Looking for powerful SEO strategies that are both easy to understand and can be applied to your own site to boost your search engine rankings? Then you’ve come to the right place.
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SEO Keyword Research
In order to structure content correctly and achieve your website goals you first need to understand which keywords will help.
Don’t try to do this on your own. Take what knowledge you have about your product/service and your customers and utilize keyword tools like Google Keyword Planner, SEM Rush, Webceo and hundreds more.
1.) Optimize SEO for the RIGHT keyword
If you have past website traffic data this step will be a lot easier.
Simply head over to your Google Search Console and review which keywords drove traffic. You’ll be able to see other metrics like bounce rate and CTR.
If you don’t have past data begin optimizing for the highest intent keywords you can find during your research. Continue to monitor individual performance and work off of that.
2.) Stick to lower competition keywords if you’re a newer site, or have low authority
It’s understandable to think that keywords with higher quantity and more authoritative competition are WAY harder to rank for.
So for a smaller site to survive you need to attack low hanging fruit. Find related or longer versions of the keyword you are trying to rank for. Keep an eye on monthly searches, competition levels, seasonality and other factors.
When you can’t seem to rank for 1 difficult keyword it would be very beneficial to rank for 10+ variations of that keyword.
Note: Longer keywords also tend be come from users with higher intent. Which user would most likely convert to a customer? A business owner searching “seo” or searching “seo agency for local businesses”.
3.) Check keyword traffic potential
Before any effort is put into content that will rank for a keyword it’s important to understand what you would get from that kind of ranking.
Use tools like Google Keyword Planner, Webceo, SEM Rush and more to help identify volume. It might not be worth your time to rank for a keyword that gets only a handful of searches a year.
4.) Answer questions and solve problems with content on your site
Remember that your site’s role in Google in it’s simplest form is to solve problems. Have a question? Google the answer. Want to buy something? Google it. Need help with something? Google it.
Take an educational approach with your content and I can almost guarantee a better return on your content writing. Before you begin writing, first identify the “problem” you are trying to solve.
5.) Figure out which keywords drive traffic to your competitors’ sites
Competitive keyword analysis is one of the most effective ways to compete in a crowded space and gain a crucial advantage over other businesses in your industry. So how do you actually find those keywords that your competitors are targeting in their paid and organic search campaigns?
Here are eight competitor keyword research tools:
- SEM Rush
- Ahref’s Keyword Explorer
- Adwords Auction Insights
- Crowdsourcing Keyword Research
- Tag Clouds
- WordStream’s Free Keyword Tool
What some people don’t realize is that keyword usage is only part of the equation and you must satisfy Google’s need for quality content if you ever plan to dominate rankings.
In this section you will learn just what it takes to provide your visitors with the best content possible.
1.) Write compelling content that benefits the end user
Don’t forget that the primary purpose of your page is to educate or answer that person’s question that prompted your page to show on Google.
If someone is researching the best floors to install in their new home your page should include the following:
- A short intro that tells the reader what to expect and hooks them
- Info on all the different types of flooring to choose from as well as pros and cons
- A brief conclusion
- Anything else that you think would increase the quality of the content
Ideally after reading your page I should know more about which flooring I should go with than before I visited your site.
2.) Use or cite real world case studies
When people are attempting to learn something they look to a person of a higher skill level that has had success, knowledge and/or results to show for it.
This is where case studies come in. If you are attempting to write an article about the effectiveness of a certain style of advertising it helps to show actual data. If you don’t have a case study of your own to highlight, then properly cite someone else’s.
3.) Use attention grabbing intros to hook the reader
Human interaction plays an important role in how Google perceives your site. Ensure your intro includes attention grabbing info that was relevant to their search.
Open with bold statements, cool facts, quick summaries, relate-ability or just something unique.
Your job with an intro is to explain to the reader what they can expect from your page and encourage them to stay and read all of it!
4.) Make your content easy to read and digest
Readability is a huge factor when it comes to human interaction with your page. You want informative and easy to read content that is going to answer the visitors query and get them to stay on the page longer.
Present your reader with a massive wall of text and you’re at risk for a high bounce rate. A few tips to help you with this are as follows.
- Shorter sentences
- Frequent breaks in paragraphs
- Well structured headlines and subheadings to organize text
- Use multiple images
- Use of transition words and good flow
- 12th grade reading level
5.) DON’T use unnecessary fluff or words to lengthen the page
If you ever find yourself scrambling for more things to write about make sure to avoid being repetitive, using fluff or diminishing the value of your content simply to lengthen it.
In hopes to rank higher on Google don’t forget that an actual human who lands on your site will be reading what you wrote. Sacrificing your content quality could lead to a bounce or lost sale.
6.) Use outbound links to relevant and authoritative sites
Here are 4 main reasons you should be using outbound links.
- Increase Relevance: Search engine algorithms can learn a lot about you by who you link to. You are helping to structure the web.
