The Ultimate Guide to SEO – Beginner, Intermediary and Advanced SEO Tactics That Work
What is a blogger – and what is an SEO Specialist? The two terms seem to get intertwined, and the misconception that an SEO specialist is simply a blogger could not be further from the truth. While the concept of the work remains the same – i.e. – writing articles, the goals and outcomes vary exponentially. So, if you’re ready to shed the skin of being called a blogger, and step up your SEO game from whichever level you may already be at, get comfy and get ready to rock!
What is SEO?
SEO or Search Engine Optimisation is the name given to activity that attempts to improve search engine rankings. In search results, Google™ displays links to pages it considers relevant and authoritative. Authority is mostly measured by analysing the number and quality of links from other web pages. In simple terms – your web pages have the potential to rank in Google™, as long as other web pages link to them.
What Do I Need to Start Creating SEO on My Website?
Check if your website is functioning well enough
If your website is small enough to check manually, go through every page and main feature to check it is functioning okay: this includes contact forms, download features, calculators, etc.
If your website is too big to check manually, use these tools to automate the process:
- Responsive Web Design Testing Tool– tests your website on different mobile devices
- Cross-browser testing tool – tests your websites on different web browsers
- Error page checker – identifies which pages don’t have content and displays 404 errors
- Website speed test – since speed is one of the Google ranking factors, the sooner you get it fixed the better chance users and Google are happy using your site. Get your developer to help with this task.
- Broken links checker – checks if there are any pages on your website that have non-functioning links.
- Fix (or tweak) your website design
To start with, your website needs to focus on:
- Easy and intuitive navigation. Don’t try to be over creative and come up with something unusual. Users have certain expectations and wish to see certain things in certain places. For example, a horizontal menu is conventional. If you place the menu in the footer, users must scroll all the way down to find it. A lot would lose patience and bounce off your website.
- Clear identity, colour scheme and logo
- Good image and graphic quality
- Well-structured layout that highlights your most important products/services. Move the products’ key selling points and main calls to action above the fold where it attracts attention.
- Good contrast between text and background colours. Easy to read font size.
- Trust and credibility elements. Logos of partners, clients, media mentions, third-party reviews, certifications, associations, customer reviews.
- If you have any ‘On sale’ products, display them in an easy to access area – for example, the home page, side bar, pop-up, menu bar (on mobile).
- Get your website mobile-friendly
Mobile-friendliness is a need, not a want. Mobile Devices = Increased Consumption Levels.
Here are some noteworthy tips when you optimize your website for mobile:
- Simplify mobile check-out as users tend not to be as patient as they are on desktop. Reduce the number of fields in a form; facilitate better user experience such as using visual calendar instead of numeric dates; enable guest checkouts as well as 1-click checkouts for return customers.
- Implement a ‘Call-to-Action’ button on every page; a pop-up form is a great way to garner leads on every page of your website.
- Allow users to continue checkout on another device. This means you need to ask customers who are mobile browsing, whether they would like to start up a shopping cart that can then be sent to them later in an email, so they can resume any time in the future, from where they left of, and from any other device.
- Display only the most important content. A mobile screen doesn’t have as much room as a desktop, so the simplicity and single focus are the key to boosting your sales.
Get your content ready
Gone are the days when your content can simply comprise of a shopping list of your products. These days, for content design to work, it must be based on insights into your customer’s mind, it needs to intelligently answer the questions they will ask and it must earn authenticity by viewing the world through their lens.
Check your website to ensure it:
- Clearly introduces who you are and what you do
- Lists your physical address (only if you have an office, don’t give our home addresses) and contact phone number so that they can be easily found
- Highlights your value proposition (simply what do you do better than your competitors)
- Provides a detailed description of your products: including your product specifications, materials, colours, shipping and return policies
- Hosts a product demonstration: a video showcasing how the product or software works. If you provide services, your video could be case studies or demonstrations / reviews of how exactly the product works.
