Keeping on top of best practices for SEO can be a pain, especially if you’re not in the field yourself. While it’s not that hard to ensure that most of your SEO is on point, it’s the little stuff that’ll put you on top when you’re working in a highly competitive niche.
While I’m sure that you have your backlinks and content in order, you may want to consider the following to make sure you’re able to get the rankings you need in order to make sure your business is a profitable endeavor.
But first, let’s go over the big stuff that you hopefully already have in order.
Your On-Page SEO
On-page SEO is actually simpler than it ever has been: provided you don’t use outdated tactics like keyword jamming which will just hurt you in the long run.
For the most part, great content is what you need to produce in order to get first page ready organic traffic these days. Your keywords need to be included, of course, and each piece of content should also have a couple of extra keywords which match the intent of your ideal customer.
In addition to the content itself, the following are pretty important:
- Easily crawlable URLs, including your primary keyword.
- Inclusion of your keyword in the H1 tag at the start of the article
- Your URL should be tight, short, and include your keyword
- Multimedia has a big effect on on-page SEO
- Add a couple of internal links to your content in order to boost relevancy
- Make sure to include your keyword in an engaging meta description
Checking on the above is a good start and covers the vast majority of what you’ll need to take care of on top of producing great content in the first place.
Your Off-Page SEO
Off-page SEO is always going to be a bit more labor intensive. Link-building in a white hat manner is a time consuming process, especially when you’re trying to make sure you’re doing things the right way for long term success.
That said, you’re going to want to ensure that you’ve got at least the following going on to make sure you have the basics of a viable off-page strategy.
- Make sure that your backlinks are high-quality and relevant to your webpage
- Diversify your link building, relying one one “type” of backlink can hurt you in the long run
- Avoid black hat link building techniques
- Use every means available to you to build numbers, provided that you’re not using blackhat techniques
It can be tempting to delve into PBNs and buying links, but you really should avoid these if you’re planning on a long term, solid business.
The Non-Obvious Stuff
If you’ve been working on your search engine optimization for any amount of time, it’s quite likely that all of the above are pretty obvious to you. They’re the basic requirements just for saying that you’ve performed any SEO at all, rather than just throwing your page on the web and hoping for the best.
It’s the non-obvious things which can help you get the final push you need to get on top of your niche and stay there.
Rich Snippets and Schema Markup
If you’re in the right position, then adding rich snippets using schema markup can be a great way to get ahead. This is particularly useful if you’re landing in Google News or have the kind of content which can benefit from a little bit of extra visual flair.
Take a good look over what’s currently available in schema and see if any of it can be applied to your page.
If it can: do it.
Optimize for Page Speed
Make sure that your pages load smoothly across all devices. It’s not only important for SEO purposes, but also to make sure that your end user has the best experience possible.
After all, if someone gets irritated with loading times then they’re likely to bounce out before they can get to your content and see your sales pitch.
Of course, you’ll want to make sure that everything is also secure. HTTPS vs. HTTP is, and will continue to be, an enormous factor in SEO that can’t afford to be overlooked.
Utilize Longer Content
In the past it was common to find shorter articles, ranging from 500-800 words or so. These often barely scratched the surface of what the keyword was about and long form content is quickly becoming the king of the mountain.
There’s two reasons for this:
- Google rankings actually weigh how much time is spent on a website by the average user, you can lose rankings from a higher bounce rate or if the majority of your customers are on and off the page in a couple of minutes it’s going to hurt you.
- The algorithms now evaluate how deep your content is. High information density expressed over a longer article means that you can get much deeper into a subject than you’d be able to with a lesser word count.
This doesn’t mean that you should be extending your content and fumbling words just to achieve a longer article, instead you should be delving as deeply into things as possible.
Long and dense is the way to go here.
Use Multiple Keywords
While a lot of people still focus primarily on a single keyword when they’re creating SEO optimized content, you’re going to want to include a couple of secondary keywords as well.
These will usually end up in subheadings under the main title, and the natural inclusion of as many teritiary long-tail keywords as possible can also be useful even if they don’t receive a huge amount of search volume.
Properly utilized you can also increase the user’s experience.
If someone pops into a page for “best knickknack” and wants find the best knickknack for a limited budget then they may just scroll through while scanning for exactly that. If it was included in your secondary or tertiary keywords they’ll be able to easily find it.
