SEO, also known as Search Engine Optimisation or that thing that gives marketers nightmares on a regular basis is constantly changing. The SEO strategies that worked a few years back, such as creating content and stuffing it with keywords aren’t enough anymore to rank in Google.
You know how the story goes, and the very fact you’re now reading this article means you understand you need to adapt and learn what SEO techniques will help you rank higher than your competitors. You need new ideas that will work for how search engines operate today.
The thing is, SEO isn’t an exact science. If it were a magic formula that would help businesses get at the top of Google search, it would be a lot easier for all of us to boost organic searches and get decent traffic. It’s not about pulling a few tricks, either, though there are certainly some secrets out there that can get you ahead.
If you ask us, SEO is more of an art form. You can certainly teach it, you can learn how to do it, but the results will always depend on the artist’s vision.
Well, consider us your SEO strategies teachers. Here at Australian Internet Advertising, we’ve sat back and thought about the very question that brought you to this article. So we’ve created a strategy we’d like to share with you right now.
The tips below can help you create a better search engine optimisation strategy, using your marketing plans and vision to expand on it and bring more traffic to your business. Let’s get started.
If you find yourself intimidated by the concept of keyword research, you are not alone. As mentioned already, search engine optimisation is ever changing and you need to reevaluate your strategy constantly if you want to remain in the loop.
Not too long ago, keyword research was a surefire way to boost a page’s ranking. But, in the aftermath of both Panda and Penguin algorithm changes, many marketers are starting to doubt the relevance of this practice in 2018.
So, is the power of the target keyword fading or should you continue optimising? Let’s have a look at what you need to change.
Is Keyword Research Still Relevant?
Tell us if it sounds familiar: you are planning on writing a new blog post and decide to do a bit of research to determine what keywords people use to find information about the topic you are about to tackle. Knowing how your audience’s search query looks like can help you optimise your content better. Or, at least that how it used to be.
There is a lot of discussion about the relevancy of keyword research in today’s digital world. Some marketers argue that search engines have become so smart that they can interpret the intent of a page without the need for keywords. Others, on the other hand believe that SEO still depends heavily on keyword optimisation.
So, who’s right?
Here’s the thing: both parties are right and wrong at the same time.
It’s true that search engines still rely on keywords to determine if the content of a page is relevant, but not in the way it used to do it. As of 2013, Google introduced semantic search, meaning that web crawlers started paying more attention to the context in which users performed a search rather than just the target keyword. For example, if you type in the keyword “mouse PC,” you won’t get pictures of lab mice, but relevant articles about how to find the best accessory for your computer.
While the practice of researching keywords has taken a serious hit over the past few years, it still is a valuable part of SEO strategies. Understanding what your audience is looking for, how often they are looking for it and what specific terms they are using can help you address their specific needs.
Keyword research is still relevant in 2018. What changed is how you do it.
The Modern Rules of Keyword Research
Most business owners are aware of the fact that targeting the right keywords can help them boost their page ranking. However, most fail to understand that the rules have changed. Here’s what you need to know to pick the right keywords:
Step 1: Make a Thorough List of Keywords Ideas
Go beyond the most common and obvious keywords that people use to search for your products and services. “Cat toys” and “toys for cats” might be great tags to start with, but consider that some people might also look for “cat supplies” or “the best place to buy cat toys online.”
If you’re having difficulties coming up with keywords ideas, check out forum discussions, comments, and articles related to your niche to see what words people are using to search for your products.
Step 2: Check for Both Seed and Long-Tail Keywords
Seed keywords are short and typically generic, such as “boots.” Long-tail keywords, on the other hand, can contain up to five words and are highly specific: “cheap winter boots for women”). Long-tail keywords might not have a high search volume, but they can rank higher than seed tags since they usually indicate an intent.
Step 3: Make a List of the Most Relevant Keywords
Now that you have an extensive list of keywords, it’s time to pick the ones that are truly relevant. Go through the list and remove everything that seems redundant or forced. Use keyword research tools, such as Google AdWords Keyword Planner to check the search volume of your main picks and get an idea of how they would perform.
Take a second to think what’s behind every great brand. Is it enormous marketing budgets? Yes, perhaps! Or maybe the secret to their success is an army of experts that know how to build a brand. That may be true as well. But, when you really look at it, you realise that most great brands have a wealth of valuable content that they use to connect with their audience.
Content marketing is the king when it comes to building a brand and ensuring its success.
Here are just some of the ways creating content can help you.
- Improve Your SEO Efforts: Content creation is one of the best SEO strategies you can employ. Recent reports show that the websites that add content to their web pages regularly have an index rate 434% higher than those that create no content at all.
- Establish Your Business as an Expert in Your Niche: Content is one of the best opportunities you have to showcase your expertise and persuade prospects to choose you over your competitors. People are more likely to buy from you if they perceive you as a helpful resource.
