SEO strategies made easy
You keep hearing about SEO and know you’ll need to tackle it sooner or later. Basic SEO tips and strategies are easier to tackle when you know what’s involved. Don’t let the thought of search engine optimization overwhelm you. I’m going to break down the basic SEO tips in easy bite-size pieces, so you can tackle them one step at a time.
SEO isn’t a game you win overnight. It’s a slow process, but one that pays in dividends.
By doing things the right way, your website or blog will thrive over time, giving you a more stable business model that sends organic traffic your way.
Let’s get started.
There are two different parts of SEO. There’s on-page SEO and off-page SEO. I’d suggest handling the on-page section first, because it’s easier to control, will give you good footing, and there are things to do that are easier than you think!
Are you ready?
Your On-Page SEO Checklist
When we talk about on-page, we’re really talking on-site. That means that there are things that you’ll be doing to your website to make it be seen in Google and other search engines. Some will be “on-page” meaning wording in text, while other bits will play behind the scenes.
Here’s a quick breakdown:
- Linking (internal and external)
- Header tags
- Meta data
- Image and multimedia
- Quality content
- Speed of page-load
The process of SEO is to rank higher in search engines. Did you know that over 70% of desktop searches are through Google? Want to hear something more staggering? More than 90% of mobile searches are via Google. Google matters.
For your on-page SEO needs, keywords are what most people are familiar with. There are varied aspects of keywords, though. While header keywords are the big, heavily searched words, they’re usually the hardest to rank for. What is suggested for newer sites is to target long-tail keywords. They’re the keywords that have 3,4, or 5 words in them and target a very specific phrase or intent.
Travel cup vs. best insulated travel cup
Closet organizer vs. closer organizer for small spaces
Running shoes vs. trail running shoes
Business books vs. business books about digital marketing
Long-tail phrases are going to be easier to rank for with less keyword difficulty, and they’re closer to targeting user intent. We’ll talk about user intent shortly. I don’t want to get too far off base. Let’s stick with keywords for now.
Another thing you’ll want to include when building your SEO strategy is both internal and external linking. Internal linking means linking between pages on your website. External would be a link to somebody else’s web page, perhaps to a relevant authority site. If you’re writing about a medical topic, it might be pointed toward a site like WebMD or other sources like Mayo Clinic or your local hospital if you’re working on local SEO. Either way, these links signal to Google that you’re offering other helpful resources for your reader.
Header tags and meta data are the invisible signals you send to search engines. They quietly say, these are important and what this page is about. Keep key phrases and synonyms in mind when writing these.
Your page load time will touch on how Google views your site. If you’re page takes a long time to load, people aren’t going to stick and around and wait. This isn’t the day of dial-up AOL when we were all first jumping on the web. Patience is long gone, and if you can’t keep your site up to speed, you’ve already lost your potential customer. Make this a priority.
You’ll also want to include quality content. This builds authority and trust by providing your reader with helpful information that they’re seeking. You don’t want somebody to click on your page, and quickly jump off because your content wasn’t helpful. That’s a bad signal when readers “bounce away” too quickly.
What about Off-Site SEO?
When it comes to off-site SEO, there are things that you have less control over, but with the right path you’ll be able to tackle these steps one at a time.
Ideas for off-site SEO: building backlinks via guest posting at other relevant blogs, building your reputation on social media sites, multimedia placed on other sites to build authority (ex: helpful video on YouTube, or article on Medium.com)
Asking other sites to link to you is one way of getting back links. A smarter way is to create incredibly helpful content that people will be drawn to link to…to help their readers! The stronger your content, the more likely somebody else will link to it. In turn, this builds your authority in your niche.
These are all ways that drive traffic and awareness back to your site. The more solid, backlink profile you have from other relevant sources, the stronger your ranking in search engines. Some call it domain authority, or domain ranking, a term that came from MOZ. They have a great article about off-page SEO you can check out via that link.
It all comes down to visibility. Without traffic to your site, your business is like a stick in the mud.
Searcher’s Intent and SEO
The examples of long-tail keywords that I listed earlier are focused on searcher’s intent. What that means is that when you’re more specific in your phrasing, and you’re more likely to match what your reader is looking for.
Years ago, we might have done a search like this: dog kennels
Now, people are more direct with questions: best rated dog kennels in Knoxville
They know that by narrowing down what they’re looking for, that the search engines like Google will give them a closer match. If they simply put in dog kennels, they might get locations from all over. They’ve also said that they want to know what dog kennels were rated the highest.
A searcher’s intent is exactly what they’re actually looking for. It’s specific. It takes the guessing game out of search results. We’ve gotten better at searching, and search engines are better at understanding what we are looking for.
Another thing to factor in is the rise of voice activated searches. People search with questions like, “How do you fold a fitted sheet?”
Using these ideas, you can form your content strategy by targeting specific terminology and user intent phrases.
The bonus is that if a user clicks on your website and stays to read what you’ve offered, it shows Google that your content was helpful to your reader. They know that your website can answer this type of question and that people went to your site, consumed your content, and found it to be of good quality.
Each of these components add to your search engine rankings.
SEO results don’t happen overnight. It’s a long-term strategy. By following best practices, you’ll improve your site’s performance over time.