3 Cornerstone SEO Tips from Google

3 Cornerstone SEO Tips from GoogleDoes it seem like just when you start to understand search engine optimization (SEO), something changes? Either Google shoots out a new update, or a competitor posts about a new strategy and it leaves you running for a specialist to understand how this impacts your own strategy.

Fortunately, SEO doesn't have to be that complicated. It’s not about mastering complex algorithms as it is about making your site genuinely useful -- and genuinely interesting -- to your readers and to website crawlers. You just need to be sure that your team makes small modifications to parts of your website to increase its overall appeal for search queries, and where better to start than with Google’s own SEO Starter Guide? Read on for three simple cornerstone SEO tips straight from Google:

1. Write (Seriously) Good Content… No, Seriously

Despite the fact that major business outlets have declared 2014 to be the Year of Content Marketing, many companies don’t seem to believe it. If you’re one of these companies, it’s time to accept the fact that good, quality content is the key to powerful SEO.

To quote Google itself, “creating compelling and useful content will likely influence your website more than any of the other factors discussed [in this guide].” That’s great news for B2B businesses because it means that pumping resources into your website is the most cost-effective means of improving your website’s SEO.

Use this as encouragement to set aside time to brainstorm and develop high-quality content and update your website regularly. Not only will this engage your audience (and at the very least, impress upon them the persistence, urgency, and passion you have for your industry), but it will also improve your SEO rankings. Sites updated more frequently and with better keywords rank higher in search engines.

2. Link Carefully, NoFollow Regularly

The hyperlinks on your website may not seem all that important from the outside, but to Google they’re the language of traffic. First, you’ll want to make sure you’re using SEO terms when anchoring, or labeling, your links. The words you use are important, so hyperlink keywords that relate to the link you’re using.

You also need to be careful about where you’re linking. When you create a hyperlink to another website, you’re sharing your reputation with that website. If you need to link to a site but don’t want to share your reputation, include NoFollow tags in the link’s HTML. This HTML code will alert the search engine crawlers to the fact that you don’t want your reputation associated with the site you've linked to.

3. Use Title and Header Tags

Remember what it was like to open a novel to a huge wall of text without paragraphs? Your first reaction was to roll your eyes and maybe even scan over the text without reading. In much the same way, web pages and blog posts without title and header tags are a headache for readers and search engines. Not only will the contents of the title tag often appear in the first line of the search results, but the website crawlers will decide whether the page matches the search result by looking at the headers included in the HTML of the post.

As a great example, let’s look at this very post. A search engine will take into account our website URL (http://www.BackboneMedia.com/) as well as the post title and post URL (“3 Cornerstone SEO Tips from Google,” and http://www.BackboneMedia.com/blog/3-Cornerstone-SEO-Tips-Google”). Next, it will look at the headers of this post to determine if the post speaks to the topic of Google’s SEO tips (“Write (Seriously) Good Content… No, Seriously,” “Link Carefully, NoFollow Regularly,” and “Use Title and Header Tags”) and compare this data with other posts from other websites. All of this data figures into the SEO ranking of this blog post.

Google loves to emphasize the most important point of all, which holds true for SEO in 2014: the most effective optimization is based on the needs of the visitors to your site, not on hacking algorithms and pumping up your keywords. Create valuable information for your target market and your website will bring you the traffic you need.