Top Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Strategies!Search Engine Optimization (SEO) sounds a bit like rocket science. With the right combo of this widget and that module, add in time, subtract theory and maybe the equation will produce a solution better than the last.
Like most technology, what was applied last year in online marketing efforts may already be outdated. Those tactics are dying a slow half-life while the competition is jumping to the top of search. With every New Year, you must reevaluate your strategies without having to dedicate a good chunk of the marketing department’s change.
When much of the bottom-line depends on the ability to reach more potential customers, readers and service users, it only makes sense to do everything in your power to enhance that reach.
To do so, enlist the company of tried and true third party tools as well as free resources from the search engine rulers themselves, Google and Bing. Here are seven effective tactics you should explore in 2015.
- Optimize for mobile search
In a recent study, Global Web Index took a sampling of 170,000 adults in 32 markets around the globe. The results show that 80 percent of adults now have a smartphone; the average time spent on a mobile device was 1.85 hours a day over a half hour increase from 2012.
As mentioned in SEO Power Suite’s recent guide to mobile-friendly sites, for Google, nearly 50 percent of all traffic is mobile. Your mobile site, now more than ever, needs to be equal in presence, content and search ability as your desktop site. Plus, having a mobile-friendly site boosts your ranking slightly from the get-go before diving deep into updates.
Double-check your mobile updates by testing through Google Webmaster Tools with Fetch as Google.
Indicate to the search engine that some of the URLs on your site can be served up on the mobile. This requires a special string of syntax and staying on top of the Mobile Sitemap protocol paired with specified tagging and further namespace requirements. Following the Sitemap updates, send this to Google.
Better yet, adopt a responsive Web design to compress the time and effort spent on optimizing variations on the same information. However, if you do not have the time or money for a complete web redesign from the way your site was set up, it may be best to build a separate mobile webpage and implement a strong SEO strategy from the beginning.
- Focus on a variety of keywords
SEO has evolved over the years to consider more than just singular keywords. Take the yesteryear approach to applicable words and add in the users’ intent behind the search. Ranking the appropriate keywords can be the deal breaker for top of search placement.
So, how do you know what verbiage will actually work? You likely have your mainstays but there may be powerful keyword phrases you are missing out on. Knowing the actual prospective data can help position keywords from the beginning while removing much of the guesswork.
Cue up a tool such as Rank Tracker and the feature “Suggest Keywords” to can cut down on hours of work by easily aggregating information from 17 keyword suggestion platforms. Because each keyword you choose requires a significant amount of effort – page updates, content creation, text anchoring – invest time and money in what matters.
Review the keyword difficulty scores within Rank Tracker to prioritize your strategy based on difficulty. Begin with keywords that are low on the difficulty scale and invest in them to draw in a level quick earnings.
You can also use this tool to run de-personalized, objective results cutting out the complications of IP address location when reviewing SEO analytics on other platforms.
Your mobile audience may be looking for different content that the general desktop audience. Plan your keyword strategy for both with precedent-set statistics and a gaze into the future of how certain phrases may perform. Use Google’s Keyword Planner to help plan out an accurate budget by reviewing bids for your driving force keywords.
- Don’t ignore social media
Search your company on a variety of browsers in a variety of locations. Note if your active social media pages – Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter – come up. Maintaining and growing a social media presence can envelope the main page nicely in rank.
Optimally, your webpage would pull up first, but following should be social media channels emblazoned with up-to-date content and an engaged community. Then, if the user does not click to your webpage first, at least they are greeted with the essence of your brand; it is here they are invited into your brand which is a invaluable positioning technique.
Analytics not looking so great lately? Thankfully, from an SEO perspective, having a dynamic, robust presence is valued – not the engagement (likes, shares, retweets) of the content.
If you have inactive pages or duplicate accounts both attributed to your brand, kill off the ones you are not using. You want to filter the user into the content you want them to see without the opportunity for disillusionment and confusion of inactivity and old content.
Left that Google+ page to die in the desert of inactive social media accounts to focus on the others? Consider part of the daily posting mix. Because it is Google’s social network child, it will have preferential treatment regardless in search.
- Ditch complicated UX and URL
A website audit can take days of scrolling, notating and using different tools. Even if you consider your website clean and streamlined, it does not hurt to run a program like Website Auditor. The program is free unless there is a need for upgraded versions with features such as published, deliverable client reports.
You can run through a list of on-site and on-page checks and balances focusing on categories like redirect issues, meta tags, homepage content and encoding issues. Cutting down on these performance-inhibiting problems within individual pages in one swoop is an invaluable asset to higher SEO for the entire site.