- Build Trust: High-quality content is also an excellent way to build trust with your audience. When you provide prospects with relevant, engaging, and valuable content on a regular basis, they start to associate your business with these qualities too. Reports show that up to 80% of consumers prefer getting to know a brand via blog posts rather than through online ads.
Imagine trying to drive around a place where there are no words. That’s what the search engine crawler would have to do if there would be no links: roam around the web looking for relevant pages, but have no way to get to them.
Link building is the backbone of all SEO strategies, and it should be yours too.
How Does It Work?
The truth is it isn’t something you can do once and then forget about it. You’ll need to dedicate a considerable amount of time building links to your domain. The number and quality (along with other factors that we’ll discuss in a minute) let a web crawler know your website is worth checking up and raking high in Google search.
Here are the factors we’re talking about:
Web crawlers care a lot about a web page’s popularity because it’s one of the indicators that can lead to relevance, a feature highly praised by Google and other search engines.
Google wants to show their users relevant results for their search queries. If you’ve searched anything on the search engine recently, you know it does that almost instantly. So, there’s not a lot of time for web crawlers to move around the web looking for the best results; they have to check out the most popular pages first because that’s where they’re more likely to find significant results.
How do you achieve this popularity? The answer is simple: through links. The more links you have that lead for your web page, the more popular a web crawler perceives it.
As with anything related to search engines, first came the rule, and then came the people trying to take advantage of the rule and cheat the system.
It’s not enough to add links on every single page on your website. You have to take the relevance of those pages into consideration too. In other words, web crawlers can detect spam, and if they find you guilty of it, that will hurt your website’s ranking.
Think of the websites you link to on your page, as well as the sites you earn links from as equally important in your link building strategy. Don’t just jump at the chance to add or send links anywhere, but be a bit selective. The best websites are those with an already established authority, such as a website for a newspaper, University, non-profit institutions, and similar organisations are also valuable for your link building.
c. Time Relevance
You might not think about it, but links can have an expiration date. Sometimes, popular sites become less popular, or even cease to exist. So, if you have links to or from those pages, they won’t help at all.
If you want to stay on top of your link building strategy, then you should come in with new, fresh links whenever you can. Check to see if any broken links lead to a page that no longer exists, for instance, and remove them immediately.
d. Anchor Text
The anchor text is the clickable text on a page, such as the “click here to read more” part at the end of a given piece of online writing. It’s more important than you’d think because if it has the right keywords, it can let the web crawler know that the linked page is relevant.
For instance, if a phrase reads “the best websites for cat toys” and the anchored text is “cat toys,” the web crawlers know that linked page has something to do with cat toys, and you can get a better chance to rank high in Google search. Another option is to go for branded anchor text, which uses your business’ actual name, such as “Danny’s cat toys.”
Of course, the crawler will check the page to see if it has other relevant keywords to the topic, so don’t try to cheat it.
e. Social Links
In today’s market, social media is one of the most used forms of link building. So much so that a lot of business practice it without realizing how much it helps them.
Yes, you have an audience on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other sites, and you want to engage with them and keep them in the loop. But sharing a link to your website’s page on Facebook isn’t just a way to keep your audiences happy. Web crawlers notice them too.
They may treat them differently, in the sense that they don’t see them a valuable as other links, especially from those authoritative websites, but they still count. So don’t shy away from using these social networks in your link building practices.
If it’s online, then it’s about user experience. According to Adobe’s research, 88% of users won’t return to a website if they’ve had a bad experience with it. That’s a troubling number for businesses that don’t give much attention to their UX.
Here are some things UX can do to help your website:
- Makes a site more accessible, both for users and web crawlers;
- Improves website usefulness, regarding how it’s perceived by an audience;
- Drives on-site traffic;
- Helps a website gain authority;
- Improves your overall page ranking when working together with other SEO strategies;
You get the picture. User experience is critical for your business’ online presence, and if you ever want to improve your SERP (Search Engine Result Page) rank, then you need to take a good look at your website to see if it meets these requirements:
a. SEO-Centered Design
You must build your website by following the SEO principles. It’s an effort you’ll have to make to ensure you get picked up by search engines.
First, you need to have high-quality content that is relevant to your audience. That means well-written blog posts, high-quality images, and videos and other types of content that are relevant to your business’ industry or profile.
Other things to consider:
- Maximising H1 and H2 titles to increase readability;
- An optimised menu;
- Link equity;
- Clear navigation path;
- Optimised text, which roughly translates into clear and concise writing.
b. User Paths
We’ve found it useful to create a persona for each online action a user will take on your website. That means to put yourself into a user’s shoes and trying to think about what their natural course of action would be on your platform.
That can help you optimise the user path, which in turn means visitors will have a better experience on your website. When doing this, you’ll get a better understanding of how your site should look like: where do you put a specific button, what are the links that you should integrate, which page recommendation to make, etc.
c. Value Quality (Above All Else)
Yes, it’s easy to create a website these days, but you want one that’s both representative of your business and easy to optimise.
