First Stages of SEO

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For achieving the best possible results in short time, right SEO planning is very important. Following and executing plan strictly is critical part of “right SEO approach”. There are no shortcuts so don’t try to take this path. On the other side, a good SEO practitioner have to be really flexible and quickly change priorities even on major SEO tasks, following guidelines from official sources, for this you will need to have some deep understanding of latest algorithms and years of experience.

Elements of SEO Planning

Elements of SEO Planning

From my personal experience for more than a decade I can honestly tell you that everybody need to integrate SEO strategy into your/customer site planning process, if the website isn't develop yet that’s perfect, if not a lot of amendments have to be done.
If you already have some experience, the process isn't time consuming, but should look into every possible angle and this have to be done before even think about technology choice like web hosting or CMS for this particular project. In most cases this scenario isn't possible as a matter of fact, as an SEO professional in about 95% of the cases you will work on already established website.
No matter of when you start, there are actually several critical elements to any SEO plan that need to be considered before even starting.

Web Development Technology Choices Related to SEO

As a matter of fact technology choices have major impact with SEO. I am not going to cover static websites, but choosing custom platform or some of the major CMS can play major role in SEO. On the other hand platform can be based on different programming language – PHP, ASP, JSP, Ruby, Python, etc; working closely with web developer is important, some research about particular programming language is recommended, as there is quite possible that developer will build custom CMS and completely eliminate possibility of any SEO, for example there are some platforms that completely ignore meta data and there are others based on ASP which create tons of duplicate content and 302 redirections which most likely will kill possibility for high SERP in Google.
Starting with some of most popular CMS like WordPress, Joomla or Drupal can be excellent choice as there’re are great number of components, modules and plug-ins that can fit in any needs, as well as a lot mature SEO plug-ins and components which are regularly updated in unison with latest search engine algorithms.
Web hosting factors is also important – location, speed, IP, even hosting management software. It isn’t official; however from my experience I have seen that location and IP of particular hosting may give you an advantage in Google local results.

Market Segmentation

Nature of market is something that you can’t change, some niche have a lot of competitors others does not, however every competitor have strength and weakness, even in saturated niche every website can achieve high SERP, If analysis and work process is done properly. I want to put an accent on few points: do not look the number of competitors – look how strong they are; check if top 10 listings are consistent – contain only strong and old websites or it is mixed; look if there are blended results, as well look at paid ads, if there are many ads most likely this particular keywords have high conversion. On the next image we’ve picked one particularly saturated market and very competitive keyword “car insurance”, you can see mix of very strong websites, as well as a lot of paid ads. In this case it is better to pick up some long tail keywords for SEO campaign start-up.

SEO practitioners are problem solvers, so don’t give up on any keyword or market, there are always ways to achieve your goals.

Where to Find Strong and Authority Back-links?

Without a lot and without quality inbound links, a website can’t get into top 10. Link building is still one of the most important factors for high search engine rank in all major search engines. This is critical part of SEO brainstorming during the planning stage – identify from where to get quality links and don’t limit yourself just looking for high PR or just relevant websites. Relevancy is important, but even link directories are excellent source. Diversify your link building strategy and cover all possible sources.

Competitor Analysis

Understanding strength and weaknesses of your competitors is very important. First of all a competitor may discover highly converting keywords, most likely highly ranked competitors are doing something right, competitors already have inbound links from highly authority websites.
Competitor analysis is major part of SEO analysis as well as business intelligence, copy the good factors and find how to outsmart them.

Web Content Resources

If I was writing this several years ago, I would just say – get a good article writer and you are done. Well, nowadays things are a bit different – content is not only text anymore – this includes videos, pictures, interaction, games, surveys, polls, forums, blogs, etc. Search engines and especially Google “like” quality, unique and “fresh” content. A good way to go is user generated content, so at some part a website can have user generated content. On the other hand content should be published constantly, a process that must never stop. As I mentioned before, videos and quality photographs most likely will keep visitors on the page longer and will reduce bounce rate.
Don’t try to copy the same titles and publications as your competitors, if this is possible, follow Google Trends to maximize the possibility of getting higher traffic for trendy topics.

Brand Building

There are many ways to promote particular brand through Internet marketing, SEO and social media marketing. Naturally brand building is very long process and depends on many factors , If it is not done yet, get web designer to create “gravatars” including company logo – this will be very useful for any website that support profile image, as well useful for forum link building and blog commenting.


Google Major Algorithm Updates Log

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive is the list of major Google algorithm update in the last 8 years, recently published by and verified by me in some of my notes and Google Webmaster Central Blog.

