SEO, or search engine optimization has long been debated for its effectiveness, usefulness and all that, and one may wonder if it is really something we should be concerned about to help us succeed in our online business endeavors. My take on this is quite simple, YES, I think it helps. Let me put it this way, “Any website that implements the best SEO practices will stand out, compared to those who don’t”. Got it!

That said, here are some SEO practices that we should be looking at for 2011. While many SEO techniques and factors have not changed that much, there are “new” ones that we should be keeping pace at, even if it is just to play it safe. Search engines keep tweaking their “algorithms” on a regular basis, and what matters today may no longer be of great importance tomorrow. Your SEO strategy should coupe up with new and developing trends and if you are really completely new to this, start by reading the Google’s Best SEO Tips starter guide as this covers more than 70% of what you need to know. An added 20% is what this post is all about and the remainder 10%, well those are the ones that keep developing :). You will need some time to read this at it is rather long, sorry.

SEO Best Practices Checklist

Best SEO Practices Checklist For 2011

As noted, the best SEO Practices did not not change that much, and most of the important points remain the same. Essentially, to rank well, what you need is quality and optimized content. With the help of SEOMoz (one of the known authorities in SEO), my own SEO Tips and a little bit more of research, let’s pin this down to key points that are timeless (a manner of speaking) as far as helping you get those desired rankings. May I remind you that there is more than “one” search engine and what may be important for one, is not necessarily for the other.

On-Page SEO Practices

We all know what this is, right. On-Page SEO is the first thing we can really control as this is all up to us. These are those “factors” that we can do ourselves without having to rely on any external factors (e.g. inbound links, link popularity, domain authority, etc.).

“Killer” Content: Nowadays anyone can set up a website in a matter of minutes and “fill it” with other people’s content by using aggregators, bots and all that bad stuff. Provide content that are useful, informative, helpful, updated and whenever possible, “timeless” or pillar articles. This is all that matters, quality, and uniqueness (your own voice). In addition, pick a posting frequency that suits you best and stick to it. You do not have to write an article everyday (unless you are a news site or something similar), and moreover, you should give time for people to digest the hundreds of blogs they visit every day, before they arrive at yours. Keeping it “fresh” is the key.

Keywords: When it comes to SEO, unfortunately you are really writing for search engines and truth is you should not. This seems contradicting, but you should first write for your readers and then for SEO. To solve this problem, please read this article about the 3 simple steps to SEO writing.

In addition, ensure that the keywords you are targeting for are:

  • included in your title (preferably first two words), and tagged <h1>
  • included in other title tags (<h2> – <h6>)
  • are included within the first 50 – 100 words of you articles
  • are linked (anchor text) to other pages within your site relevant to that post
  • included in your images using the <alt=””> tag

Other SEO factors, such as density, keyword in comment tags, meta keywords (not description) bolded, italic, bulleted, while recommended, are of less importance. Always do a proper research for keywords as the choice you make will greatly impact on your rankings. The more competitive the harder it will be. A good WordPress plugin that you can use to assist you is keyword winner.

Title: Separated this one for obvious reasons. This is the single most important part of your on-page SEO and should not be neglected. Use attention “grabbing” headlines and make it as unique as possible. Use a combination of your keyword and the common phrase your keyword would be “naturally” used by searchers in within your title tag. In addition, this free report from Chris Garrett gives you some great ideas of 102 Headline Formulas (direct download no optins – free pdf).

Links: Linking to other sources is not only a great way to show your appreciation to others but is also a form of sharing what other have to say about your topic. Many fear that this will drive people away and in my opinion, this is totally the opposite. The positive effects outweigh by a huge margin, to that of the negatives (if any). However, ensure that your outbound links are pointing only to trusted sources and avoid at all cost linking to “bad neighborhood”.