Website Auditor also checks the integrity of the site’s URLs and links, such as data-based dynamic URLs that are too long and lacking in SEO-supporting keywords. 404 errors and broken links can damage search rankings, so identify these and fix as soon as possible.
Word to the wise: before making any changes compile your suggestions and send them to your webmaster to avoid adding complications and issues by changing URLs.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff
SEO will assist in the bigger marketing picture. It can be easy when diving into data and analytics to nitpick individual page issues, each blog post and every page subhead for perfection.
Take a step back. It’s impossible to monitor these details for every post you create and track daily performances.
Instead, think about what SEO optimization tools and fixes will assist you. Narrow down three SEO goals you can tackle and make changes thereafter as necessary, then move on to the next goal.
- Long tail SEO still matters
Consider why people search for anything online. Who are your customers and what do they want with your product?
Say you are in the organic juice business. Searches for “weeklong organic green juice cleanse” may be a term lesser in overall search volume but greater in sales for your product if you can rank high through strategic SEO with this phrasing. At that point the client knows what they want and are likely willing to pay for it.
You’ll still want to strive for the short golden keywords, such as “green juice,” but knowing how your customers interact with the product can increase sales volume with proper targeting.
Unique “long tail” searches comprise the majority of the world’s searches, so pay attention to what you can optimize on this end.
- Pair up with PR
One tactic that has not shifted in the wide world of SEO is inbound links back to your site. This aids in creating the golden twins of referral traffic and increase SEO.
To acquire these priceless links from top quality sources you need to be bold. Actively pitch your products and services to journalists who write about your industry. Keep it simple and explain the value of why people need to know about your brand.
Run searches with adverbs such as “best of” and “top 10” to see if your competitors are listed. If you believe your business can offer true value to these journalists or their readers, then formulate a pitch to try to get traffic back to your site.
Don’t just ask for links, earn them. Produce valuable content related to your industry with keywords used appropriately and tagged efficiently on your webpage to establish the brand as an expert in the field.
If you have other SEO strategies you’ve found to be effective, we’d love to hear it in the comments below!
- Create an influencer who is a subject-matter expert.
An influencer is someone who people listen to online. When it comes to search engine optimization, having an influencer in your corner will mean more people link to your website, share your blog posts and trust your content. If possible, have an influencer who is a subject-matter expert head up the content creation on your website. This person can be you, someone from your company or someone you align with.
- Develop a content-marketing strategy.
Every website should have a content strategy focused around your top keywords. When you create content such as blog posts, videos, whitepapers, research reports and webinars, it gives people something to link to. In addition, the content you create can rank by itself in the search engines. For example, if you write a blog post on “How to Pick an SEO Company,” there is a possibility it will rank for some of the keywords you use in the title and in the body post, especially if the post gets linked to from other websites or shared a lot on social media. It also helps if your website as a whole already has significant high-quality links.
This results in high domain authority, which translates into better rankings for all of your content. In addition, regular content creation shows Google that your website is alive and active. By sending this fresh content signal to Google on a continual basis, it will result in better rankings for your website as a whole.
- Generate powerful backlinks to your site and pages.
Having an influencer and content marketing strategy will help you develop backlinks to your website, but it is also important to actively be seeking ways to get people to link to you. Some of the best ways to do this are to write for a large publication, do industry interviews and recommend your powerful content to people who matter. You can also hire a public relations (PR) company or an SEO company that has a strong digital PR division to help you with this initiative.
In addition, you can also use tools like Majestic SEO to see who is linking to your competitors. Once you identify the links to your competitor’s sites, you can analyze these links, learn how they got them and implement a similar strategy for your website. For example, did they donate to a charity causing the charity to link to their site? You can do the same thing.
Related: How to Identify the Best SEO Strategy for Your Company
- Get your website mobile-ready.
In 2015, there was a major Google update known as Mobilegeddon. This meant that if you did not have a mobile version of your website by April 21, 2015, you lost a significant amount of your rankings in the mobile version of the Google search listings.
Moving into 2016, your website needs to be mobile-ready. There are three types of accepted options for a mobile site in Google’s eyes: responsive design, being set up on a mobile subdomain or use dynamic serving. Google also now ranks websites higher that apply SEO for their apps. So if you have an app, make sure you are taking the time to implement application SEO.
- Move your website to HTTPS, a secure site.
Google’s Gary IIIyes sent this tweet on August 18, 2015, saying that, “If you’re an SEO and you’re recommending against going HTTPS, you’re wrong, and you should feel bad.” The “S” in HTTPS stands for security, and if your URL leads with HTTPS (https://example.com) instead of HTTP (http://example.com), then your website is secure. Google wants you to move your site to HTTPS so badly that they are now giving a ranking boost to websites that are secure. As we move into 2016, we will be seeing many new websites transferring to HTTPS.
