SEO: Fundamental Tools of the Trade

If the SEO question can be boiled down to the issue of traffic, then the most important aspect of gaining traffic is content. Content is the biggest influencer for search engine optimization.
— Elle & Co.

Elle & Co. - "The Truth About Squarespace & SEO"

SEO Fundamentals: Tools of the Trade

Whether Google's laying fiber optic cable or driving the world's roads for Google Maps - their core business is still search. Either by way of RankBrain or Panda - setting aside the intricacies of their search algorithms - Google works to deliver the website pages we're looking for. It's how page content supersedes traditional SEO techniques.  Still, there are die-hard tools of the trade to help Google - and visitors - find us. Some things - for the moment - never change.  Here they are: 

Some of the Biggest SEO Myths - Matt Cutts

Analytics-Webmaster Tools

Analytics - tracks traffic to look closer at visitors (unique visitors, demographics, regions, keywords, platforms...)

Webmaster Tools - An essential tool to upload your sitemap so Google knows your entire website structure. For new sites or after changes in content or site structure, you can prompt Google to re-crawl your site ("fetch & render" for both mobile & desktop) so old pages disappear from searches.  This feature also helps clean up old URLS after deleting / removing pages, or making slug changes  - preventing lingering page not found errors in search results.   

Sitemap

Sitemap.xml is automatically generated by website builers- a file that describes your entire site structure.  It's the first point of reference for search engine crawling. Upload it to both Google & Bing.  (Yahoo now relies on Bing.) 

When you set up Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools - and a Google Plus Page - you're sending a message to Google that you're legitimate and working to reach visitors wherever and whenever. .  

Site Description
Page Descriptions

Write concise, authentic, clear descriptions about you (site description) and for each page (where possible). Two to three sentences should suffice. Use keywords within these descriptions. 

Page & Navigation Titles

Conventional and clear - as much as possible. Use headings (Headings 1 & 2) to aid search engine algorithms in crawling content. 

Tags & Categories

Assign categories & tags to organize content for blogs, galleries, events, and products. 

Inward BackLinks

Sites that reference you online for any reason - should always include a link to your site or content.  The higher the traffic of that site the more search engines reward you. 

Page Content

Concise but substantive copy is preferable for visitors - mandatory for search engines. Insert relevant keywords. Use headings to summarize page content and organize copy. Most of all - create fresh and unique content. Fill in all image names (alt). Use headings to emphasize important text. 

Be sensitive to different types of visitors having different types of topical understanding.  Stay on topic.  Use relevant anchor links.