Check Your Keywords’ Competition
Google pretty much decides what it thinks is the most relevant type of content for any individual search. This can be both a blessing a curse, depending on how you approach things.
You’ll want to ensure that you get a handle on the competition before you even begin building your content in most cases.
If you have a somewhat ambiguous keyword, and you’re planning on going in a different direction than the entire first page of Google… you may want to rethink things a little bit.
It’s an unfortunate reality, but the direction which SERP feels is most relevant is the way you should be going in order to rank your keywords. It’s a rare occurrence, but it can be enough to force you to rethink your whole strategy.
Siloing, particularly for pages with a lot of content, can help to make sure you get a little bit of boost to your SEO.
The basics are pretty simple: your pages should be organized with static pages that link to the individual posts that make up the bulk of your content.
This organization can both improve the user content, as well as make your URL much more accessible to crawlers. It’s also handy for social media pages, since the link will often be able to tell the user exactly what they’re getting into, even without the meta description.
This has the added bonus of allowing you to build your posts around themes rather than just keywords.
Regularly Scan for SEO Penalty Factors
You should be regularly checking to make sure that everything you’re doing is on the up-and-up. Hopefully you can catch things before Google does, because it can take quite a bit of time to recover from penalties.
The following are common penalties:
- Cloaking-If your page displays a full text to Google’s crawler but ends up not displaying it to the viewer you can be penalized in your rankings.
- Malicious Code Injections-A serious risk for websites, particularly those running on WordPress, is a lack of security. If that happens, you may find that spyware or other malicious coding is being spread through your page and upsetting Google’s rankings as far as your page is concerned.
- Keyword Stuffing-If your content has gotten too repetitive, or you’re hiding keywords in hidden text, you’ll be penalized. You’ll also want to avoid using text which is the same color as the background of the site which can be flagged and hurt your rankings.
- Spamming-Any form of spamming, whether it’s content spam or any other unethical practice which involves deluging your links can affect your rankings heavily.
Blatantly Paid Links-Any link which is blatantly paid for will hurt your rankings in the long run, even if it’s working for the moment. This is one area not to play around with techniques.
Anything you catch should be corrected immediately. If you’re knowingly using any of these techniques then you may want to re-think your SEO strategy.
Use Reliable Hosting
In addition to being faster, reliable web hosting will generally cost more.
Oh, and Google will penalize you for downtime.
Making sure you have good web hosting ends up being an important factor that’s often overlooked in favor of finding something cheaper. Don’t skimp here and you’ll be glad with the results.
You also want to avoid “free” web hosting like the plague. Most of them are unreliable, slow, and can have a seriously deleterious effect on your website’s rankings.
Be Mobile Friendly
This has been a huge rule for quite some time, but if you haven’t been listening then you really should be.
Your website being mobile friendly can have a big effect on your ranking, as if the fact that more and more people use their phones and tablets as their primary web browsing device isn’t enough.
Even if your theme allows for mobile accessibility you’ll want to check and make sure that it’s completely optimized to bring your page’s users the best possible experience.
Understand Latent Semantic Indexing(LSI) Keywords
Sounds like a mouthful, doesn’t it?
It’s a lot simpler than you’d think: LSI keywords are a semantic indicator of what your website is about.
Synonyms and close variants of words are one of these, for instance, and that can make it important to include them naturally in an article. This is doubly true if the keyword targeted for the page is somewhat ambiguous.
You may have noticed that Google highlights words when you’re making a search, and if you’re frequently crawling through the internet then you’ve probably also noticed something else: Google no longer only highlights exact matches, instead it’s gotten remarkably good at parsing intent of the user in order to enhance the relevancy of their search.
This is making it more and more important for those running pages to make sure that they’re not only matching keywords, but also have the right semantics in place to show what their page is relevant for.
Making sure that your page has a fighting chance at ranking is as much art as science these days. However, if you’re willing to make sure that you have all of the above in place, and implemented well, then you stand a fighting chance at making sure that you’re on top of the competition.
As time goes on and the algorithms powering the majority of the internet are getting more and more intelligent SEO is constantly evolving and including more and more factors.
Stay ahead of the game with my suggestions and you’re on the right path. Even more importantly, keep an ear to the ground and watch out for big changes that can alter the entire SEO experience from the ground up.
Ranking is about staying on top of ever-changing technology and techniques once you have a solid foundation in place, and whether you enjoy it or not it’s a reality of handling any business online.