Thanks so much for this entry, Laura! I loved the way your post is so practical, straightforward, newbie-friendly - and most importantly, how it emphasizes the bottom line at all times. It's easy to get "lost in the fog" of SEO with so many looming tasks and forget the main purpose, so it's wonderful to have a straightforward outline of what to do and why certain tasks need to be done. I look forward to reading your future insights!
This was all free information I found online in less than an hour, that gives me some great ideas for content, partnerships and potential tools to build into my site to be relevant and useful to my target audience. Of course this is just some quick loose data, so I'll emphasize again: be careful where your data comes from (try to validate when possible), and think about how to use your data wisely.
Write articles rich in content. Quality articles will get ranked better in search results. Make sure that your articles address the needs of your readers, and that they can find all of the information they need in one spot. This is the most effective means for increasing traffic to a website; offering people something that they cannot obtain elsewhere, or at least, not to the level of quality that you are offering it.[1]

Structured data21 is code that you can add to your sites' pages to describe your content to search engines, so they can better understand what's on your pages. Search engines can use this understanding to display your content in useful (and eye-catching!) ways in search results. That, in turn, can help you attract just the right kind of customers for your business.
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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.
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.
Use clean backgrounds. The background textures and color you choose have the ability to drastically affect the overall appeal of the website. Lots of texture and graphics in the background can be distracting. If you are going to use a color on the background, you should make sure there is significant contrast between the background color and the text. Be careful when using brighter and darker colors such as red or yellow. They cause visual fatigue (temporary loss of strength and energy resulting from hard physical or mental work) and the reader will lose their focus on the text.

Page and Brin founded Google in 1998.[23] Google attracted a loyal following among the growing number of Internet users, who liked its simple design.[24] Off-page factors (such as PageRank and hyperlink analysis) were considered as well as on-page factors (such as keyword frequency, meta tags, headings, links and site structure) to enable Google to avoid the kind of manipulation seen in search engines that only considered on-page factors for their rankings. Although PageRank was more difficult to game, webmasters had already developed link building tools and schemes to influence the Inktomi search engine, and these methods proved similarly applicable to gaming PageRank. Many sites focused on exchanging, buying, and selling links, often on a massive scale. Some of these schemes, or link farms, involved the creation of thousands of sites for the sole purpose of link spamming.[25]
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.”
A quick search for “SEO ranking factors” will give you all of these answers and myriad others. There is a lot of information out there. And the reality is, while there are likely hundreds of variables working together to determine final placement, much of what is suggested is guesswork. And certainly, not all ranking factors are relevant to every business.
Backlinks. If content is king, then backlinks are queen. Remember, it's not about which site has the most links, but who has the most quality links pointing back to their website. Build backlinks by submitting monthly or bi-monthly press releases on any exciting company, and contacting popular blogs in your niche to see how you can work together to get a backlink from their website. Create the best possible product site you can, so people talking about the products you sell will link back. Try creating graphics or newsworthy content that will influence bloggers and news websites to link that content.
SEO is short for "search engine optimization." To have your site optimized for the search engines means to attempt to have top placement in the results pages whenever a specific keyword is typed into the query box. There are many search engine optimization services to choose from, so here are some things to keep in mind when seeking SEO services or developing an SEO strategy of your own.
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Great article as always. My wife is about to start a business about teaching (mainly) Mums how to film and edit little movies of their loved ones for posterity (www.lovethelittlethings.com launching soon). We have always struggled with thinking of and targeting relevant keywords because keywords like ‘videography’ and ‘family movies’ don’t really some up what she is about. Your article ties in with other learnings we have come across where we obviously need to reach out to right people and get them to share to get her product out there because purely focusing on keywords I don’t think will get us anywhere.
When Larry wrote about the kick in the proverbial teeth that eBay took from Google’s Panda update, we managed to secure a link from Ars Technica in the Editor’s Pick section alongside links to The New York Times and National Geographic. Not too shabby – and neither was the resulting spike in referral traffic. Learn what types of links send lots of referral traffic, and how to get them, in this post.
Nice work Laura! This is going to be a great series. I'm working my way through SEOmoz's Advanced SEO Training Series (videos) Vol. 1 & 2 to build upon the advice and guidance that you and your team provided to me during my time at Yahoo!. Now many others will benefit from your knowledge, experience and passion for SEO strategy and tactics. Best wishes for great success in your new role.

Who doesn’t love quizzes? They are enjoyable, shareable and hard to resist. Design a quiz for your website that somehow relates to your brand. If your company sells jeans, for instance, you could create a quiz called, “What are the best jeans for your body?” and in the results, show the brand’s recommended jeans. But remember—before showing results, be sure to capture the visitor’s e-mail address.
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."
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