10 SEO Tips for Beginners in 2019
10 SEO Tips for Beginners in 2019
If you’ve had and maintained a website for your business for some time now, you’ve likely come across the term: search engine optimization also known as SEO. So what is SEO and why do you need it? In short, Google has an algorithm that updates (almost on a daily basis) based on search activities/logs and ever changing technological marketing trends. Because the way we shop, interact, seek services, and research is constantly changing with the introduction of new devices and apps, there is an expanding universe of elements that all have to be taken into consideration when implementing your SEO strategy.
Luckily, we’ve compiled ten simple strategies that you can implement to improve and or increase your SEO results, as well as expand the quality and content of your online presence.
Before we begin, it is important to note that when dealing with anything regarding search engines, the only constant is change. Because SEO is a constantly evolving process, what is relevant today could be outdated tomorrow. So stay up to date!
Here are ten SEO tips you can use to improve your digital footprint in 2019:
Ever wonder what words and phrases your potential customers or clients are typing into popular search engines to find you? Keyword research proves vital in understanding what words you (and your competitors) need to optimize for in order to attract new business. Luckily, there are a number of paid and free keyword research tools that you can use to put yourself ahead of the game.
Many SEO keyword tools offer free versions and paid versions, depending on how detailed you need your reports to be. The free tier often has restrictions, such as a limit on how many keywords you can research at a time, while the paid options tend to include several additional features.
For instance, SEMrush offers to show you key stats you need to consider when building your list of targeted keywords. They also help you:
Find the right keywords for SEO and PPC campaigns
Gather phrase matches and related keywords
Get long-tail keywords
Explore multinational and multilingual environments
Additionally, keyword-focused content warrants that your webpages will appear in Google’s or Bing’s top results. To help ensure successful keyword optimization, update your web pages with highly searched keywords, as well as variants of those keywords.
You should also research long-tail keywords, which represent about 70% of all search traffic. This way, you can reach thousands of your potential customers that use small-volume search terms for their queries.
Depending on your business’s size and scope, you may need to look into what people outside of your location/country are searching for. If you’re pursuing users in different countries, you should consider adapting keywords appropriately for each region.
In short, when choosing keywords to optimize for, you should keep your potential client’s persona in mind (list out as many keywords and search queries you can imagine your buyer using), then prioritize your keywords based on level of difficulty, cost, search volume etc. Once you’ve chosen your keywords, implement a content strategy. This can include detailed concepts for blog articles, webinars, third party whitepapers, and other platforms that can interest and engage your target audience.
For every platform you publish on, keep a target keyword in mind. This allows you to optimize and rank for the query you are targeting.
In order to rank at the top of any search engine, you will need to knock somebody down. SEO experts understand that in order to maintain your ranking, they must continually monitor how potential clients are searching for your business and services. This can be arranged into several categories:
What search engine, social media, and app based platform(s) are your clients using to search for your industry and/or services?
What devices are your potential customers using to find your services?
What specific words and phrases are currently being used to locate your business area?
How does your website compare to your competition’s website?
Where and what keywords is your competition ranking for organically and in ads?
There are a number of competitive analysis tools that you can use to monitor how you stack up against your competition.
Knowing your competition is crucial in structuring your SEO campaign. There is no need to reinvent the wheel, instead analyze what domains are currently ranking, and structure your overall content marketing strategy to be slightly better and more relevant to what your consumer needs. In gearing your marketing to the needs of the client, you are more likely to gain their trust as a reliable service or platform.
Maintain On-Page SEO
On-Page SEO, also known as On-Page Optimization, involves work that needs to be done directly on the website in order to meet Google’s standards and in turn boost the site’s position in the search rankings. Examples of this include page title, header tags (H1, H2, H3, etc.), improving the meta-description, and URL.
Additionally, site content is where the importance of keywords comes into play, as it is crucial that your pages appear relevant to search engines. According to BrightEdge, “The average webpage should have at least 500 and preferably 2250 words per page, but this will vary by area, focus, and the purpose of the page.” Also note that Google does not value pages that seem to lack expertise or authority in the given subject, so it’s important to make your web pages as informative and relevant as possible.
You’ll also want to keep irrelevant material such as ads “below the fold” as search engine crawlers scan web content from top to bottom. To avoid a Google penalty, it is best to keep some text near the top of your pages so that your reader will not have to scroll down past a huge image or multiple ads to get to the main content.
