You want traffic. SEO is the way to get it.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a process that improves your website’s ranking in the search engine results pages (SERP). There are basically two ways to get your website ranked on the first page of Google:

You're probably wondering:

"How can my small business — with its limited resources — compete with the giants in my industry?"

By leveling the playing field. That's how.

In order to do that, you need to understand that Google — and the lesser demons — regularly change the formulas they use to determine how search results are displayed. Sometimes the updates are vast and sweeping, while, other times they are more nuanced.

The bad news is:

This makes it even harder to keep track of best practices when it comes to SEO techniques.

It's true. Search engine algorithms are constantly changing. However, some basic SEO techniques are timeless.

Like her:

To help your site rank in the top results every time, you must first understand three components:

  • The basic mechanics of search engines
  • How to plan and execute the type of content your reader wants or needs
  • Learn to fine-tune each page of your site

How Search Engines Work

Whenever you type in a search query or keyword, the search engine automatically responds by serving pages of results. These SERPs represent Google's best guess for content that fits your query.

Did you know?

Every SERP is differenteven if you're searching for the same keywords on the same search engine.

Here's why:

Search engines use artificial intelligence (AI) to customize each user's experience.

That means that there are other factors beyond the search terms, such as location, browsing history, and location, and social media settings.

Any two SERPs may include similar results, but will also feature subtle variations.

Organic search results vs. paid


When Google, Bing and the others present a SERP, it includes two types of content: organic and paid.

Organic pages are ranked using the search engine’s algorithm (more on this shortly). This is where SEO comes in. By optimizing your web content for specific keywords, you can achieve a higher rank amongst organic search results. That's because search engines recognize and reward relevance.

But Google and others are a business, so...

They have to make the dough.


To do that, they sell advertising which brings us to the next type of SERP listing: paid ads.

Ads may show up in a few areas of the SERP. Primarily, paid ads go in the top three spots of each SERP and along the sidebar. They can also show up at the bottom of each page.

Good news for you:

All advertisements have labels indicating their sponsorship. Today's consumers are leery of most forms of advertising, which is great for businesses that can't afford to pay for clicks.

And, it makes good SEO even more imperative.

Benefits of SEO

Aside from being a low-cost alternative to paid advertising, there are other reasons to employ good SEO techniques.

But first, let's take a look at a few statistics:

Experts tell us that over 2 billion people are searching the web. What's more, 93 percent of online pursuits start with a search.

This very day, there will be 3.5 billion searches performed. That equals 40,000 searches each second.

Each second! Hello, opportunity.

That means there are millions of SEO opportunities for your business. Indeed, all of your customers are using search engines, and SEO helps them find you.

SEO structure to make your business a success


SEO drives quality traffic

Unless your brand is a household name, chances are, most of your customers don't even know you exist yet. They're unaware that you have the answer to their problem.

Yet.

By optimizing your website and content, there's a greater opportunity to reach them.

Why? Because SEO drives quality search traffic to your site. Search connects consumers with problems to businesses with answers. But your content better deliver on its promise.

This is what I mean:

Imagine that a consumer is curious about installing a swimming pool. They search: "pros and cons inground pool." If that happens to be a keyword phrase your company targets, you're on the first page of Google. What happens if the customer clicks your link only to find a flimsy sales pitch about how great pools are?

Poof! Gone in a flash, along with your only opportunity to make a great first impression.



SEO never sleeps

It's 3 a.m., and you're snug in your bed. Meanwhile, a potential customer just landed on your website and is consuming all your amazing content. An SEO optimized website is your best sales asset. It works for you 24/7, leading customers effortlessly through the buying journey.

search engine optimization processes

Image via Pixabay.com


SEO builds relationships

When a customer finds the content on your website that is precisely what they were searching for, it engenders trust. Use your content to educate, inform and delight. A simple call to action is all you need to close the sale.

In other words:

It's time to ditch all that snoozworthy salesy-jargon-laden content that pushes consumers away.



SEO is a better investment than paid ads

Don't get me wrong, paid advertising does (and always will) have its place. However, in terms of ROI, SEO is a better investment. Search engines are good at what they do. And as a result, consumers trust them. That's why organic search is so powerful.

Nine out of ten times, searchers click organic links over paid ads.

9/10

It boils down to this:

If you focus on using proper SEO techniques, you'll get more traffic than the advertisers for the same keywords.



SEO drives offline sales

Many brick and mortar businesses ignore SEO altogether. After all, SEO only helps national or global brands, right?

Wrong.

First of all, your customers want to know more about you and your company before giving you their business.

