The Ultimate Guide to SEO
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Regardless of your industry, if you don’t have a presence on Google, your business is unlikely to survive. To ensure you enjoy great online success, you’ll need to learn about SEO, how it works, and how you can improve your position in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
While you might think SEO is too complicated for you to master, it doesn’t need to be. The following guide will break down SEO into sections, so you can pick and choose from various tips to design your own successful SEO campaign.
What is SEO?
A search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy will ensure that a web user will easily find your product or service after typing it into Google. Through various tactics, you can increase your visibility in the search engines, which will drive more visitors to your website and will improve your site’s conversion rate. Your goal must be to rank many pages highly in the search engines as possible, so you can secure new customers and gain an advantage over your competitors.
How Does Google Rank a Page?
Google’s sole goal is to provide its users with relevant answers and information in their searches. Every time they type a word or phrase into Google, the search engine’s algorithm will choose a page they deem is most relevant to a user’s query. Each page will have a rank in the SERPs, with the most popular and authoritative sites in top position.
Google will ultimately rank your site based on its relevance to a search query and a site’s authority. How the algorithms work is, however, a top secret, but it’s believed Google has more than 200 ranking factors that can determine your position. Read on to learn how to tweak your strategy to improve your search visibility and rankings.
- Perform Keyword Research to Reach Your Target Audience
Keyword research is arguably the most important aspect of a successful SEO strategy. You’ll need to discover the words and phrases people will regularly type into Google to find a site similar to yours. By ranking for your chosen keywords, you can increase your visibility in the search engines and boost your traffic.
Of course, you will want to rank for keywords that will have a direct impact on your profit margin, so you’ll need to understand what your audience is looking for when buying a product or service. There are numerous keyword research tools you can use to get started, such as Google’s Keyword Planner or Moz’s Keyword Explorer.
- Rank Highly in the SERPs with Keyword Optimisation
A keyword will inform Google about the content on a webpage, which is why you must incorporate them into your content when attempting to improve your rank in the search engines. To rank highly, you must feature the main keyword in a post’s title (as close to the start as possible), a URL, an H1 tag, and within the first 100 words of your content, meta-description, and ALT tag.
- Write Lengthy Articles to Increase Your Ranking
In many cases, long-form content will rank higher in the SERPs because it will feature extensive information on a topic to improve a user’s knowledge. While there is no perfect content length, many believe the ideal range to aim for is between 2,350 to 2,425 words. However, focus on quality over quantity to become a thought leader in your industry.
- Install Multimedia for a Smaller Bounce Rate
While you would be smart to say goodbye to the likes of Flash, which is outdated and can reduce your speed, you should incorporate other multimedia elements into your website.
For example, videos, audio players and diagrams can often be a quality signal. What’s more, they can keep a user on the page much longer, and a smaller bounce rate will indicate to Google that a site provides valuable content.
- Set Your Navigation to Text-Only
Search engines will regularly crawl your website, read your content and follow your links. However, the crawlers cannot see images, which is why you should set both your navigation and links to text-only to speed up the process.
- Create a Simple URL Structure
Google will not favour a complex URL structure. Instead, try to shorten your URLs as much as possible to optimise a page. Doing this will indicate to Google what a page is about, which could increase your ranking.
- Improve Your Page Speed for a Better UX Experience
Google will view your page speed as an indication of your website quality. As they want to provide their users with the best content and user experience, a low page speed could cause you to slip in the SERPs. There are various elements on your website that can negatively impact its speed, such as image size, video, and a hosting service.
- Remove Deadlinks and Broken Redirects
A dead link will direct a visitor to a page that no longer exists, while a broken redirect may send them to a supposedly helpful resource that’s no longer live. Unfortunately, both problems can result in poor user experience while preventing a search engine from indexing your web content.
- Allow Google to Crawl Your Site with Sitemap and Robots.txt File
A sitemap is a must-have on a website, as it can help Google to easily crawl your website and index your pages, as the file will feature a list of all your URLs. Conversely, a robot.txt file will inform Google about the content a webmaster does not want to be indexed, such as a specific policy page.
- Establish Content Relevancy with Internal Linking
Internal linking can provide multiple benefits for your website. The first benefit is they allow search engines to both find and crawl various pages on your website with ease. What’s more, they can indicate a semantic connection to various pages, which can help Google to determine content relevancy. For instance, it would ensure the brand Apple appeared in technology queries and not fruit-based searches.
- Become a Valuable Resource with External Linking
External linking to other websites will provide users with a greater user experience, which is valued by Google, as they will view you as a valuable resource of information on a topic. Linking out to relevant URLs will also help Google to identify a subject matter.
- Don’t Add Duplicate Content onto Your Website
If you want to rank highly for a keyword, you might be tempted to add duplicate content onto your website, but you should avoid doing so. Identical or similar content will not only appear spammy to users, but could confuse the search engines, so they might not know how to rank a URL in the search results. Also, your website could be penalised by Google, as they may deindex duplicate pages.
- Publish High-Quality Guest Posts on High-Authority Sites
If you want to grow your ranking, start publishing high-quality articles onto third party websites. Reach out to trusted sites with a high domain authority to feature an article on their website, which will incorporate a backlink to your website. Part of their authority will be transferred to your site, which could help you to climb into a top position in the search engines.
- Reduce Your Bounce Rate by Improving Your Mobile Friendliness
Many websites now feature a seemingly mobile-friendly website, which offers a design that can adapt to a smartphone or tablet. However, the template might be hard for visitors to use. You might be surprised to learn that Google will measure how its users’ interact with a website.
If a user is struggling to navigate their way across your site, you can trust they’ll click away from your site in an instance. A high-bounce rate will then indicate to Google that your site wasn’t worth their time, and your ranking might drop as a result. For this reason, you must focus on developing an easy-to-use website that complements every device.
- Start Making Videos for YouTube to Boost Your Traffic
YouTube is the second largest search engine after Google. It has also been reported that internet users spend up to 60% of their time on the online video platform. With more people searching for videos on YouTube, you’d be smart to tap into this powerful search engine to increase your traffic. So, start producing high-quality videos that people will not only watch, but will share with their friends, family, and followers.
- Optimise Your Content for Voice Search
Voice searches are becoming increasingly popular, as the amount performed in Google is up 35x since 2008. However, your page must appear on the first page of Google, and it’s more likely to rank if your content appears in a featured snippet at the top of the search engine results. You can also optimise your pages for voice search by including both a question and answer into your content.
- Allow Blog Comments to Increase Engagement Signals
Google stated in 2017 that community (blog comments) could help websites “a lot” with their search engine rankings. In fact, they went on to state that “comments are better on-site for engagement signals for SEO than moving to social.” So, if you have switched blog comments off on your website, it is time to switch them back on to engage with your visitors.