What are the best SEO tips for 2012? Let’s start with the basics of SEO and move into the tips and trends from there.

What is SEO, or Search Engine Optimization? It is the process of improving your visibility online – so that when people look for things relevant to you and your business using chat with random people Google (and other search engines) they find you.

Online visibility has direct value for your business (read more on the value of search) given the changing ways that people buy/sell/do business today. So let’s look at how your business can stand out and get noticed:

Compelling, easy-to-act upon Website: Start with interesting, exciting, relevant information. Add good visuals and calls to action.
Publicity: let people know about what you’re doing and point them to your website. This entails being active in the social space – places like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr and others. Here are ideas on how you can stand out.
SEO: Make sure the search engines know you exist and make it easy for them to find you. Produce content that is relevant to your markets and use that to bring people to your home-base – to your website.
Before you begin, know that there’s good and evil in SEO-land: Best practice is to stick with above-board, or white hat, SEO tactics. Much of what Google’s been doing with changing their algorithms is aimed at shutting down SEO cheating. Shady tricks and shortcuts are known as black hat tactics, and the simple answer is to just avoid them.

So what are the basic things that you can do to improve how you show up in the search results?

Optimize Website Design:

Make sure all of the pages on your website are “real”, differentiated, and structured so that search engines can see, or crawl, each page.
TIP: Make sure Google indexes your site – submit and optimize your website
Earn Your Visibility

Write good stuff
Use keywords – here are some “how to’s” for keyword search from SEOMoz, Search Engine Journal, and Search Engine Guide.
Use pictures and videos generously – complete the tags and meta-tag descriptions, including some appropriate keywords
Links – link to others in the hope that they’ll link back to you. TIPS: Cross-link between pages of your website. Links with people in your industry tend to be seen as more valuable than links from random people. For more ideas, look at 9 Linkbuilding Tips.
Be active on the social platforms that your prospective clients are on – comment, share ideas (which can include a link/s to relevant information on your website), be human.
Keep updating your site – regularly adding content keeps the search crawlers coming back
TIP: Think less about sales, more about being helpful.
Monitor and measure your efforts – Google Analytics has great information, so get set up there, and then check out tips on what to look for.

Search engines are always coming out with updates to their algorithms (Google pushed over 100 updates in March and April). So do things the “right” way, rather than trying to tweak your efforts to get the optimal results from a perceived way Google ranks things.

Whenever you make major changes to your onsite SEO, you have to wait for your site to be re-indexed by the search engines before those changes show up and impact your visibility online. It takes time, from hours to a few days for updating your site, to weeks or even a few months before the search engines get around to getting a new site crawled for SEO.

So…rather than chasing clever SEO tactics and maneuvering to capture shortcuts – stick to doing things right, building your credibility one step at a time.

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