Search Engine Optimization is the process of maintaining and improving your website to be better crawled and indexed by search engines. SEO is important for site owners as it allows for essentially more ‘free’ traffic to your site. Ideally when done well you would receive more qualified customers to your site from SEO. Read on to find out how.
Taking active, regular steps and actions to maintain your website’s SEO health is going to help you improve your visibility on search. SEO incorporates a broad range of techniques that span ‘best practice’ to downright voodoo science.
While some aspects of SEO require advanced technical knowledge – this need not hold you back. Improving your SEO is something any site owner can do! And while perfections is great to aim for – we find simply keeping a focus to improve on a weekly or monthly basis is all a site owner needs.
Let’s have a look at this visually. In my screenshot below you can see a typical SERP:
Ideally you would want to show up top for as many relevant keywords as possible.
When starting out in SEO, a useful first step is to take stock of where you currently are.
Audit Your SEO Status
A useful first step is to run an audit of your website to understand what your SEO profile looks like. This will help you establish the scope of your SEO Strategy and organize all needed resources. While paid tools are popular, there is alot you can do for free!
This is a crawl overview by AHREFS
There is a huge number of online tools that will crawl your site and produce a dashboard or report with all the issues found on your site. Many of these tools offer free trials and free accounts (some with limited features), but others are paid or have paid features. A few of the most popular include:
- Alexa (not to be confused with Amazon’s Alexa!)
All of these sites will produce similar results with different degrees of detail and depth. Select one based on your specific situation. Regardless, some of the most common issues you will find are missing tags or descriptions, broken links, duplicate content, unoptimized images, etc.
The most useful tools are those that integrate with Google Analytics to extract data and help you better understand your website, how you are ranking, and your audience.
9 Techniques to Improve Your SEO
Let’s jump right into the most effective techniques you can execute to boost your website’s SEO.
1. Refresh Low-Performing Pages with Relevant New Content
Your entire content marketing efforts should be focused on providing engaging content topics to your readers. Part of this is keeping up with new developments, trends, ideas, and news. Identify the pages that have dropped performance and find new keywords, links, and supporting content; like graphics, video, audio, tools, etc., that could revitalize those sad pages.
2. Diversify and Expand Your Backlink Profile
Backlinks are a highly important part of SEO. They might be the backbone of your off-page SEO, in fact. So, it’s crucial that you expand and diversify your backlink profile with high-quality backlinks from high-authority websites.
A backlink profile that is diverse and growing signals Google that your site is a relevant source in your niche or industry. This shows search engines that you’re an authority in the topic, so you will naturally be ranked higher.
This is a backlink overview by AHREFS
Create content that is shareable, newsworthy, relevant, informative. This is the way to get more backlinks naturally. You could also look for directories and “best of” lists to try to get on those.
3. Design for Mobile First
The vast majority of searches and half of all online purchases take place on mobile devices. Also, mainly because of this fact, Google back in March 2020 Google started using its mobile smartphone user-agent to crawl sites.
To produce a mobile-friendly website you should keep in mind:
- Make sure it loads fast
- Make sure the content is readable and accessible in mobile devices’ screens
- Place the most helpful material toward the top of the page
- Use mobile-optimized keywords
Comparison between Responsive vs. Mobile-First Design
4. Monitor Technical SEO Regularly
Make sure your team checks and monitors your SEO health regularly. As mentioned earlier, there are plenty of tools out there to do so, and they even produce very dynamic reports.
Some of the most common tasks include:
- Ensure that Your Entire Site Loads on HTTPS, which is the best practice.
- Enable AMP for Mobile to easily create responsive, mobile-optimized content.
- Invest in Crawling Software to find necessary improvements buried deep in your sites like duplicate content, broken pages, flawed titles, descriptions, and metadata.
- Correct Your Semantic Markups to help Google better understand your site.
- Fix 404 Errors by Redirecting URLs
5. Take Advantage of YouTube SEO
YouTube videos are a common appearance in Google search results. Plus, Youtube is the second most popular social media platform and the second largest search engine.
If video marketing is part of your strategy, then you must remember to optimize your YouTube content to drive that traffic in a way that fits your goals. After you create your awesome video, consider optimizing it with the following tactics:
- Make Your Video SEO-Friendly with optimized filename, title, and description.
- Create Custom Thumbnails to tell viewers exactly what the video is about.
- Create Video Playlists based on topics or subjects.
6. Target Topic Clusters Instead of Keywords
One of Google’s main goals is to understand a user’s intention when performing a search. This will help serve that user the best results possible by giving them what they expect, and what they’re looking for.
Content Cluster Model by Hubspot
Focusing on keywords alone is not enough anymore. To understand your audience and their user intent you need to know them very deeply and organize your content into “Clusters” that cover an entire topic or theme. Organize these clusters into pillar pages that have the most complete and comprehensive content and then into cluster pages that orbit around the pillar page and cover topics or questions related to the pillar page in more detail.
7. Remember to Optimize Images
Optimizing your images will help you rank better on Google Image Search and boost your site’s visibility. Also, optimized images will help your site load faster. Another fact you can’t forget is adding proper ALT text to your images. This text tells Google what the image is and it’s also used to help vision-impaired users.
To write good ALT text, keep it simple, consider the content on the image, and:
- Be Distinctive
- Be Relevant
8. Use Clean URLs and Meta Descriptions
Make sure your URLs and meta descriptions are clean and well-formatted. This is the information Google uses to understand what your website is all about. A couple of best practices to constantly put into practice are:
- Use a standardized structure
- Make them short and to the point
- Make them keyword-rich
URL Structure: Good vs. Bad
9. Measure and Learn
SEO is all about being able to measure your results and adjust your approach according to the insights you can extract from the data. This will help you better understand your audience and create content that is more in line with their needs and wants and answer important questions like:
- What content really appealed to your customer?
- What part of the website had the most UX issues?
- Which page was the least (or most) visited, and why?
- Which on-page SEO changes resulted in the highest rankings?
- Which style of keyword should you focus on in the future?
Additionally, make sure you measure and track specific metrics according to your goals. These are some of the most commonly observed metrics when measuring your SEO success:
- Average time spent on a page
- Bounce rate
- Traffic sources
Screenshot from Google Analytics showing various metrics
Get Better SEO Results
By putting these principles into action you will improve your SEO and your chances of ranking better in Google. However, this all must be part of an overall strategy to help you appreciate the scope of the project and decide if you are capable of doing it all in-house.
The alternative is to outsource some of your SEO efforts to third-party vendors that can take care of such issues and tactics while you focus on your business.
SEO is a strategy that englobes various different aspects of your digital marketing efforts, including content, web development, social media, and even sales. In order to improve your SEO, you should focus your efforts on providing the best user experience possible with highly valuable and informative content.
This includes making sure technical and content aspects of your SEO are taken care of with every new page you create and with every content strategy you execute. The objective of this article is to cover both basic and advanced SEO techniques that can help you retain and increase your organic search presence.