Let's imagine that a new family from out of town has moved in next door. The father approaches you one day and asks "Would you be able to recommend a good bicycle shop in the area? I want to get my 12 year old daughter a new mountain for her birthday." Having lived in the region all your life, you are well acquainted with all the bicycle shops in town and want to make sure you give your neighbor good sound advice on where to buy a bike for his daughter.
In your mind, you run through the list of shops and one in particular comes to the top of the list. Your first choice is a bike shop that's been in business as long as you can remember. They have a super selection, are very knowledgeable, have an amazing attentive and helpful staff plus they are easily accessible by car or by bus. The store even has wheelchair access which is awesome because you noticed your neighbor's mother, who lives with them, uses a wheelchair. Their store is always busy and seems to get a lot of return customers as well as great reviews. They are registered with the Better Business Bureau and other business directories as well as getting top marks from high profile cycling clubs in town.
Okay, you've now decided on your first choice but also want to give your neighbor some other store options for comparison purposes. One shop is bigger and newer than your first choice and makes all kinds of claims that they are the best bike shop in town. They put out a lot of glitzy ads declaring their superiority but just don't have the selection or demonstrate the product knowledge to back up their claims. Their store is never that busy, service is slow, there's no wheelchair access and referrals endorsing their business just aren't there. This store will get pushed to the bottom of your list.
The others will fall somewhere in between based on your common sense ranking system.
Your neighbor is super thankful for your recommendations and assures you that he will seek out your advice for any future shopping needs.
Google's approach to ranking websites is not unlike the bike shop example above. Whether best places to shop, finding cheesecake recipes or how to fix a leaky sink, Google's ultimate objective is to provide their site visitors with the best possible recommendations for whatever they may happen to be searching for. On the flip side, website owners and their administrators are constantly looking for ways to tweak their web presence with hopes of improving their ranking for specific search criteria to attract new business.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) experts are continually trying to gain insight into the workings of Google's highly secretive ranking algorithm to help website owners gain that competitive edge. Many of the ranking methods are known and even publicized by Google but the overwhelming advice from Google itself is to simply provide high quality content, good performance, device compatibility and user accessibility. Google also warns not to "try and fool mother nature". Using coding tricks and questionable tactics for the sole purpose of elevating one's rank while providing no benefit to the site visitor can backfire by having one's rank demoted to the bottom of the heap.
Here are a few tips on SEO "DO's" and "DON'Ts"
Develop High Quality, Original Content
Rather than develop artificial or content with no real substance strictly for the purpose of incorporating key words and phrases, build quality and interesting content of value to site visitors that is more likely to be shared on social media. Rather than stuff a page with keywords, a more effective SEO strategy is to pick topics relevant to your website's main subject matter and write about it. It sounds so simple because it is. Search engines are now paying closer attention to the context and conversational aspect of information rather than just tallying up the occurrence of keywords.
Make Content Easy to Share on Social Media
Social sharing is a very relevant factor for Google’s rankings. As well as posting content on your website, post to your social media pages as well like GooglePlus, Facebook, Twitter, etc. where users can easily share your articles with others.
Entertain as Well as Educate
If people want to read a novel, they'll go to the library. Value your site visitor's time by keeping your content interesting and informative but also concise. Graphics, colour, images and especially video are effective ways of getting your message across in an entertaining way. Post your videos to Google owned YouTube and stream to your site. YouTube will also ensure the correct video format is delivered based on the device it's talking to.
Mobile Friendly is a Given but Also Make Sure It's Fast
More web pages and now being viewed on mobile platforms and smart phones than on desktop devices. Having a mobile friendly website is now absolutely essential but also make sure the performance level is there. If your mobile site is taking longer than 5 seconds to load, you risk losing visitors... simple as that. Use Google's mobile website speed tool to test your mobile website's performance.
Register with Quality Business Directories in Your Region
If your website is location dependent... that is, your customer base is primarily within your city or region, it's always a good idea to register with local business directories such as the Better Business Bureau and Yellow Pages which both offer free listings.
Accessibility Shouldn't Be Ignored
Google is emphasizing and stressing the importance of making web content accessible to everyone... especially the visually impaired. Make sure your website platform utilizes features and techniques that interact with screen reader software used by the visually impaired. Your website's navigation and links should be 100% navigable using the tab key. Text and background colour contrast come into play as well as ensuring all images are properly coded with "alt" tag descriptions.
Avoid Keyword "Page Stuffing"
The repetitive use of keywords for the sole purpose of boosting SEO can backfire and actually hurt your ranking. Use keywords but incorporate them in a meaningful and conversational way and be cognizant of overuse.
Don't Try and Outsmart Google
Subscribing to link farms and other sneaky tactics to artificially boost your website traffic in an effort to appear more popular will ultimately demote your page rank. Hiding keyword text content behind images or using a white font over a white background is archaic and is immediately pounced on by today's search engines.
Be Wary of "Too Good to be True" SEO Offers
We've all heard from them... SEO peddlers that promise to put you at the top of Google for a few hundred bucks a month. Typically, when you pay them, they circulate your website URL to a network of dozens of operators that are paid to access your site multiple times per day from different IPs resulting in hundreds of cumulative hits to boost your traffic stats. Yes, you will indeed see an elevation in page rank, but as soon as you stop paying, your traffic numbers plummet and so does your page rank.
Don't Do Link Exchanges
If you receive an email offering to have your website link posted on a supposedly high traffic site in exchange for posting their URL on your site, toss it in the "Delete" bin. It's a spammy gimmick that just cheapens your website.