- Add schema.org markup to your website.
Schema.org is a type of markup that you can put in the code of your website. Using schema.org, you can tell Google which picture on your site is your logo, where your reviews are, where your videos are, what type of company you are, where you are located and much more. Google has hinted over the last year that schema.org will help your website rank better in Google search. Recently, Google’s John Mueller, said in a Google Hangout on Sept. 11 (at the 21:40 minute mark) that “over time, I think it [structured markup] is something that might go into the rankings as well.”
When it comes to SEO in 2016, these are some of the most important items you can focus on. Make sure you are adding fresh, high-quality content and generating backlinks. Also, make sure you website is mobile ready and fully secure. Outside of this, it is also important to follow normal SEO best practices.
Keyword research is the first step to a successful SEO strategy. Those successful with SEO understand what people are searching for when discovering their business in a search engine. These are the keywords they use to drive targeted traffic to their products. Start brainstorming potential keywords, and see how the competition looks by using Google AdWords Keyword Tool. If you notice that some keywords are too competitive in your niche, go with long-tail keywords (between two and five words) which will be easier for you to rank. The longer the keyword, the less competition you will have for that phrase in the engines.
- Meta tags.
Meta tags still play a vital role in SEO. If you type any keyword into a search engine, you’ll see how that keyword is reflected in the title for that page. Google GOOG +0.03% looks at your page title as a signal of relevance for that keyword. The same holds true for the description of that page. Don’t worry about the keyword title tag — Google has publicly said that it doesn’t pay attention to that tag, since it has been abused by webmasters and all those trying to rank for certain keywords.
It’s true, content is king. Search engines have stated that creating quality content is the best way to not only rank for keywords, but also create positive user experiences. It will also go a long way with making sure you’re educating your consumer, and being an authority in your niche will leads to boosts in sales.
If content is king, then backlinks are queen. Remember, it’s not about which site has the most links, but who has the most quality links pointing back to their website. Build backlinks by submitting monthly or bi-monthly press releases on any exciting company, and contacting popular blogs in your niche to see how you can work together to get a backlink from their website. Create the best possible product site you can, so people talking about the products you sell will link back. Try creating graphics or newsworthy content that will influence bloggers and news websites to link that content.
The algorithms have truly changed since social media first emerged. Many content websites are community-oriented — Digg began allowing users to vote which stories make the front page, and YouTube factors views and user ratings into their front page rankings. Therefore, e-commerce stores must establish a strong social media presence on sites like Facebook FB -0.86%, Pinterest, Twitter, etc. These social media sites send search engines signals of influence and authority.
Product images. If you think images don’t play a role, think again. When many consumers search for products in the search engines, not only are they looking at the “Web” results, but they’re also looking at the “images” results. If you have quality images of that product on your site — and the files’ names contain relevant keywords — these images will rank well in search engines. This avenue will drive a lot of traffic to your site, as potential customers will click on that image to find your store.
11 SEO Tactics You Need to Know
As search engines continue to evolve, marketers must improve their skills to keep up. According to reports 70 percent of the links search users click are from SEO. Also, inbound leads (i.e. SEO) cost 61 percent less than outbound leads (i.e. cold calling).
SEO has a better return on investment (ROI) as well. “SEO leads have a 14.6 percent close rate, while outbound leads (such as direct mail or print advertising) have a 1.7 percent close rate,” according to the same report.
Now that you know SEO is the way to go, here are 11 SEO tactics that you need to know in 2015:
- Creating Incredible Content That Earns Links
Even after all of the changes with the search engine algorithms, inbound SEO links are still the biggest influence for search engines. This is unlikely to change. On the other hand, other methods of link acquisition have changed. Earning a link from a high-quality, relevant website will not only help with your SEO but also with referral traffic, which can lead to more sales and brand exposure. Creating incredible content that people will want to share is still the best way to earn links.
- Co-Citation Links
Every time a search engine finds your website next to your competitors, it tells them that your company is in a related niche. To get co-citation links, do a search for “best” or “top 10” items in your niche.
Example: top 10 blue widgets
If you do this search and don’t find your business in the results, get in touch with the publisher and ask that your company be added to the list. Be prepared to justify why your company should be included and where appropriate, give them a summary to go along with a link.
- Editorial Links
Editorial links can be some of the most powerful for SEO because they come from other publications in your niche mentioning your company. They can also come from thought leadership guest posts that you write and get published on third-party sites.