In addition, you’ll want to include popular keyword phrases and queries in your on page content, as integrating keywords into your on-page text enhances your site’s search visibility. In doing this, you increase the likelihood that your pages surface in the search engine results pages (SERPs) in response to a specific query and by boosting their overall search rankings for those keywords.
When structuring the language of your site, avoid duplicate content. Simply cutting and pasting your competitions’ site and pages, meta- information, or downloading their tagged images can considerably lower your ranking, as they can be identified and completely filtered out of search results.
To take out the guesswork, sites such as CopyScape.com, allow you to input the URL of each of your pages and check for duplicate text, images, PDFs, etc. Search engines also use a practice called “canonicalization” which is a way of telling search engines that a specific URL represents the master copy of a page. Using the canonical tag prevents problems caused by identical or “duplicate” content appearing on multiple URLs.
However, despite all of the on-page optimization, the most important element every SEO professional needs to focus on is delivering high value, informative content.
Content is KING
From the beginning, Google Cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin stated “Our mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” This simple goal remains the company’s mission statement today.
In order to earn higher rankings, your site needs to provide relevant, instructive information to your searcher. To achieve this, you must fully understand your audience and create targeted, intuitive, and educational content. Make sure to offer more value on a topic that is covered and bring your professional perspective to it. Increase your credibility by citing your sources, and include a bio showcasing your expertise. Engage your consumer without being overly distracting through the use of helpful visuals, educational snippets, instructional videos, and an up-to-date industry relevant blog, as this will also support your external link building strategy.
Build External Backlinks
A “backlink” is created when an external website links to yours, this why some people refer to them as “external backlinks”. This presents the off page or unseen element of SEO. Google shows preference to pages that are linked by outside sites aka “high authority” sites that are also relevant (in your field).
A word of caution: it is best to avoid negative SEO here, as spammy sites or sites that have little or nothing to do with your niche will not be considered relevant and may result in lowering your ranking. In order to see improvement in your link equity, aka link juice, you’ll need to assess the overall value being passed through hyperlinks. According to Woo Commerce, “Link juice is the term used in the SEO world to refer to the value or equity passed from one page or site to another.” In short, Google views high quality links as votes of confidence, and you want the highest quality authorities possible to show their belief in you as a credible source.
Up Your Game in Social Media
Social Media is the best tool that you can use to engage and record your customers’ reactions and activity on a daily basis. You can share visual content such as relevant photos, videos, gifs, graphics, and charts as well as written content such as blogs, press releases, and news-worthy items. Automation apps such as HootSuite, make SEO professionals’ lives easier, as they frequently schedule posts in advance to continue to be on their followers’ radar and keep up with engagement.
Many social apps allow you to track shares, likes, views, reactions, and comments, as well as respond to any questions or concerns your clients may have ready. It’s important to note that posts with photos/pictures are the most likely to be shared, as they have a higher click through rate than posts that do not have images.
For instance, one practice that we have at our SEO firm is that every blog article we post for a client is linked and shared along with a graphically compelling image across the client’s social media platforms. We use a number of app based programs, and well as other graphic design software to create infographics, compelling images, videos, and gifs that best fit the social platform and the client’s audience.
Harness the Power of Influence
Now that we’ve covered the importance of using social media in SEO, let’s talk about influencers. You don’t have to be a major corporation to participate in one of the most popular forms of inbound marketing, as using influencers that are local to your area and services can be just as compelling towards driving traffic to your business. If you are looking to expand the social reach of your service or product, there are a number of ways to work with today’s social media stars.
The most obvious way to gain the support of an influencer is to pay them to share, mention, or promote your product. This can, however, run into thousands of dollars which can put strain on your digital marketing budget. To mitigate this, we’d suggest compensating an influencer with a free product delivery or service in exchange for a review or sponsorship. Many influencers will happily work for free products/services, but make sure that you are in agreement as to the way you want your business and or product presented, and that the influencer ties into the audience you are trying to reach.
Create Internal Backlinks
We talked earlier about the importance of building external links, yet internal links prove to be just as important in SEO. An internal link is a link that links to other pages within your website. For instance, your website navigation is an example of internal linking, but here we’re talking about links in the content, on the pages.
