It’s hard to believe how much the Internet has changed since the mid 1990s when it first burst onto the scene, but here we are dealing with something that no one ever imagined in 2006, much less 1996. Every two years the Internet undergoes a complete overhaul in terms of how search engines recognize and rank content. So while the average user can still find their goodies by entering their preferred terms, business people have to consistently adapt in order to reel in the big fish.

Any website that does well on today’s Internet has earned its stripes through hard work, creative and consistent link placement, and proper SEO. If you want any chance to succeed in the market, you need an SEO-friendly website.

1. More intense focus on keywords

For the purposes of this article, “keywords” is also synonymous with links, and thanks to Google’s Penguin update, the entire link game has been changed. Focusing more on keywords in today’s market is crucial. Aim for keywords that are longer in nature, much more specific to your niche, and make sure that they’re trending—even if in small fashion—via social media. You can’t simply play the pluck-and-post game using a keyword tool. You have to focus a lot more on the quality and relevancy of your keywords and links.

2. More attention paid to content

Yes, it’s that sneaky Google at it again, changing the game around completely. Before Penguin, Panda blasted around 12% of all sites online, holding their proverbial feet to the fire for shoddy content. This means that, for an SEO-friendly website, you need to focus more on neat, clean, relevant content that’s very fresh and very pertinent to your niche. Google also places a lot more attention on content that’s relevant overall, not just per the keywords used, so keep that in mind.

3. Rethink your use of images

Images can be a powerful SEO tool in your arsenal, but only if you’re using them correctly. For starters, optimize images (JPEG format, please) so that they load faster and thus increase visibility via search engines. Also, remember to keep the file sizes small, the tag text extremely relevant, and always post relevant images nearest relevant text.

4. Integrate social media onto your site

Proper SEO isn’t simply contained on your website; it stretches out across the entire network you build. This obviously includes your social media pages. You need to create (if you haven’t already) relevant, active profiles on sites like Digg, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, and you need to add the proper social media badges to your main website, and vice versa, to interlink your entire network.

5. Avoid Flash and other slow-loading, large applications

Due to the Apple and mobile market (which are not necessarily one and the same), and also people with limited bandwidth or bottlenecked connections, Flash and even some Java features won’t load or are too slow to load. Cater to anyone’s machine and connection by avoiding Flash and other large, slow-loading applications on your site. What looks attractive to you might just be a hassle for someone else.

Recent updates and advances in social media haven’t completely changed SEO. Most methods are still going to work. You only need to focus on user-friendly SEO. Pay attention to how you’re presenting your content and links, and make sure you’re always catering to everyone in your network.