Is your business launching a new web site? Have you fallen off the Google map? Perhaps you are in the backwoods of blacklisting, having followed an ill-advised SEO strategy? Whatever your challenge, these practical tips will set you on the proper SEO track.

Planning, Patience, Process

First, you have to realize that it is going to take some time. You won’t be sitting atop the SERPS (search engine results pages) tomorrow. A single strategy, a single action is not going to do it. However, if you start today, have patience, and embrace a deliberate SEO process, profits will show.

Content Brings Contentment

Having plenty of content on your site will put you ahead of your competitors. In fact, too many businesses continue to fail the content test. Remember, there is nothing like a contented visitor, whether that be a search engine spider or a flesh-and-blood user.

Keywords for Life

Keywords should be part of your DNA. Build and maintain a list of keywords and use them in your content (especially at the top of the page), headings, page titles, file names, links, and meta-tags.

Keep abreast of changes in your industry. Listen to the words used by clients, peers, and competitors. Freshen up your list when new words arise and old ones fade. Finally, while keyword-rich content is good, use common sense. Don’t make the user feel like they are reading the ingredients on a cereal box. It’s possible to over-SEO your audience.

Theme and Variation

Be on theme and stay on theme. If you sell lollipops, explore every possible aspect of lollipops (e.g., history, colours, different names for lollipops, etc.). Google’s spiders dance to themes. Therefore, your content should be on theme, you should link to similarly themed sites (inbound and outbound links), the indexing for your site (the architecture) should hum the theme, and if possible, develop content (e.g., articles, reviews, press releases, quirky facts, etc.) that is on theme and can be posted on other sites with links. This is the beating heart of SEO.

Keep It Fresh

Maintain up-to-date content. Google absolutely loves to index fresh, new content. If your basic products or services have not changed, think of new variations on your proven theme, and track how these changes effect your SERP placement and make further changes (even reversal) when required. You’ll find the right balance between stability and freshness.

Building Links, Building Reputations

Building links is like building a reputation: you are known by the company you keep. If spiders find links to and from respectable sites, you’ll get a boost on Google, MSN, etc. Foster reciprocal links with reputable sites that share your theme, but not identical service offerings. Make sure to use text links with top keywords to improve your SEO.

SEO Spam: The Dark Side

Be cautious — certain Search Engine Optimization practices can be tagged as unethical or in bad taste. You don’t want to be similarly tagged, by clients, or blacklisted, by search engines. Stay away from schemes that promise instant results or sound ‘spammy’. This includes doorways, cloaking, keyword stuffing, blog spamming, link farming, mirror sites, etc.

Diligence: Maintain SEO

Remember, Search Engine Optimization is a continuous process. Keep watch and make adjustments when required. Track the SERPS using your keywords. Check out your competitors and see how their placement and keywords are changing.