As we move towards a New Year and another 12 months of fervent optimisation, I’d like to contribute a few simple tips that will help keep your SEO on the straight and narrow. These are quick wins for issues that are well within your control, but which are often overlooked as time is spent on other issues.

Why not take a break between the turkey and Christmas pud to put a few of these into action over the festive period…

Update Your Sitemaps

Websites change so regularly that it’s very easy for sitemaps to become out of date extremely quickly. Bing has said that if sitemaps have more than 1% of errors/low value pages then they start to mistrust them and its likely Google have a similar approach. Get your XML sitemaps up to speed, remove any 404s that have crept in and you’ll start 2012 in much better shape.

Start to Schmooze

Life’s all about relationships right? If you can make friends with people they’ll be happy to do you a favour. With this in mind, make it your goal to make a few new friends in 2012, whether that be contacting someone via email, giving them plenty of attention on Twitter or commenting prolifically on their blog. It will take a bit of time, but if you can do this with a few influential people in your industry then in summer 2012 you could be in a great position to start pulling in some favours…

Give Your Videos a Boost

If your website uses videos then you should be doing everything you can do get the maximum value from the spent on them. Videos can give you real edge in the search results, whether it’s getting traffic through specific video searches or better click through from natural searches where your video stands out from the crowd.

The best way to do this is to get a video sitemap set up. To do this, create a file in the format Google requests which includes all the videos on your site and their key details (title, file location etc). Add this to your server, reference it in your robots.txt file and add it to Google Webmaster Tools so Google knows where it is. Then all the time and effort you put into creating great videos should be returned in traffic to the site.

Get Free Links!

What’s easier than getting links that people have already given you? One of the easiest link building tactics is chasing up people that are linking to 404 pages on your site. Go to Google Webmaster Tools, click on Crawl Errors and you will get a list of pages which are linking to incorrect URLs on your site. Identify the external ones and contact those webmasters to see if they will correct the link to point to a relevant page. Alternatively, you could 301 redirect the page in question to the one you prefer on your site. This would be a quicker approach, though removes the potential for interaction with a new contact.

Write a Great Blog Post

It’s easy to fall into a regime of churning out blog posts that every other blog in your niche has covered and just fade into the background. Whilst it’s nigh on impossible to create a groundbreaking post every time, it’s good to take a step back and produce something of real value every so often. Do some research, share some incredible knowledge, or just create something amazing that will make you stand out from the crowd. It will take a little more time, but the attention and linkability you provide will be worth it…

None of these activities have to take a lot of time, they just need putting in the diary so they definitely get done. Find 30 minutes here and there over the Christmas period and you’ll set yourself up nicely for a great 2012.