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For most of the readers here search engine optimization is not their major area of expertise. Yet we’re all in digital marketing, and we hear now and then that Google has rolled out a new update (possibly with the name of yet another animal), or that a popular SEO tactic has been labeled as harmful. And then there are these dangers of either dropping SEO altogether, being afraid of doing it wrong, or of relying on outdated tactics that have either fallen foul of the Google Gods (very harmful) or no longer work (mildly, but still harmful).

In this post I’ve summarized 5 most important things that web designers need to understand about modern SEO. It’ll help them shape their SEO strategies for 2015.

SEO is Still About Accurate Data

There’s no SEO without data. To be more specific, you can’t make informed SEO decisions without reliable data, provided by all sorts of tools: from Google-owned and free Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics to reliable third-party tools like SEO PowerSuite.

Thorough Keyword Research Still Matters

Remember, keywords = content and content, as always, continues to remain the king. In absence of keywords and phrases relevant to a website’s targeted audience, no SEO campaign can be really effective or yield results that can translate in to positive ROI for the client.

And, also remember, the list of only brainstormed keywords would simply not cut it. Afterall, no matter how relevant a keyword is, if nobody actually searches for it, it will still yeild zero traffic, even with a #1 ranking.

On the other hand, it would be a non-productive and futile exercise to even attempt to rank for a keyword that has, let’s say, 3 million phrase matches even though its monthly search volumes may be in tens — or even — hundreds of thousands.

Only thorough keyword research can empower you to reach for the low-hanging fruit and/or work towards feasible and achievable SEO ranking targets, so make sure you don’t cut any corners there.

User Experience is an SEO Factor

User experience is perhaps one of the few SEO things that web designers actually have at least some control over.

Many SEO experts believe that a variety of metrics that show that a Google user has been served with a good search result and that the content was able to engage him/her can cause Google to boost the page’s rankings.

The major factor here is bounce rate. High bounce rate is a problem, it may indicate that the user is not satisfied with the result. One of the options might be to ask yourself if you’re targeting the right keywords with this page. If you do, you need to revise the copy and design to make it a more appealing place for the user to stay.

You should be able to measure the user interest and engagement levels with some A/B (split) testing to fine tune your page. When doing this, always remember to test with only one thing at a time because otherwise, you would not really know the exact element that yielded a particular outcome.

Avoid Easy Wins When it Comes to Link Building.

Excessive numbers of poor – or low – quality links would end up yielding no results at its best and resulting in to a penalty at its worst, so do not go overboard with links procured from:

  • Article directories
  • Most web directories
  • Blog comments
  • Web 2.0 URLs
  • Blog networks
  • Link blast purchased at fiverr

Instead focus on fewer but high quality links from authority niche sites. Always remember, just one quality link can be worth dozens or even hundreds of poor quality links so as SEO is concerned, so always try to concentrate on quality rather than on quantity in the matter of link building. High-quality links are hard-to-earn, and they come as a result of sophisticated tactics like broken link building.

Do not put too much to store by the PR. As you probably know, the PR as shown on the Google Toolbar (or by third-party online PR lookup services) ceased to be anywhere even close to an accurate measure of the actual PR score that Google uses to rank pages. Also, according too Google’s official statements, the toolbar/visible PR is not updated frequently or regularly anymore.

Anchor Text Should be Diverse

One of the worst things you could have done with your link building for quite a while – and this will continue for 2015 – is poor diversity of anchor text. Namely using your keywords as anchors.
Instead, anchor texts should be as diverse and natural as possible. Consider the following anchor text options to diversify your link profile:

  • Some links with (your targeted) keywords in anchor text
(Keep varing the keywords, don’t use the same keyword on many links)
  • Some links pointing just to your domain (or URL), without any anchor text
  • Some links with anchor text variations like: ‘click here’, visit ‘this site’ etc.

For evolving an even more diversified and natural link profile, I’d suggest this as well:

  • Get at least some links with the ‘no follow’ attribute
  • Get at least some links from a few TLDs (Top Level Domains) other than .com and ccTLDs (Country Code Top Level Domains) like .net, .org, .co.uk, .co.nz etc.(and also, .edu and .gov — none of the two are easy to come by, but if you can, go for it, as even one good link from any of these TLDs can be very beneficial for SEO)
  • Get some links pointing to varied canonical domain versions like: www.domain.com and just domain.com. (This is assuming that you’ve set the host/server to redirect all non-www URLs to www URLs or vice-versa, via httpd configuration and/or via .htaccess. If you haven’t, you should. If you don’t know what this is all about, I’ll talk about it in another article/post one of these days.)

Concluding Remarks

In conclusion, I can say that in the matter of SEO, not a lot has changed and yet everything has changed. As a web designer, what you do is very closely related to SEO and therefore, if you keep the current SEO concepts and best practices in mind while plying your trade, you will be doing a good turn to both your client as well as to your own self. Your client will benefit by getting (at least) some elements of SEO integrated in to the site ab initio, while you will be rewarded with higher appreciation of and remunneration for your work — a win-win situation.

Featured image curtsey of Snita


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