SEO Tips From the Experts: 14 Industry Experts Share Their Strategies

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Are you looking for fresh ideas to improve your rankings and hone your SEO skills?

If so, this collection of SEO tips from the experts will help you.

I was fortunate enough to recently interview 14 SEO experts and put together this article with a few of their top tips. These are people who actively manage SEO campaigns for clients and large companies. All currently work in the SEO trenches on a daily basis.

Let's get started.

Adam Grunwerg

1. Adam Grunwerg

Managing Director of Searchable Online Marketing

Thoughts on the Panda and Penguin algorithm updates:

I think almost everyone’s strategies have changed since the Panda and Penguin updates were released in 2011 and 2012 respectively.

First of all, Panda forced webmasters and SEOs to focus on publishing high quality, unique content on their websites, while digging around and removing low quality content. A lot of SEOs and agencies will now put the user experience first. I think you can easily argue that the Panda and Penguin updates have forced SEOs to focus more on on-page SEO factors as opposed to off page SEO.

The Penguin update in particular reset previous SEO link building practices into the dark ages. SEO agencies had to completely change their link building strategies and corporate structure in addition to working hard to resolving existing penalties on their client’s sites. Black hat SEO tactics such as using blog networks and obvious link schemes have been thrown out the window in most cases.

Mistakes small businesses commonly make in regards to SEO?

The big problem with SEO is that it’s heading in the direction of favoring big businesses and brands. Whatever the little guy does, it’s likely his competitors will be doing a bigger and better job, so you really need to be creative and found a way to make your brand unique.

I think the biggest mistake small businesses make is that they fail to take advantage of their unique position in the market. Being a small business means you can focus on your target market better, optimize yourself for local search and sponsor nearby events to build relevant links and PR.

Advice on higher quality content going forward:

I’m seeing a lot of shifts in SEO right now and higher quality content is a small part of that. SEO in general is evolving into a wider range of things called inbound marketing. It’s not longer possible to exclude things such as user experience, website signals, content creation, videos, images, social signals and authorship from SEO anymore. It’s all part of the same package.

Higher quality content won’t be enough in the future, you’ll also need higher quality writers with properly assigned Google Plus authorship mark-up, Google Plus profile optimization and followers in your circles.

Core philosophy on SEO:

“If you focus on building high quality websites, you’ll outlast other sites and subsequently have a higher sell-on value and better exit strategy, perhaps 3-4 years income.”

Adam Grunwerg, Managing Director of Searchable Online Marketing

Maciej Fita

2. Maciej Fita

SEO Director at Brandignity

Thoughts on the Panda and Penguin algorithm updates:

I think the Panda and Penguin update hurt certain websites that were actively cutting corners to gain visibility or relying too much on just a few specific areas of SEO. One area we shifted gears in is the article directory area which was hit pretty hard for obvious reasons. We always try to take a robust, multi-pronged approach when marketing our clients websites which ensures that their visibility stays safe and can battle through algorithm updates. SEO is about marketing & branding and the sooner a website owner realizes that they will see that there is much more to it.

Mistakes small businesses commonly make in regards to SEO?

People that are still taking an old school approach where they look for campaigns that look like this:

  • 1000 directories
  • 100 articles
  • 500 social bookmarks
  • etc…

This type of approach just doesn’t work like it once did. Google is cracking down on this because it is unnatural and almost always results in low quality links.

SEO productivity tips?

Put a schedule of efforts together in an Excel spreadsheet documenting all your activities. It will help you see where you are and also where you are going with your campaign.

Core philosophy on SEO:

“Don’t approach it from a science standpoint. Too many people look at it as a list or a long menu of things they have to do. You really need to approach the space with a marketing/branding standpoint keeping in mind some of the technical aspects the search engines like to see.”

Maciej Fita, SEO Director at Brandignity

Jonathan Casella

3. Jonathan Casella

New Media Marketing Manager/ Search Specialist at Sparxoo

Mistakes small businesses commonly make in regards to SEO?

I see many small businesses approach web marketing with no plan, no strategy. That’s a big problem. SEO is not about adding meta keywords or linking to Facebook. It’s an essential marketing component that some would argue, as our society becomes even more reliant on technology, will be the most important piece to your marketing model. You need to develop a strategy. What do you want to rank for? What action do you want the user to take? If you’re not asking these questions, it will be impossible to have a successful SEO campaign.

