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Top 10 SEO Tips for New Websites : Page 2

Neophyte sites should be realistic in their goals, focus on building trust and crank up the social media campaign.

Just as links are a sign of popularity among websites, social bookmarks are signs of whether real people using the Web are showing signals of approval or indifference towards various pieces of content.

The important factor in considering social media when thinking about SEO is that there are no signs that the role of social media on the Web is declining.  If anything, the Social Web is growing in prominence and in order to maintain search quality, search engines will need to pay attention to the social side of the Web.  Additionally, actions of immediate friends are going to gain importance, so having a large social reach will likely reflect positively on SEO results.

7) Cross-Linking Strategy

Some of the easiest inbound links for a new site to get are ones where you also link to the person who is linking to you.  It usually requires some communication between the webmasters of the two sites and an agreement to link to one another and make the links permanent.

Since it is difficult to obtain most links from coveted and trustworthy sites, it is easy to get carried away exchanging links with other new or unestablished sites just because of the comparative ease of obtaining the links in link exchanges.

Link exchanges are much less effective now than they used to be in the past, but they still work to a lower degree.  A savvy link-exchange campaign can give you one of the best boosts when your site is still new just because many of the other methods of obtaining links are just too tough for new sites to pull off. When you do exchange links, only do so with sites in your niche that are reputable and trustworthy.  Refrain from interlinking with other unestablished sites because more often than not you will just end up in bad link neighborhoods which can actually cause you SEO damage instead of benefit.

8) Linking Out Strategy

SEO is a strange field where there are often conflicting answers to many questions. One of the biggest points of confusion that many new site owners encounter is what their strategy should be for linking out to other sites.

Most new sites try to hoard the little amount of link juice that they have and not link out, but that is often a very limiting and unnatural approach.  Since it is difficult for a new site to get other sites to even work with them, new site webmasters should feel very free and open about linking out (as long as those sites are of high quality) in an attempt to participate in as many initiatives as possible and to forge many relationships with as many people in their niche as possible.

Most of the time, a relationship is worth much more than a link.  So if you review other prominent sites or just link to them and tell them about how much you like their sites and inform them of the link you posted, moving forward it might make them friendly towards you, and you will likely be able to count on many little favors from them along the way.  That favor may come in many forms. It may be a link, a Facebook “like,” or a powerful stumble or a an introduction to someone who can help your site.

The same linking philosophy is true when it comes to linking out to social networking sites or embedding interesting pieces of content from other sites into yours. While you don't want to go too far with linking out, if the link you may put on your site decidedly enhances the experience of your users, you should probably add that link. You should add such a link especially eagerly if it is to a reputable site.

9) Minor On-Site Tips and Tricks

To battle the link scarcity from the outside, you can do things within your site to create more links to your pages and get those pages ranking for various terms faster than they would if you had just waited.

You must have a strategy to interlink your internal pages.  Content pages should link to other pages using the Wikipedia style within-content links. These are the most natural looking internal links, and will carry most weight.  Second, you should have sections for related topics where you can add links to pages within your site which you would like to make more prominent.  Third, you can have a table of contents section.

The table of contents within a content page creates links to that very same page. Here is an example of how to do this: In your table of contents section you can have links like I made on this Muir Woods Hiking page:

Take a look at the left side of that page after the navigation. There is a table of contents there. Each link in the table of contents goes to a section of that very same page. Here is an example of an HTML link for creating one of these table of contents links:

Muir Woods Wildlife.

The subsection HTML also looks slightly different.  Here is the example of the HTML for the actual subsection:

<a name="muir_woods_wildlife"><h2>Muir Woods Wildlife</h2></a>
Notice the extra #muir_woods_wildlife at the end of the URL. That is the instruction to point to a subsection of the HTML.  The subsection HTML also looks slightly different. Here is the example of the HTML for the actual subsection:
<a name="muir_woods_wildlife"><h2>Muir Woods Wildlife</h2></a>
Take a look at how the Muir Woods page uses the in-text links to other pages, table of contents, and a related topics section to make the most out of the internal links it can have.

10) Keeping Sight of the Bigger Picture in SEO

Simply ranking in the top 10 or top 5 search results for competitive search terms can be very lucrative on its own. There are even numerous highly successful companies who do only one thing: rank pages in the top 10 for various competitive search terms. Yet for most companies, the effort that it takes to get into the top 10 is not worthwhile unless there are secondary goals.

Secondary goals may be to sell goods or services, or get people to make accounts on their sites, etc.  A very important distinction that webmasters should always keep in mind is that some search terms may be highly converting (get the users to do what the webmaster wants them to do) and some search terms that seem like they should convert, do not.

Keeping with the example above with the hiking site, I had originally theorized that if I optimized the site for various hiking spots around the Bay Area (the site is a local for the San Francisco Bay Area) that people would convert into signed up users at a pretty high rate.

Once I got a number of pages ranking high for such terms, I was able to track that these users were actually not converting and not signing up. They just read about hiking at parks and left my site.  

What gave me the best conversions were searches like "group hiking in San Francisco." That might be an obvious point since the site is about group hiking in the Bay Area, but there are just not that many such searches overall, so I could not rely on those searches alone.  

So when you are embarking on a long-term SEO campaign, keep in mind what conversions you eventually want, and how to get them in a high-enough volume.

Also make sure that your site will actually be capable of ranking in a top-10 for some searches.  Some high-volume search terms are very competitive and are nearly impossible to break into.  You don't want to see your site stuck on the 3rd page of search results after months of trying to get it to rank.

Bonus Item: Build Videos (Advanced)

Traditional SEO has mostly been centered about written content.  Yet more and more the content on the Web is in video form rather than written in text.  What some people do is make videos and maintain their own channel on YouTube that parallels their on-site content strategy.  That way they can embed the video into their blog with their written text.  This results in a fuller engagement of the users with the sites’ brand.

From the blog, users can click on the video channel and then see the related videos in your channel, leading them to spend more time surfing content from your brand or site.  This longer engagement of the user with your site often leads directly to higher levels of conversion.  Additionally, many people believe that having text, photos and videos on your page makes the page appear more “interesting” in the eyes of search engines which see it as you offering more content to your users, and rank you higher since they perceive that as potentially being a higher quality page.

Alex Genadinik is the founder of San Francisco Hiking Community and a Startup Consultancy. Please say hello and continue the conversation on this topic on Twitter @genadinik
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