Benjamin J Church is an SEO expert and the founder of Tiny Digital. He works with clients in competitive markets around the world to help them reach their ideal customers online and writes from his knowledge and experience. He can often be found playing the guitar and it was music that ultimately took him on the path to digital marketing.
In 2017 over 79% of ALL SEARCHES online were conducted on Google, with Bing trailing at a paltry 7.27% (NetMarketShare).
And with over 70% of ALL purchase decisions (both online and offline) being influenced first by a search, you can’t afford to ignore the 500lb gorilla in the room…yes, we’re talking about SEO.
And to win at search engine optimization you have to play by Google’s rules. But SEO is constantly in a state of flux, and webmasters and business owners often have a difficult time keeping up with the latest trends and updates.
In fact, Google publicly discloses that they update their algorithm hundreds of times each year. For many of us, this can feel downright overwhelming and aggravating.
But have no fear! We’ve helped put together a guide on core optimization techniques that you can implement while building your site, even if you know nothing about SEO. Best of all, these tried and true techniques have withstood the test of time and will be able to ride the never-ending tide of Google’s updates without worry.
Optimization without a Degree in Rocket Science
When it comes to search engines, Google is the gatekeeper of MASSIVE amounts of traffic. For many, that traffic can increase branding, awareness, visibility, trust, sales and more for their site, organization or business.
Today we’re going to help you discover simple yet effective ways to leverage Google to grow your site or blog. Remember, the goal isn’t just to get Google’s spiders to find and crawl your site, but to rank your page(s) based upon the relevance of that page to the search term the user types in.
Step 1: Uncover what your visitors are searching for
While many aspects of SEO are “technical” in nature, the underlying concept of SEO is to optimize content based upon what your prospective visitors or customers are searching for.
Google uses “search intent” to help match queries with content that satisfies the reason behind the search itself. For example, a search on “how to do xyz” might yield a page with a guide on actually doing “xyz”. Conversely, a search for “what is xyz” might yield a page that is more informational in nature, describing factual information about “xyz” itself.
By tailoring your content towards what your visitors might search for, you’ll have an increased probability of showing up in Google for related queries.
Here are some tips to find out just what to write about:
- Search online for “your product/topic” and pay attention to the Google suggested searches (aka “autocomplete”). These represent searches that are commonly made by others when typing in you keywords/topics. You can also find these by typing in your “keyword or topic” + each letter of the alphabet individually.
- Search google for “your product/topic” + “how to” “problems” “issues” “best” “cheapest” and more to uncover additional insights
- Pay attention to direct feedback from visitors. Such as that in emails, chats, phone conversations, or on site commenting
- Go where your customers hang out. Join Facebook groups, Quora, Reddit or forums where your target demographic spends time and find out what topics spur the most discussion and interaction
- Take a hint from Google’s “related searches” suggestions at the bottom of each SERP results page.
- Utilize search console and other keyword tools such as AHREFS (www.ahrefs.com) to uncover additional keyword opportunities to leverage
Step 2: URL of your Page
This is the actual web address in the address bar of your browser. The URL of your page can offer a strong indication to search engines as to what the topic of your page is about. Getting this right the first time is important, as changes to the URL later on can pose additional challenges (such as needing a 301 redirect).
In general, you’ll want to include your core keyword and keep the URL fairly short – though it can be a good place to get extra keyword relevance if it can make sense.
For example, the URL for my page about seo services in nearby city Newcastle-upon-Tyne looks like this:
Notice that the keywords ‘seo’ , ‘company’ and ‘services’ were included in the URL itself, making this URL both readable to search engines and human visitors alike. Getting ‘internet marketing services’ in there ties into local Google My Business SEO, which is another article altogether!
Step 3: Create your optimized page
Now that you know what to write about, it’s time to consider how to actually optimize the page your content will sit on.
Keyword and topical research is just the first step towards attracting organic traffic to your site. You’ll also need to ensure your pages are well-structured and optimized to rank for those specific keywords.
Before we go too far down the rabbit hole, it is prudent for us to mention that while you might be tempted to “over-optimize”, say by dropping a list of keywords into your page….don’t. This is an old school SEO tactic that can get you penalized for “keyword stuffing” and spam.
Title tags are short descriptions of what your page is about. These little snippets inform search engines like Google what topics your page covers.
Limit the characters for this tag to around 70 or less, and be sure to include your brand name as well as keywords related to that specific page.
This tag is placed between the <HEAD> <HEAD> tags near the top of your page.
Meta descriptions provide search engines with a little more insight into what your page is all about. However, you’ll also want to write these to be optimized for real human visitors.
These should be short, descriptive and engaging, enticing your visitors to click thru to your page. In general you should try to keep these descriptions to under 140 characters.
Keyword Placement and Usage
Your content should always be written with your visitors in mind…meaning don’t over-optimize for Google at the risk of decreasing the value of your content for actual readers.
With that said, you can add in some elements that will help rank your page.
We suggest the following:
- Mention your primary keyword(s) at least 1x time within the first 150 words on the page
- Naturally mention your keyword as it comes up in the course of topical conversation
- Mix in semantically relevant keywords. For example, if your page is about camping you might include: tent, grill, picnic table, flashlight, etc.
Be an Authority in Niche
You don’t have to be an expert to be an “authority” in your niche….you just have to use authoritative information and sources as the foundation of your content.
Here are a few quick tips:
- Link to authorities in your industry
- Link to authoritative sites in your industry
- Quote authoritative sites and individuals throughout your content
- Keep up with and discuss trends and exciting developments in your niche
While everyone is worried about getting backlinks, internal linking is often forgotten, yet vitally important. The internal linking of your site / pages helps Google understand the flow of topics and is a strategic way to improve the speed at which search engines crawl your site.
Step 4: Engage your Audience
Time spent on pages is a great signal to Google that audiences LOVE your content. And Google likes nothing better than to dish up content that their users love to reach and engage with.
But what’s the best way to get visitors to actually stay on your page? Let’s check out a few key strategies:
- Use easy to read fonts. Not too big, not too small, and no “unique” font types
- Include images every 300 or so words. Images have been shown to increase user experience on a page by up to 90% (PR.com) and time spent on page by up to 150% (Moz.com)
- Include social sharing and engagement icons. These entice visitors to share interesting content with their friends and peers
- Embed a video. Videos are a great way to engage visitors and offer an alternative way for them to consume on page information
Basic optimization is an important first step to helping improve the visibility of your site in Google and other search engines. If you’re interested in learning about more advanced techniques, or hands off solutions, give us a call or chat with us today.
We love talking shop and would enjoy learning more about how we can help -> http://www.tinydigital.co.uk/