  •  Boston (March 2003) – The Boston update focused on incoming links and unique content. The result was that many webmasters reported a drop in backlinks and a corresponding drop in PageRank.
  • Cassandra (April 2003) – This update focused on domain name relevance. The idea was that companies should choose a name that reflects their domain name.
  • Dominic  (May 2003) – This update was named after the pizza restaurant in Boston that was visited often by PubCon attendees. The update focused on making the search process theme based, and linking a data center to a particular search. The update made it clear that each data center was meant to do different things.
  • Esmerelda  (June 2003) – The third in a series of updates that gave preference to pages that gave more specific information to a visitor. The update revealed that internal pages within a website may have better relevance for the Dominic update, which seemed to give the homepage preference to even searches that were aimed at a specific query. Users reported that spam was considerably less than after the Dominic and Cassandra updates. The third in a series of updates that gave preference to pages that gave more specific information to a visitor. The update revealed that internal pages within a website may have better relevance for the Dominic update, which seemed to give the homepage preference to even searches that were aimed at a specific query. Users reported that spam was considerably less than after the Dominic and Cassandra updates.
  • Florida (November 2003) – The update reflected Google’s shift from simple filters to an attempt to understand contextually the scope of the search and potential search results. The update cleaned up spam with simple linking and other features that gave more weight to well optimized and cleanly linked sites. Webmasters welcomed the update and it showed that Google was giving top priority to the searchers’ interests. The update was an attempt to encourage white hat websites, which adhered to the quality requirements.
  • Austin  (January 2004) – The update focused on a practice called Google Bombing, where people manipulated the system to produce misleading results. The focus shifted to sites with minimal keyword density and good internal linking. Relevant links were given more weight in that sites that linked to other sites in a similar industry did better in the search results.
  • Brandy  (February 2004) – Google placed more emphasis on words like trust, authority and reputation. Update showed that providing relevant information is the key. There was greater importance placed on the quality of content on a website. Google also stressed the importance of Latent Semantic Indexing.
  • Bourbon (May 2005) – Google launched this update in response to spam complaints and re-inclusion requests. Strategic changes in the process were implemented to make it more effective. The update also focused on moving from old data centers to new ones.
  • Allegra (February 2005) – This was an attempt by Google to identify spam sites that still managed to rank high in the search results. Google asked users to give feedback about sites that actually deserved higher rankings but did not receive them. Users complained that their sites disappeared from the search results and that some spam sites still ranked well.
  • Jagger (October / November 2005) – Google encouraged users to give feedback concerning websites that used black hat SEO strategies to rank well. Sites which were found to be using such techniques were removed from the search results. Google cleaned up canonical problems and focused on relevance in reciprocal linking.
  • Big Daddy (February 2006) – Google focused on inbound and outbound links. Sites that have very low trust in links, or linked out to many spam sites saw pages disappear from the index. Spam sites were moved into a supplemental category in the search results. Users noticed that even after complying with Google’s help that their websites were still going supplemental.
  • Pluto (August 2006) – Update focused on backlinks reported by Google. There were no significant changes in search engine results.
  • Caffeine (August 2009) – Update focused on infrastructure to allow Google to better index information online, and do it much faster. It enabled deeper processing, which allowed Google to deliver more relevant search results. This update eventually allowed Google to introduce page speed as a ranking factor. Caffeine was delayed many times before get life and was not applied worldwide immediately.
  • Mayday  (May 2010) – Google launched update that focused on long tail traffic. Generally at this point, cross linking pages have become one of the most important factors for high SERP even with low link popularity.
  • Panda (February 2011) – Google cracked down on content farms and sites that had low quality, thin or scraped content. Focus was placed on unique content and content depth. Many websites were affected by the update. Most content farms got hit hard. The Panda update has been rolled out in several steps throughout the year.
  • Penguin (May 2012) - Another major update, this time targeting major part of algorithm related to link building and link evaluation. Penguin 1.1 was announced on 25h of May 2012 and again 39 new changes were introduced few days later. Natural link building is more important than ever, as well many websites got penalized for selling or buying links.

For sure I have to mention that during this years, some of the updates have been overwritten and few things dropped out of account. There were rumors that Mayday update was discard soon after Google apply it. Of course Google is performing small tweaks on daily basis, so the best is to follow official sources.

Take a look at infographic related to Google updates at our Webmaster Blog.

SEO process

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In this series of articles, we will try to go deeper and explain SEO strategy and course of action step-by-step. What is SEO and how to get the maximum of optimization campaign and achieve top rankings.

The SEO course of action is usually divided into six standard stages. These include research (keyword, competitor,maket), planning and strategy, implementation, analytics, (re)assessment, and maintenance.
Note that the SEO practice is dependable and interactive, all stages are very important and need to be performed in unison. Each process requires different type of knowledge and understanding.

SEO Process



Link Building

One of the most important part of SEO is massive link building from quality websites.