Search Engine Optimisation is evolving at a very fast pace from the traditional SEO techniques that overly focus on keywords and links into one that is more holistic and integrated. In other words, SEO is not just optimising your page for search engine ranking, but also optimising everything from the user experience, keyword research, link building, and content marketing to social media. I like to compare SEO to building a house that will last for decades if not centuries. You need to build your SEO on a firm foundation that will stand the test of time; one that will not be shaken by any form of search engine algorithm changes in the future.
If you fail to build your SEO campaigns on these key pillars, your business will greatly suffer as a result of low visibility in search engines and competition. Of course, SEO is still going to change drastically over the coming days, but if you focus on building your house on a long-term foundation, you can expect to dominate your niche for many years to come. Without much further ado, here are the 6 key areas to focus your SEO campaign:
Good Quality Content
What is quality content?
You have definitely heard the phrase “Content is king” umpteen times. However, if you were to ask any random marketer what quality content is, you would get varied answers. For some, quality content is one that has x number of words where x can be anything like 400, 500, 700, 1000, 1500, 2000 or 5000 words. For others, quality content is relevance. But what really is quality content?
Quality content is simply content that is evergreen. It should be useful to the users who will in turn keep coming back for more. It should stand the test of time. A website with great content will always be ahead of the competition when it comes to search engine rankings. In order to produce top-notch content, follow the guidelines below.
Understand what makes your followers tick
There is a reason why some marketers struggle to market their products. The best marketers know whom they are marketing to. They know what makes their audience tick. Therefore, they speak the language of their audience. Writing something that your audience does not care about is a waste of time. Do proper research before creating content for your website. This will ensure that your content will resonate with your audience and persuade them to buy from you.
Once you have produced the content, encourage your readers to make comments, react, ask questions, add on the content, or even disapprove of the content. Some marketers make the mistake of turning off commenting.
Provide real value
The best way you can differentiate yourself from the competition is by providing real value to your audience. When users come to your website, they expect to find unique, original, actionable and resourceful content.
Provide easy-to-read content
Did you know that Google hates content that isn’t easy to read? People have way too many things to do and if your content isn’t easy to ready, they won’t read it. Do not create content that looks like it belongs to a scientific journal. If it isn’t easy for a 5th grader, then your content needs to be redone. Follow these simple rules to increase the readability of your articles:
a.) Ensure your sentences are short. Paragraphs should also be short.
b.) Break up content into headers, sub-headers and bolding.
c.) Font size should not be too small or too big.
d.) Include images, charts, videos and other graphics that act as visual aid.
e.) Create lists (like this one).
It does not matter how great and valuable your content is. If it is not readable, you will get high bounce rates. Make it as easy as possible for your readers to find the information they are looking for.
Create eye-catching titles
Content with titles that grab readers’ attention result in more shares and are read more. Your title is what sells your content. Titles act as your content’s sales representative in social media, search engine and in email campaigns. So it is no surprise that titles tell half of the story.
Links act like streets in the search engine universe. They give search engine bots clues on how content is interrelated within pages. Although links aren’t everything in SEO, they are very important because they not only determine the popularity index of a website, they also determine metrics like spam, trust and authority. You can also compare links to votes. If you are getting links from trustworthy sites, it is a good sign even to the search engines that your site is also trustworthy. It is imperative that you get your link building right if you want to build a “search engine algorithm-proof” link profile.
Here are 5 quick tips to ensure that your link building strategy is right:
Avoid low quality guest posting. Google is harsh on thin, rehashed or unauthentic content that does not give value. Cookie-cutter guest posts still fall in the category of scraped content as far as Google is concerned.
Avoid scraping content from popular websites. There is nothing wrong with using content from other well-established and authority website so long as you modify it to suit your audience such as including relevant stats, views, opinions or data. So, do not just copy paste everything including links.
Concentrate on link quality instead of link quantity. If you were sick, a recommendation from a single qualified physician is better than 100 recommendations from 100 random individuals. The same applies to link building in SEO. It is better to have one or two links from relevant, high authority website than having thousands from irrelevant sources. If your website is about dog nutrition, a link from the National Dog Health Association would carry more weight and relevance than one from a blog about fashion.
The more quality links you have, the better. It is a great thing if you are or can get many links from different high quality relevant websites.
Be wary of link anchor text. The link anchor text says a lot about what you are good at. The text links tells the search engines what your website is all about. Most importantly, make sure your anchor text is relevant to your content. For example, if you are talking about children’s toys, a link text like “horse racing” will send wrong signals to both users and search engines.
Responsive web design
Responsive web design has become an integral part of search engine optimisation. With more people using their tablets and smartphones to access the internet, it is very important for marketers to create websites that can be accessed across multiple channels. Therefore, responsive web design (RWD) means that website pages can render seamlessly no matter on which device they are being displayed on. This means that irrespective of whether you are accessing the website from a desktop, tablet or smartphone, the website will remain user-friendly.
Google Loves RWD
Google is considered as the divine being in the web search universe, and as such has made a list of commandments. What Google wants is what you give it or face the consequences. Google favours responsive websites when it comes to search engine ranking. As a matter of fact, mobile-friendly sites, all factors held constant, generally rank significantly higher than non-responsive sites.
Although Google has kept on updating its ranking criteria, one thing that has remained constant for inbound marketing is keyword research.
People use certain keywords and phrases to find and research products, articles and businesses. Thus, keyword research can help in content strategy or search engine optimisation. In fact, SEO is incomplete without keyword research. Your keywords are your site’s compass because they tell whether you are moving in the right direction or not. Essentially, keyword research is like market research in the online business realm.
Finding Your Best Keywords
The majority of novice marketers make the same mistakes when it comes to keyword research for SEO purposes:
· Targeting keywords that are too narrow and too popular
· Doing keyword research only once
· Not updating their list of keywords
Because the online business world is ever-changing, it is important to ensure that old keywords are re-evaluated periodically. In addition, keywords that are too popular are difficult to rank, hence, the need for long-tailed keywords that are more specific, longer and are designed to attract the right visitor to your website. It is also important to differentiate yourself by diversifying your keywords so that you avoid using the same keywords your competitors are using.
Passion for the brand
It is difficult to do anything without passion. This is one item that many business owners do not take into consideration, yet it is the most important one by a mile. You must have passion for your brand; otherwise, you will soon burn out. Before you jump into keyword research, content and web design, you should first make an assessment of how passionate you are with the niche. Are you willing to go an extra mile to create an extraordinary business? Are you willing to learn? Start with passion and you will build a very successful online business.
Data measurement and analysis
Sometimes, one can do a great job when it comes to keyword research and planning, creating a responsive website, being passionate and crafting great content. But, they end up failing to measure their progress. You should check if you are performing well by integrating tools that will measure important metrics like traffic, conversion, bounce rates, time spent on site and geographical metrics, among others. There are many third party applications that you can use to measure performance. Start with Google Analytics as you set up other e-commerce tracking tools.
Keep in mind that a great SEO strategy is one that incorporates all of the above key aspects. Each of the six areas are paramount to creating a successful online business that will stand the test of time. A solid SEO strategy should also involve thorough analysis of the competition as well ability to remain vigilant in the ever-changing online business world.
Joe Ryan is the Founder & CEO of UK online marketing agency, Digital Search Group, which specialises in smart internet marketing. He is a specialist in online marketing strategy and brand building. When he’s not considering the next best online marketing strategy with his team, he enjoys travel and spending time with his family.