Ranking highest in search engines is at the top of every business owner with a website’s wish list. But let’s be real. Getting your website to the number one ranking on Google seems near impossible, but it doesn’t have to be if the right SEO strategies are implemented and tracked. The following are guidelines for setting up an effective SEO strategy to boost your ranking on search engines.
1. Make a list of keywords.
Create a list of words related to your product or service and look them up in Google’s Keyword tool to find different variations of keywords you can use to draw visitors searching for these terms to your website. Keep your list between 10 and 15 keywords. HubSpot recommends updating your list at least once per month, as this makes certain that “you stay in keyword research mode and keep your keyword list evolving with industry and search trends.” You can also set up a Google AdWords account and use Google Planner for keyword research.
Ranking for longer tail phrases (usually three or more) is usually easier. Aim to rank for keywords with less competition, as you’ll have an easier time ranking. You should also do research on your competitors to find out how they’re getting traffic–then copy them. Yup, I said it. Copy them. Find a company or website with the highest rankings on Google and copy their strategy for using SEO. Study what they’ve done right and what they’ve done wrong. And implement what works best for you.
2. Create keyword-based page titles and pages.
Creating titles and pages with the right keywords can mean all the difference in web traffic. Keep your target audience in mind as you craft your content, avoiding awkwardly placed keywords or phrases. This will only work against you, turning off any readers who can easily smell the façade, and go running in the other direction. Create compelling content with plenty of descriptive keyword-based article titles and phrases. For instance, if you’re a tax and retirement planning company in Connecticut with a blog, you might use keyword phrases like “tax planning in Connecticut” or “Connecticut retirement planning.”
Avoid stuffing too many keywords onto one page because no one wants to read a page that’s so blatantly trying to sell them something in disguise. Instead, opt for a user-friendly experience, creating in-text links to various pages on your site in order to spread out your keyword usage to more than just a couple of pages. For example, if you’ve got a blog post about a complex topic, you can split it up into sections and link to a separate page.
3. Track the appropriate metrics.
How will you know which of your marketing efforts have been successful if you’re not tracking the appropriate data? Tracking metrics is key, but tracking the right metrics is crucial. Every marketing manager and digital marketer should be tracking site metrics such as the close rate per channel, the rate of landing page new contacts, call-to-action click-through rates, and traffic-driving keywords, among others. Here’s an infographic of more metrics to track:
4. Take a data-driven approach.
Taking a data-driven approach requires gathering and analyzing both quantitative and qualitative data. With this approach to SEO, you’ll need to create buyer personas to target your intended demographic. Buyer personas are simply profiles of the types of people you expect to buy your product or service. These personas usually detail the average age, education level, occupation, hobbies/interests, and other identifying information. Are you targeting single, college-aged students with no children; married, executive-level businessmen; or retirees with grandchildren and limited income? Think about your target audience as you compile and organize your data and tailor your message accordingly. It’s also wise to study your industry and figure out what kind of tone works best. For instance, you wouldn’t use a humorous tone when discussing the financial services industry because your customers more than likely don’t joke about their money. They’re serious about creating wealth and tracking their net worth. Research everything you can about your industry and your audience and you’re on your way to implementing a successful SEO strategy.
5. Use the Yoast SEO plug-in.
WordPress users with a premium plan can use the Yoast SEO plug-in to control titles and meta descriptions, track the frequency of your use of targeted keywords, manage your sitemaps, and more. There’s a great guide on how to set up and use the Yoast plug-in on Moz.com.
6. Create a variety of content.
Don’t settle on just a few types of content for your blog posts or web content. Switch it up every once in a while and post a quiz, video, or poll. People crave variety in everything from food to clothes to entertainment. Content is no different. It’s gotten to a point where the relationship between users and content has changed dramatically. Increasing user engagement is crucial and one way to improve your social engagement is to create plenty of content in a variety of formats. Consider the following content for your website or blog:
- Case studies
- Mind Maps
- White Papers
- Video testimonials
7. Use link building.
Link building is essentially building links to your site on other sites. However, it’s not as simple as it may sound. Avoid leaving links in forums or on comments on other posts because it makes you look like an annoying spammer–and no one wants to buy something from someone they find annoying. Instead, focus on natural methods of link building, such as guest posting on other sites or blogs that link back to your site. Other ways to build links include asking for shares, making natural comments on blogs by providing real value, and answering questions asked by other users.
8. Post longer, quality posts on a regular basis.
Research suggests that blogs or sites that post content more regularly rank higher in search engines. Millennial Money suggests posting as often as you can–but at minimum once per week. Sites with fresh, original content posted consistently get the highest SEO rankings. Post content between 800 and 1,200 words and use plenty of images (at least three). Posts with images get twice as many views and shares as posts with no photos. But the most important thing is to post quality content. Quality matters more than quantity.
Above all else, make sure you’re following the rules. Yes, Google has rules against link stuffing and other offenses people have used in the past to try and cheat their way to higher rankings. But Google’s gotten smarter over the years, and now penalizes sites that use such tactics. Using resources such as SEMRush Audit Tool, DeepCrawl, or SiteBulb Crawler can help you remain in compliance with Google’s guidelines.
Ready to give a go? My Checklist for Assessing Copy can help you create the most SEO-friendly webpage.
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