Do you believe there's a shift toward content marketing within SEO and that higher quality content is needed going forward?

Absolutely. Websites with poor quality content and over optimization will not perform well. Yes, we want to increase traffic; yes, we want to increase leads and sales, but we cannot become so concerned with doing silly things to rank well that we lose focus on presenting a high-quality user experience.

Have you had any experience with overcoming link building penalties?

I did have a client who had a previous SEO that purchased a mass link building plan—one of those pay $1,000 for 10,000 link building submission. They were the top result for a very popular search term—that is, until Penguin. My strategy, at first, was to get the bad links removed. After a while, it just seemed ineffective, so then I worked on developing their social presence and building relevant, quality links. After a while, we saw their search impression increase again.

Core philosophy on SEO:

“Minimal effort will yield minimal results. It sounds clever and profound, but it’s actually very obvious. If you’re not putting time and effort into generating new content, testing new call-to-actions, maintaining the technical health of your site, link building, and strategizing new efforts, then you probably won’t see the results that drive leads and sales.”

Jonathan Casella, New Media Marketing Manager/ Search Specialist at Sparxoo

Jessica Hill

4. Jessica Hill

SEO Manager for 99Designs.com

How do you ensure that the SEO work you do for your company actually helps achieve results?

Measure! Whether it’s getting links for a specific page, changing a title tag or making a sitewide change, it’s extremely important to create a hypothesis and track the actual results. When the rankings move (either up or down), assessing the impact on your bottom line will tell you whether you’ve been successful or not.

Please share a case study with us:

While I can’t share specifics, I can give you percentages.

We moved a highly competitive term from the fifth position in Google in January 2012 to the first position by January 2013 and saw visits increase 68% and revenue increase 78%.

I’ve never been a huge fan of focusing solely on one keyword, but this movement was significant in all aspects. That doesn’t mean it’s the only thing we think about, as we have a whole slew of terms and targets that we’re constantly working on.

The best thing we did to help this term move was to increase our sitewide PR – get people talking about and linking to deeper pages on our site.

Do you believe there's a shift toward content marketing within SEO and that higher quality content is needed going forward?

I am of the philosophy that you should always publish good content, and I’m hoping the SEO community will move in this direction.

Any secret weapons?

Curiosity. I’ve found that people with interests that span beyond their industry come up with the best ideas.

Reddit.com is a great place to start. People are always posting crazy things that may spark an idea. Follow the news and what’s going on in entertainment and sports. Here’s a really fun infographic on a hot TV show.

It was posted on 4/4/13 and has 94 referring domains, more than 1700 likes on Facebook and was shared on Twitter more than 700 times.

Core philosophy on SEO:

“What’s good for your brand is what’s good for your SEO strategy!”

Jessica Hill, SEO Manager for 99Designs.com

Jacob Baldwin

5. Jacob Baldwin

Search Engine Marketing Manager at OneCallNow.com

What is your best quick implementation tip for companies trying to get traffic through search?

Assess your URL and site structure. Strategically place targeted and contextual keywords in a fashion that content silos are created and start sharing your content socially. If you don’t get engagement, try another approach with your content offering.

What are some mistakes you see small businesses making in regards to SEO?

Not paying attention to proper on-page optimization opportunities, inconsistent branding initiatives, inappropriate conversion actions and CTA’s, and poor user interface.

Do you have any advice for small business owners as far maintaining their high rankings once they get them?

Keep your content fresh, and maintain click rates by installing structured data so your content shows with rich snippets.

How are you using content?

Content is one of the most underrated and mediocre things I can think of. Everyone is guilty of creating content that is “good enough”. We have initiatives in place right now to start creating higher quality content that will engage a larger audience (i.e. marketing to the top of the funnel). If you can get in front of people while they’re in the “problem discovery” phase, they’ll be more likely to trust you when it comes time to pick a solution. To answer your question, we are using content to move people through the conversion funnel.

