SEO is a prime necessity today for any business, large or small. For digital marketing and increasing your website’s visibility, there is no better tool. Entire firms and companies exist solely to teach others about SEO strategies. There are dozens of subtle keys and important lessons to be learned for SEO. Whether you outsource your SEO or are committed to learning the art for yourself, knowledge is power. In fact, a lack of knowledge can lead to improper techniques that result in heavy penalties from Google. It has to be mentioned here: you cannot outwit Google. Many have tried and failed, and often the cost is the loss of their brand. Take a look at the tips below for some core fundamentals in SEO strategy.

SEO Keywords

Your keyword placement is one of the most vital factors for overall SEO strategy, and here’s why: without relevant keywords, you have no power to increase your rank and brand visibility. Overstuffing keywords leads to penalties from the search engine titan, and offsets any progress you’ve made. Place keywords in your title tag, page title, meta-tags and throughout the body of text. The title tag shows up as a link and is thus the portal to your website: it’s the first thing viewers see. It’s critical not to exceed a keyword density of 3-6% in the body of your post, as more than that will put you under Google’s microscope. Place your keywords sparingly but effectively. Once within the first few sentences of your text, and one or two placements in the middle and at the end.


Links are tricky territory. On one hand, they are necessary for acquiring and directing traffic, and on the other, utilizing them incorrectly can cost you dearly. Relevant links have a context, are natural in the post, and lead somewhere expected and useful. Contextual links are a perfect example of relevant links. They should offer a re-direct to another similar source that makes sense in context of the post’s message or information. For this reason, tread carefully with affiliate links, since there is often monetary incentive. Guest posters have to be even more careful, though it’s a legit strategy, avoid too many links in a guest post. Remember that Google holds backlinks in a database, which means they can be scanned and rescanned as per new updates in algorithms and programs. We’ll get into those shortly.

Build Trust with SEO

Just like in life, “trust” is built over time between your brand and Google, and impacts your SEO accordingly. Also like in life, it takes a long time to build and a shorter time to destroy. To build and establish high trust and thus increase your odds of getting through Google’s frequent algorithm updates, there are a few strategies. First, link to high authority websites (often .edu’s and .gov’s) in a way that’s relevant. Since sites like this have pre-existing trust with Google, associating with them often propels your trust too.

Trust is arguably the most important factor in avoiding penalties. Additional factors include your website’s registration stats. Is it a domain that will expire shortly? That’s a red flag. A domain that is good for the next solid year, however, is more trustworthy. Finally, branding yourself is important. A healthy social media presence and following is one way to establish yourself as a brand. If Google can see that you are in fact a brand with a legitimate following, your trust increases accordingly.

Avoid SEO Penalties

Penalties can reduce your hours, days, months or years of hard work into a pile of web rubble. There is nothing worse than seeing your ranking at rock bottom after healthy, long-term and successful growth. This can and does happen. Shockingly, it is not always the fault of the business owner or maintainer of the website. Outsourcing your SEO to unfit candidates or one unfortunate guest post with too many affiliate links can do a lot of damage. While there is no 100% failsafe, there are ways to drastically reduce your odds of heavy penalties. Utilize Google analytics to study your “bounce rate” which reflects how quickly people leave your page. Going back to trust, a high bounce rate does not bode well for trust between you and Google.

The programs which dictate your ranking are updated fairly frequently, as was seen with Penguin starting back in 2012. Since its original launch, Penguin continued to evolve and target sites for various “black hat” tactics as well as excessive ads and phony or irrelevant links.

In layman’s terms, black hat tactics are considered attempts to manipulate Google’s search engine rankings. In the early days (before Penguin) this was actually not very difficult to accomplish, and the result was widespread manipulation. Google has since fiercely cracked down on these practices, and continues to do so. In contrast, “white hat” techniques include optimization strategies that adhere to Google’s rules. Links, keywords, anchor text, etc. used in this manner are always reader-friendly and highly relevant; no surprises here in other words.

SEO is indeed an art, and like any art, includes detailed rules, data, and strategies to hone in on and master. Outsourcing is a viable option, though a brand needs to be very careful of whom they outsource this valuable work to. Remember, if you try and dodge SEO rules, Google updates will catch you, reevaluate you and diminish your web presence. That hurts your visibility and brand, and thus hampers your long-term sales, following or both. Get in the habit of using link analysis tools to evaluate your links, and use common sense with your keyword density and usage. With the right strategies and honesty, SEO is a valuable tool for business growth.