According to research, 47 percent of consumers read 3 to 5 pieces of content on a company's website before talking to a sales rep.

Secondly, they want to know what others are saying about your business. By using case studies and social proof like testimonials and reviews, you are giving your future customer the social evidence they require.

One last thing:

Google loves local. They even promote local businesses in SERPS over online brands. Why?

Because they trust you.

It should come as no surprise that the internet is a wasteland of fly-by-night businesses that are either here today and gone tomorrow or flat-out scams. Google knows that its AI doesn't always weed out these creeps. Therefore, they love to recommend local businesses.

It's a win for them, a win for consumers, and a win for local.

Pro Tip: Optimize local SEO by using keyword strings that include your city or state along with a relevant keyword.



It makes the most of your investment

You just dropped thousands on a professionally designed custom website. Guess what?

The harsh reality is this:

If you aren't found on the first couple of pages of Google, your website is an expense, not an asset. And, it doesn't matter how good your content is if it is buried on the third page of results, you're toast.

Consider this:

75%

According to experts, 75 percent of users never make it past the first page of Google results.

It boils down to this:

If you focus on using proper SEO techniques, you'll get more traffic than the advertisers for the same keywords.



SEO increases the value of your business

Whether you're thinking about scaling and need funds, or you hope to sell your business someday, you're likely interested in increasing its value. Of course, many factors determine the value of your business; your website is just one piece of that equation.

So, take note:

The higher your website ranks, the more valuable it is to your business. 


SEO Techniques: The Site Audit

To find out where you stand regarding SEO and ranking, you'll need to perform a website audit. You'll need a few tools and a process to evaluate your standing.

The truth is:

A website audit is a lot of work, but it’s completely worth the effort.

HubSpot's Marketing Grader instantly spits out all your top-level results. For more detail, try the Website Self-Audit Kit. The latter gives you a report of things you're doing well and a list of things to improve.

By far, the most comprehensive tool is The Hoth's free website SEO analyzer. Just plug in your URL and your target keyword, and it will scan for errors and provide you with a page score.

Want to know what keywords your website is ranking for and how well?

Use the Rankings Checker. In a matter of seconds, you'll get the top 100 keywords associated with your ranked URLs and their current position in Google. Download this data to a spreadsheet format.

Now you've uncovered keyword opportunities for targeting.

SEO Techniques: Keyword Strategy

Choosing the right keywords to target for SEO and even paid ads makes all the difference. Targeted realistic keywords help improve your site's visibility in Google and other search engines. There are several types of keywords account for the bulk of web traffic.

  • Broad keywords: 1 to 2 words with a large search volume, high competition, difficult to rank
  • Body keywords: 2 to 3-word phrases that have a moderate monthly search volume, rank is possible with some effort
  • Long tail keywords: 4+ words in a string with a low search volume. Niche keywords your customer is likely to use that are easiest to rank

Designing a keyword strategy based on your buyer personas

The best keyword strategy depends on identifying highly relevant keywords. These are the keywords your customers will use to find you.

Here's what you want to do:

Take a moment and consider all the ways your targeted buyer persona might phrase a search query. Then, look for keywords that match. Use a keyword discovery tool to help you come up with new keyword ideas.

Keywords Everywhere plug-in is a useful tool for uncovering keyword opportunities. Other helpful keyword tools are:

Google Analytics

(free to use)

Adwords

(free to use)

Display Planner

demographics

(free to use)

Keyword Planner

(free to use)

SEM Rush

(limited free use, full use is subsciption-based pricing)

AHREFS

(subsciption-based pricing)

Sticky Notes Clip-art via Pixabay.com

Research: Let's Get Real

Now that you have your current rankings and your keyword wishlist, search for keyword opportunities for which your website can realistically rank.

Keyword metrics that matter

Keyword planning takes time and strategy. There are several keyword metrics you need to consider before deciding which keywords you want to target.

Search volume

As it implies, search volume is the number of unique monthly searches for a keyword or phrase. This metric provides you with a general sense of a keyword’s competitiveness, trend, and overall volume.

Keyword difficulty

Again, the name says it all. This lets you know how easy or difficult it is to rank for this keyword.

Competition

This metric indicates how much competition there is for a particular keyword. If you are monetizing your site, a good SEO strategy would be to write content around these keywords to lure advertisers to your site.

Cost per click (CPC)
This is the dollar amount that advertisers will pay per click on your keyword optimized site. 

Sizing up the competition with gap analysis

There are a few ways a gap analysis can boost SEO. First of all, you can perform a gap analysis to compare your current performance with your performance goals.

