Search engines have one job and one job only: to find the best answers to user search queries. Even when you have the best content around, something as small as missing title tags could cost you a top SERPs position.
While content still remains king, SEO is much more than that. In fact, Google uses over 200 ranking factors, and any of them could be key to unlocking your website's growth. The first step to successful SEO is to have a working SEO strategy.
An SEO strategy is a plan detailing how you will organize your web content by category to help users and crawlers find it more easily, increasing its chances of appearing in search results. It's an SEO blueprint for your website that maximizes its chances of top ranking on search engines.
A good search strategy combines different aspects, such as on-page SEO, off-page SEO, technical SEO, link-building, user experience, site performance, and content strategy. Any SEO strategy aims to delight site visitors with an exceptional user experience.
An SEO strategy guides all your content creation and marketing efforts. In addition to the basic stuff such as keywords and backlinks, you've also got to think about competitors in your niche, your target audience, and changing content quality requirements.
Scattered and disorganized content is hard to find and index. It also dilutes your SEO efforts, making it that much harder to rank in your niche.
With an SEO strategy, you have much better chances of rising out of obscurity and beating your competition. Here are some of the benefits of having a good SEO strategy:
But, even when you've given it your all and done everything right, you're still not guaranteed top SERP rankings and high-volume traffic. We've all gone through the familiar feeling of frustration and despair, and sometimes it feels as if the gods at Google are demanding a sacrifice.
But more often than not, it turns out that we've overlooked some small detail, and a small tweak here and there finally does the trick. See if you can figure out what you need to do based on the following five reasons commonly associated with poor SEO results.
Did you know that 7.5 million blog posts are created daily? Five million of those are WordPress blogs, the implication being that it's incredibly hard to stand out in all that noise. Whatever your niche is, your biggest challenge will be standing out from the competition.
One way to do that is to create content that's way, way better than your competition. Brian Dean, the founder of Backlinko, created the Skyscraper Technique, which involves finding out what flaws the competition has and using that knowledge to build something better.
It's almost impossible for most sites to hit 100% of the 200 ranking factors. As it turns out, the following five factors are where most websites tend to fail. Check if you're missing out on any of them.
Google is now moving towards a mobile-first indexing strategy, which means its crawlers will use your site's mobile version for indexing and ranking. That makes sense, given that 61% of search queries here in the US come from mobile devices.
Further, Google owns 93.68% of the mobile search engine market. Without prioritizing mobile responsiveness, your SEO and content strategy would be useless.
When it comes to mobile-friendliness, Google considers factors like:
Mobile-friendly and responsive websites are those with which users can interact and navigate easily. If your website is more mobile-friendly than your competition, Google loves that. In fact, mobile-friendliness is now a ranking factor for Google's algorithm.
High-quality content is the foundation of any SEO strategy. Google states that thin content creates a "frustrating user experience," which is why it frowns on affiliate sites.
Google's business model involves providing quick, satisfactory, and engaging answers to user queries. If you're still banking on content mills and keyword-stuffing tactics to generate traffic and rank high, you're way off the mark.
To Google, quality content is content that is worth sharing. The latest updates from Google have doubled down on the need for high-quality content, but how does Google's inanimate algorithm find quality content?
The answer is shareability. The biggest indicator of content quality is how people interact with your website. If people talk about it, share it on social media, quote or link to it, that's winning content.
Here's what it means to create truly high-quality content for your audience:
Above all, quality content requires you to go the extra mile. You'll need to invest in experienced copywriters, perform original research, create whitepapers, invest in video, and generally be willing to think outside the box and go farther than anybody else to get attention.
At the very least, make sure your content adheres to Google's E.A.T. standards—Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness. Meet E.A.T. quality and target your content towards users, not search engines, and you're on the right path.
Failure to optimize content for SEO can make your website less visible to people and Google's crawlers. Content optimization means giving your content the best chance of ranking high, attracting traffic, and engaging users.
Content optimization is a very wide field, but here are some of the most important content optimization practices you need to keep in mind:
While you’re at it, remember to make your content readable by using short, simple sentences and paragraphs. Similarly, break text into scannable, sharable bits by using lists, tables, and infographics wherever you can.
Backlinks are one of the most important promotional strategies when it comes to ranking. They are a clear signal that other users find your content useful and valuable enough to link to—a kind of vote of confidence.
The more backlinks you have, the more chances your site has of ranking higher. However, earning high-quality backlinks is incredibly difficult. Many businesses and marketers end up opting for shady, black-hat backlinking tactics such as soliciting and buying them.
The key to backlinks is that you have to earn them. The most valuable backlinks are followed links from highly authoritative sites, while links to potentially spammy sites can end up doing more harm than good.
The way backlinks work is that your website gains or loses domain authority by association. For example, a link or mention by the New York Times tells Google that your website is reliable and credible.
Google analyzes your site's link profile to assess the quality and relevance of your site. It considers factors like the authority of the linking page, the total number of backlinks, the context of the backlink, and how organic the anchor text appears to be.
There is a whole link-building world full of white-hat and black-hat tactics. To save you some time, however, the most important backlinking tactics you can implement right now include the following:
If you want to learn more about backlinks and how to get more of them, we highly recommend learning from Backlinko.
SEO is a game of data analysis and continuous optimization. If you're using the wrong tools and performance metrics, it will be next to impossible for you to realize where you stand and what you need to do to improve.
SEO experts realize that there are many vanity metrics that could mislead you when it comes to measuring ranking performance. For example, it might be easy to rank high for niche, long-tail keywords but perform dismally on the keywords that really matter.
The best SEO tools help you with technical and on-page SEO, such as finding orphaned pages, broken links, server errors, and pages missing meta descriptions. The more powerful SEO tools can significantly reduce the work you have to do to keep your site polished and ready.
SEO tools also help you dissect competitors, create a foolproof SEO strategy, and spot keyword opportunities. Some of the most popular SEO tools include:
There are many more tools, some free and most paid, that you can use for SEO research at all levels. If you're unsure where to start, stick to the free Google Search Console and work your way up.
SEO strategy is a roadmap to your SEO ranking goals. It's a detailed plan that dictates all your efforts, including content creation and marketing. Without an intelligent, data-backed, effective SEO strategy, your website won't achieve SERP rankings no matter what you do.
If your SEO strategy doesn't seem to be returning the results you want, you need to take an objective look and find out what you're missing. Better still, conduct a full SEO audit and come up with a new plan.
SEO keeps on changing (Core Web Vitals was launched in 2022), and we expected more changes in 2023 as well. We expect the BERT algorithm update, rise of voice search, and looming phasing out of ad cookies to keep things interesting for the next few years.
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