While most of the links to your site will be added gradually, as people discover your content through search or other ways and link to it, Google understands that you'd like to let others know about the hard work you've put into your content. Effectively promoting your new content will lead to faster discovery by those who are interested in the same subject. As with most points covered in this document, taking these recommendations to an extreme could actually harm the reputation of your site.
When referring to the homepage, a trailing slash after the hostname is optional since it leads to the same content ("https://example.com/" is the same as "https://example.com"). For the path and filename, a trailing slash would be seen as a different URL (signaling either a file or a directory), for example, "https://example.com/fish" is not the same as "https://example.com/fish/".
The first relates to internal link structure. I’ve made the mistake you say you’ve seen so often. I have a primary keyword and have used that keyword in the main navigation, linked to a page optimized for that keyword. But I’ve also got a bunch of contextual links in posts pointing to that page, usually with the keyword in the anchor text. I now understand that those internal links aren’t helping much, at least from an SEO perspective. Am I better to remove that keyword and direct link from the menu and simply link the page from multiple posts and pages within the site. Or will I get better results leaving it in the main menu and changing the contextual links in the posts to point to a related page with a different keyword?
I second Rand's comment! Congrats on moving from the corporate world to the independent consultant. This is my goal for the near future. I too have been testing the waters of independent consulting, but it doesn't quite pay the bills yet! Sometimes I feel like I should find a mentor who has been where I am now and is where I want to go. Perhaps i'll find a few in this community over time!
Another excellent guide is Google’s “Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide.” This is a free PDF download that covers basic tips that Google provides to its own employees on how to get listed. You’ll find it here. Also well worth checking out is Moz’s “Beginner’s Guide To SEO,” which you’ll find here, and the SEO Success Pyramid from Small Business Search Marketing.
Like you I am a scientist and like you did in the past, I am currently working on translating great scientific literature into tips. In my case it’s child development research into play tips for parents. I can already see that the outcome of my experiment is going to be the same as yours. Great content but who cares. I hadn’t even thought about my key influences. I know some important ones, but don’t see how they would share my content. I thought I was writing content for my potential customers. Is your SEO that works course the same as the content that gets results course? Sorry if I sound a bit dim asking that question.
If you're looking to upload an image to a blog post, for example, examine the file for its file size first. If it's anywhere in megabyte (MB) territory, even just 1 MB, it's a good idea to use an image compression tool to reduce the file size before uploading it to your blog. Sites like TinyPNG make it easy to compress images in bulk, while Google's very own Squoosh has been known to shrink image file sizes to microscopic levels.