Off-Page (the opposite of…)

Backlinks – This may sound rather bold but in a nutshell, Bing is great for ranking with an “exact-match” domain name, awesome content and a good title tag, while Google, in addition to that of Bing, relies heavily on backlinks (links pointing to your site). If you want to rank well in Google for competitive niches, you’ll need backlinks – period. This is one of the most overlooked part of anyone’s SEO strategy. Your external links (inbound) will have more importance if they are coming with or from:

  • high authority domain sites (trusted, popular, high PR, etc.)
  • several root domains (preferably relevant to your niche) – somedomain.com/youranchor and somedomian.com/youranchor/seo is considered only one root domain. Diversity counts.
  • keyword focused anchor text (best way to grab one of these is via guest posting)

Social Media: Social media in the past as being of minimal importance when it related to SEO. Recently however and in response to one of the many questions users ask on webmasters central, Matt Cutts (Google), hinted that Google is now using social data into its ranking factors.

Social media should be also be a part of your overall SEO strategy for 2011. Building relationships and interacting with connections helps you build your brand, exposure and most importantly, building a trusted community and within the process gain credibility (do not neglect this either). Consider using “branded” URls if you are a heavy social media user. Want to know more about Social Media? Start here: Ching Ya’s Social Media and Blogging Tips.

Video: I know that this is something that many fear of doing because it goes beyond “our comfort zone”. I too am guilty of this but let’s face it, video is so popular to share information and learn online, that neglecting this medium is letting go of a big chunk of potential traffic sources and consequently another important SEO ranking factor. Having videos will give you the edge compared to those who don’t (there we go again). Here is a great article about the subject matter: Video Marketing – How To Get Views On YouTube and increase your YouTube Traffic..

Mobile SEO: More and more, mobility is playing an important role in our everyday lives. Portable everything is not around the corner, it is there, and with gadgets, such as cell phones having full internet browsing capabilities and more, it is also wise to give a little time in preparing yourself for nearly 10% and counting of global internet users using this medium. Simple WP plugins, such as WP Touch, and more recently for blogger users too, can make your website “mobile friendly”. Combined with the recent addition of “important and searchable” mobile data from Google AdWords Keyword tool, this is something you should not ignore. I will cover this more on my next post.

Domain Names: This was kept last deliberately, because it something that you may or may not be able to implement (obvious, if you already have a domain name – like me). However, if by any chance you are going to set up a new website or thinking of changing your domain name, consider using keyword rich domain name and all the better if you can get an “exact match” domain. Exact match domain is the tip of the iceberg and can give your small business a boost on your rankings.

SEO Practices (Negative)

So you think that there are no Best SEO Tips and practices of things to avoid while doing your SEO? Think again, and here are the top things to avoid (many more but these are the “original sins” of SEO) – using malicious codes with the intent to do harm, linking to SPAM or Banned Sites (bad neighborhood), cloaking links, buying links from link farms, incredible long page load times, frequent server downtime (get another host), keyword stuffing (keyword use in excess), are just about the most important thing you should not do.

[note]UPDATE (July 2011): A very important factor has been added to this list, that being the amount of time in which your site or pages, takes to fully render for your visitors. The faster the better. Therefore, I highly suggest you to read how to improve your sites performance and test it accordingly.[/note]

There you have it. The Best SEO Tips and Practices for 2011. I tried to be as concise as possible, mainly for you to use it as a reference. Not much of a change from what we already know, right? True, but the question is and always the same – what are you doing about it? If your online presence also entails doing business, take the time to take action on this. It pays off.

So, now that we have the best SEO Tips and Practices, what about the best SEO tools (free and premium tools) to aid us in achieving all this. Tools that are designed to help us monitor our SEO progress (such as CuteRank, Google Analytics, etc.), tools to help us get more visibility and exposure (Webmaster tools), tools that analyze our pages for errors and other SEO violations (SEO audit) and SEO plugins and tools that can save us time? Worry not, that was deliberately left off to make way for the next SEO series. Stay tuned and these best SEO practices only work if you take action.

[note]UPDATE: January 2012 – The Best SEO Practices For 2012 is now live.[/down]

DiTesco

+DiTesco is a Business and Inbound Marketing Consultant, and founder of iBlogzone.com. iBlogzone's main objective is to help startups and small business owners achieve success in their online ventures. | More About Me and my Consulting Services.

