The rules of search engine optimization (SEO) are changing all the time. If you know me, other than doing basic SEO for your site, I prefer to use paid advertising for anything I intend to monetize or make money on.
There are several strategies that I do recoment you focus on this year to be certain that you’re current on the latest requirements to create a solid site that will impress search engines and visitors alike.
1. Make Your Site Secure (https://)
This should be rather obvious, but if not, this is a must. Your needs to be secure to comply with Google’s new rules and to inspire confidence in site visitors. It doesn’t matter if you’re a blog, ecommerce store, or just a landing page, if you want to get priority in ranking on Google then it is a must. Ask your hosting service or domain registrar about purchasing what should be an affordable secure site certificate. In some hosting plans it could be free and then make sure that anyone accessing an insecure link gets redirected to the secure version.
2. Remember to Add Metatags
Many marketers don’t spend enough time on metatags because they’re told that Google doesn’t really use tags in their ranking algorithm. While that is true, we do still have Bing and Yahoo, and other search engines that do.
A good article or post title with a description and keywords added as meta tags will help, not to mention you’ll look more professional and like you care, and your website content will be more searchable. Go figure!
3. Keep Your Site Lean and Mean
Do whatever it takes to make your site as fast as possible. It should be accessible within milliseconds.
Think about it. If your site loads slowly, people will click away, and when they “bounce,” Google will see this as a sign that your content is not of high quality and will determine it as irrelevant. These days people are accessing the web mostly via cell phones that are running on data connections, not WiFi.
Keep your pages clean, optimize all images, and use whatever caching tools and plugins to optimize and minify code. Also, using a CDN (Content Delivery Network) or hybrid like Cloudflare which has a free service, can also help speed up your site and also protect it from hacking.
4. You Need a Site Map
If you are not already using a site map, add one. In particular, if you are using WordPress for your blog, install the Google XML site map plugin.
Edit the settings and add the site map to Google Webmaster Tools so that Google can better index your content and find the equivalent for Bing and Yahoo so that they are updated immediately as soon as you publish new content.
Google and all search engines love new content. It helps them stay current and up-to-date. So your site map will give you more chances of ranking higher and them indexing your content faster.
5. Dig Deeper on Your Keyword Research
If you really want to rank in the search engines, then you must do Keyword Research. It is a must and there is no way around it. Depending on your content, ideally the keywords or key phrases that you are targeting should be in your title, the link for the post or content, and scattered throughout your text in an organic way.
Chances are for each article or blog post you have, there is a list of ideal keywords you would like to rank for. If not, it’s time to create that list. There are many sites that can help you with this, from free to paid, but regardless, it is a necessary evil.
Also note, that a single keyword like “marketing” is almost impossible to rank for. But a long-tail keyword or phase, like “marketing your online business on social media” is much easier. So ultimately, you want to find keyword phrases, with minimal competition, to rank for.
The truth is, that if your intention is to sell something, you must find and use Keywords/Keyword Phrases with high buyer intent. For instance: [product name] review. Usually, if someone is looking for a review of a product, they are also looking to buy the product.
While it is outside the scope of this article to go into the specifics of keyword research, I have provided a lit of tools to use that will help you. Ultimately, you want to find relevant keywords that have around 5-30k searches per month, with a good buyer intent, that when you search that keyword/phrase in the search engines, has websites in the top 10 with low authority.
That means not big massive sites that are impossible to out rank. Remember, you have a chance to rank yourt content not just from your post on your website, but any other place you might syndicate your content like social media, other blogs, or bookmarking sites.
Here are some sites that can help with keyword research…
- Uber Search (FREE) – Probably the best free tool for finding keywords from Googles suggested searches.
- Keyword Tool (FREE) – A good free tool to spit out Googles suggested searches.
- Keyword Shitter (FREE) – This tool does what it says. It poops out a lot of keywords. Have no idea where it pulls them from, but you can get hundreds of them very quickly.
- Google Keyword Planner (FREE) – At the end of the day, Googles keyword tool, is the foundation of all keyword products. With the exclusion of Jaxxy, all the other tools above require you to use this tool for getting monthly search volumes. Although it is designed for use with AdWords (for advertising purposes), and you need to crreate an Adwords account to get access, it is helpful, though limited as it does not include suggested/related searches, and can be limited in finding hidden buyer opportunities.
- Power Suggest Pro – The best Google Suggest keyword extraction tool. It is fast, allows for many options from not only Google, but Bing, Yahoo, YouTube, Amazon, and even eBay. This tool also helps you organize your keywords, discover buyer keywords, and many other long-tail keyword combinations.
- Jaaxy – Comes with the highest of recommendations and provides amazing metrics to help identify potential keywords that you can rank for by using a simple color-coded system. It comes with a limited 30 search trial with competition analysis and monthly search volume data as well which none of the others above do.
6. Create High-Quality, Sharable Content
Always write with the needs of your target audience in mind offering them content that demonstrates you as an expoert and someone they can trust. Create a variety of content in terms of length and different formats… and do video if at all possible. Video is king of all content and also paying more attention to infographics, memes, free ebooks and other content that is likely to be shared on social media.
7. Use Rich Snippets If You Can
Rich snippets help classify content and signal what it is to search engines. Classifications include articles, recipes, videos, and more.This is slowly becoming a standard, and the more you can do to please the search engines, the better you will rank.
If you are using WordPress, install the All in One Schema plugin. It will add fields to your post editor and you will need to start filling in those boxes with what can basically be described as metadata for the content, such as title, description, etc.
Note: Pinterest likes content which has been marked up in this way, so if you have great content with one attractive image to support it, you can get more attention on that social network.
8. Make Sure Your Site Is Mobile Compatible
Although this should be obvious, your website must be 100% mobile ready.
With over 60% of all internet searches being from mobile devices, you had better hope that your site functions well and looks good on a smart phone, tablet, or any size screen. In other words, even if your site is mobile ready, you should check to make sure that your site works as intended and that the user experience is spot on.
9. Optimize All Media Added To Your Site
Whether you’re adding or uploading images, Power Point presentations, PDF’s, or any type of external file, make sure that it is SEO optimized. This is a critical factor that is very often overlooked.
For instance, if you are uploading an image to a post. Make sure the file name is keyword optimized using the title of the post. It does not necessarily need to be the same, but make sure it is similar. It can be better to use other keywords or variations of the main keyword you are targeting. This will make it look more natural and will broaden the potential keywords that you can rank for.
Also, make sure to right click on the file, and select properties to add author information, a description, meta tags, etc. to the properties of the files themselves. This is an advantage that you could have over other bloggers that could boost your rankings further.
10. Create Well Structured Media Rich Content
Ideally your posts should have mix of text, at least one image, ideally a video or audio or downloadable file, at least one high authority link to an external website, strategic internal linking, and social sharing buttons.
The content text should be ideally be no less than 400 words, but the longer the better. Use the different heading sizes, bullets, and any formatting styles to make the content more easily readable.
Each of the tips listed here will boost your readability, the length of time people stay on each post, the likelihood of it being shared and liked, and provides more opportunities to show Google, Yahoo, or Bing, that you’re an authority. If you don’t care then neither will they. It’s basically as simple as that.
Personally, I rely less on ranking in search engines organically, as I do on boosting or promoting my content on Social Media platforms. Although I practice some of what I preach, I prefer to through money at my content, rather than time, and build my following and readership, that way instead.