- Includes reviews or testimonials on your product and services. Try to get some video testimonials.
- Has a separate page for separate services: are you combining all services you offer under ‘Our Services’? You should have separate pages dedicated to each service so you can present everything about that service (all possible questions that your prospects might ask should be answered on that page).
Now that your website is ready, we’ll move on to getting the right content into the right platform to garner the right type of leads:
Intermediary SEO – How to Write the Best SEO Blogs for Traffic, Leads and Sales
Know your differentiating factors – what sets you apart from competitors?
As you know, customers usually check out several sites before making an enquiry or purchasing decision. Do that job for them, or make their lives easier, by mentioning the key benefits/differences of your products, whether it is price or product/service features. Consider creating a product review comparison that includes your competitors so that it’s a no-brainer decision for them to choose you over your competitors and so they do not have to leave your page.
There is no one right way to go about it, the following formula is a clear winner:
- What is the end-benefit you’re offering, in 1 short sentence? It can mention the product and/or the customer. Make sure it is attention grabbing.
- Sub-headline or a 2-3 sentence paragraph. A specific explanation of what you do/offer, for whom and why is it useful.
- 3 bullet points. List the key benefits or features.
- Images communicate much faster than words. Show the product, the hero shot or an image reinforcing your main message.
Evaluate your current value proposition by checking whether it answers the questions below:
- What product or service is your company selling?
- What is the end-benefit of using it?
- Who is your target customer for this product or service?
- What makes your offering unique and different?
- Use the headline-paragraph-bullets-visual formula to structure the answers.
- Improve the quality of your product images and company photos
Don’t think that you can sell anything with low quality images on your e-commerce site. Users rely on good quality visuals to buy things online and if your products are not catchy looking, they will be passed over.
Picture quality strongly influences a purchaser’s desire for a certain product.
Poor presentation with low resolution pictures, and images from different angles will not generate much desire for your item. If need be, use a stock image purchased through Shutterstock, Pixabay or others as a filler until you have images of your own that can be published. A blurry or pixelated picture is enough to put any potential customer off buying your service or product.
Another important reason to use quality images with ALT text is that the image itself may rank for SEO in Google faster than the blog itself. Sometimes, if a picture has the right ALT text and is of high enough quality, Google will rank that image in SERP results on the images tab. This may garner traffic you never knew existed, as the image will link back to your article and website!
Focus on conversion: SEO = Traffic -> Leads – > Sales, and that’s the proper metric to measure it on
Traffic is expensive and the cost of attracting a visitor to your website is rising. Therefore your site needs to convert as many visitors into sales as possible, to give you better bang for your buck.
Start by surveying your customers using solutions like Lucky Orange, which offers a real-time insight and investigation into conversion optimisation. This will tell you why your website visitors aren’t buying or what parts of your website they find confusing.
Use that data to drive changes to your website. Create A/B tests (testing version A with version B of a webpage), and ensure you run these tests until they are statistically significant.
Focus on getting big conversion wins, by making drastic changes to your web pages, then pedantically monitor the effect of those changes.
This sounds far more technical than it actually is, but if you are still unsure, consider getting help.
Now start blogging!
Blogging is a powerful tool that generates authority while providing a vital connection to what’s important to your audience through their comments. Blogging is good for your soul. It forces you to clarify the results of years of research and is your free gift to the world.
Research by HubSpot on its 13,500+ customers in 2015, shows that companies that published 16+ blog posts per month got almost 3.5X more traffic than companies that published between 0 – 4 monthly posts.
You should start a blog because it can do wonders for your business. Don’t expect miracles in a short period, but within a year, your blog should be kicking butt if you are writing great content. If you start this early, by the time you engage in an SEO campaign, your SEO results will really impress you or your boss (or external clients if you’re in an agency environment)
Don’t forget to promote your content
Build up your social media profiles: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google Plus – anything you can think of.
Start building up your social profiles and fan base early so you have a community to share your awesome content with and generate social signals for your SEO campaign. Social signals are used within search engine algorithms; therefore don’t wait until you engage in a SEO campaign to start your social media presence.