The easiest way to get editorial links is to create outstanding content that people will want to share with their readers. Another way is to guest post on a high-quality site that is in your niche. Be prepared to create incredible content that may be heavily scrutinized before publishing.
Interviews are another way to get editorial links.
As part of the interview, you should be allowed to cite your work in your responses. This can lead to even more backlinks and traffic.
- The Broken Link-Building Method
Here’s another white-hat link-building strategy that can be quite effective. In this case, you’re actually helping publishers fix broken links, which can be helpful to their readers. However, this only works if your content is good enough to replace the lost content.
To do the broken link-building method, you must find broken links on a site that is relevant to your niche. You then contact the webmaster with the broken link and recommend your site as an alternative to the broken link. To find out more, you can read the broken link-building Bible at the Moz blog.
- Link Reclamation
Link reclamation can help you get fresh links by finding broken links to your site and having the publisher fix them.
Find brand mentions about your site and ask the publisher to add a link
Find places where your content has been used without attribution (places where people have used your post or infographics without giving you credit) and request a link from the person
According to Kristi Hines with kristihines.com, “A lot of people think of link reclamation as just 301’ing pages they have moved that still have a lot of great backlinks. But I like to think of reclamation as more than that. I like to think of it as not just reclaiming, but claiming links you deserve.”
In order to make this automated, you can set up a Google Alert to email you whenever your company’s brand is mentioned. You can then check that page to find out if they link to your site.
- Link Outreach
Link outreach is a bit “old school” but can still be quite powerful. To do this, find a website that is relevant to yours and get their contact information from the site. Send them an email or call and politely ask them for link. This works better if the site has a slightly different business than yours but may share a common audience.
- Competitor Analysis
Competitor analysis is nothing new, and companies have been researching their competitor’s links for years. However, by looking at the competitor’s backlinks and manually reviewing which links are worth having, you can then perform a link outreach and try to get a link from the same referring site.
- Focus on ROI Instead of Keyword Rankings
While we all enjoy seeing the keywords rank well in the search engines, this doesn’t necessarily mean your SEO campaign is successful. It’s possible to rank number one for many keywords that have no real ROI. Instead, you should focus on metrics that bring conversions.
- Create an SEO Strategy That Maps to an Audience
Over the past few years, we’ve lost most of the keyword data in Google Analytics and other tools. This has required marketers to change from traditional methods of SEO to create new ways of segmenting their audiences.
In order to do this we must find new keywords to focus on, new ways to approach neighboring markets, and determine where our competition is succeeding with SEO and how you can do it better.
The days of stuffing keywords into bad content and having it rank are long gone. Now your content needs to focus on your target persona and your keywords need to flow within the content. This is why it’s so important that content and SEO be tied closely together.
- Optimize for Yahoo, Bing, and Others
Search engines like Yahoo and Bing may slowly take a bigger piece of Google’s pie in 2015. Yahoo is now the default search engine for Firefox. Safari had a deal with Google, which is supposed to end in 2015, and Yahoo and Bing are both trying to become the default search engine for the browser.
As other search engines become the default Web browsers instead of Google, it makes sense to optimize for those search engines as well.
- Mobile SEO
Mobile is becoming more popular every year. Every website should have a mobile marketing strategy.
“May  turned out to be a banner month for mobile as it delivered on some huge milestones which underscored just how impressive the medium’s ascendance has been in the past few years. Mobile platforms – smartphones and tablets – combined to account for 60 percent of total digital media time spent, up from 50 percent a year ago,” says comScore.
Mobile should be a core part of any SEO plan in 2015. However, you must be cautious as configuration errors caused a 68 percent loss of traffic, according to BrightEdge.
Creating an SEO strategy can give your company and brand a boost in the search engines. Why not improve your ROI today?
- Internal Linking
Sure, everyone talks about how external back links are better than internal back links, and they’re right. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore internal links.
Internal links help guide the search engines through your site. Without internal links, search engines have a harder time figuring out where they should go next. It’s your job to make it easier on them to find your important pages. The harder you make it for the search engines, the more likely it is that important pages will be missed by the spiders. And that means lost traffic.
You don’t want lost traffic right?
Here are 3 examples of how Zappos kills it with internal linking. Also note that Zappos does a great job with SEO, but the site isn’t being ‘SEO’ed’ or ‘manipulated’ in any way.
Breadcrumbs funnel link juice to the home page, categories, and sub categories. By adding breadcrumbs you’re adding a layer of internal links across your site. In short, your site becomes a little more accessible to search engines.
