Let me tell you a story. Early in my tenure at Yahoo we tried to get into the site dev process in the early stages in order to work SEO into the Product Recommendations Documents (PRD) before wireframing began. But as a fairly new horizontal group not reporting into any of the products, this was often difficult. Nay, damn near impossible. So usually we made friends with the product teams and got in where we could.
If you havent see it already, check out the links in shor's comment below - there are some great resources in there. In some cases you can also consider surveying your current audience or customers through email, on-site surveys or SurveyMonkey.  Be sure to ask for some profiling information that you can use for determining specific persona needs like age, sex, location, etc. (Probably best not to make it sound like a creepy text chat like I just did though...)  :)
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While most search engine companies try to keep their processes a secret, their criteria for high spots on SERPs isn't a complete mystery. Search engines are successful only if they provide a user links to the best Web sites related to the user's search terms. If your site is the best skydiving resource on the Web, it benefits search engines to list the site high up on their SERPs. You just have to find a way to show search engines that your site belongs at the top of the heap. That's where search engine optimization (SEO) comes in -- it's a collection of techniques a webmaster can use to improve his or her site's SERP position.
A user-feedback poll is one great, easy way to help you better understand your customers. Kline claims, “Done incorrectly, these can be annoying for a user. Done well, it’s an excellent opportunity to help the customer feel that their opinion matters, while also getting needed insights to better market the company. One poll we ran for an e-commerce client helped us learn that 80% of potential customers cared more about the performance of the product than the price. [So,] we added as much helpful performance information to the website as we could.”

Use your keyword list to determine how many different pillar pages you should create. Ultimately, the number of topics for which you create pillar pages should coincide with how many different products, offerings, and locations your business has. This will make it much easier for your prospects and customers to find you in search engines no matter what keywords they use.

“In conclusion, this research illuminates how content characteristics shape whether it becomes viral. When attempting to generate word of mouth, marketers often try targeting “influentials,” or opinion leaders (i.e., some small set of special people who, whether through having more social ties or being more persuasive, theoretically have more influence than others). Although this approach is pervasive,recent research has cast doubt on its value (Bakshy et al. 2011; Watts 2007) and suggests that it is far from cost effective. Rather than targeting “special” people, the current research suggests that it may be more beneficial to focus on crafting contagious content. By considering how psychological processes shape social transmission, it is possible to gain deeper insight into collective outcomes, such as what becomes viral.”
See the screenshot below for some of the sections for specific recommendations that you can add which will provide the meat of the document. Keep in mind this is a very flexible document – add recommendations that make sense (for example you may not always have specific design considerations for a project). Remember, it will be different every time you do it.
Some search engines have also reached out to the SEO industry, and are frequent sponsors and guests at SEO conferences, webchats, and seminars. Major search engines provide information and guidelines to help with website optimization.[18][19] Google has a Sitemaps program to help webmasters learn if Google is having any problems indexing their website and also provides data on Google traffic to the website.[20] Bing Webmaster Tools provides a way for webmasters to submit a sitemap and web feeds, allows users to determine the "crawl rate", and track the web pages index status.

Btw, I was always under the impression that digg and delicious were dying but I’m really mistaken. Your(and Jason’s) thinking is foolproof though. If these guys are already curating content, there’s no reason they wouldn’t want to do more of just that! Seo has become a lot of chasing and pestering…it’s good of you to remind us that there are people out there just waiting to share stuff, too.:)

How do you ask others for link opportunities? Most of the time people are only interested in either reciprocal links, or them providing guest posts on my site (when I reach out). And I can’t imagine if I did a round up post getting many inbound links. People would be thrilled that they had received a link, and wouldn’t create a reciprocal link to destroy the value.
Another example when the “nofollow" attribute can come handy are widget links. If you are using a third party's widget to enrich the experience of your site and engage users, check if it contains any links that you did not intend to place on your site along with the widget. Some widgets may add links to your site which are not your editorial choice and contain anchor text that you as a webmaster may not control. If removing such unwanted links from the widget is not possible, you can always disable them with “nofollow" attribute. If you create a widget for functionality or content that you provide, make sure to include the nofollow on links in the default code snippet.
A solid content marketing and SEO strategy is also the most scalable way to promote your business to a wide audience. And this generally has the best ROI, as there is no cost per click — so you are scaling your marketing without directly scaling your costs. This kind of SEO strategy is not right for every business, but when it is a good fit, it’s almost unbeatable.
This is excellent and should be intuitive for marketers (and SEO pros are marketers!) but we often take the short cut and neglect critical details. What would also reinforce the strategy is way of providing solid projections for SEO (these could be based on industry trends and statistics). Clients now ask for ways to calculate ROI and they need numbers to get budget approvals. Increase in traffic by X,  increase in qualified traffic and leads, conversions etc, some way of quatifying the expected return.
Specifics: Be as specific as you can with your recommendations. For example if you’re suggesting partnering with meal home delivery sites, find out which ones are going to provide the most relevant info, at what cost if possible, and what the ideal partnership would look like for content and SEO purposes. Even provide contact information if you can.
Sure, we did keyword research, we recommended partnerships and widgets and architecture advice, but we didn’t step back and take a good look at our target audiences, what sites were meeting their specific needs in search results, and what we specifically could build into the product that would be far more desirable than what everyone else had (not even thought of yet ideally) to make sure our entire site is superior, resulting in the inevitable stealing of search traffic from our competitors.
Website owners recognized the value of a high ranking and visibility in search engine results,[6] creating an opportunity for both white hat and black hat SEO practitioners. According to industry analyst Danny Sullivan, the phrase "search engine optimization" probably came into use in 1997. Sullivan credits Bruce Clay as one of the first people to popularize the term.[7] On May 2, 2007,[8] Jason Gambert attempted to trademark the term SEO by convincing the Trademark Office in Arizona[9] that SEO is a "process" involving manipulation of keywords and not a "marketing service."
Great post. I know most of the stuff experienced people read and think “I know that already”… but actually lots of things we tend to forget even though we know them. So its always good to read those. What I liked most was the broken link solution. Not only to create a substitute for the broken link but actually going beyond that. I know some people do this as SEO technique but its actually also useful for the internet as you repair those broken links that others find somewhere else.

If you are using Responsive Web Design, use meta name="viewport" tag to tell the browser how to adjust the content. If you use Dynamic Serving, use the Vary HTTP header to signal your changes depending on the user-agent. If you are using separate URLs, signal the relationship between two URLs by tag with rel="canonical" and rel="alternate" elements.
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.
Search engines use complex mathematical algorithms to interpret which websites a user seeks. In this diagram, if each bubble represents a website, programs sometimes called spiders examine which sites link to which other sites, with arrows representing these links. Websites getting more inbound links, or stronger links, are presumed to be more important and what the user is searching for. In this example, since website B is the recipient of numerous inbound links, it ranks more highly in a web search. And the links "carry through", such that website C, even though it only has one inbound link, has an inbound link from a highly popular site (B) while site E does not. Note: Percentages are rounded.

I’d add one thing to number 5: Writing good copy is crucial not just for your Title/snippet, but for your whole page, especially your landing page. You want people to stay on your page for a while and (hopefully) even navigate to other pages you have. Google looks at bounce rate and where they go after they hit your page. Learning to write good copy can not only increase conversion (if you’re selling something) but make your content more impactful and engaging. There are free books at most libraries or online to help.
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