There’s no doubt about it: SEO is a complex process. However, garnering a favorable position in the results for key search terms is one of the foundational aspects of effective marketing today. Therefore, as one charged with growing a business, it’s critical that you master the basics of SEO.

Step one is achieving a thorough understanding of the basic mechanics of search engines and how users engage with Google, Yahoo and the like to find information. If you’re not there yet, be sure to check out SEO 101: A Plain-English Primer. Once you’ve conquered this, you have the foundation you need to make sound decisions when it comes to establishing priorities and formulating your SEO strategy.

To help you get started on the right track, here are 13 proven tactics that will help you improve your ranking, capture more traffic and increase your exposure to new customers.

Choose your words carefully: Target the keywords that will best serve your business growth objectives.

Take over the block before you take over the world: Maximizing your return on the resources you are investing in SEO starts with setting reasonable expectations, especially when it comes to identifying your keywords.

Give the people what they want: Learn how to shape the content of your site to maximize your exposure to potential customers.

Change of address: Well-formed URLs play an important role in improving your search rankings and connecting your content with your prospective customers.

Tag – you’re it: Title tags are easily overlooked by site owners and visitors alike, but this oversight can cost you.

Disappearing act: To you, a picture may be worth 1,000 words. Unfortunately, the same does not hold true for Google.

Points for originality: When it comes to boosting your search ranking, updating your site often is good, but keeping it fresh with original, relevant content is far better.

Be your own best friend: Creating links from one page to another within your own website can actually help improve your standing with the search engines.

Spread the love: Extending your content through social media platforms is a quick and easy way to leverage the power of your original content for SEO benefit.

Link up: Not seeing the kind of search results rankings that you’d like? The missing link might be just that – missing links.

Restraint is a virtue: For every SEO strategy and tactic, one common ground rule applies: don’t take it too far.

Know where you stand: Setting realistic goals for your SEO campaign begins and ends with good metrics.

No end in sight: The process of climbing and staying on top of search engine results page rankings is never-ending.

Choose your words carefully

Anything and everything to do with search – from the indexing of content to the input of a query to the ranking of results – revolves around keywords. As a result, the right keywords and keyphrases are the essential building blocks for a successful SEO campaign.