So you’ll have to put quality before promptness, and by that, we recommend you don’t rush the process of creating a website. It’s a lot easier to make one from scratch that’s good, as opposed to modifying one that’s not great regarding optimisation.
Here are some things to consider:
- Pay attention to load speed as users don’t like to wait;
- Intuitive navigation is vital because users like to find the things they want quickly, and not look around for ages;
- Don’t duplicate any content, even if one or more pages roughly have the same purpose;
- The page layout has to be visually pleasing;
- Build a mobile-friendly website that works great on mobile devices;
d. Add CTAs
A CTA or a Call-to-Action is the element that encourages users to take action. They can be a widget in the website’s header, a pop up (though the majority of users does not love those), or integrated right into the content of a page.
They’re the “click here,” “download this” and “buy now” part of the website, which is important to users, particularly those who already have an intent to take action.
For instance, if a user reads an article on your website about “the best cat toys in 2018”, and they have an intent to purchase a cat toy, a CTA with a “buy now” tagline can help users a lot. They don’t have to continue searching for the page where they can make the purchase; you’re offering it to them directly.
That can lead to happy users, then to good user experience, then to a better Google rank.
We sincerely hope you didn’t think the metadata conversation wouldn’t come up in this article because here it is.
Google thinks they are important, and when Google says something is important, read it ESSENTIAL.
Metadata translate your website into a web crawler’s language. It provides the necessary information for your site to become readable and appear in a good SERP rank, which is the whole point of why we’re here.
Here are the onsite optimisation essentials you need to know:
a. Title Tags
We sometimes wonder what came first, the webpage or the title tag? They’ve been around for as long as the concept of an internet page has. They are also one of the most important elements for your onsite optimisation, and a lot of people take it for granted.
It’s the clickable headline that appears in a result page, so it could very well be the reason a user decides to click on your link or not. Crawlers can also use them to determine page relevance, so they clearly shouldn’t be an afterthought.
There are three big aspects to talk about concerning keywords: relevance, intent, and popularity.
Keyword relevance means you choose those tags that are most relevant to your business. If you’re in the business of selling cat toys, then you’ll have to pick the most descriptive long tails keywords of your audience, such as “cat toys,” “kitty toys,” “cat crinkle ball,” and so on. If you don’t, search engines won’t view your page as a relevant result for people.
Then, there’s keyword intent, which determines the value of a particular keyword. Try to think of what your users want to do when they search for a certain phrase when you choose them.
There are three main categories to speak of:
- Navigational – they’re looking for a brand or domain;
- Informational – they’re looking for information;
- Transactional – they’re looking to buy.
Lastly, keyword popularity shows if there is a lot of interest for a particular keyword. If a lot of users type in Google search, then it is popular. You benefit from using popular keywords because you increase your chances of appearing in SERPs, especially in niche domains.
But, if you’re in a highly competitive domain, popular keywords might not help very much so you’d be better off going for long tail keywords to increase your chances of getting ranked.
Headings help organise your content, mainly when we’re talking about a considerable amount of it. You can choose from some different headings to structure a blog post, from h1 (the largest) to h6 (the smallest).
It’s a way of breaking up the content into sections, which can help with page readability. You can use these headings to integrate different keywords, reflective of your content. Remember not to overdo it, though. If your page doesn’t display a lot of content, then you don’t need to use five headings just for the sake of it.
Large pictures or videos can affect your SEO if you don’t use them properly. For instance, never use an image for an article at its default size because it slows down page load.
We know the need to provide high-quality visual content, but that doesn’t mean you can’t resize certain files to appropriate size.
Then, be sure to add meta descriptions to all your media files. Web crawlers can’t look at images or videos; they need meta description to understand them.
e. Internal Links
Both web crawlers and your users love internal links, and for the same reason as well: it makes it easier for both parties to navigate your site. Users then spend more time on your platform, and web crawlers will show your link on a result page.
It’s very similar to link building, except you add links that redirect to another page on your website. You see it a lot on blogs, where the author writes about another post they’re written on the topic and adds an anchor text with a link. Keep in mind that these links have to be related to the content on the starting page. Otherwise, you’re just going to make users frustrated.
If there’s one thing left to be said about today’s SEO strategies, it’s this: content is key to all of them, but you’ve probably figured that out at this point. All the different points in our strategy rely on content, indirectly or otherwise.
Search engines seem to send a message of quality over quantity to websites through the algorithms they use to rank pages. There are rarely any shortcuts when it comes to SEO and, if they appear, search engines have a habit of changing the game to exclude them.
Changes won’t be visible overnight, but your SEO efforts will be easier to implement if you have quality content on your website.
If you want to know more about how to optimise your website, Australian Internet Advertising can help. Contact us now and let’s review your SEO strategies or build one from scratch.