by Erin Schroeder

As search engine optimization (SEO) has evolved over the last two decades, it’s been a big and sometimes daunting task to keep up with the latest changes and best practices. Google has continued to be the dominant search engine, and whenever it changes its algorithm – the incredibly detailed process for ranking sites – people have tuned in and taken action.

But amidst all of these changing tactics for what it takes to be a contender among top ranks, there are also a few basic SEO best practices that remain exactly the same.

Here are three things all sites should still be focused on:

Quality content – Multiple updates have been issued to penalize sites that are “spammy” or purposely duplicate keyword-rich content across pages in an attempt to move up the ranking ladder. To engines, the focus is the end user. The sites with quality, relevant content are the ones that are consistently scoring points.

Clean site structure – Search engines aren’t human and can’t read site content the way people can. This has always been something to keep in mind when creating a site’s structure and doing the programming work. If it’s text-based, an engine can make sense of it. Features like forms, frames, images and Javascript? Not so easily readable.

Careful keyword selection – You can optimize your site’s tags and pages all you want, but if you’re targeting the wrong keywords, all of this extra work won’t be very effective. Thorough research is the best way to go in finding the phrases people are actually searching. On top of that, SEO should be more than a “once and done.” Search habits change over time and new keywords get added to the rotation. Your strategy should follow suit.

Just as Google showed with its recent mobile-friendly algorithm update, SEO and the criteria for how sites rank will keep changing. That’s inevitable. It’s important to remember, though, that Google and other engines are looking at a whole combination of things when determining where your site falls in the results, and those definitely include the basics.

If we get back to the fundamentals of good SEO and focus on quality content and design combined with the right keywords, our sites will be in a better position for success.