictures and quotes from him, in fact, that my ever-curious mother recently asked “do you have a crush on that man all over your Twitter?” It took all of five seconds for me to figure out who she was talking about. And Mom, if you’re reading this and want to know who I have a crush on, see No. 5. #FanGirl
  32. Sites should be optimized for mobile traffic. Google’s recommended configuration for mobile optimization is responsive design.
  33. The average SEOToolSet user has 74 keywords.
  34. You should never, ever, ever, EVER, ever – no matter what — buy links. You should earn them :)
  35. Everyone has a weakest link — find your weakest link, and get rid of it. And keep repeating until your link profile is as near perfect as it can be.
  36. There is a 112 percent year-over-year increase in the demand for SEO professionals.
  37. “Above the fold” refers to the section of a site that is visible without scrolling. The term comes from that long ago time when people read things in print and the top stories appeared on the upper half of the newspaper’s (folded) front page.
  38. “It is not the job of search engine optimization to make a pig fly. It is the job of the SEO to genetically re-engineer the website so that it becomes an eagle.” Words of wisdom from Bruce.

    SEO tips for technical matters …

  39. Opinions on keyword density vary, but it’s worth it to note that our general guideline at BCI is to use implement keywords below 7% of copy.
  40. Google will cut off your Meta Description at around 156 characters, so craft it accordingly.
  41. A good general guideline for Title tags is that they consist of should be 6-12 words — no more than 70 characters.
  42. It is also recommended that no word be used more than twice in a Title tag.
  43. Both your Title tag and your Meta Description should contain high-priority keywords.
  44. If you have a strong brand, consider putting your brand name at the beginning of your Title tag, which can increase your CTR through brand recognition and trust. If you’re in the process of building your brand, you can put your brand name (or brand name domain) at the end of the Title tag.
  45. Bruce advocates the use of the Meta Keywords tags; keyword phrases should be separated by commas, with the first letter of every word capitalized. There should be no more than 48 keyword phrases.
  46. All web pages should have an <H1> tag. The <H1> tag should summarize the content of the page as a whole, be similar to the page title and, as always, should utilize keywords. Heading tags should be less than six words.
  47. You should always include an ALT attribute on your images, as it can reinforce the targeted keywords/subject of your page, and is also deemed necessary in the Americans with Disabilities Act. The ALT attribute should not exceed 12 words.
  48. Use a Meta Robots tag in the Head section of every page to tell a search engine your preference for crawling and indexing individual pages.
  49. Every site should include an HTML Sitemap.
  50. Using XHTML has no SEO benefit, although is a cleaner and more logical form of code. It also conforms to XML. Well-formatted XHTML documents can be more easily transferred to mobile and tablets.
  51. How many words of content should your landing page have? Consider the intent and subject of the page, your audiences expectations and needs from the page, and how many words similar pages on competitors’ sites have.
  52. The anchor text of a link should provide a description (or promise) of the page it will redirect to.
  53. It’s also best if link anchor text contain no more than four words.
  54. When it comes to links, placement matters. A link in the middle of a paragraph carries more value than a link on the side or bottom of a page, and a link at the top of a page is stronger than a link at the bottom.
  55. Links from an image pass less link value than links from text.
  56. To make a line into your text (like the one directly below), include <hr /> in your HTML. Bam.

    SEO tips for quality content …

  57. SEO “is becoming much more content-centric,” according to Bruce. And he should know. He’s writing the authoritative book on content marketing with digital marketer Murray Newlands.

    Murray Newlands and Bruce Clay

    See SEO Tip #57.

