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The SEO "Food" Pyramid [Infographic]

Healthy SEO Practices Infographic

Understanding the key ingredients to a healthy SEO recipe can be tough.  A lot of factors are at play – and sometimes it feels like there are too many “cooks in the kitchen.” Maybe your friend used to be an SEO expert and thinks that rapid link building is still the secret to success (since that was the bread and butter in his day).  Or maybe you’ve been hearing all sorts of doom and gloom about the SEO as a profession – that modern SEOs need to become T-Shaped marketers if they want to keep their jobs.  In order to make sense of it all – I put together an SEO Food Pyramid.

1. ARCHITECTURE (6-11 SERVINGS)

The most important aspect to healthy SEO is the architecture of your website.  These are sometimes referred to as the “basics” and are often overlooked or forgotten in lieu of the next big “growth hack.”  There is no replacement for a website that is properly set up for quality SEO – it will make every other tactic you use to improve your SEO much more impactful.  The architecture is like the grains – you can’t have pasta without noodles and you can’t have a sandwich without bread- they are considered staples for a reason (even if they are a bit out of fashion lately).

Examples include (link these to quality posts):

Proper Coding – Sean Work, who manages the Kissmetrics blog, walks you through the important aspects of coding your website for SEO.

Optimize Page Titles  – Rick DeJarnette is a fantastic in-house SEO at MSN.com – he give some great, actionable items in this post.

Meaningful Descriptions – Moz is probably my favorite SEO and my initial go-to resource for all things SEO related.

Correct use of Headers – Marc Purtell covers some of the best parts of a good H1 – but remember that it goes beyond that too. H2, H3 – they still have some value as well.

XML Sitemap – Mark Jackson covers it all in this post, from the standard XML sitemap – to video XML Sitemap, Image XML Sitemap, and more.

Eliminating Crawl Errors – This post by Joe Robison is a little older now – but the content is so great its still worth reading.

No Duplicate Content – If you don’t know who Matt Cutts is – you need to – and read this about how to handle duplicate content on your site.

Speed (Website Load Time) – Neil Patel and Sujan Patel deliver great information in an easy to follow format – digest this goodness.

Optimized URLs – Mark Nunney outlines the most important things you need to know about URLs and how they effect SEO.

Mobile Ready – the team at Mobify has a really great ebook for download on mobile SEO.

Internal Linking – Graham Charlton gives you some great ideas for internal linking and how it applies to SEO.

2. CONTENT CREATION (3-5 SERVINGS)

The hot new job of 2014 was a Content Marketer.  This one isnt a secret anymore – Rand Fishkin, Matt Cutts and all the other SEO masters have been telling us for a while now that the best way to get natural, relevant links is to create authoritative and helpful content that people want to share and link to.  While Content Creation won’t improve your Domain Authority by 10 points overnight – it is necessary for your future success (sorta like broccoli).

Examples include:

Blog – Rich Brooks wrote a really nice article about blogging from an SEO perspective.

Infographics – Sam Miranda gives a great argument for using infographics as part of your content creation for SEO.

Evergreen – Kevan Lee is a content genius – you want to read this post from top to bottom and learn how to be effective at evergreen content.

Skyscraper – Garrett Moon nails down exactly how to do the Skyscraper method of content creation – a must read.

White Papers – Michael Stelzner, founder of SocialMediaExaminer.com, shows you the ins and outs of the perfect white paper.

ebook – If you write an ebook – you want one that doesn’t suck – read this post by Brian Clark to find out how to do that.

Videos – check out the Wistia learning center to learn about video productions, video strategy and video marketing.

Slidedecks – repurpose your content as slide decks – here are 6 tips from SlideShare.

3. PROMOTION (2-4 SERVINGS)

It’s not enough to just have great content – you have to make sure that people know about that great content.  Promotion is so important, that many would argue that you shouldn’t even write an article without knowing how you are going to promote it first.  Promotion is the fruit – its sweet, and almost treat-like, as it brings in the links and social shares from the quality content you just created.