Don’t try to be on every social media channel. Just be on those that your audience are on. As a business finance broker providing credit services for small business and individuals, Facebook might not be the one. Think about it. Who wants to share an article about credit card finance on their Facebook page?
Advanced SEO – Run This Game
Expand your presence
You’ve heard the saying “don’t put all your eggs into one basket.” That’s true for SEO, but so many people still focus on only one or two aspects of SEO, like blogging and on-page optimisation.
For this tactic, you’ll concentrate on becoming more visible across multiple platforms.
One way is to create as many social media profiles as possible for your brand. In short, you need to be actively involved on as many networks as possible.
And don’t skip some channels because you think they’re unpopular. For example, you might not include Foursquare or Periscope in your current social media strategy, but if you do utilize them, you can reach an audience you wouldn’t be able to otherwise.
Think of this technique as marking your territory. Your SEO will organically improve because you’ll be in more places. It’s a simple yet powerful strategy you can start using today.
Fix any and all crawl errors
According to Google, URL errors are “specific errors Google encountered when trying to crawl specific desktop or phone pages.” Some common examples are 404, DNS, and server errors.
While these errors seem harmless, they have a big impact on your SEO. If you have any crawl errors, your SEO is hurting.
But don’t worry—crawl errors often have simple fixes. Rope in an expert if you get stuck with fixing your broken links.
Optimize your images
We briefly touched on the need for high-resolution, quality images, but optimising your images for SEO doesn’t begin and end with the quality of the pictures themselves.
If you haven’t been optimizing your images for SEO, start now—there’s no time like the present.
And if your site is especially image-heavy, you need to put the extra work in here. As a result, you’ll get a faster-loading more SEO-friendly site.
Here are a few easy ways you can enhance your images’ SEO:
- Give your images specific names (e.g., traffic-analysis-graph.jpg)
- Give your images keyword-rich ALT titles (but don’t go overboard!)
For example, if you blog is about “The Best Car in the World” – add ALT text that aligns with your focus keyword.
- Use the smallest possible file sizes (but don’t sacrifice the quality)
Use latent semantic indexing (LSI)
Although latent semantic indexing (LSI) is very powerful, not very many sites are using it. And that’s a shame because LSI can give your site a serious SEO boost.
LSI is the process search engines use to find related keywords in addition to your main keywords. In other words, LSI finds synonyms for keywords.
For example, if you’re writing an article about Facebook, you’d include “social media network” as an LSI keyword.
By just adding the latent semantic keywords to your original keyword , you can easily make your dead content, alive. Once you revive the old content, you can again start working on it to rank again. When you add some new keywords to your old content, Google consider it as a fresh content and give a chance to it to improve the rankings. One thing that you need to keep in your mind is that keep the main keyword phrase there in the content and supplement it by using one LSI keyword. Doing this, you’ll able rank it again as this might lead to increase in the traffic to your website.
Optimize your landing pages
When you create your landing pages, are you thinking about SEO? If you’re not, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity.
You’ll be driving tons of traffic to your landing pages, but if they’re not SEO optimized, you’re doing yourself a major disservice.
Some tips to optimising landing pages include:
- Using one or two long-tail keywords to write your landing page
- Make sure your copy is at least 2,000 words long
- Make sure your copy is strong, clear, and relevant to your audience
Tell a story with your internal link structure
Your link structure should tell a story. In other words, when you read your anchors consecutively, you should get a clear idea of your site’s theme.
When you’re creating your anchors, make an anchor story of your own. Link from your newer posts to your older posts, and make sure you’re following internal linking best practices.
Consider making videos
Video marketing is relatively new, and it’s absolutely blowing up.
Marketing Land found that videos make up 62% of all Google searches. And it’s easier to get a video to rank on page 1 of Google than a website. Ensure your videos are of high enough quality to be published though – which you can read more about in this article of how Video SEO works.