  58. When creating content, make it compelling. Matt Cutts’ biggest advice at SMX Advanced was, in fact, to make content compelling and focus on the user).
  59. Keyword research helps you strategically create your headline. Use a keyword research tool to figure out exact search terms are being used that relate to your article or content and tailor your headline to match up with the search query that has the largest traffic volume.
  60. A blog is primarily an awareness channel that will lead to micro-conversions, such as social sharing, page visiting, etc. These micro-conversions are important, because they keep you at the front of a customer’s mind when they need the product or service you offer.
  61. According to Search Engine Journal, “companies that blog have 434% more indexed pages. And companies with more indexed pages get far more leads.”
  62. The writing style of any piece of content should be tailored to sensibilities of its audience.
  63. A good general guideline for blog post length is between 400-600 words.
  64. End a blog post with a call to action to get readers to continue to engage or interact with your business.
  65. Your goal should be to “publish the right content in the right place at the right time,” as they say at HubSpot.
  66. It is your best interest to implement Google Authorship, allowing content producers to identify and claim articles, posts or any other content you’ve created. Those with verified Google Authorship also get an Authorship snippet in the SERP, which is a CTR magnet.
  67. In short … content is king.

    SEO tips for visual engagement …

  68. Graphics are queen.
  69. Adding graphics increases your CTR. Be visually engaging!
  70. There are plenty of free stock images online. You can use these images to create graphic-text mash-ups for your social media channels that will boost traffic to your site or blog.
  71. Pixlr is an amazing (and free!) tool for modifying and adding to your graphics.
  72. Infographics are worthwhile. Quality infographics are 30 times more likely to be read than text articles.
  73. There’s an infographic that fits your business and audience and you can find it if you do take the time to strategize and brainstorm.
  74. Once the infographic is created, it’s time to deliver a huge push across all your social media platforms. I mean, you want your infographic to go viral, don’t you?
  75. Piktochart is a free tool that let’s you create an amazing infographic all on your own.
  76. When it comes to design, it’s better to use no more than two fonts.
  77. Another design best practice is to use contrasting colors to create a strikingly vivid visual.
  78. Different colors lead your consumers to experience different emotions.

    SEO tips for social media …

  79. As content marketer Tom Fishburne says, “Technology can’t save boring content–but it can amplify good content.”
  80. All that work you’ve done to optimize your site is something you want to show off, right? And not just in the SERP, but across social media platforms, as well. Every business is different. What social networks are your consumers on? You should be there, too, linking to your site and issuing calls to action!
  81. Social media has become a news source in its own right.
  82. Social media is not an optimization-free space. Just as you optimize a standard web page, you can optimize an individual profile or business page.
  83. LinkedIn profiles can be optimized for search.
  84. Facebook Pages can be optimized for search.
  85. Google+ can be optimized for search (starting to see a trend?).
  86. If were obsessed with grades in school, than you’ll love Klout — which essentially provides your social media grade. Klout aggregates all your social media profiles — Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Foursquare, Google+, LinkedIn, Tumblr and more.
  87. Fun fact: if you have a score of 63 or above on Klout, you are in the top five percent. You can imagine what score, then, I’m obviously trying to get to.
  88. Together, Buffer and Tweriod help you determine what time to tweet, noting when your unique group of followers is most active.
  89. The recently launched Twitter Analytics allow you to track your tweets’ success (parsing out favorites, retweets and replies), as well as your daily follows and unfollows.
  90. Hashtags get your content in front of the new followers. It is definitely in your best interest to use hashtags strategically, as they are what bring brands and users together.
  91. You can monitor who is unfollowing you via Qwitter. Can you leverage this information in any way? Not really. But at least you know. And if you’re a touch obsessive (see No. 87), you like to know.
  92. According to Dan Zarrella (the social media scientist), the ten most retweetable words are: you, Twitter, please, retweet, post, blog, social, free, media and help.
  93. More fast facts from Dan Zarrella: retweets that mention Twitter are more likely to be retweeted again; retweets that contain a self-reference are less likely to be retweeted; and simply asking for a retweet can boost a tweet’s … ahem … retweetability. #MakeUpAWord
  94. Justin Bieber has the largest Twitter following. Katy Perry is in second place, Lady Gaga is in third place … and President Barack Obama is in fourth.
  95. Twitter chats, which center around more topics than you’d imagine (including SEO and SMM) are a great place to network, learn and share. Find out what chats you might be interested in via the Twitter Chat master schedule.
  96. Since 2004, Facebook has acquired 18 companies.
  97. There are 225 million users on LinkedIn.
  98. There are 3 million company pages on LinkedIn.
  99. You can now add rich media (images, videos and links) to your LinkedIn profile, which is yet another way you can optimize your profile and make it stand out — I mean, if showing up in a search is your thing.
  100. There’s still a lot more to learn about SEO (see No. 3).

