The Cliff Notes Style Guide and Tutorial on SEO

Mike Juba
SEO Cliff Notes

Need Help With Your SEO?

SEO as a whole is a huge and complex undertaking. Every subject can be split up into smaller subjects, and those into smaller yet, until you have perhaps a reasonable itemized list of actions you can take. The deeper you go, the longer your list, and no matter where you begin or end, it looks daunting when it’s all laid out. That’s why I’ve made this post. It’s something of a cross between a simplified guide and a SEO table of contents for other resources you can use. There’s a lot here, so let’s get started.

Content Creation

Possibly the most important part of modern day SEO is creating content that brings in visitors and links.

Content Creation for SEO

Everything centers around content today, so you need to make sure you’re making the best content you can. Stocking your site full of high quality, evergreen content is the most surefire method of growth I know of. Sure, it might take a little time to lift off, but once you’re growing there ain’t no stopping that train.

Creating SEO-Friendly Content – This guide will help you create content in a way that lends itself easily to further optimization, avoids search penalties, and attracts readers. If you take the time to make a spreadsheet of content ideas, following this guide can leave you set on content for a year or more.

Creating a Panda-Proof Website – Google’s Panda algorithm update is primarily focused on content quality and length, which is why this guide is listed under content creation. Unless you’re trying to revamp an older site and restore it from a penalty, your primary concern is going to be getting the right footing and foundation for future content success.

The Ingredients of Great Content – What makes great content? What goes into that perfect blog post, to make it attractive and valuable to your readers? This guide will help you get the fundamentals of good content down, so you can make sure that everything you produce is up to snuff. We’re not talking about “just barely above the bar” here, we’re talking stratospheric content.

Learning a List of SEO Factors – It helps to have a bit of fundamental knowledge about the way SEO works. It’s always changing as Google adjusts their algorithm, but most of the basis stay the same. Up until we get another paradigm shift the way Panda change the world in 2011, these factors will be more or less valid, though perhaps varying a little in the weight of each of them individually.

Common Content Buying Mistakes – Coming up with content ideas is your job, but you don’t have to spend all of your time writing. It’s perfectly valid to buy content for your site, and this guide will help you avoid the pitfalls that come with doing so without protecting yourself and your site.

Onsite SEO

Content is not the only thing that goes into SEO; you also have onsite SEO, which is all of your meta data and link optimization.

Wordpress Yoast SEO

While minor and comparatively invisible to your visitors, onsite SEO helps you earn rankings with search engines and optimizes your data to be as easily readable and indexable as possible. After all, if you’re not in the search results, it doesn’t matter how good your content is, right?

Ultimate Guide to Onsite SEO – Before you start tinkering with onsite SEO, you need to know what it is and what goes into it. This guide from SEO giants Moz goes down the list, from the top of the page title to the bottom of the footer and everything in between. By the time you’re done, you should have an excellent idea of what is considered onsite SEO and how you can put each segment to use.

Checking Onsite SEO with Tools – If you’re not sure how much optimization has been done to your site in the past, or whether or not the optimization you’ve done is accurate or valuable, you can do a site audit using readily available free tools. This guide helps you pick a tool and use it to check certain aspects of your site SEO. They’re complex, sure, but that’s why you’re reading a guide.

Schema.org Markup Basics – Schema.org is a type of meta data markup that’s simultaneously difficult to intuit and valuable to the search engines. It’s not used by most sites out there, because it’s complex for comparatively little benefit. However, if you implement it, it can get you a leg up on your competition. It’ll be a lot of work to implement fresh, but keeping up with it is trivially easy.

Using the Disavow Tool – Links are the bread and butter of SEO, and one of the things you can check is how valuable the links coming into your site happen to be. If a lot of them are spammy and potentially detrimental to your site as a whole, it can benefit you greatly to disavow them. However, there are some best practices to using this potent tool, so make sure you’re approaching it correctly.

Using SEO Breadcrumbs – Breadcrumbs are the chain of links from homepage to category to subcategory to page, which allow people to browse through categorized lists of content on your site. Implementing them is actually a surprisingly easy task as long as your site is relatively organized. Given their utility for both search engines and visitors, there’s no reason you shouldn’t slap them into your design.

Link Building

Links are hilariously important to SEO. They’re the primary means of getting from one place to another, and they’re votes of confidence and value from one site to another.

New Links SEO

When you link to someone, you’re saying you support the value of the content you’re linking to. Therefore, implementing links properly – and getting links to your site – is a core principle to SEO. The more links you have, assuming they’re from decent sites, the better off you are.

Link Building Naturally – Link building comes in two flavors; natural and artificial. Natural links are the more valuable of the pair, because they show that you’re posting high quality content and that people like what you have to offer. Attracting natural links is where a huge amount of your SEO time and energy is going to go. Content? That’s easy once you get it down. Links need constant work to keep them coming.