According to Andy Crestodina at Orbit Media, “Internal linking is important for strengthening three parts of your funnel. They pass authority from one page to another (search optimization). They guide visitors to high-value, high-converting pages (usability). [AND] They prompt visitors to act as calls to action (conversion optimization).”
Authority is essential to search engines like Google. To determine which of your site’s pages has the most authority, tools such as Moz’s Link Explorer, prove very helpful, as it will report how all of your pages are ranked in order of Page Authority. Using this, you can link your high authority pages to other pages such as blog articles you created to give the reader more resources to check out on other relevant topics.
You can also improve your internal linking through topic clusters. According to Stephen Jeske at MarketMuse, “A topic cluster is multiple pieces of content that are grouped by a shared topic and related subtopics. As a whole, these pages offer comprehensive coverage of a specific subject. That enables visitors to satisfy their search query while visiting your site.” Topic clusters can be broken down into three main categories:
- Pillar content, aka pillar pages, cover a general topic or theme that can be broken into many derivative sections. Examples of content pillars include reports, eBooks, and guides.
- Cluster content – Clusters work as subcategories that fall under the general topic being covered in the pillar page. Each cluster topic page for the pillar focuses on providing more detail for a specific long-tail keyword related to the main topic.
- Hyperlinks – Hyperlinks are words or phrases that you can link to pages containing additional information regarding the topic the searcher is reading about. They work as guides in that if a reader wants to know more about the topic, they can simply click the phrase and get more specific information relevant to their search.
Today, your internal link building needs to evolve to be effective. It still needs to incorporate keywords, but it also needs to integrate the above concepts to cooperate with how modern search engines and contemporary searchers work. This is why we recommend HubSpot’s content strategy tool. This tool allows you to “build your authority in search with tools that help you plan your SEO strategy, optimize your content, and measure real return on investment.”
Measure SEO Performance
Tracking your strategic marketing is key in maintaining data reports for your business. Our favorite tracking tool is Google Analytics 5, as it is a comprehensive SEO analytics platform with new organization and visualization features.
For instance, in the Dashboards section, you can see your most important analytics data at a glance every time you login. You have the ability to create numerous dashboards and widgets all with custom charts and metrics that you can tailor to tracking your website’s stats for traffic, goal completions, and more all in one place. It also allows you to analyze each campaign to determine which keywords, pages, marketing areas, etc. are producing the best rate of return (traffic to conversions). Another great feature is that you can track the locations and demographics of your customer base then create and tweak the campaigns to best target visitors, which ultimately to leads to a higher conversion rate.
Google Analytics also works well with keyword analysis, as it tracks what terms visitors are typing into the search engine and which pages they are spending the most time on when connecting to your site. This is especially helpful because it can help you determine if people are finding what they are looking for on your site as well as give you more precise information as to what content you need to create to further engage each visitor. This brings us to bounce rate, as it can affect the site’s SEO ratings as well as help you identify your best and worst performing pages. The ultimate goal is to keep the visitor on the page as long as possible, as it directly corresponds to whether or not the visit will lead to a conversion. If your pages have a high bounce rate, you’ll need to assess the site’s content to ensure that visitors are receiving the information they are looking for, and providing a call to action before they leave the page such as a free/discounted offer, or a subscription to a mailing list.
In general, Google Analytics breaks down features into categories like behavior and acquisition to understand where your traffic is coming from, the amount of traffic you’re receiving, and which of your pages are the most popular. This is a crucial tool in refining your inbound marketing strategy and creating detailed reports that you can see and operate from based on your unique industry.
The most important strategy toward increasing your SEO efforts is to stay up to date with current trends, algorithms, devices, news, etc. For example, Google changes its algorithm 500-600 times per year, and if you do not keep your strategy in compliance to what search engines require, your ratings go down, and someone else who is up to date takes your spot in the map, organic search results, videos, news, ads etc.
There are several trusted organizations that produce professional SEO blogs, offer online courses, and create online forums and communities that can keep you ahead of the competition. In general, you’ll need to dedicate just as much or more of your time to researching SEO in addition to practicing and implementing it.
If you have any questions or would like a FREE SEO Audit for your business, call or email us at Main Street Marketing LLC. Thanks for reading and we wish you the best of luck in your SEO journey!