Learning SEO is a lot like raising a child. Once you think you have a good understanding of how “it” all works, EVERYTHING changes.
Yeah sure, there are some fundamentals, but even those are up for interpretation. It surely doesn’t help that Google is basically top-secret about any real tips and most “expert advice” is really just a sales pitch.
Well, in this article I’m going to give you 10 tips spelled out as CLEARLY as possible, and I won’t even make you give me your email in exchange.
Let’s start with beginners…
1. Don’t Google Yourself to Find Your Rank
Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics can help you here, but the easiest way to see how you rank is to simply go “incognito” if you’re using Chrome. If you’re on Mozilla there is a similar feature but this anonymizes your search and removes cookies and cache that could affect your search results. If you don’t do this, you may see “personalized results” which basically means Google will show you what you already have seen and liked before. This could falsely show you ranking highly for something you otherwise don’t to the general public.
Pro Tip: There are other tools out there to help identify your keyword rankings such as SpyFu, Moz, and many more. These tools are great if you want to keep track of a list of keywords and your improvement month-over-month.
2. Optimize for People First, then Robots
Google is changing. Heck, everything changes. The Internet was once a black-box only fit for real developers and programmers. Only those people had websites and so Google’s original algorithm was based off an assumption that if you had a website, you were tech-savvy. As such, Google used to scan sites in a very technical way looking for Meta-Data and the like. This is still the case today, but things have shifted quite a lot and will continue to shift toward optimizing for real people.
Google’s machine learning AI now understand whether or not your users are getting what they expected from your site. This trend will only continue so you should shift your focus from tech to usability. People should find your website easy to use and skim.
3. AdWords isn’t (Always) the Answer
Although paid can be helpful for generating leads in the short-term, it shouldn’t be your long-term game. Statistics show that 80% of people totally skip Ads on Google, most of those don’t even see them due to AdBlockers.
Rather than spending thousands on clicks, invest in your website and organic SEO and save in the long run.
4. Content Relevance is King
Yeah, sure, CONTENT is still super important. You can’t rank without a lot of it. But, making that content relevant to the reader is more important. I’d rather have a highly read blog post, then a lengthy one. If your site is low on views and you’re not ranking well, use social media to get a boost.
5. Install Google Analytics, and LEARN TO USE IT
This really belongs in novice because Google Analytics is not hard to learn. In fact, Google has recently updated the layout and added tooltips and additional help sections that basically explain every button, term, and report. It just takes a little effort.
Without GA you’re really running blind. But with it, you’re going to be able to learn more about how people find your site, what they do when they get there, and most importantly WHY they are leaving. As I mentioned above, keeping users engaged on your site is key to improving your rank.
Pro Tip: Take a look at your bounce rate, session duration, and in particular “exit pages.”
6. Don’t Do Shady Shit
Some less-than-reputable SEO companies will promise unrealistic results and you SHOULD be skeptical. Nobody can promise a first page rank, nobody can provide 10-day SEO. You need to think of this as a long term strategy to growing your business.
By doing “black hat SEO” techniques, you could end up getting your site blacklisted entirely from Google. That could mean a huge loss of income for you without Google’s visibility.
Pro-Tip: If this happened to you and you didn’t know the people you hired were shady, there are steps you can take to fix and even lift the ban. Contact us for details.
7. Design is Your First Weapon
We talked twice now about how important it is to optimize your site for people and not robots. The best way to capture and keep the attention of your users is to design a site just for them. Develop user-paths that makes the user think you read their mind. “Oh, that is exactly what I’m looking for!”
Following design standards to ensure the site looks clean, is easy to navigate, and people find it intuitive is super important. If you didn’t study design, don’t pretend to know it. Admit where you lack expertise and pay the right people to get int here and do it for you. OR, find a solid template or DIY solution (if you have unlimited time).
8. Featured Snippets and Answers are LIT
We all use it and love it. Now when you search a common question or are looking for a piece of data (ie: when does Pizza Hut close) the answer is often displayed above the search results – no clicks necessary! You may ask, “how do I get there?” Well, there is hope. Also you should know – websites that are linked to these answers get MORE clicks to their site, not LESS. There was a myth spreading that this was the opposite and research has proven that wrong.
So, how do you get up there? It’s about optimizing your content as if you were answering questions. You also have to state the question and the answer in a clear-cut format on the page. It should be the name of the page and up near the top if not at the start of your article. Also, don’t sell when you’re providing information. What I mean is, Google can detect a call to action or BUY NOW button and they don’t want their users being trapped or tricked into buying something. So, if you want to be a Featured Snippet, you have to keep it informational.
We know little about what else it takes to get there, but I believe it also has to do with your overall SEO. Optimized sites that already rank well and have a high pagerank seem to be those that get the most featured snippets.
9. Don’t Ignore Social OR YouTube
Social signals seem to be weighed heavy in the Google Search Algorithm. Since YouTube is owned by Google there is evidence that their weight is even higher. We suggest you post plenty of content on your social profiles and generate weekly video content for YouTube.
If you’re saying that you don’t know what to put out there, you’re not trying hard enough. If you can’t think of something to CREATE, then just DOCUMENT. Document how you work, who you work with, what you do, and so on. Get a webcam to start and build up from there. It’s worth generating the content and will boost your SEO if you do it consistently.
10. Google Updates ALL THE DAMN TIME
You’ve probably heard of Panda and Panda 2.0, maybe even MOBILGEDDON, but have you heard of Fred? Or how about the countless other Google updates that don’t make headlines? This is because Google is said to update their search algorithm 3 TIMES A DAY! And since Panda, the software is learning for itself and updating in real-time.
You can check Moz for some big changes as they are identified.
I also suggest you follow Google Webmaster Blog
Well, that’s all folks – Make sure you subscribe for more updates and let me know if there is anything you want to learn more about!
Until next time –