Whether you utilize these tools yourself or decide to outsource, your Search Engine Optimization strategy is one of the most important business decisions you will make to date.
The average internet user might think the first results they get back from a search engine are the best to suit their needs. However, anyone familiar with Search Engine Optimization knows that is not always the case. The quality of your website is important in retaining your readers; however, if almost 90 percent of searchers don’t go past Google’s first page, the ranking of your website is vital to getting them there in the first place.
This guide will provide you with the background you need to understand what SEO is. It will also outline some tools available to help you move forward with your own strategy. SEO will enable anyone who as a product or service to reach their target audience and decrease their advertising costs.
Take Actionable Steps
Search Engine Optimization is simply taking steps to increase the organic traffic your website receives from search engines. It includes creating a system of valuable links: ones that connect your website to outside content, direct readers to more of your own pages, and, hopefully, attract other websites to link back to you. It also involves the creation of quality content that is relevant to readers as well as search engine algorithms and includes important keywords.
There are many metrics and tools that can help you gauge how effectively your content and links are ranking you within the search engine’s indexing system; but first, here are a few actionable steps you can enact before taking a closer look:
Create a clear website framework
Humans and search engines are alike in that they both like order. It’s important to create a clearly organized structure within your website that will appeal to both search engine crawlers and readers. It should be arranged in a logical order that makes navigation easy: pages, categories, subcategories, and headings. Internal linking will further fortify the structure of the site.
Include high quality content
Google algorithms are becoming increasingly attuned to content quality. You want to write content that clearly aligns with your keywords, headlines and meta descriptions. You should also know that long form content will rank higher than short form content. Remember that you want readers to utilize your website, not robots. Your content should be relevant, engaging, and readable.
You also need to consider the videos and photos you choose to use. While text is essential, these are also important forms of content that will drive considerable engagement. They will increase the aesthetic and entertainment factors of your website, too.
It is important to note that since most of your traffic will come from mobile devices. It is essential to design your website and create your content to be mobile-friendly.
Optimize your network of internal and external links
Building a network of internal and external links is one of the most effective SEO steps you can take.
First, it’s important to internally link every new page of content you create. That means hyperlinking to other pages and articles on your site. This reinforces your website’s structure and keeping readers engaged across multiple target pages. If you don’t internally link new content, it will become orphaned content. Orphaned content is pages that are detached from the rest of your website that crawlers will overlook or rank low. So, interlinking will help your ranking and help readers find more useful content within your website. This will lead to them spending more time on it.
Backlinks are when another website links to yours, and they are major factors in the ranking of your website. Before the algorithms caught up to the practice, it was possible to purchase a bundle of low-quality backlinks to boost your ranking. Now, that will only hurt you. Today, it is the quality of your backlinks that counts, not the quantity. The ranking of the websites that link back to you will be reflected in your own ranking.
The best way to attract valuable backlinks is by creating high-quality content. Others will naturally want to refer to it and you will form relationships with relevant businesses, organically expanding your linking network.
Increase site speed
It’s known that the slower your site is, the faster your readers will leave. Google will also rank you lower. Finding ways to reduce loading time, like eliminating unessential programs or compressing image sizes, will be unique to your website. Accelerating your site speed is another important SEO tip.
Implement and monitor one optimization change at a time
Next, I will introduce you to a series of tools you can use to increase your organic search engine traffic. However, it’s important to note that whatever tools you decide to use, make sure to choose a metric like keyword rankings to monitor site traffic. Then, implement change one tool at a time. If several strategies are unleashed at once, you won’t be able to tell which ones are working and which are not. Through this gradual introduction of alterations, you will have a better idea of the tools that are working best to meet your goals.
Choose and Use the Tools Available to You
Once you have a general understanding of how your site should be structured, it’s crucial to understand how it is performing. There are many SEO tools available, both free and paid. They will help you track keywords, link, and site traffic, and study your competition. Another important tool function is a comprehensive audit. Audits will analyze your site like a search engine would. They'll then report back to you on your site’s speed, quality of content and link structure, tags, organic search data, and errors that may need to be fixed.
The following list includes SEO tools that can help you accomplish one specific goal or many, depending on your needs.