- Improve Reputation: By linking to high authority sources you are increasing reputation by a form of association.
- Boost Value: Outbound links to great resources provides an instant value-boost for your readers.
- Encourages Backlinks: If used properly you can use backlinks to establish a network with other bloggers, journalists, websites and companies.
Now that you understand how to structure your content around the keywords you’d like to target, it’s important you now learn how to optimize the page.
The point of this section is to explain the best things you can do to help Google to understand your website and favor it in it’s search results.
1.) Include your keyword in headlines, titles and other key places
Just throwing a keyword on a page a few times won’t do too much to signal that your page is relevant to the user’s search. You must use your keyword(s) not only in the right way but also the right places to get the most benefit.
Proper usage and placement will show search engines the topic and meaning of the page and how your website can help the searcher achieve their goal.
2.) Increase click-through-rate (CTR) with awesome titles that are irresistible
Your Meta Title is the first thing a person sees when scanning through their Google results. Make sure you are using that small space as effectively as possible.
An increased CTR can most definitely lead to a jump in rankings.
3.) DON’T link to other pages using the keyword you are trying to rank for on that page
Google uses anchors and link text to determine what a page is about. If you have a link on your homepage that brings you to a page about hippos, then the link text should probably have the word hippo in it.
The problem arises when you link to a different page using the EXACT keyword you are trying to get the current page to rank for.
If you are trying to rank a page for plumbing services avoid having link text that says “plumbing services” and brings you to a different page.
4.) DON’T keyword stuff your content
If you can’t tell by now Google puts a lot of emphasis on quality of content. Therefore spamming a certain keyword that you want to rank for will often do more harm than help.
The general rule of thumb is to keep your keyword density for a specific keyword under 3%. That means for every 100 words of text on the page you are allotted 3 instances you can use that keyword without going overboard.
Note: There will be high ranking pages that don’t follow this rule. As well as pages who rank well and get nowhere close to 3% density. This is simply a rule of thumb.
5.) AVOID meta description and title truncation
Having truncated information can definitely affect click-through-rate and placements, and therefore should be avoided at all costs.
There are plenty of apps and widgets out there that can help your write these and have your page’s seo graded in live time. However, if those aren’t an option follow these steps.
Keep your titles under 60 characters and you should expect 90% of your titles to show properly. To be safe you can hover around 56 characters. Unfortunately there isn’t an exact character limit because characters vary in width and Google’s max display is 600 pixels.
Related: Meta Descriptions Best Practices.
6.) For ecommerce, add “purchase intent” keywords
7.) Use meta descriptions to SELL your site
Besides your headline, meta descriptions are the next most important thing used to make a user click on your site.
Make sure you are using this tool to it’s fullest capabilities by including your target keyword (because it gets bolded in the search) and doing a great job describing what someone should expect if they click that link.
If you are running an eCommerce store you should be including words and call to actions like: Buy, Order, Free, and so on.
8.) Ensure your site looks and functions great on ALL devices
It’s not surprising that the majority of website traffic comes from mobile and tablets.
Make sure your site functions well and looks great on all devices. You want to appeal to traffic from all devices.
9.) Get more traffic from Google by optimizing your images
Visuals and pictures are a great way for people to understand what you are talking about. That’s why you should be using them whenever you can.
The problem is that Google isn’t a human and can easily understand what the image is depicting.
Google uses the images file name and ALT Tag to understand what the image is about.
That being said, all of your image should have alt tags that includes keywords and describes to Google what the image is of. Be sure to include relevant keywords in the file name as well.
10.) Use short, yet descriptive URLs
Having too long of a URL is actually a very common problem and something you should try to avoid.
Include keywords in your URL but try to keep it short and to the point. An easy way to avoid this is by removing “stop” words like: And, To, Or, The, But from the URL.
You want to keep your keywords there but to clean up the clutter. Just remember you’re writing a URL not a sentence.
11.) Reduce duplicate content on multiple pages
Quality content is important to Google and having duplicate content is the easiest way to lower your quality.
Google can easily tell if multiple pages on your site have similar if not the same content.
This tells Google that you didn’t put much time into writing your content.
12.) If your business is local, add your address to the website
In Google’s attempt to show the most relevant content, they will use your location to determine your relevance for local searches.
If someone is searching for a barbershop Google won’t show them a barber 2 states away, let alone 2 cities away.
Make sure you have a Google My Business Listing and include your EXACT address in the footer of your site.
Make sure your Google Business Listing address and the address on your site match perfectly. You can even include a Google map on your site with a link to directions.
13.) Improve your site’s load speed for better SEO and user experience
Google is in the business of providing their users with the best content related to their search. Having slow loading pages puts a huge damper on the user’s experience.
Use free tools like Google PageSpeed Insights to scan and grade your web pages. It also provides solutions to help improve your speed. Don’t let terrible website speed slow your business down.
Related: What Is Schema?