Want more SEO tips? Follow @KristiKellogg for all the SEO tips you could ever want, plus choice Ryan Gosling memes.

 

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17 responses to “100 SEO Tips and Internet Marketing Insights: Takeaways from 100 Days with Bruce Clay”

  1. Geoffrey writes:

    Love the article.

    One question re:#34…Never, ever, Ever, EVER buy links.

    What about HyperLocal business directories where your business can have it’s own brandable page on the hyperlocal website that generates a lot of local traffic. Not buying an ad, but buying a page on another website.

    Yes, No, Grey Area???

  2. Rajesh Magar writes:

    First of all Welcome to SEO world and it seems that you have learn big deals so quickly about online Internet marketing. Would love to hear more about content marketing tactics which you journalists/editors using to creating killer content.

  3. Alan Smith writes:

    Hey Kristi, such a nice post. It summarizes all the important aspects of the SEO.

  4. Nifsindia writes:

    Thanks for the Tips Kristi, Some of them are known but thanks for the rest. Appreciate your effort in it….

  5. Doc Sheldon writes:

    “13. Google tailors your search results based on your history and location unless you tell it not to in your search settings.”

    Does anyone really still believe this is really true? ;-)

  6. Kristi Kellogg writes:

    Doc Sheldon,

    It is definitely true! If you change the settings you will see a drastically different SERP :)

    Kristi

  7. Social Media Marketing Plan writes:

    Hi Kristi!
    Thanks for the post “100 SEO Tips and Internet Marketing Insights: Takeaways from 100 Days with Bruce Clay.” I found it very helpful and expect other will find it useful too.

  8. Kristi Kellogg writes:

    Hi Geoffrey,

    Thanks for reading!

    In regard to your question, the good news is that Matt Cutts has provided us with an answer! In a Google Webmaster video, a user (like you) asks Matt whether or not paid directories held to the same standards as paid links. His answer? “I believe in many cases, or in substantially all cases, paid directories are held to the same standards (as paid links).”

    Matt explains that Google looks at the value that each directory is bringing, and if the directory does not “execute substantial editorial discretion,” Google knows and lowers its toolbar page rank. Matt concludes that “if you’re paying money to that directory, it’s not really doing you any good.”

    Never, ever, Ever, EVER buy links — of any kind. :)

    Very best,
    Kristi

  9. Alex willson writes:

    First of all i must say that the post is really helpful for beginners as it contains all the important aspects for SEO.
    Would love to hear more about “How to increase traffic to a site”.

  10. SEO Tips writes:

    Thanks for this. It was a very handy article. I read that social media is getting more and more important for SEO, and that the more fans and followers you have on accounts linked to your website, the higher you rank in google. Is that true?

  11. Kristi Kellogg writes:

    SEO Tips: The importance of social media is increasing — likes and shares often lead to increased clickthroughs, which is what all brands want. There is, however, no direct correlation between search engine rankings and social media campaigns. The only exception to this is Google+ — your content will rank higher for those in your Google+ circle (when they are, in fact, logged into Google).

    Thanks for asking!

    Kristi

  12. Spook SEO writes:

    Thanks for sharing Kristi. While technology can in fact amplify good content, it can also amplify bad content making it very damaging to a brand or company. Its for this reason that publishers should be VERY CAREFUL with the quality of their content. With technology, a half baked content can ruin a business’s reputation.

  13. Kristi Kellogg writes:

    You are absolutely right — the quality of content is of the utmost importance. And while “half-baked content can ruin a business’ reputation” … quality content boosts a brand’s reputation.

    :)
    Kristi

  14. Small business SEO writes:

    The steps are very thorough, very detailed, i like it.

  15. Jonathan Goudy writes:

    This sums up all of the seo basics. The crazy part about SEO is that it still feels like there’s more to learn, and these basics go deeper.

  16. Himanshu writes:

    Love the post, especially about using hashtags strategically.

  17. Kristi Kellogg writes:

    Thanks Himanshu! :)



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