Do you remember when you were first learning how to ride your bike? At some point, your training wheels had to come off, and it was a scary thought. However, once they were taken off, and you mastered the skills of steering, balancing, braking and pedaling, it became second nature to ride a bike without the training wheels.
Well, the same can be said with search engine optimization (SEO). Without understanding the basic foundation, it is essentially a foreign language to you. So, with that being said, this article is going to help slowly take off the training wheels so that you can get started down the path to creating a solid and effective SEO strategy.
#1: On-Site SEO
Let’s say you were building a house. You have to start off with a solid foundation. If you don’t, then you are going to have a number of issues even if you hire the most expensive interior designer. The same can be said for SEO. You must start with a good foundation for your website, and this consists of:
- Unique text content
- Internal link architecture
- URL structure
- Bot accessibility
- Server response codes
Some of these terms are incredibly technical, but don’t allow that to intimidate you. Get in touch with a website developer, who can perform an adult of your website within just a couple of hours to see what your site needs to have a solid foundation.
Keep in mind, without a solid foundation, your website could get held in the search results. Therefore, it pays to get an audit done on your website in the very beginning to ensure that you have what it takes to potentially rank well in Google.
#2: Unique Site Content
In addition to the lack of a solid foundation, duplicate website content can also keep you from ranking well in search engine results. The last thing that you want on your website is duplicate web content or unnecessary pages. Here is an explanation of both of these:
- Duplicate Content (City Level Pages) – There are many instances where businesses will attempt to rank for a number of suburbs around a city or multiple cities in a state by having similar pages for each one. In doing so, Google is able to detect that these pages are duplicative content, which essentially impacts your website ranking negatively.
- Unnecessary Pages – Many businesses will divide their service pages into sub-service pages, which isn’t always positive. For example, while there is a necessity for a marketing firm to have an individual page for online advertising, there probably isn’t a need to have an individual page for display retargeting when that particular service can simply be mentioned on the online advertising page as a separate service that is offered.
Utilize Google Analytics to your advantage and analyze your pages so that you can see which ones are getting the most and the least traffic. If there is a page that isn’t getting much traffic, or none at all, it may be a good idea to consider consolidating it into its parent page. This will essentially help the ranking for the parent page.
#3: Title Tags
When it comes to title tags, you have to determine the service that you want to rank for. For example, with your home page, you need to figure out which service is going to bring the most revenue. Once this is determined, you can figure out what your title tag should be and what your main focus should be on your home page.
For your home page, the title tag is critical. Therefore, you must use actual business metrics when making this decision. Also, if you own a local business, you want to make certain that your city name is included in the title tag since this will assist in ranking with the local market. It is much easier to rank locally than it is to rank nationally.
#4: Quality Backlinks
Backlinks are imperative for ranking in Google’s search engine results. Once you have built a solid foundation for your website, it is time to start focusing on acquiring quality backlinks. What is a backlink? It is a hyperlink on another website that points back to your business website. Remember that quantity is more important quality when it comes to backlinks.
Domain authority, a metric using a scale of 100, can provide you with a particular score for your website. You can find yours by using this tool from Moz and compare it with other sites in the same industry. This is one of the best ways that you can see how you stack up against your competitors in terms of SEO and see where it may land in the search engine results on Google.
If you are interested in getting more quality backlinks, you may want to consider signing up for Help a Reporter Out (HARO). You will receive a daily e-mail with pitches from various media outlets at which time you can respond on behalf of your business.
#5: Digital PR
While HARO is a fantastic way to get quality, authoritative backlinks, it isn’t the only way to get them. In fact, if you want to make sure you are successfully in this department, you will need to ensure you have plenty of authoritative sites linking back to your website on a consistent basis. Here are a few tips to help you accomplish this:
- Reach out to reporters who are specific to your industry and inform them that you would be available for expert quotes.
- Reach out to websites related to your industry and let them know that you would be interested in sharing your individual expertise by contributing guest blog posts.
- Reach out to vendors, partners, customers and/or clients and ask them if they would be willing to list you on the “Partner” section of their websites.
- Reach out to customers and/or clients and offer to provide a testimonial on their website, which will include a link back to your own website.