White and Black Hat Guest Blogging – Guest blogging was at one time the number one strategy for building links, until it was penalized by Google for the massive exploits being used. These days it can still be valuable, but it’s a minefield of traps for the unprepared. Go about it the right way and you can reap untold value. Avoid the common pitfalls associated with black hat guest blogging by reading this guide.

A Complete List of Social Bookmarking Sites – Social media doesn’t have a lot of value directly as a linking source, simply because it’s so easy to exploit various social actions to get a ton of links. However, widespread social sharing means more people see your posts and can link to them on their own sites, which is highly beneficial. Therefore, you want to use as many of these social bookmarking sites as is reasonably possible without looking like a spammer.

White Hat Link Building – Whenever possible, you want your links to come from valuable sources. Black hat link building is less valuable, albeit faster, because you have complete control over the networks you use to build those links. I don’t like it, and I’m giving you a window to the real value with this guide. Build links the white hat way and pull in far more value that you would have thought possible.

Guide to Auditing Links – Sometimes, particularly on older sites, you have a lot of old links that aren’t benefitting you at all. In fact, many of them might be holding you back. If you go back through all of your old links, you can remove the worst of them and disavow the ones you can’t remove. This will help boost your ranking and purify your link profile, so you don’t suffer under Penguin penalties.

Analytics

With fifteen guides above us, you have to wonder: how much of what you’re doing is having any effect?

Google Analytics Traffic

How can you tell what value a change has, and how can you tell if you’re growing? You can use pure profit metrics, but they’re limited in utility, and they don’t tell you the true story. Instead, you need to take advantage of the numerous metrics measured by various companies online, including Google, Moz, Majestic, and others.

An Excellent Guide to Google Analytics – Google Analytics is the number one tool you should be using. Google has access to far more data than anyone else. Other metrics are valuable in their own ways, but Google Analytics can show you all of that and more. However, it’s an extremely complex app with a ton of information available, and it’s easy to miss how to use it without a guide on hand.

Majestic Flow Metrics – Majestic has a data index containing billions of web pages and links, and they analyze not only the base value of those links, but the relative value of the pages and how value flows from one page to the next. This is deep link insight you can’t get anywhere else, not even from Google. Where Google Analytics tells you everything you need to know about your site, Majestic tells you everything you need to know about your links.

The Death of PageRank – Google’s PageRank was long considered the primary metric you should use to analyze your links. Google didn’t like this single-minded focus and killed the method everyone used to determine a site’s PageRank. Since then, the metric has gone fallow, and anyone still using it today should be considered suspect. Be better than the spammers and learn how and why PageRank died, as well as what you can use as an alternative.

Guide to Using Screaming Frog – The amusingly-named Screaming Frog scraper tool harvest a wealth of data about your site and can help you analyze both onsite and link-based metrics with ease. It’s one of the best auditing tools available and it will help you diagnose and fix problems, with one caveat; you need to learn how to use it. It’s primarily a tool for advanced users, so it will take some learning before you can get the most out of it.

Moz’s Domain Authority – I’ve already mentioned Moz and their role as one of the industry juggernauts. Their network of sites is one of the greatest resources on the web, and you can’t go wrong using their authority metrics to analyze your site. You can learn a lot from what their data analysis thinks of your site.

Search Penalties

All is not sunshine and rainbows in the world of SEO. In order to keep the best content floating to the top, Google needs to levy penalties on those who break the rules or fail to provide value.

Manual Action Search Penalty

Search penalties, both manual and automatic, are the core of this order. Learn how to diagnose penalties and fix them.

How to Monitor Search Ranking – How will you ever know if you’ve been hit by a penalty if you don’t know what your ranking is? A drop in ranking can indicate many things, but one of the most common is a new penalty of some kind. A complete removal from the index is a definite red flag, and you need to catch it as early as possible to fix the problem you’re facing.

Diagnosing a Deindexing – The number one worst thing that can happen to a site short of the owner being shot is for the site to be removed from the index. It kills your organic traffic and your business until you can get it fixed. Figure out why you were removed and how to fix it with this guide.

Recovering From a Penalty – Other penalties range from link penalties to thin content, copied content to technical errors to bad ads. If you notice a penalty hitting your site but Google doesn’t tell you about a manual action, you need to figure out what the penalty is and how to fix it.

The Effects of Mobilegeddon – Mobilegeddon is one of the more recent search updates and affects a lot of sites and their mobile integration. If you’re having trouble being visible to mobile users, you’ll need to figure out how to fix those problems to get your ranking back.

Penguin Predictions – Penguin is one of the few remaining outstanding penalty algorithms that hasn’t been rolled into the primary algorithm. It’s not the major shakeup it used to be, but it’s still important to see the future of link analysis and adapt yourself before a problem arises.

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