55 thoughts on “The Best SEO Tips And Practices For 2011

  • Seo is like an tree..it has many branches but at the same time it still an tree..one of the best things any one can do is set an schedule and stick with it..yes some post I do write for the search engine ..but 90% of them are for the people..this is how I get the best of both worlds..

    BTW Francisco..Can you can contact me on my contact page..Its very important..I need your help.

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

    • Hi Coleman. The strategy you adopted also works, i.e. 90% for users and 10% for search engines. the only problem I find here is that you might be missing out on your rankings for those articles “that” you are not optimizing. Maybe a better solution would be to continue doing the same thing, but at the very least, implement the most important factors on all of them. The writing in principle should not really be that different. For example, all your articles can have h1 – h6 tags. You can include “sensitive” keywords in your title, making your website mobile friendly, etc.

  • Very useful advice. I’m no expert on SEO, but I think anybody who’s in business online should have a good knowledge of the most important factors.

    I’ve been wondering lately about the value of having a lot of links in a blog post. I’ve heard that Google likes a certain density of links, but I think they often distract readers, if only for an instant, and that’s not good when you want them to focus on the content in the post.

    • Hi John. Indeed, one should have a minimum understanding of the most important factors.

      As for “links”, it really depends. As you know, everything we do in excess, is not good. Having links all over the place in a post will also not be good for users experience as it will most likely distract them. As for the maximum, what I know is that Google recommends not to exceed 100 links in a single page, that includes, post, sidebar, headers, footers, etc. Within a specific post, I don’t know, but I tend to use “good old” common sense.

  • Hi DiTesco,

    I found you through a link on Kiesha’s blog. Very nice overview here.

    Two things you mentioned – video and mobile are things that I have been considering a bit lately. In fact, my first video will go up on Wednesday of this week. I am kind of nervous that people will make fun of my voice or something, not that I think my voice is strange. It is just easy to feel self conscious when doing something so outside of my comfort zone.

    Thanks for the tips & I am glad to have found you here.

    Have a great day!

    • Hi Mark. Good to see you here. Guess I have to once again thank Keisha for sending awesome people like you over here 🙂

      As for the video, yeah, I’m see you. I have the same problem and sometimes take “way to long” to record a 5 minute presentation. This is particularly true if I have to “speak”, lol. If it is just slides and sort of like the vintage “Charlie Chaplin” movies, I’m good. Anyway, you are right, both play an important role and will further do so along the way.

      Thanks for stopping by and I do hope to see more from you here in the future.

  • SEO will always be useful or at least until the web becomes social and people wont go to website because they found it in a search engine but because it was shared by someone(or in short as long as a search box exists SEO will be there).

    On-page SEO is good and can make a difference when you are competing for low traffic keywords or can help you and give you the edge when you are looking to rank for those big ones. But the condition is that your off-page seo is strong and has the backlinks to actually make your on-page seo useful.

    Staying away from blackhat techniques is always a great solution that will give you the advantage in the long term and will help you sleep better at night.

    • I second you on that “stay away from black hat” techniques Alex. They might give a spike on SEO but it will fade very quickly. This is what Google pays specific attention to and better do it right, than not so right 🙂

      SEO will always be SEO and I do not think it will ever die. Even if the Social media takes over, it will still be complicated and maybe not prudent to rely solely on connections to get you found. There has to be something to level the playing field or new comers will not have a chance. Users can stay in social networks, and these websites are adding search capabilities to further retain its users. There is some SEO in that too, don’t you think? Or call it Social SEO 😉

  • Nice overview on the more important SEO components Fransisco! As always having a lot of relevant backlinks wins the day. That is something, which Google is probably not going to change anytime soon. The change they made on social media and more precisely taking into consideration links from Twitter and Facebook is a good one in my opinion and it can definitely give a helping hand to a lot of folks, struggling with getting organic traffic. I liked what you said about article writing – bloggers should write for the readers first and then for the search engines. The more natural a blog’s content looks, the better.