- Reach out to local and nearby larger city magazines, newspapers, and other publications to offer insight on your local and individual market.
If you are able to acquire three to five quality backlinks monthly regularly, then you should be able to see an increase in your SEO rankings. This is particularly true if you were not proactive with this type of activity previously.
#6: Disavow Spammy Backlinks
As already mentioned, link building is a very important element of the overall success of SEO. Unfortunately, there are some people that will not go about doing it the right way. There are some that will try to manipulate the system. Sadly, this can lead to a penalty from Google.
In some cases, this can happen to you, such as if you hire someone to get you backlinks and they decide to go the spammy route without you knowing it.
Therefore, it is important that you keep track of your links. You can do this by following these steps:
- Log into your Google Search Console.
- Go to Search Traffic.
- Click on Links to Your Site.
- Go to Your Most Linked Content.
- Download Latest Links Report.
An Excel file should begin to download, which will consist of all the backlinks that point back to your site on Google. If you notice any spammy links in this downloaded report, you should get in touch with a professional SEO company to perform an audit on your backlinks and submit a disavow file.
This will inform Google that you don’t want to be associated with this spammy links. Without the disavow file submitted, Google will assume you know about them, and it could be holding you back in the search engine results.
#7: Local SEO
Have you ever noticed some of those businesses in the Google search results with their address and star ratings directly next to the name of their business? How does that happen? Well, that information comes from their Google My Business pages.
If you haven’t been focusing on your own Google My Business page, then now is most definitely the time. Here is what you need to do:
- Check your business information to ensure it is all consistent (name, address, and phone number).
- Make sure that all uploaded photos are current.
- Turn on the specific feature that allows your customers to send you a message.
- Ensure you have a strategy that allows proactivity with your customer reviews.
- List your business’s primary category and ensure it aligns with your offered products/services.
Keep in mind that there is an insights section that will allow you to keep track of impressions and clicks that directly come from your Google My Business page. This type of information is particularly important if you are a local business, so make sure to monitor this data so that you can improve your metrics.
#8: Local Business Listings
When it comes to local business listings, Google wants to ensure that your business is local and legitimate. A local business listing is basically an online profile that simply contains basic information about your business, such as business name, address, telephone number, and other important details. There are thousands of various websites and online directories where business owners can create free profiles. Many of these you have probably heard about, such as Google +, Bing Places, Yahoo Local, Yelp, and Yellow Pages.
There are other online directories and websites where you can create an online business listing for a nominal fee, such as Moz Local and Yext. This will ensure that your information is consistent and will help ensure you have a legitimate local presence.
For no charge, you can use Moz Local to check your business listing. If the score that you get back is less than 70 percent, then it is a good idea to consider submitting to a local directory to make certain that all of your information is consistent and to help boost your overall score.
#9: Monitor Your Success
For just $79 monthly (assuming that you pay once a year), you have the ability to track five individual campaigns with Moz. If this sounds like too much, consider splitting it with a few of your friends that are in marketing or own a business themselves. After all, you can add five different campaigns.
In Moz, you can add your domain, track relevant business keywords, and measure the success and progress of your SEO campaign. There are multiple decisions that can be made when tracking your keywords, so it is a wise decision to sign up for this.
If you are uncertain as to which keywords you should be tracking, there is a great tool that can assist you with this: SEM Rush. This particular tool provides you with the ability to simply type in a keyword and then create different variations.
#10: Continuous Marketing
Google wants to make certain that your website is legitimate and that it has legitimate traffic coming to it. In other words, you better have a website that has incredible content on it. Your need to have a blog with content that has compelling topics. You need to be actively promoting your blog posts on Facebook that will drive traffic continuously to your site. Your homepage, as well as all interior pages, need to have insightful information that offer value for its readers. You also need to have a mobile-friendly website design.
Remember, your website is the center of your business’ marketing strategy. You must ensure that you have solid and engaging content, as this will help convert more customers. Plus, there’s always the fact that Google will be impressed!
If you are unsure whether or not you will be able to create impressive enough content, you can always hire something with an English or journalism major to do it for you. Alternatively, if you already have content created, hire the same type of individual to go through your content and offer feedback. Someone with a writing background can provide a lot of insight and fresh ideas.