Core philosophy on SEO:

“SEO is just a small piece of the whole digital marketing pie … most of your efforts should be funneled into providing high quality, value-adding content for your audience to consume and share.”

Jacob Baldwin, Search Engine Marketing Manager at OneCallNow.com

Steve Young

6. Steve Young

Director of Product Marketing at SmartShoot

What if any strategies have you changed since the Panda and Penguin algorithm updates?

Those updates haven’t affected my results much. The Panda and Penguin updates helped rid Google of some of the spammers out there who were using tactics that some would deem in the gray area of SEO.

Google has always been about the end-user so if you have that mind-set, you won’t suffer too much from Google updates.

What is your best quick implementation tip for companies trying to get traffic through search?

Use the Google Keyword Tool to find what keywords you should be targeting. For example, should you try to optimize for “auto repair” or “auto shop” or “auto repair shop”?

If you provide auto repair services, then I’d recommend optimizing for “auto repair shop” with the city that you are in. Too many times we forget that Google localizes their search results.

How are you using content?

We are writing interesting and relevant blog posts on our site. We are also guest blogging on other sites to grow our audience and backlinks.

We found that providing a lead magnet such as an eBook has been most effective when guest blogging.

Core philosophy on SEO:

“Understand the basics. Match your title tag with your H1 tag (headline on the page). And try to repeat your keyword about 3 times on the page. All that said, be sure you write for the reader. Don’t try to squeeze your keywords in where it doesn’t fit.”

Steve Young, Director of Product Marketing at SmartShoot

Gennady Lager

7. Gennady Lager

Head of Search Strategy for Trace Media Marketing

What are some mistakes you see small businesses making in regards to SEO?

The most significant mistake that small businesses make is regarding targeting focus. They either focus on keywords that are too broad and competitive for their service offering or too focused to acquire any real traffic. It takes a certain amount of experience to understand where a business stands and what its keyword targets should be.

Do you have any tips for keeping track of movement in SERPs?

These days, SERPs are more difficult to get a handle on for numerous reasons: Google is less willing to share keyword analytics, results are more complex with universal search mixed with organic, geographical targeting, and personalized results. There is no perfect solution to rank tracking today. However, there are some very high quality and highly customizable rank tracking solutions that, if understood to be semi-accurate can provide relatively consistent results.

What if any strategies have you changed since the Panda and Penguin algorithm updates?

Some of the methods for link building have changed quite a bit. Whereas before lower quality methods of link building such as directory submissions and article syndication were standard practice, such practices are virtually ignored now. Instead, a great focus on link bait, marketing-based link building, and co-citation are now the focus of competitive link building campaigns.

Core philosophy on SEO:

“While algorithms and best practices do shift and evolve, the core philosophy I like to follow is to make sure that any practice that is done for search engines is also going to be a positive user experience.”

Gennady Lager, Head of Search Strategy for Trace Media Marketing

Hassan Bawab

8. Hassan Bawab

CEO and Founder of Magic Logix

Do you believe there's a shift toward content marketing within SEO and that higher quality content is needed going forward?

Absolutely. As the algorithms get more detailed on the type of language used, they will soon be able to calculate the quality of content.

What are some mistakes you see small businesses making in regards to SEO?

Many businesses just don’t understand the concepts of SEO. Most feel that they need to just worry about content on their own website, and not necessarily about getting external sites to link back to theirs and don't understand the technical portion of it.. SEO is getting very technical and the quality of code is extremely important.

If someone's just starting out with a small budget (under $1,000) for SEO what would you suggest they do?

Use it to develop great content for your site. There are many third party services that will write the content for you and also do guest blogging on other sites to get links directing to your company’s site. I also recommend starting with validating your site at validator.w3.org

Core philosophy on SEO:

“One common philosophy you will hear most SEO experts say, is “Content is King”. This is true for 90% of SEO, but it’s the other 10% that takes you from being average to being exceptional. ”

Hassan Bawab, CEO and Founder of Magic Logix

Michael Freeman

9. Michael Freeman

Senior Manager of Search at ShoreTelSky

How do you ensure that the SEO work you do actually achieves results?

I do this by focusing on activities that I believe are most likely to drive value. That means not only looking at the size of the opportunity, but also tries to understand that likelihood of achieving positive results for the company. For example, that means not always chasing the most popular or generic keyword.

