In the wise words of Jimmy Dugan, “If it wasn’t hard, everybody would do it.” The world of digital marketing, specifically SEO, is no different. The experts at Snap can verify that SEO does not happen overnight, and there is no one magic formula to raise your search presence. Every website is different and requires a unique formula to rise to the top of page one. (Side note: If your website isn’t different, that is to say it’s an exact duplicate of another, you’ve got a much bigger problem on your hands.) It takes time to implement improvements, and it takes even more time for the search engines to give you credit for them. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
But that’s not what you clicked on this post to hear. You want to know what you can do right now to help your business. You’ve heeded our warning, and with all being said and done, there’s a good chance that there are some things you can do right now to instantly boost your overall ranking potential.
1. Install Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools
If you’re already familiar with digital marketing, this step may sound like a no-brainer. Don’t skip ahead quite too fast, because you could be missing out on major opportunity, even if you already have these tools installed. The real question is: Are you using these insights to their full potential?
Tracking and Analytics are the gateway to all SEO strategy. No valuable changes can be implemented without a thorough understanding of how users are interacting with your website. Make educated recommendations based on how your visitors are behaving. What pages are they landing on, and are these pages the most appropriate for which keywords are driving users to your site? Do you have demographic and benchmark reporting enabled to understand how your website fares in comparison with the industry average? Are you tracking conversions (you better be) and what channels are those converting users attributed to? Quantification and attribution are two of our favorite words at Snap, and without Analytics, we can’t do much of either.
2. Use Your Network
Backlinks are one of the most valuable and overlooked aspects of an SEO strategy, more so than any other ranking factor. Before you go haywire purchasing links to your site, know that it’s all about quality over quantity. The purpose of a backlink is to indicate to search engines that a trustworthy website believes your website is trustworthy, too. It’s arguably the single most powerful indicator a search engine has to know that they can trust you. There are plenty of free tools, like OpenLinkProfiler and Open Site Explorer, you can use to determine the number and quality of a website’s backlinks. Aim for a high MozRank and a high Domain Authority.
Now for the tricky part. How do you get these valuable sites to link to yours? Some quality backlinks can be purchased, but this can be risky and should be monitored closely. Chances are you’ve got plenty of high-quality free backlink potential right in your own backyard. Many of our clients don’t realize that the most valuable assets for their website are the ones they already have. Reach out to industry partners for guest posting opportunities and backlinks to each other’s businesses.
3. Keyword Integration
Formerly known as “buzzwords,” keywords are one SEO tactic that have been around since its conception. What is evolving, however, is how keywords are used. Rather than stuffing a single term into your content as regularly as you can, keywords should integrate naturally into your site’s content and provide value to whoever is looking at them.
Spot-check technical markup to confirm that keywords are properly utilized and your titles are compelling users to visit your website. These include:
- page titles
- meta descriptions
- image alt text
- heading tags
And, for the love of God, don’t use meta keywords. They’re a trap.
4. Internal Linking
Have you ever created a service page and wondered why no one is actually landing on it? Internal linking is how search engines know which of your pages should be grouped together. Pages with more links directing to them are deemed more valuable. Link from landing pages to your most important service, category or product pages to improve their relevance on your website.
5. Ramp Up the Blogging
Oh, yeah. We’re going there. You’ve probably heard that “content is king,” and we’re here to explain exactly what that means. Having content on your website doesn’t mean offering a paragraph or two. Take a look at this graph from a 2015 Hubspot Case study to see how much content is enough to get you ranked.
That’s right. Too short is no good. Regularly posting valuable content on your website is a sure-fire way to earn more visits. Try to post to your blog at least once a week, and aim for a minimum of 1,000 or more words in a post.
6. Audit Your Content
Because recommendations 3 and 5 are so important, we’ve combined them for recommendation number 6. Content must be useful and valuable to your user. No matter what line of work you’re in, you created your website to help a certain group of people. Think of them when you’re writing your content. Is your brand voice consistent? Are you enriching someone’s life?
Shareable content is great, but as search engines get smarter, content for the sake of content will fall to page two and beyond. Spammy keyword-stuffed content that can be found anywhere else on the internet won’t get you far, and wouldn’t you rather be remembered for breaking the mold?
If you’re short on ideas, check out buzzsumo to find out what types of posts do well and how you can make them your own. Look at Wikipedia for ideas about how to grow beyond your area of service and what kinds of related information your users are interested in.
7. NAP Listings
If you have a local business, this one is for you. SEO doesn’t just happen on your website. Off-site directories must be consistent for search engines to rank you well. Name, Address and Phone Number (NAP) are simple elements you certainly don’t want your users being confused about.
8. External Linking
Don’t be fooled into thinking that linking to other websites will hurt your own results. Remember those backlinks you want so badly? You’ve got to shell some out, too! Linking to high-quality websites is an added trust factor because you’re establishing yourself as an educated, informed resource.
As an added bonus, these links also reveal to your users what kind of organizations you like to align yourself with. So if you do a fair share of work in your organizations in the community, talk about it!
9. Stay in the Know
Google algorithm updates are announced almost every other week. And while there’s still a fair amount about these algorithms we don’t know, they do tell us a lot of information. When they are so kind to share ranking factors with the rest of us, we’d better listen! Take last April, for example. It didn’t take many of us by surprise that mobile compatibility was announced as a ranking factor, but time and time again we continue to come across websites that aren’t mobile-friendly. Having a single responsive website is the new normal—or, as Google would say, a “best practice.”
More recently still, SSL certificates are now being rewarded with higher indexing. This means that your website has an added layer of security. These are essential if your site stores delicate information, like credit card numbers or medical information. You can identify these certificates by looking for “https” in the URL instead of “http.”
10. It’s Not All About SEO
SEO on its own has its limitations, so the best strategy is an all-encompassing strategy. While you’re optimizing for search engines, don’t forget to optimize for your user, too. User experience improvements work in tandem with SEO to provide a cohesive seamless experience for your user. Put your new content in front of even more potential customers by sponsoring it with SEM and on Social Media Channels.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. We are regularly asked, “What gets me the biggest bang for my buck?” If any marketer answers that question without a thorough investigation of your digital presence, they’re lying. There is no single answer, and all touchpoints must be explored if you’re expecting long-term results.
Feeling overwhelmed? The experts at Snap are just a few clicks away. Stop by or give us a call to learn how to rock your SEO.