SEO is a complex field, but it is something that every webmaster should get a handle on because it will make all the differences to the effectiveness of your marketing.
SEO has changed a lot in the last few years. There was a time when it was a field full of little tricks, secrets and unethical practices – you could ‘get ahead’ by buying links or by filling your page with invisible text that contained the words you wanted to rank for. That is no longer the case, and today, if you want to succeed then you need to focus on quality content, and on building a good reputation for your website.
Links are still important, but not in the way that they once were. These days, rather than just having a lot of links, it is important to be selective about where they come from. Think carefully about who you link to and who you solicit links from. Look at things like the content on those other websites, and whether it is relevant to your niche. Is the website visually appealing? Has it been around a long time? Does it have a good reputation itself?
Do not neglect your own, on-site optimisations, either. It is important that your site loads quickly and is easy to navigate on both desktop and mobile devices.
Another thing that is important with on-site SEO is meta-tags and navigation. While the main search engines don’t use meta-tags the same way as they used to (they would take the ‘meta keywords’ as being useful information about what the page was about), they are still important. Your meta description might be used as a description of what the page is about, for example, shown under the page title in the search results.
Headers are used for emphasis, and taken alongside the content of the page to give context to keywords.
There are hundreds of ranking factors these days, and they are all important to different degrees. This is why it is so important that you put together a high quality page, and that your content is in-depth and keyword rich.
Even the pages that you link to can carry some importance with regard to SEO. If you are linking to low quality or unrelated websites, then this will make your own site look less valuable. On the other hand, if your site links to quality websites, then this will improve your own ‘authority’.
SEO should be an ongoing effort. You should not do a short-term promotion spree followed by leaving your site and doing no work for several weeks. This will not produce lasting results. Indeed, it could leave the search engines flagging your site as spam. Taking the time to do promotion little and often will produce much better results, and will help you to slowly but steadily grow the reputation of your website, compete with your rival website owners, and reach the top of the rankings and stay there.