Second, perform a competitive gap analysis to see how you stack up to your competitors. This includes industry competitors as well as keyword competitors that may or may not be in vertical industries.

Also, a keyword gap analysis looks at the keywords your competition is ranking for and whether their traffic is coming from paid ads or organic sources like social media or search engines.

And that's not all:

Finally, a content gap analysis identifies the type of content your competitors are using as well as a breakdown of their most successful content.

There are several online tools to make the process easy. Let's take a look:

SEO Techniques: Inbound and Content Marketing

When you think about the constant flood of ads and marketing consumers are exposed to, it seems almost impossible to draw attention. What type of outreach will allow your business to stand out, stay relevant, and thrive?

According to one market research study, every person online sees more than 5,000 advertisements each day.

In 2017, global advertisers spent around $600 billion. In the U.S., this amounts to $189 billion in advertising. It's no surprise that most consumers feel like ads are out of control.

And let's not forget:

Due to technology, like ad blockers, traditional advertising methods are mostly useless. A 2015 report co-authored by PageFair and Adobe estimated that $21.8 billion, was lost in ad revenues. Here in the U.S alone, that loss will reach $20.3 billion this year.

But, for most of us, this isn’t really shocking. Traditional marketing campaigns tend to focus too much on consumer purchase.

Today’s consumers are suffering from The Three Stooges of Marketing Fatigue:

Leery, Weary, and Woe.

This is why content is king

How do you reach your targeted audience at precisely the right moment to stand out from the crowd?

And more importantly:

How do you combat consumer cynicism?

First, you go where your consumers are, and you seek to inform and serve them in a quietly persuasive way.

Now, more than ever, it's essential for brands to provide quality, helpful content that strikes a harmonious chord and communicates who they are as a brand.

“Instead of interrupting, try attracting.”

Content is key to SEO success

It's easy for readers to consume solid, informative content that's relevant to their journey. That is attractive.

Whether you DIY, hire a copywriter, or outsource your content creation, you must make content an integral part of your strategy.

The bottom line is this:

Consumers are avoiding interruptive advertising like never before. Content marketing, including article writing and SEO, allows you to engage with your audience in a way that offers them value upfront.

So, promote your brand through quality, relevant information your consumers want with no strings attached.

Become a trusted advisor with 10x content

content marketing strategy

Image via Pixabay

For great SEO, you want to create content that meets your reader's and Google's high expectations. Shoot for high-quality, trustworthy, helpful, engaging, or exceptional content.

Sure, it doesn't need to be all of those things. But instead, some combination therein. And, you don't have to create 10X content every day or even every week.

Google and the other SEs reward a combination of:

1

Long-form content.



2

Shorter shareable content.


3

And content with which the user interacts like comments.

The added value is that in creating exhaustive yet delightful content, you position your company, team, and self, as an expert in your field. This leads to more sharing, more interaction, and ultimately better ranking.

A content research tool you can't live without

Now that you've got your keywords and the motivation to create great content, what's next?

More research of course.

As we mentioned earlier, you can use gap analysis to see what kind of content your competitors are using. You can also gain insight by researching viral content. Perhaps one of the best tools on the market is from Buzz Sumo.

All you have to do is...

Feed this mighty little search engine a keyword or two, and it pulls the most shared content from all over the internet including social media.

While you never want to duplicate any content online, you can use Buzz Sumo to find inspiration and gain insight into the type of material that goes viral.

Measuring content success

When we talk about SEO, it seems like we're focused on pleasing the search engines. However, that is just part of the equation. To be successful in using SEO techniques, all of your content must be written with a human being in mind. Successful content is measured by several metrics of which SEO is only one.

Let's take a look at a few others:

First, there are user behavior metrics like page views, length of time on page, unique visitors (traffic), page depth, returning visitors, and bounce rate.

Next up is engagement. This measures when and how often your content is downloaded, commented on, copied, and shared. It also includes "likes" and "mentions."

SEO is measured by looking at organic traffic sources, keywords used, backlinks, rankings, and dwell time.

Finally, take a look at your ROI. Successful SEO techniques will add monetary value, as well. These include lead generation, conversions, and cost per acquisition.

SEO Techniques: Using Video

Using SEO techniques to improve ranking, over the long-haul, isn't just about optimizing pages, and building a large number of links. As we've mentioned, it is more about offering high-quality content. Over time, this type of material will attract links.

And here's a secret:

One type of underrated content is online video.