    • Hi Daniel. Unless search engines bots develop some sort of AI (artificial intelligence) capability, I don’t see how Google for example will be able to determine certain factors. True, their algo looks for other things, but as you said, at the end of the day, links (or votes) are the ones that make a difference.

      As yes, the more natural a blog looks like, the better. But just remember that there are two parts within a blog. Those that the readers see, and those that the search engines see (under the hood). Not the same 😉

  • This is again another gem article I read about SEO. The information provided are concise and spot on. I specifically noted the tips in bullet points. Well done!

    • Glad you liked it Anne. thanks for stopping by

  • It boils down to doing proper keyword research BEFORE everything else. Use Google’s Keyword Tool External and determine your best keywords. Then implement them into everything else, including the URL if possible. If your keywords are in the URL, titles, page body text, alt text and more you will definitely come up high with search engines.

    • Hi Jason. You are right, proper use of keywords is the “key”, 🙂 However, excessive use can backfire and do more damage than good, so the technique should be implemented wisely. While keywords are important, solely, they won’t guarantee higher rankings. It is an essential component, but won’t run on its own. A Porsche, is a Porsche. Its nice looking, and has built in keywords associated with it (fast, sexy, awesome, expensive, you name it), but, without gasoline, its not going anywhere, lol.

  • I thin we can add social media as a part of seo. Because it will drive a descent amount of traffic now.

    • yes Jimmy, social media is playing an important role and it has been doing so for a while now. If done properly, no doubt it will bring traffic. Just make sure it is the type of traffic you are looking for. Thanks for stopping by

  • Hi DiTesco,
    Very well presented post. With some very top tips.
    Video is a great way to get your message out. For SEO purposes it is very good. Just make sure that you use a very good title and keywords in your description. Another tip is to do your video in .mov file format. This enables ipads and iphones to play the video.
    Thanks for the tips.
    Pete

    • Hi Pete. Converting videos in .mov formats is something that I have not thought about. Thanks for that and so to show you that we learned stuff everyday. Great and thanks for taking the time to share that one with us.

      • No problem, it’s worth considering. I only realized when I used my daughters ipad to check my blog and couldn’t watch any videos.
        Pete

  • Hi DiTesco

    I never heard about until I came to weblogbetter.com by Keisha Easley. Her review about your website is awesome and a lot to learn from. Thank you for sharing for knowledge to all.

    Nice knowing you and happy new year to you
    james samy
    singapore

    • Hi James. You mean you never heard of the “famous” DiTesco before? That’s frustrating, lol (just kidding). Yeah, Kiesha really excelled on that review and I was not expecting such “high” quality recommendation.

      Anyway, thank you for visiting and I hope you find something here that appeals to you. Happy new to you too, and I hope to see more from you here in the future.

  • DiTesco – I think mobile SEO and Video is becoming more of a popular strategy when it comes to search engine optimization. I’m not really sure how to take advantage of mobile SEO yet so I look forward to reading your next post on the topic.

    Video marketing has proven to be effective for me. It seems that Youtube videos on your web page will help improve your SEO rankings. I agree that it can be a little intimidating at first because it is a pretty new strategy, but really is simple to implement. Thanks for sharing these good tips.

    • Hi Jason. yes, video marketing is very effective and very powerful. If it is something you are comfortable doing, I highly recommend exploring the medium at its best for maximum benefits.

      Mobile SEO is starting to kick off, primarily due to the “changes” in user behavior and more things being “portable”. Another reason is because there is room to grow and you know what happens when there is potential, it can be a Gold mine waiting to be explored.

  • Real time results and social media may be the make or break in 2011 for many SEO’s. Can you create that much buzz so that your content goes viral that it helps with search engine rankings will be one of the questions.

    • Agreed Andreas. Real time is very important and unfortunately, unless you Tweet like crazy, you are a news site, or a heavy MU website, it will be hard for a “normal” user to coupe with this. Prefer, “timeless” articles and it will give you benefits. Either than that, I totally agree that “something” will break up in 2011.

