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):
Meaningful Descriptions - Moz is probably my favorite SEO and my initial go-to resource for all things SEO related.
Mobile Ready - the team at Mobify has a really great ebook for download on mobile 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).
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.
Create Snippets - The Buffer team put together a really short, but great, resource for creating snippets so others can share you content easily.
Similar Content - use ahrefs.com to find people that have shared similar content and see if they would link to yours.
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.
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.
Instagram - Another outstanding guide from David Nield at kicking butt on Instagram.
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.
Sponsored Links - Anytime you are buying links beware - read this article by Google so you can make sure you don't get in trouble.
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!