SEO is a complex beast; it’s easy to learn the basics, but it’s hard to master the metrics that affect your site. It’s also distressingly easy to make changes that have a negative effect. Avoid these pitfalls; make use of this simple list of ways to improve your site ranking.

1. Avoid anything that obfuscates links from a code perspective.

If a robot looking at your code sees JavaScript or image URLs instead of a text link, it won’t parse the link correctly. Links are the lifeblood of SEO, so you need your valid links to be visible.

2. Pay attention to incoming links.

Link juice is a powerful, important part of SEO. If a site doesn’t have a good reason to link to yours, disavow the link. Likewise, if you don’t have a good reason to link to another site, perhaps reconsider the link.

3. Don’t forget to optimize your page titles for each page on your site.

An SEO-focused title with a keyword included is a little boost to each page. You don’t need to include your brand name in the title; your page content takes care of that.

4. Don’t let your pages go stale.

Even if a page is an old, valuable resource full of evergreen content, take the time every couple of months to spruce it up. Constantly refreshing your content on a rolling basis adds relevancy to your site according to Google.

5. Avoid the basic “click here” link anchor text; it’s too generic.

Links are powerful, so use keywords as anchor text. It’s an extra bit of keyword power you can add to every link you make, even internal page-to-page links.

6. When you mention your physical location in a post, mention a specific location.

Mentioning “our store in Orange County” is more effective than just mentioning “our store.” Local SEO is gaining power each year.

7. Don’t forget organic search phrases. Keywords alone won’t do it anymore.

Use full phrases, not just keywords. Often, your location will be part of the phrase, so combine this with the previous tip for a double whammy in SEO power.

8. Any time you post an image, make sure you have an alt text optimized for that image.

Image descriptions with keyword inclusion are a great, subtle way to add power to your SEO; and most people don’t even notice. It’s pure power for the search engine.

9. Never use frames.

It doesn’t matter how nice the layout looks.Frames are the death of SEO, they’re a pain for a user to navigate and they’re annoying to troubleshoot when something goes wrong.

10. Get your new sites or pages indexed quickly by linking to them on another site, either one of your own properties or through a guest blog.

You can also share them on Google+ for an additional bit of social power.

11. The search engines are voracious consumers of fresh, new content.

Post new blogs or pages at least two or three times each week. A constant stream of high-quality content is virtually required for modern SEO.

12. Avoid keyword overuse.

Too many instances of your keyword in your text will flag your site for keyword stuffing, which can lead to severe SEO penalties. Never try to hide keywords in the invisible text or in list form in metadata. Keyword spam is a serious issue and comes with serious penalties.

13. If you don’t have them, add in breadcrumbs.

Users love a consistent link back to category pages and your home page, and it reflects well on usability ratings. Usability, in turn, is another metric used to calculate your page authority.

14. Don’t forget e-mail link campaigns.

Links in e-mails are clicked with reasonable regularity, and your e-mail readers are an interested audience. Such links can be very useful for sharing news and important content.

15. If there are any organizations related to your industry that use .edu websites, see if you can entice them to link to your site.

Links from .edu domains are generally considered very authoritative and convey quite a bit of power.

16. Linkbait tactics in your articles may seem like a low, obvious technique for pulling in traffic.

It’s also a very effective tactic. Use linkbait titles and comments to entice user discussion, which further spreads your content.

17. SEO is not set-and-forget.

You should always be monitoring changes in the search algorithms and content rules. Make sure your site is always up to par for the best SEO value.

18. Your company owner has incredible power.

Their voice, when responding to customer comments or posting important blogs, is a huge factor in authority and credibility. A word from the owner in SEO is as powerful as the Word of God.

19. When you search for your business through Google, make sure you append &pws=0 to the end of the URL.

This disables personalized search, so your results aren’t skewed according to what you want to see.

20. Make sure every link on your site is an absolute link, rather than relative.

That way, if someone scrapes your site, the links still reference your pages. This will benefit you for a short time until the scraper is penalized, at which point you disavow the incoming links.

21. Make heavy use of social marketing.

Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and the other big sites are all important tools for growing your page authority. Many times, users will check for a Facebook account to see if your company has a legitimate presence.

22. Make sure an enhanced image search is enabled in your Google Webmaster Central tools.

This enables Google to index and search your images, which helps your site be found by searchers looking for related images.

23. Make sure you have the social sharing suite of tools available on all of your blog pages.

If you have any hope at all of your pages going viral, users need an easy way to link to them. Clicking a social share button is far easier than copy and paste a URL, and more likely to work.

24. Content doesn’t just mean blog posts.

Consider adding a regular video blog, podcast, image slideshow, or news service to your repertoire. These forms of content are all valuable, but they’re harder to produce than blogs so you have less competition for space.

25. Don’t forget age as a metric.

Older sites have more authority, and there’s no way to boost that measure artificially. Frequently changing your domain or site design can have negative effects. Don’t expect a new property to boost to the top of SEO rankings without an empty niche.

With these tips at your command, you have a good beginner’s guide to enhancing the authority and ranking of your website. Bear in mind that Google does occasionally change their search metrics, but many of the basic tips remain the same. Quality, frequent content in a variety of media formats, shared on numerous sites and optimized for individual keywords — it sounds like a lot, but it’s easy to do when taken in stages. Don’t rush SEO; it’s a recipe for failure. Building your reputation and authority takes time, both online and off. Be willing to invest that time.