  • Excellent post. I think I am following most of the tips as mentioned in the post. But I am yet to apply few of the additional techniques like including video related postings, mobile seo..etc… I have recently moved to niche blogging and I am finding it a bit difficult but definitely not impossible. I will surely be keeping all your points in my mind and hopefully, I should get much better results…Thanks for sharing your valuable tips!

    • You are most welcome Aswani. Now that you have decided to go for a more specific niche, a little SEO would give you better results. Good luck

  • Hi DiTesco

    Have you been talking to my blogging buddies?! lol They have been on about this topic with me for awhile. One of my techie friends did SEO for a UK company and is sorting mine at the moment.

    This is a very comprehensive and useful post DiTesco. Also you point out why we need to do things, not just list them which definitely I wouldn’t be understanding! Thanks

    Patricia Perth Australia

    • Haha, maybe secretly, you’ll never know 🙂 Patricia, that’s really great that you a friend helping you with you SEO. For someone who is already used to it, it is not very complicated. I hope everything goes well, and if you think that it will add something, I can take a look at your site, once the optimization work is complete. I have an “audit software” that checks for broken links, violations and that scary stuff, lol. That can help a lot as sometimes, we “accidentally” overlook the “tiny” details. Let me know. I’m always glad to be of help

  • Killer tips Ditesco! I especially like the advice on keywords, there are several things that I do not do but will start doing as a result of your post. 1.keywords in image title and 2. keywords in h2-h6 tags.

    • HI Dan. Glad you found this useful. Keywords “R” us. Nothing more. Variances of the keyword should also be used, but the more you help the bots in locating them via those h1 – h6 tags, the better. Using keywords in Alt image tags is highly recommended. If you see what I told @Mitch, you will see that it can be very powerful. Thanks for stopping by, always good to see you here

  • Nice pillar post, DiTesco. You know, I always forget about the alt tags for myself though I remember them for clients. I haven’t been totally convinced that it’s as great for SEO as others, but I do know that if the images don’t come up for some reason they’re great in letting people know what was supposed to be there.

    And this term “bad neighborhood” is an interesting one. I’ve obviously heard it before, but I’ve never thought all that much about it. After all, unless we created our own, who would know if they were linking to a bad neighborhood or not. As I sit here right now, I couldn’t tell you a single site that would be considered a bad neighborhood. Is there a listing of these things?

    Love everything else; right on the ball! 🙂

    • Hi Mitch. How are you doing? Yeah, I totally understand what you mean that we forget some “details” for ourselves. Fortunately this is not the case for clients or else 🙂 Alt image tags has also been in debate for its effectiveness, but I can tell you right now that I have one website where 65%+ traffic comes from search engines and via image search. And mind you, this is for term alone. I can not stress enough that it can also help for getting found, specially if you are in the design niche, but also it is something that bots tend to “read”.

      As for the bad neighborhood it is obviously very difficult to be precise about it. I do use a tool that serves as a guide to assist webmasters in locating potential problem areas with linking strategies. While it is not 100%, it gives a good head strart. Don’t know if you heard about this before, but here you go: http://www.bad-neighborhood.com/text-link-tool.htm. Let me know what you think

      • Ah, so this is a link to a tool; first time I’ve had to look at it. I thought it was going to be kind of a list. It looks like it would work, but you’d have to have some kind of idea of what you were looking at first, right? It might be a bit time consuming to do, but if one was really worried about a site it would work wonders.

        • Yep! While the graphics may not impress much, it does give some interesting info regarding “someone” linking to you.

          • I have to admit that when I put my business site in it was a little odd. I link to our local newspaper, and it pulled up all these pages on the newspaper and called them questionable, even though I’d never gone to any of those pages. Weird, I have to say. 🙂

  • Hi DiTesco,

    Those are 200% awesome tips for people who are hungry for seo this year!

    I agree to not ignoring YouTube video..Though i first ignored my page there, and in fact YouTube is a way to get traffic.

    Thanks.

    • Hi Kimi. Agreed, YouTube really can not be ignored and I have been neglecting its power somewhat. Started to remedy that situation this year and hopefully it will pay off. Thanks for stopping by and congrats to your PR. Way to go

  • thanks man.. this post is very beneficial. its inspiring to me as a newbie blogger.

