Boy, where should I start... Let me say first: I am not a pro at this. In fact, I no longer do much of many of the things you are going to read below because I have lost daily control of my web and not in the latest SEO loops... I ask the pros reading this to add some insight.
I had been doing my own SEO and actually built my own web using MS FrontPage about 12 years ago. Things went quite well. There were a few online SEO blogs and webs discussing the best things to do. I soaked in as much as possible. I was constantly changing things to stay on top. It seemed like I was on the first few results for my keywords. After the Great Depression (is that what it's called?) I found out that I had many problems with my antiquated web and that I had been flagged by Google for spamming.
Even though Bing and Yahoo continued to show me at the top of their searches, Google had stopped. And this is due to constantly changing algorithms.
A few weeks ago someone had posted the way Google and other search engines (SEs) decide who is seen and who is not and why. After trying to go through a third of that information (about 10 -12 detailed pages) and try to understand what was being said, I skimmed the last 2/3ds and threw my hands up.
This is no longer something a rank amateur can do. And like so many other things that seem to get so complicated that another group of newly minted pros have to step in to cure the problems... It is downright infuriating.
My original web was something I could change at a moment's notice. I could rewrite the text, change out images, redo the metatags, revamp pages, add reciprocal linking partners, redo the format, change the color scheme, etc. It was great.
Now, I have given this all over to someone else and the slightest change involves several day's work and a fee. That's fine as long as there is a positive result. But I can't see one. At this time.
For those who have 'older' webs or have not updated things in awhile...
Things You Must Know and Do Now:
1. If your web is not 'scalable' to cell phones and ipads you are docked by the SEs. You must redo your entire web. The easiest and least expensive way: find a template that is current and have the designer 'pour' your existing information into that one. If you want to get sophisticated with your 'image' and need branding and niche work, find a professional to assist.
2. If you do not have social media links to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc. you MUST have these or else you will be docked by the SE's.
3. You should have a blog. It seems that this is necessary now. You can have one attached to your web or linked to it. I am not sure which is better. AR is a great way to link back to your web. Discussing information that is not related to your primary business apparently distracts from higher rankings.
4. You must have reliable and credible links back to your web. You should not have automobile repair shops linking back to a real estate web. Or your brother-in-law's pet grooming service. You will be blacklisted forever if you have poor quality links. (I paid for backlinks 8 years ago and had no idea I was blacklisted. I had to write an apology letter to Google, etc.)
The best links back are from similar industry webs. The best thing you can do for your site is to have CNN, Forbes, or Atlantic, etc. write an article about you and linking back to your web.
And do a search and destroy for dead links. A lot of companies change webs and go out of business. Dead links are NO GOOD.
5. DO NOT pay for a company to get links back to you. Do not pay for social media links. There is a trick to that and the SEs have figured it out. During the early days of social media linking those who had the most likes back to your web seemed to rise above everybody. That's been corrected.
6. If you can get local online real estate publications to link back to you, great. If you can get your name and link back from professional organizations, excellent. If a university links back to you, amazing.
7. If you are constantly checking your keywords and updated web work on the same computer and IP address... guess what!?? YOU ARE GETTING FOOLED by the results. Your own web browser and the ingenious way these folks 'help' you find things works against you in this case. If you are constantly clicking on your web and checking searches using your top terms, then the results will tend to show YOUR web that you keep referring to with higher or top returns than others!! OH YES. I was fooled for at least 3 years before realizing this!! I was in a comfort zone and totally bamboozled. Use a different computer to check SEO results.
8. Wondering why you are losing out and have dropped on the SE results for your terms? Why don't you check on your competition? How? Well, find out WHO is getting the top search results for your keywords and look at their web. Examine their web. Notice how many images are being shown, notice what the percentage of text to image is coming up. Are there any fancy slideshow graphics? Does music come on immediately? Are there 10 or more social media links, and some you have never heard of? How many pages does that competing web have compared to yours? This 'research' will start explaining perhaps why they are showing up before you. But in addition to this...
9. Right click on their start page or home page and look at the first few paragraphs of their HTML. You do this by selecting 'View Page Source'. You should look for three lines which are called title, description, and keywords. These three items once used to be the most important part of the meta tags. I am not sure if they are right now. But you should evaluate your content and see if these tags are close to the same as what you purport to do. If not, change them up. And do this often until it seems you are getting traction. For a more detailed explanation of this procedure please go here.
10. Do the same as above to two or three competitor webs to see what THEY are showing in their meta tags. Compare theirs likewise with their content. See if there are any glaring issues and try to correct them with your web designer. Amazing what you learn studying your competition.
11. Check your meta tags, especially keywords, with what people ARE ACTUALLY typing in their searches to see how close your search terms are to what you may think others are searching to find someone like you. You will be surprised that-- if you seem lost right now to the world -- the reason for low hits is that the search words that are being used to find someone in your profession or business DO NOT MATCH what you have in your meta tags. So you must fix that too. There are free online keyword diagnostics for this.
12. Rewrite content and move images around, change meta tags so that your web DOES NOT APPEAR STAGNANT to the SEs. You cannot build it and expect them to forever show up at your door without change!
13. CONTENT IS KING As far as I know. Things may have changed.... Make sure your English is perfect, that paragraphs make sense, that punctuation is correct, etc. But more than that: offer up information that is congruent to what you do and is helpful to others searching for you.
14. A slow web is a bad web. Large image files have to be resized, perhaps your fancy fade-ins, slide shows, moving images, etc. HTML is bogging down your site. Find out why and fix it. Sometimes you have paid for a low bandwidth hosting service. Move up.
15. And if any of this does not make sense or you know and have done the best you can, then we are all missing some part of a bigger picture that can only be solved with professional assistance. I get at least two or three emails a day from people and companies that seem bogus. Find an SEO web consultant and actually VET THEM, as you do for any other service or product, before engaging them. Make them show you how they improved someone else's web. A before and after maybe. Get referrals from those who were satisfied, etc.
I have invested over $12,000 in AdWords on Google and Facebook. I can't point to any direct leads. I am not spending another penny. Maybe I should invest $50-100 grand?? No idea that throwing more money will work.
I have created 6 parallel websites. These newer ones actually get more traffic than my 'home' site. There is probably an algorithm that does not like this.
I have about 12 videos pointing back to my web. Two, which have had no promotions, have over 6,000 views between them over the last 3 years. Two that have had paid promotions have been stuck at over 1,700 views each within a very short period of time. I cannot attribute any direct leads based on any of these videos.
I have a web blog and this one here on AR.
I am JUST NOW seeing an uptick in traffic. After 3 years working hard to get back to where I was. Not sure why this has occurred...
The fact is that the newer generation is using digital technology to find things and relying on it unquestionably. The old ways are dying. Is this a fair system, is it equitable and managed so that all players receive impartial recognition and ranking? Or is the system rigged?