Search is the #1 source of visitors to most sites — not just eCommerce sites. Understanding and constantly updating your SEO strategies helps you improve your rankings so you don’t drift into obscurity on page 30.
Google constantly updates its ranking algorithm, but a new update to Penguin is expected in the coming weeks. As we await Penguin, which is a link related algorithm designed to punish sites guilty of shady inbound link practices, a pretty substantial update to the core of Google’s ranking algorithm happened over the weekend, according to SEO guru, Yoast.
Google is important because up to 70% of search still occurs using its search engine and other search engines often follow suit to match changes to the Google algorithm.
So, what does all this mean.
It means you need to keep up with algorithm changes and adapt your SEO strategies to optimize rankings.
Google doesn’t update and refreshes various ranking algorithms to make the lives of webmasters miserable, despite what we may think of their constant changes. Instead, Google adjusts its ranking algorithm to meet the needs of users who want high quality when they’re seeking answers, not a bunch of spammy websites. As a user, Google has vastly improved the experience over the last few years to knock out those using “black hat” SEO, buying links, keyword stuffing, and other nonsense that didn’t ensure quality content.
So, quality content is the name of the game in SEO.[Tweet “Quality content is the name of the game in #SEO”]
There are basically 5 ways to demonstrate the quality of your content to Google or any other search engine:
- Produce quality content on a consistent basis
- Build quality backlinks organically
- Social media
- On-page SEO
- Good site structure
Let’s take a deeper look at each of these factors in great SEO strategies, although you should recognize these strategies work synergistically. Also, take a look at the infographic below, courtesy of SparkPay for additional ideas to spike your SEO strategies.
#1: Quality content
Quality content is the hallmark of good SEO strategies. Without quality content produced on a consistent basis, no SEO strategy will deliver much.
Everything I’ve read suggests a minimum of 1 post/week with value declining pretty quickly after 3 posts/ week.Of course, if you have more great content, posting more frequently makes sense in terms of more content to rank for. Don’t post just to post, because putting up bad content really hurts your entire site.
We’re talking long-form content, such as blogs (1200 words appear to be at or near the optimal length), white papers, etc. Videos work great for audience appeal, but remember Google wants to see works. A great solution is to write a transcript of your video so both visitors and Google are happy as clams. Moz does an excellent job with their whiteboard Fridays.
Which brings up the point of having themed events — like whiteboard Friday. Think about it.
A content marketing calendar is a great tool to ensure you post content consistently. You can even set up theme days easily.
Use an excel spreadsheet or a whiteboard, you don’t need anything fancy for this SEO strategy. Just be consistent and keep your calendar filled with ideas and resources (images, infographics, links, video) to ensure you’re never facing a deadline with no idea what to write about. Keep your calendar a little flexible, however, to take advantage of hot topics and be willing to cut a post if events make it inappropriate.
#2: Link building
You want inbound links to your content, so a great way of getting them is to reach out to influencers and ask them to share your content. I’ve found Twitter a great tool for that. I simply Tweet out my content and include the Twitter handle of people or companies included in the post.
That brings up the topic of outbound links. In the old days, a few years ago, Google didn’t care much about outbound links, but those days are gone. Now, outbound links signal a well-researched post that likely provides value in much the same way as including citations in a paper. Plus, it’s just plain nice to give backlinks to folks who provide ideas data, or quotes.
In today’s SEM (search engine marketing), including outbound links is a great way to build inbound links — it’s a tit-for-tat world.
I also like the suggestion in the infographic — finding old website links and suggesting one of your own to replace it, but, frankly, who has time to search out and replace old backlinks. I’d rather just delete them.
#3: Social media
SEO, SEM, and SMM (social media marketing) all fit together — at least since recent Google updates. Now, sites like Facebook, G+, and Twitter have a big impact on your search rankings (commonly called SERPs).
Every like, comment, and share is a vote in favor of the quality of your content.
Certainly, we don’t have time in this post to discuss all the nuances of SMM, but you’ll find a lot of help on this site. For instance,
Many SEO gurus suggest these social endorsements are even more influential than link building in terms of ranking. So, be sure to include social sharing on your pages and make it inviting for folks to share your content.
SEO strategies #4: On-page SEO
On-page SEO is likely one of the biggest ranking factors in the Google algorithm.
Luckily, you have help with your on-page SEO strategies.
I use Yoast’s plugin for WordPress, which I highly recommend for ease and impact on SEO. But, you need more than a plugin. You need a keyword strategy.
OK, a keyword is really an arcane term — we’re really talking about keyword phrases or long-tail keywords.
Ideally, you want keywords highly related to your content, with lots of search traffic, and very little competition. But, that’s not gonna happen. You need to balance traffic/ month with competition to find optimal keywords and you should develop a list of 10-12 keywords you’d like to rank for then use them in a rotation across your posts. Easier said than done, but you just do your best.
SEO strategies #5: Website structure
Here we’re talking about how you code your website, where it’s hosted, and a few factors that make it easy for visitors to find your content.
Website design/ coding. My advice is to find a reliable developer to code your site and make sure they follow HTML 5 and CSS 3 standards (the newest). Choose a designer who knows responsive design because Google added mobile to its algorithm a few months ago and 2 different websites no longer get all the Google love.
For my money, building on the Genesis platform (a WordPress) platform makes the job a lot easier because both WordPress and Genesis follow Google best practices and update frequently to ensure they stay on top of the algorithm.
BTW, Google isn’t interested in sending traffic to sites with a lot of advertising, so try to keep it to a minimum.
Fast, reliable hosting. Next, you want hosting that’s fast and is up 99.9% of the time – 90% just isn’t good enough and will damage your SEO strategies. Google wants to serve up sites to users that are reliable.
Clear navigation. Use breadcrumbs, clear navigation without a bunch of levels.
Bonus SEO strategies
- Time on site. Try to keep visitors on your site longer. For e-commerce sites, this might mean providing clear pathways through the customer journey. For other sites, that might mean suggesting related content to entice readers to say a little longer.
Need marketing help to support business growth?
We welcome the opportunity to show you how we can make your marketing SIZZLE with our data-driven, results-oriented marketing strategies. Sign up for our FREE newsletter, get the 1st chapter of our book on digital marketing analytics – FREE, or contact us for more information on hiring us.
Hausman and Associates, the publisher of MKT Maven, is a full-service marketing agency operating at the intersection of marketing and digital media. Check out our full range of services.