Examples include:

Create Snippets – The Buffer team put together a really short, but great, resource for creating snippets so others can share you content easily.

Reach out to Influencers – Kevin Cain shows you how to take your content to the masses by engaging the help of big time influencers.

Similar Content – use ahrefs.com to find people that have shared similar content and see if they would link to yours.

Content Communities – BlogEngage and BizSugar are so great sites to check out to get your content on other sites with bigger communities.

Discovery Sites – StumbleUpon and Reddit are two great sites to help others discover your content.

Content Distribution – Jordan Teicher with Contently gives you the inside scoop on the pros and cons of the top 10 content distributers.

Social Media Ads – Jon Loomer will walk you through from beginner to super expert on Facebook ads.

4. USER EXPERIENCE – UX (2-3 SERVINGS)

You have great content, and a solid promotion plan – but people aren’t sticking around or clicking on other articles.  This is a problem.  You need to figure out how to get people to read the whole blog article, to click on a couple of other pages, and have a great experience visiting your website as if it were some swanky bed and breakfast.  Google is placing a higher emphasis now on how pleasant your website is for a human being to visit.  You can consider UX to be the comfort food – it’s your baked macaroni n’cheese and a refreshing glass of milk.

Examples include:

Design – Alex Harris is an expert for a reason – he helps you get a better understanding here – and its much deeper than the color of your CTA button.

Navigation – Great resource from Anastasios Karafillis to help you make navigation as simple as possible.

Usability Testing – I’ve used UserTesting.com to have actual human beings test out my website and see if there is anything confusing to them.

Interviews – this one is obvious – just ask people some questions and see what they say.  You might be surprised at their answers about your website.

Customer Journey Mapping – grab the sticky notes and map out each possible scenario your customer can have – then make it better.

Mobile UX – RedAnt has 10 awesome tips for making sure your mobile experience is as top notch as the rest of your site.

5. SOCIAL SIGNALS (2-3 SERVINGS)

When people share your posts on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, etc.- it tells the search engines that what you have to say was valuable enough to someone to want to share it with their friends.  We read a lot of great stuff – but how many things do we actually take the time to share?  Social signals are a part of the algorithm that tells Google how authoritative and relevant the content you are creating and promoting really is.  Social Signals are the Sunday afternoon barbecue – you light up the grill, invite your friends and share some burgers, brats, wings, or ribs – the good stuff.

Examples include:

Facebook – John Rampton lays out a solid game plan for crushing it on Facebook.

Twitter – You absolutely MUST know who Gary Vaynerchuk is if you want to be good at Social Media – and read his book, Jab Jab Jab Right Hook.

Google+ – David Nield teaches you the absolute must-haves of Google Plus – and how to do them.

LinkedIn – Rachel Gillett will show you how to “become a content master” on LinkedIn.

Pinterest – Check out these 15 amazing tips on getting traction out of Pinterest from Lilian Sue.

Instagram – Another outstanding guide from David Nield at kicking butt on Instagram.

Snapchat – Some great examples of brands mastering Snapchat by Sarah Ang.

6. LINK BUILDING (USE SPARINGLY)

Link building can often do more harm to the health of your SEO plan than you might think.  A few of these tactics are still relevant, like replacing dead and broken links, but be sure to use them sparingly.  Too much unnatural link building can taint the health of your backlink profile.  This is the sweets and treats, the fast food, the stuff that makes you feel great for about a minute but leaves you with a belly ache.

Examples include:

Dead Link Replacement – The Authoritative guide from Neil Patel and Brian Dean – everything you need to know to master this.

Sponsored Links – Anytime you are buying links beware – read this article by Google so you can make sure you don’t get in trouble.

Directory Submissions – Great post by Kurtis Bohrnstedt and what you need to watch for when submitted to directories.

Badges – A great Q & A on the Moz Forum discussing using badges in modern day SEO.

If you have tools, tactics, tips, resources, or anything else that is helpful – share them in the comments below!

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