Think of your site as an ant hill. Your homepage is the top of the funnel and your categories/sub-categories are the little sections in the middle of the ant hill. Internal links are what will help build more tunnels.
- Content + internal links
Here’s a snippet of content on the ‘Shoes’ category for Zappos:
This does two things. The first sets the foundation for internal linking and also brings more relevance to the page: content. This section tells the search engine that this page is about different shoes and makes it easier for this page to rank for ‘shoes’ related keywords. The second part is internal linking with rich anchor text. These are the types of keywords that Zappos wants to rank higher for.
Ranking higher usually means more traffic and more traffic for an e-commerce means more conversions. Careful that you don’t overdo this though. You could get penalized.
- Related links
Here’s a look at a Zappos product page:
These related product links do quite a few things for Zappos. As you know by now, links are part of the equation when a search engine determines how important a page is. With e-commerce SEO, there are thousands of products and it’s hard to give each product some link love. Linking to related products spreads the link juice around relevant products so they all get a small boost. Let’s also not forget about the increased chances of getting an extra conversion by linking to related products.
If you don’t have an e-commerce site, no problem. Blogs can take advantage of great related internal linking by doing something like this:
- Great content
I know, I know. They say everywhere that content is king and content marketing has been a growing trend in online marketing. For example, BufferApp grew its their customer base from 0 to 100,000 with content marketing. Another good example is Fraiser Cain growing his monthly traffic from 0 to 3 million visitors with content marketing.
The truth is, great content is extremely powerful and separates the wheat from the chaffe. Let’s look at some benefits of great content:
- Establishes you as a thought leader – this can lead to unforeseen opportunities (such as speaking or consulting gigs)
- Attracts links – if your post is really good, you can expect to get links from high quality sources. It sure beats having to manually prospect for links.
- Attracts social shares – social shares are now part of the SEO equation and will bring in more traffic. This can even result in more links.
- Brings traffic to your site – if your content is evergreen, then expect that traffic to last for awhile.
- Builds trust with your audience – the blog is an excellent point in your sales funnel because people tend to remember people that helped them. Let’s say you sold toilets and you had a blog about home improvement and someone has gone to your blog for tips on multiple occasions. Who do you think they will turn to when they need a new toilet? It’s all about helping others.
Keep one thing in mind though, creating great content is not only really hard, but it also takes a long time.
Content marketing can be one of your biggest competitive advantages if you can execute. Some of the most successful bloggers on the internet took years to build up their blog. Slow and steady wins the race so be patient!
- Great relationships
Link building is still one of the most important aspects of SEO. Assuming you have your on-site/technical SEO taken care of, links can really be a traffic driver if used correctly. The problem here is links are really hard to acquire. Good links are even tougher to acquire. And with the recent Google Penguin update, you don’t want to be messing around with too many dirty links. You want the good stuff.
So what’s a good way to acquire links? Relationships.
Seems like an underwhelming answer huh? But I assure you that building great relationships with people will yield you some of the highest quality links you’ve ever seen. It’ll take you some time to develop these but they’ll be worth it. And you’ll get a lot more than a few links if you play your cards right.
If you want to start building these relationships, you can look for influencers online or go to offline events. After that, it’s a matter of following up and helping people before you expect anything back.
I guarantee you’ll feel much more satisfied from building a relationship versus building a few links.
First, an example of a transcription done right:
If you ever wonder how certain websites rank for so many long tail keywords, it’s because they have a lot of content and a lot of links. The links tell the search engines that a particular site is authoritative so it tells the search engines that they should be placed higher in the search result pages because the site has pretty much earned it. Conversely, a newer site with no links and a lot of content wouldn’t do that well because it’s still relatively new and un-established.
If you post video content, it’s smart to make use of transcriptions. Search engines can’t exactly crawl everything that’s being said in a video so it’s your job to make this content visible in text format. If you do that, you open yourself to ranking for more long tail keywords.
- User Generated Content
Giving your users the option to produce content for you creates a sense of community and can even help with decision making. For example, just look at how Amazon’s product reviews:
Besides helping with a purchase decision, the content generated here is great for SEO. Search engine spiders like unique, helpful content and they get plenty of it from product reviews. This is also a big win for Amazon because they don’t have to spend more money to produce content – their customers are doing it for them!
If used correctly, SEO can be a very powerful weapon. Like anything else though, there are no shortcuts. And if you try to take shortcuts, you’ll eventually end up falling short because you’re competing against some of the smartest engineers in the world at Google. It’s best to invest in a long term strategy that adds value to your audience.
Try using one or two of the tactics above and see how it works out for you.