  • I think the social web is definitely going to be playing a large part of SEO this year – search engines want to see activity and you can’t get much of it without extending your work into other areas where you regularly participate.

    • Well said Murlu. Agreed 100%. Social networks will definitely have a more important role in the future. We will just have to be patient and see which ones of them really matter.

  • Guest posting is by far the better way to get good exposure, shape a trusted image online and mainly climb up the rankink for your keywords in Google results. Thanks for the precious tips man!

    • Indeed Steven. Guest posting when done properly is an excellent form to get exposure and build relationships online. If you are guest posting in a popular blog, your rankings can definitely be boosted up with this.

  • That is very effective article i have found here. Think the new tips of SEO in 2011 is the best. I will be start practicing this shortly.

  • hi, I got some questions:

    What are the top 5 best free strategies to deliver 20 visits to a site a day?
    How many articles or video to make to achieve this goal? Beside from article and video marketing what else are the best FREE strategies to achieve 20 visits everyday?

    thanks!

    • There are many forms to achieve this but if you are looking only for visits, 20 visits should not be complicated. The formula. Write really good content. Promote it on Twitter every three to four hours. Stumble, Digg and comment on other peoples blog that is ComLuv enabled. That should do the trick 🙂

  • Taking time off to reply each comment wow! In addition to this article i have leant a lot. On-Page SEO could provide a great result in search engines, optimizing your site with this in mind could yield greater results. I also encourage image SEO.

  • Great SEO Tips!

    Something worth mentioning; along with SEO services, is incorporating themed link building into your overall SEO approach. This type of niche link building makes it possible to rise dramatically in search engine ranking, thereby increasing traffic to a website for optimum success.

  • I thinks all of you are more or less correct. But the fact is not tips but using your idea and brain with proper plan.

  • I agree with your advice, and find often that when people have approached me for help, they don’t have the “basics of SEO” done. It is amazing to me how many small business owners are dumping thousands of dollars (sometimes per month) on SEO, and the “SEO Expert” is using images for headlines, has default title tags, or the same title tag on every page, and no structure to the site at all.

    I do not agree with Google deciding to use social media as a ranking factor. Not every business, or type of business needs a facebook page, or twitter account. This decision by the Big G has caused to many businesses to setup FB and twitter accounts that are useless.

    Thanks for the post…enjoyed the read.

    Muskrat

    • Thanks for your input Muskrat. Social media as a ranking factor is indeed important nowadays as search engines believe that it is one way of “identifying” content that people trust and approve. Something to keep a close eye on

  • Hey DiTesco,
    Great list. Other than your update about making sure to maximize your page speed, is there anything else you would add or take away now that we are post Panda and it seems like so many things have changed in such a short amount of time?

    You mentioned exact match domains, and it appears google has made a strong move against favoring exact match although, I do not think it would penalize for them.

    What about the small things like the rel author tags, schema, social media luv?

    • Hi Damon. You are on point with all the changes about SEO. So to show you that in fact SEO is an ongoing process and one should adopt with “what” is considered good and avoid the bad. In my books, if it won’t hurt, it is anot bad. This is for the “domain” part. Exact domain names can be used for many reasons. There are people who use it to redirect and all those bad stuff, so Google won’t consider exclusively an “exact match” domain as a ranking factor. however, if you apply all the best practices and manage a good domain name, then I think it is a winner. Everything needs to be backed up with quality 🙂

      As for the smaller things, I think we discussed that on the rel authorship part already 😉

  • I like to think of SEO as a puzzle the more pices you have the better your site will rank, any one stratergy will not work on it’s own ie if you have an exact matching url with the keywords you are tageting you will not rank on page one without backlinks,although you won’t need as many highquality backlinks in order to achieve a page one position.
    If you don’t have a url that is an exact match of the keywords you are targeting then you will have to do more work on onsite seo and off site seo backlinks etc.

    anyway just my two cents…..

  • Well can you share something new in Link Building. I have tried alot but link building process i found on most of the websites or blogs are same.

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