I still find myself sharing my SEO for Normal People blog post as I’ve found its advice still holds up more than three years later.
I think the following fact is never mentioned enough: Search engines WANT to find the best, most relevant websites for each search term. From that simple fact, we can infer a lot about how to make sites search engine friendly without too much extra effort. Start by writing good content that speaks to your audience.
If anything, it’s actually even more accurate today than it used to be. Google just updated their webmaster guidelines, and reading them, Google makes it clear that you’ll be well served by not getting too clever with your SEO optimization:
Create a useful, information-rich site, and write pages that clearly and accurately describe your content.
Think about the words users would type to find your pages, and make sure that your site actually includes those words within it.
Webmasters who spend their energies upholding the spirit of the basic principles [of Google’s webmaster guidelines] will provide a much better user experience and subsequently enjoy better ranking than those who spend their time looking for loopholes they can exploit.
Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.
Google’s guidelines also include some technical information that you shouldn’t need to worry about—I always tell my clients that WordPress and I will take care of the technical parts of SEO—but the non-technical information is so basic and obvious it’s sad that Google has to write it out like that.
“Make pages primarily for users?” People aren’t doing that? Yikes!
As I wrote in 2012:
Your job is to present your content in a way that the search engines can understand, and then let the machines do the heavy lifting.