by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D., Founder of the EmpoweringSites.com Network
Search engine optimization (SEO) is both an art and a science, but the most important thing to remember is that whatever path you take, the process is going to take time... time to be included in various Internet directories and search engines and time to gain valuable links and slowly rise in the rankings.
For more detailed SEO strategies and suggestions, please read my article, SEO Strategies for Enhancing and Optimizing Your Web Presence: A 10-Point Primer for Website Success.
Do develop strong, current, and unique content (not just sales stuff) that is both keyword-rich and seen as valuable to your visitors (and others). To the search engines and directories, at least, content is still king, thus creating a valuable knowledge base is essential.
Don't take shortcuts and don't practice any unethical SEO strategies, such as keyword stuffing, using link farms, hiding keywords at the bottom of your pages, or faking links to your site.
Do conduct competitive research on other top companies and Websites in your area of specialty, making note of their use of keywords and meta tags. And do try various keywords in your searches and make note of the results.
Don't simply take the meta tags and keywords from other sites, but learn from the top sites in your field -- both in terms of keywords, but also Web page development, navigation, and linking strategy.
Do utilize the title, meta tags, and image "alt" command to optimize your Web page with two or three keywords -- or better, keyword phrases that are more specific. (For example, executive resume-writer rather than resume.) And do make sure your title, description, and keywords are different for every page of your site.
Don't fall victim to the many, many "SEO experts" who claim they can get your site into Google, Bing, and others immediately. There are no guaranteed positions and anyone who tells you so is out to take your money.
Do create and implement a linking strategy in which you link to top-ranked sites and request links from those and other top-ranked sites. Keep links related to your page/site topics, and don't expect well-established sites to link to you without a reciprocal link. Don't use link-generating software that spams other site owners; send the emails yourself. See a sample reciprocal link script.
Don't create 100 junky pages for your site, when you could produce 10 great ones. Remember that it is not the quantity of your site, but the quality.
Do submit your site to the major directories and some smaller directories. (Especially do submit your site to the Open Directory Project.
Don't use Flash or other technology that the search engines cannot read. While design is important for your site's overall appeal, you can do so using HTML and other design techniques that are search engine friendly.
Do consider developing a list of key search engines and hand-submitting new pages from your site to them on a regular basis. (You could also use a submission service if you prefer -- but choose one that hand submits also.)
Don't keep submitting the same pages to the search engines. Do submit your page and then wait for the results. If you regularly add new pages to your site, you will eventually train the spiders and crawlers to visit your site without your request.
Do develop two site maps of your site -- one for visitors (that will also help the search engines) and one for the search engines. The one you create for your site's visitors should be developed in a way you might write a table of contents for a book or report; you don't need to list every page of your site (though you could), but you do want to list all the major sections/categories. The site map you create for the search engines should be one you create using XML.
Don't forget to use news releases and develop a "Press Room" for your site; you may not get lots of media attention, but if you submit your news release through one of the many press release distribution services, it may end up in Google News. (Do remember to at least have a link to your main site page on your news release.) And do follow standard media release guidelines.
Do consider adding a glossary of key terms (and, of course, keywords) for your industry. Other great content ideas include FAQ (frequently asked questions) pages, how-to articles, customer testimonials, product manuals, etc.
Don't give up on your SEO plan and don't obsess about PageRank. SEO takes time and patience. But do use Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools to learn more about your site and help Google (by far the world leader in search) understand your site. And do read Google's Webmaster Guidelines.
Do use other resources to build your site reputation and value, such as social media sites -- including social networking and social bookmarking sites -- as well as blogs, forums, and online communities. But don't spam these sites with your link; instead, get involved in those sites that have the time to do so. And do consider starting your own blog if you have something valuable to say (and can commit to keeping the blog updated on a regular basis).
Web Marketing Guru Dr. Randall S. Hansen, CEO of EmpoweringSites.com -- a growing network of highly ranked educational and inspirational Websites -- has been empowering people his entire adult life. He is also founder and publisher of EmpoweringRetreat.com, MyCollegeSuccessStory.com, and EnhanceMyVocabulary.com. Dr. Hansen is also a published author, with several books, chapters in books, and hundreds of articles. He's often quoted in the media and conducts empowering workshops around the country. Hansen is also an educator, having taught at the college level for more than 15 years. He holds a doctorate in marketing and has been involved in marketing his entire life. Learn more at his personal Website, RandallSHansen.com. Check out Dr. Hansen on GooglePlus.