This popular SEO tool allows you to track all traffic and can audit your backlinks, giving you an idea of where your site is represented on the web. It also has a powerful keyword tool that will provide you with search results on given keywords, recommend relevant keywords and long-tail keywords, which are keyword phrases that have more than three words.
Google AdWords and Keyword Planner
Google’s AdWords compares the metrics of how a given keyword would rank in an organic search vs a paid advertisement. This is the hopes of selling advertisements of course. However, it also features the free Keyword Planner, which generates lists of new keywords and their estimated metrics in your given field.
Ubersuggest is a valuable free tool that allows you to examine domain name and keyword data. It also lets you view a URL’s keywords, number of backlinks, and traffic. It will even let you see how it has progressed over the previous months.
Keyword.io allows you to expand your keyword research beyond Google, including platforms like Wikipedia, Amazon and Youtube. It generates hundreds of long-tail keywords related to your search. You can then filter further by platform.
Moz Bar and Link Explorer
Moz Bar include several SEO toolbox features, including keyword metrics and analysis of the top-ranking websites for a given keyword. It is a good way to gain insight on how other websites and pages are structured.
It also contains a Link Explorer tool. This can examine both your internal and backlink structures and allow you to review other site’s link structures.
Google Search Console
When it comes to measuring traffic, it’s best to go straight to the source to see how your site is performing on Google. Its free Search Console will show you how often you are appearing on Google and what keywords you’re ranking for. Among other features, it can also locate potential spam issues on a website.
Analytics will give you a more specific picture of how your site is performing. It provides specific information about who is using your site, where they are coming from, and how they are spending their time on it.
Ahref’s paid software provides many SEO tools, but notably offers a thorough audit feature. It can progressively track your site’s health, find problems with internal and external links, and evaluate content quality.
You can also access its backlink checker for free. It will list and rank a site’s backlinks as well as its URL and domain.
Essentially an internet time-capsule, this free tool is a way to examine a website’s past and its evolution over time. It allows a site manager to compare as how content and traffic has changed over time. They can also preserve past versions of a site in case they want to revisit them.
Screaming Frog Spider
This is another free search engine crawl mimicking tool that will find broken links, reflect page titles back to you to identify redundancies, and create an exportable content report.
Yoast has many great free capabilities, as well as some paid options. It will help you optimize a chosen keyword, a vital feature, and in the paid version, will track multiple keywords. It also importantly determines text readability with a Flesch Reading Ease Score. This reinforces the fact that accessibility to readers is your ultimate goal with content.
Hire a Search Engine Optimization firm
Another strategy for optimizing your website is, of course, to hire a professional to help you. Entrepreneurs and small business owners have limited time, so tinkering with metrics and SEO tools may not be an option for you.
Like any other partnership, you should take the time to carefully research SEO firms and communicate what services you are looking for. Here is how to find the best SEO firm for you and make your specific goals known.
Trust your inner circle
One would assume that if a firm has managed to get itself to the top of a “Best SEO firm” search, they have the most experience optimizing and are therefore the best. However, only new or struggling firms will be the ones putting in the effort to increase their own website’s ranking, rather than doing what they claim to do well: optimizing their client’s websites.
Even worse, some firms that are advertising vague or too-good-to-be-true results may be employing so-called Black Hat strategies, optimization shortcuts devised to falsely boost your rankings. While these stunts may provide an initial positive bump, Google is quick to learn these tricks. When discovered, they will promptly demote your website’s ranking, leaving you worse off than you were before.
The best step to take in your search is to approach businesses within your industry or others in your professional network to recommend trusted SEO firms that have experience delivering within your niche.
When you do choose an SEO firm to work with, decide on the best way to share and interpret analytics results and realize that noticeable improvements may take time.
Define your optimization goals and choose your metrics
It is not enough to ask your chosen SEO firm to just optimize your website or increase your organic traffic. Create a specific list of goals you want to reach. Do you want to rank higher for specific keywords? Are you trying to improve the quality of your backlinks? Whatever the case, try to have an idea of what function you want your SEO strategy to serve.
You also need to come to a consensus on what Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are best to measure your specific data. You may want to track your organic traffic information, conversion rate (how many visitors engage in content, purchase products, or sign up for further information), or page load time.