Secondly, I focus on trying to build the internal processes so that the entire organization, to the extent that it is possible, has SEO as part of their job. When SEO is part of the culture, it is amazing how much easier it is to generate positive results and build momentum.

Thirdly, setup Google Analytics and define Goals. Visits alone do not drive value for most businesses. You need to tie the visits to results. Setting up goals in your web analytics software is the first step towards measuring the value of SEO. Even better is to tie your visits to actual sales/signups etc. You cannot improve what you do not measure.

What if any strategies have you changed since the Panda and Penguin algorithm updates?

At my previous company, we had had a lot of success with footer links on every page pointing to search results pages that targeted keyword variations. When MayDay hit (a precursor to Panda), it wiped out all of that traffic because 100% of that content was essentially duplicate and thin. That was a huge wakeup call to focus on unique and compelling content.

Panda and Penguin have further pushed SEOs to focus on generating unique and compelling content. I also have become a bigger believer in the concept of AuthorRank and the need to put a name and a face on most content to add to its authority and authenticity.

What is your best quick implementation tip for companies trying to get traffic through search?

  1. Make sure your site has an XML Sitemap and register it in Webmaster Tools
  2. Make sure that your website is crawlable
  3. Review your 10 most important pages and make sure that each one is targeting in its content (and HTML TITLE) the keyword for which you want to rank that page
  4. Replace any text in images with actual text. CSS and web fonts make having a beautiful and SEO friendly site very easy today

It is amazing the number of sites who are looking for traffic but have not done these 4 basic things.

Core philosophy on SEO

“There is always more that can be done and you have infinite options to choose from, so the most important aspect of SEO is knowing how to prioritize your work.”

Michael Freeman, Senior Manager of Search at ShoreTelSky

Donnie Cooper

10. Donnie Cooper

Founder of Inboundable

What if any strategies have you changed since the Panda and Penguin algorithm updates?

After the panda update, I started focusing on deliberately getting inbound links to each key page (category pages/ etc). Of course, I don’t get links for the sake of links; I get links aimed at qualified leads.

I changed nothing after Penguin update, except maybe I danced a lot more afterwards. It was nice to see some spammy tactics finally get panelized.

What is your best quick implementation tip for companies trying to get traffic through search?

Leveraging existing relationships by reaching out to vendors, partners, customers, referrers, people you send customers to, etc. if you’re in business, chances are you have some people that would be willing to let you write a guest post on their site (aimed at helping their audience of course) or even feature you on their main site.

It’s a quick way to get some initial progress and build confidence in the client’s team. From there, outreach tactics can be advanced into more difficult tasks.

Do you have any advice for small business owners as far maintaining their high rankings once they get them?

Stick with the basics to keep up your newly acquired rankings. Keep blogging, and mentioning (linking to) your pages that are ranking well. Incentivize user generated content on those pages, and re-share the links occasionally with some new thoughts on your social media sites.

If analytics indicates some keywords/pages that are sending you great traffic, then periodically re-create that content piece with an updated perspective, fresh content, and useful content types (video, images, data, etc).

Donnie's core philosophy on SEO:

“I believe in getting a company involved in the process of getting results… every step of the way.”

Donnie Cooper, Founder of Inboundable

Matt Polsky

11. Matt Polsky

Director of Organic Search for Veterans United Home Loans

What if any strategies have you changed since the Panda and Penguin algorithm updates?

Not many tactics have changed for me; however, what has changed is the diversity of strategies. You can’t just sit on guest posts or infographics anymore, you have to branch out, build relationships and work toward diversifying everything from links to the media you are using.

SEO productivity tips?

Decide what your long-term and short-term goals are. If you can’t decide what your goals are, then your first goal is to start setting goals.

What are some mistakes you see small businesses making in regards to SEO?

The largest mistake is not utilizing SEO at all. There are so many sites out there having trouble ranking for their own brand name due to the fact that they haven’t done anything to optimize their site.

Core philosophy on SEO:

“Be curious, and always ask, why?” This philosophy is a guiding principle for any marketer. If you see a boost or drop in traffic, conversions or goals, don’t just let it be, find out what happened so you can replicate the success or prevent a failure.”