Although a few of the major brands incorporate video content into their marketing stack, most don’t make it a high priority. However, when done right, video adds excitement to your content that may otherwise fall flat. It also creates significant SEO juice.

Here are a few other ways video improves SEO:

1

Build links through sharing.


2

Increases conversions.


3

Differentiates your business.


Finally, take a look at your ROI. Successful SEO techniques will add monetary value, as well. These include lead generation, conversions, and cost per acquisition.

To simplify:

Including video snippets allows your business to stand out from all of the other results on a SERP. Consequently, searchers will click your result, increasing traffic to your site.

cms wordpress page highlighting the Media tab

SEO Techniques: Using Images

Images break up long blocks of text, making your content more engaging and readable. As well, they offer specific SEO advantages when you take the time to optimize them.

SEO Techniques: Harness the Magic of Infographics

If a picture is worth a thousand words, an infographic must be worth a million. Who doesn't loves a good graphic representation of data?

1

An infographic is a compilation of images, art, charts, and little text to give a high-level overview of a topic.

2

Infographics communicate important informations quickly.

3

An infographic can explain complex topic. 

4

These clever graphics bridge concept, design, and information or data.

5

Good infographics tell a story. 

6

Users are more likely to share an infographic than other links.

7

Infographics are great link bait. 

8

Search for infographics has exploded 800 percent in the last 5 years.

20 On-Page SEO Techniques for 2019

In the ever-changing world of SEO, it's hard to stay on top of all the SEO best practices. From time-to-time, you need to review your existing content to make sure it meets the current standards.

Let's look at the most common on-page SEO techniques:

  • 1
    Don't block the bots. Make sure that your robots tag is set to allow crawling. If you are blocking Googlebot from crawling your website, it will never appear in SERP.
  • 2
    Make sure every URL is in your sitemap.
  • 3
    Add schema markup to tell Google's AI precisely what your page is about and improves each page's quality setting.
  • 4
    Internal links point to your site using relevant anchor text. For example: If your internal link is about yoga, make sure that the anchor text you choose to link is closely related to practicing yoga.
  • 5
    HTTPS - SSL- Convert any HTTP pages to HTTPS or create a universal redirect to the secure site.
  • 6
    Make sure your site is accessible. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines provide the guidance you need.
  • 7
    Use a responsive mobile design. Google is penalizing sites that aren't using mobile-first indexing.
  • 8
    Use a clear or bold call to action. Use a button or form to help your readers understand what you want them to do.
  • 9
    Multimedia -- Use all types of media for better user experience and ultimately, improved SEO.
  • 10
    Page speed -- Bounce rates increase 50 percent if your website takes extra time to load. Compress large image files to improve loading time and page speed.
  • 11
    Encourage social media sharing by integrating social sharing buttons.
  • 12
    Create original, high-quality content.
  • 13
    Optimize pages for intent. Make sure your keywords match your content to avoid poor quality scoring and confused or disappointed users.
  • 14
    Utilize all title tags and write engaging meta descriptions. This is the information that describes your content on the SERP. Make sure it is accurate and compelling.
  • 15
    Use header tags --Your title and subheadings are important to Google, and they also improve your content's readability.
  • 16
    Optimize all images -- Compress images for faster loading. Optimize the title, file names, and alt text by using your featured keyword and website name.
  • 17
    Remove irrelevant or outdated content.
  • 18
    Add a FAQs page or section.
  • 19
    Add summaries -- If your site has a summary, Google will display it in the SERP. This helps distill information for your users.
  • 20
    Keyword density, and readability -- Use a plugin like Yoast SEO to make sure your content is perfectly optimized for Google and human readers alike.

Off-Page SEO Strategies

seo web marketing optimization

Image via Pixabay.com

Off-page SEO includes any activity that is happening beyond your website affects your website's rankings.

These activities include link building, social media strategy, influencer marketing, and paid advertising or search engine marketing (SEM).

Importance of backlinks

Currently, backlinks are the go-to strategy for quickly gaining credibility and boosting SEO.

Let me explain how they work:

Backlinks happen when one website mentions and links to another website. These are also known “incoming links.” Backlinks make their connection through external sites. From Google's perspective, links from outside point to credibility.

What this means is:

Whenever your site receives a backlink, Google gives you a big pat on the back. The more authoritative and established the referring website is, the bigger boost your site gets. This quickly creates a positive effect on your site’s ranking and search engine visibility.

Link building 101

Backlinks occur naturally whenever you focus on putting out super high-quality content that gets noticed. However, you can also use a link building strategy to hurry the process along.

