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The ability to rank a website for relevant keywords can make or break the fortunes of the business. The steady flow of traffic generated by the search engines can provide targeted leads, new customers, and enough visitors to run tests. Unfortunately, there is not a simple optimization plan that everyone can follow to success. The search engine algorithms are complex, requiring adjustments and monitoring to determine what is working. There are, however, some simple guidelines you can follow to put your website in the best possible position to gain top rankings.

Focus on Quality Backlinks

Quality backlinks have always been stronger than those that are easy to acquire. In recent years, particularly with the Google Panda update, low-quality links have been devalued even further. Rather than waste time on building a lot of links, focus on building relationships with relevant websites with high authority. Outside of the most competitive niches, gaining a small number of high-quality backlinks can help you outperform virtually all other sites. Avoid any spammy or automated methods, focusing instead on strategic relationships that can offer new links each time you publish new content.

Create Excellent Content

Before algorithm updates, discovering spun content ranking for popular keywords was standard practice. It is rare to find low-quality articles ranking today, though, with quality control and manual reviews reducing the chances of this content slipping through the net. The type of content you create can vary depending on the niche and keyword. Articles, images, videos, and product pages might all appear, along with combinations of all these elements. Overall, good content is anything that meets the needs of the bulk of searchers.

Spend Time Researching the Market

Research can save you time and money, helping to identify potential problems and opportunities. Your analysis should include keyword research which will determine the best search terms to target. It is also worth researching the top-ranking sites for these target search terms. You might find that top rankings will be too time-consuming and expensive. Alternatively, you could find some easy opportunities and places from which to gain backlinks.

Track Your Results

SEO is an ongoing process, so it is important to track results. Paying attention to rankings will help understand some of the factors that are working, though it is important not to make too many assumptions as rankings can move around. If you find a page that starts to gain a lot of new traffic, you can start to promote it more heavily. Checking analytics programs can also reveal factors such as bounce rate, which plays a crucial role in highlighting issues with the user experience.

Pay Attention to ROI

A common SEO problem occurs when site owners fixate on rankings. It can be exciting to see your site gradually move up the search engines, but a good ranking doesn’t necessarily correlate to high earnings. Track how much you are investing to achieve and maintain rankings, relating it to the value of the customers you gain. Certain keywords might have a high volume, but they need to be profitable to make your effort worthwhile.

Create a Tailored Solution for Your Site

An effective SEO plan supports a particular website, and trying to use the same strategy for a variety of sites is an inefficient use of time and resources. For example, an e-commerce site will not be marketed in the same way as a blog, instead focusing on different types of backlinks and variations of on-page optimization. While there will be many broad similarities, it is important to tailor a solution for each new platform. Additionally, the type of content that typically ranks in different niches will vary, so study the top performing sites for examples of what the search engines want to see.

Streamline Processes with Tools

Tools that can simplify the processes that go into running an SEO campaign are quite helpful. For example, tools like Moz, Ahrefs, and SEMrush cover a variety of tasks, including keyword research, rank tracking, and link analysis. Google Analytics and Google Search Console provide a great deal of data, helping you monitor traffic sources and locate any problems. Finally, Ninja Outreach and Mention help find and monitor numerous sources of backlinks.

There will inevitably be periods of trial and error in an SEO campaign. Following these guidelines can, however, ensure your website is set up for the benefit of both visitors and search engines. As long as you avoid any tactics that the search engines frown on, you probably won’t cause any real long-term damage. You may even find that, by focusing on the fundamentals of SEO, your website starts to rank without any serious promotional push required.