Matt Polsky, Director of Organic Search for Veterans United Home Loans

Zane Schwarzlose

12. Zane Schwarzlose

Manages client SEO at Fahrenheit Marketing

Please share a case study with us:

One of our neatest clients is The Grass Outlet. The Grass Outlet is a company that sells grass sod throughout Texas through a custom e-commerce solution. In five months, we've increase their traffic from 711 unique visitors per month to 8300 unique visitors per month. Currently, the site makes thousands of dollar per week and its monthly visitors just keeps growing.

What are some mistakes you see small businesses making in regards to SEO?

Outsourcing marketing is outsourcing ethics. This by no means you shouldn't hire an SEO or marketing firm if you need help. But, you need to be sure they'll do an ethical job. Ask for specific examples of their link building. Ask for references.

Anything else you'd like to add in?

If you need ideas on what to blog about, look at a site like Yahoo! Answers and find the top 100 questions people have about your niche. Then, write blog posts answering each question. You'll learn more about your field and create relevant, evergreen content for your potential customers.

Core philosophy on SEO:

“If you aren't making the Internet a better place through your SEO, you're doing it wrong.”

Zane Schwarzlose, Manages client SEO at Fahrenheit Marketing

Patrick Reinhart

13. Patrick Reinhart

SEO Manager at Prime Visibility

What if any strategies have you changed since the Panda and Penguin algorithm updates?

Almost everything has changed since the white and black animals entered our lives. Panda changed the way we optimize pages, caring less about keyword density and more about relevancy and strength of content. Penguin changed everything about link building. Buying links in the hundreds is a thing of the past and since then we have moved on to content marketing to build natural links, which is better for everyone anyway.

A few quick things that will keep you from losing your mind w/ SEO:

  • Do not pay attention to your Alexa score.
  • Do not pay attention to people who reference your Alexa score.
  • Do not become obsessed with one or two rankings. (this is so important)
  • Keep writing quality content.
  • Log into webmaster tools….often.
  • Get on social media if you are not.
  • Treat your online business as you treat your offline business.
  • Matt Cutts is a hologram.
  • Never stop updating your site!

SEO productivity tips?

SEO is a marathon and it needs constant attention. Don’t become obsessive about rankings, become obsessive about content and marketing your site in a thoughtful way.

Core philosophy on SEO:

“Go with your gut. The worst thing a company can do is have an SEO who isn’t comfortable making a call or following his or her instincts. ”

Patrick Reinhart, SEO Manager at Prime Visibility

Rens van der Windt

14. Rens van der Windt

Digital Media Executive at Accuracast

What if any strategies have you changed since the Panda and Penguin algorithm updates?

Changes in our SEO strategy have not been motivated by Google’s algorithm updates so much as the evolution of the online space itself. Everything is a lot more social now and therefore a lot of our work nowadays focuses on ensuring that information on our clients’ sites can be easily shared and is more likely to be shared. This wasn’t so much the case a few years ago.

What is your best quick implementation tip for companies trying to get traffic through search?

  • Don’t pay for links.
  • Steer clear of link farms.
  • Only publish on quality websites.

Spend a month (or more if you need to) to work with a good creative agency that can deliver good link bait and then let them push it really hard and wide. The high quality organic links you get as a result of that will far outweigh any number of singular links and guest posts you grovel for.

Do you have any advice for small business owners as far maintaining their high rankings once they get them?

Ranking high in the search engine results page and remaining that position is really a matter of maintenance. You’ll need to keep working on your rankings. Once you’ve achieved the position you want on the page you can’t spend too much time sitting back and enjoying it. You need to keep in mind that your competitors might want to rank high for the same keywords as you. In these cases it is likely that they will overtake your position when you don’t actively work on your SEO. SEO is not a one-time thing, you’ll need to maintain it with a steady stream of good new links and fresh content.

Core philosophy on SEO:

“When SEO is done in an ethical and ‘search engine friendly’ manner, you don’t have to worry about algorithm updates and drops in organic traffic referrals.”

Digital Media Executive at Accuracast

What do you think? What's your favorite SEO tip? Please share in the comments box below:

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