Think about this:

Using link building SEO techniques require patience, planning, and organization. You also need to understand your target persona fully.

If you can't answer those questions, do some research and try link building when you can.

There are four central approaches to link building.

These are:

  • Write a guest blog
  • Collaborate on research with insights
  • Building relationships with influencers
  • Find and "fix" broken links

Pitching a guest post

Start following the blogs and websites that your targets use and respect most, and check their website to see if they have a submission policy. While you're there, spend some time getting to know the company. After you get a feel for their content and voice, craft a guest blogging pitch.

Make it impossible for them to say no.

Here's how:

Your pitch should include a proposed attention-grabbing, ready-to-go-viral headline. Follow that up with the first two paragraphs.

Relate to the readers, who are also your readers.

Include an outline for the rest of the article. Be up front about why you want to write a guest post on their site. Then, highlight your ability to create valuable SEO-rich content for their website.

Here's what you need to know:

Writing a guest post on a blog your target personas read helps get your name and brand out in front of them. And since guest posts always include a link, you get all that link juice.

Collaborate on research with insights

Collect all of the data you have on your consumers. This may include insights into their buying habits, personal use of media, favorite toothpaste, anything. Approach a website or blog your readers like and offer to share your data, and pitch the idea to publish the research jointly.

Here are a few tips:

Make sure your pitch is on-brand, and your data is relevant to their business, as well. Since you will post your report on their high-traffic website, you will get an authoritative backlink out of it.

Approaching an influencer

Who are your the people most influential to your target audience.

Focus on lower tier influencers.

They could be YouTubers, industry thought leaders or local celebrities. Ask to interview them for your blog.

Free publicity and exposure for them. And when they promote their interview — you'll snap up another lovely link.

Hunting for broken links

Broken links happen when a website referral link changes. This can occur when a website changes hands, or when a business folds.

Google doesn't like broken links.

Therefore, sites pointing to a broken link face a choice, find new content to link to, or lose their content altogether. This is where you step in to save the day.

Here's how:

Again, focusing on relevant websites, perform a check or their published content looking for broken links. This is easy if you use a broken link checker.

Create content that is relevant to the link. Finally, contact the website administrator or webmaster and offer them the option to link to your article. Make the work easy for them by including a copy of your content, the new link, and the URL of the link that is broken.

How slick is that?

Avoid the SEO Mistakes That Google Hates

From keywords to content strategy and link building, we've covered everything you need to be an SEO superstar.

But we neglected one thing:

Tthis guide wouldn't be complete if we didn't tell you about the top SEO techniques Google hates to see. In some cases, you may get a warning. However, in others, you could be banned for all eternity. 

  • At least some of your content was copied: Google uses a few methods to detect duplicate content on the web. However, it sometimes slips through. If the content owner notifies the SEs that their material is being used without permission, they will remove the content from your site and may penalize you.
  • You used someone's content with permission: Technically, it's OK to use content with permission. Just hope Google bots don't discover it. In Google's eyes duplicate content is bad for everyone and adds no value. Your website will lose rank and credibility.
  • Using black hat SEO techniques: Overusing keywords or keyword stuffing is the most common black hat SEO. Additionally, cloaking links, and too many suspicious redirects will get you banned.
  • Backlinks look shady: Some SEO companies sell packages designed to boost your SEO fast. Initially, they work. However, the gray hat SEO techniques they use, leave Google no choice but to drop your rank.
  • You're growing too fast: Some websites enjoy phenomenal, nearly overnight success. This is true. However, it's also extremely rare. Google knows this. If their bots spot a swarm of backlinks or website traffic, they may act first and ask questions later. And this could spell disaster for any new business.

SEO Techniques Wrap-Up

If you can collect and measure data, then you can also improve it.

In SEO, measurement is critical to your success. Marketers and web developers track every piece of data whether it's about rankings, referring links, or more to help diagnose and improve their SEO strategy. Better SEO provides a more significant opportunity for success.

But here's the bad news:

It's difficult to predict the behaviors of SEs because their AI isn't public.

The good news is:

A combination of SEO techniques has proven effective.

Of course, new data and software are always coming out to help us track all of the variables which influence ranking. Some companies use the SEs themselves to gain insight and advantage by testing clever queries and by studying the available data published by Google.

It's important to employ the SEO techniques, in accord with quality analytic SaaS and continuing SEO education, and It takes constant work to formulate a plan that optimizing your website for search.

However, the results speak for themselves.

Tell us your favorite SEO techniques. Just drop a comment down below and join the conversation.

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