There is no magic bullet when it comes to SEO. Whether you are providing SEO for a client, paying for SEO services or doing SEO for your own business, this needs to be understood from the start. In other words, there are no immediate results. Best case scenario, you begin to see improvements in your search rankings within a few weeks, but it often takes at least a couple of months and even longer to really decipher any significant impact. Once you accept this perspective, you are ready to begin. It should also be understood that SEO is not a luxury, afterthought or a something that would be ‘nice to have’. Whether you like or despise Google Search rankings is irrelevant. What is relevant is to build an organization or service that is profitable and sustainable.
Technically speaking, SEO stands for ‘search engine optimization’, but don’t get stuck on terminology. It’s not 2010 anymore. SEO is nothing more than driving visitors to your site and have them covert by either making a purchase, filling out a contact form, asking for an estimate, leaving a comment and so on. Just as important, it’s about understanding how these visitors end up at your site through multiple avenues and why they are coming in through those channels. This is often determined by using Google Analytics, which is really just one component of SEO. First and most importantly, many, if not the majority of your site’s visitors come in through Google search results. You may absolutely hate Google with a passion, but again, that is not relevant. Let’s say you want to completely disengage from Google. Personally, I find this admirable, but from a business standpoint, it probably wouldn’t be the best move. Second, many of your site’s visitors land there directly by way of social media. Like Google Analytics, social media is one essential component of SEO (more on that below). Third, at some point your site should garner a number of direct visitors, which are really just return visitors. The last is the group that already knows your site and returns because they find it to be useful or at least informative enough for them to keep coming back. Keep in mind that return visitors, which we can think of as ‘fans of your site’, likely discovered your website via Google or social media.
With all of this in mind, what do you need to know for a solid SEO strategy moving forward into 2018? The best advice I can give is to reject a simplistic concept of SEO. It is not black and white or cut and dry. Below are five tips that in my opinion just about every business or organization should be following in terms of SEO. The theme here is the the idea that ‘content is king’. Not just content in itself, but quality, well-written content that will rank well with the Google search algorithms and is also engaging enough that it can be shared and commented on in a social media setting.
1. Social Media is SEO!!!!!
As simple as this sounds, countless businesses make the mistake of treating these as two separate entities. As social media only becomes more integral in driving traffic, placing social media as a different category than SEO is a serious flaw in one’s business model. If your organization is large enough to hire one person just for SEO and another for Social Media, then these two should be working together on a daily basis as partners. In fact, I would divide task up between them to ensure the full integration of social media in your company’s SEO strategy.
Social Media is key for two reasons. First, having consistent social media activity, including a fair amount of likes and shares, signals to the Google search algorithms that your blog, page or product is not only legitimate, but something desired by web users. Besides getting filthy rich, the goal of Google is to provide the most quality and relevant content to its users. Let’s say you have a pet-sitting business and you have an article on housebreaking puppies. Let’s assume this is a well-written article that includes links to landing pages on your website and gets a few shares, likes and comments on Facebook. This further allows the Google search algorithms to verify that your website and ultimately your business is legit, which should rank you higher over time. It is important to point out that improving page rankings doesn’t happen overnight, but with a good SEO strategy, you should see significant results over the course of six months to a year. In addition to legitimizing your website, social media channels, such as Facebook are increasingly serving as search engines. A fair amount of people actually search for products and services directly via Facebook and Pinterest rather than Google.
*Remember that all of your posts on social media should link back to a specific landing page on your website. This should be the case regardless of if you share a photo, text, page or blog article.
2. Have a Blog and pay for well-written articles
This is probably the hardest one for businesses to adapt. Not because it’s difficult to construct quality blog articles, but because most businesses just don’t see the value in it. Unfortunately, what most organizations do is pay for a bunch of short, quasi-plagiarized, mediocre articles that really don’t end up doing much of anything from an SEO standpoint. In fact, if this is your approach, then I advise you stop throwing your money away and instead use those funds to go shopping, buy lottery tickets and maybe visit a local casino. At least then you would have an outside chance of seeing a return.
It is better to have a few, well-written articles rather than have a bunch of blog posts that amount to nothing more than a pile of garbage. By quality, I mean 800 or more words, informative, organized, interesting, witty (if possible) and something that not only engages the reader, but is convincing enough that the reader feels compelled to share that article on Facebook or on another social media platform. Be sure to check for spelling and grammatical errors and have articles that are coherent. Remember that the Google search algorithms are always inching closer in the direction of artificial intelligence. Well-written content that is natural, concise and logical will do more to improve your rankings in the long run. While you could be rewarded with poorly written content that was overstuffed with keywords six or seven years ago, those days are long gone. Don’t forget to add links throughout your blog that correlate to the appropriate landing pages on your website. Just as social media activity legitimizes your website (essentially your business) in the eyes of the Google search gods, internal and external links throughout your blog and page content helps to further add legitimacy to your site.
This is an old method of improving SEO that remains relevant in 2018. However, it’s not about the number of backlinks that you have, but the quality of those backlinks. Obviously, the more links from other sites going back to your site (backlink) is better, but the key is to have a good amount of ‘quality backlinks’. With that in mind, be wary of low-priced SEO services that promise to deliver backlinks. More often than, these types of services do nothing to improve your page rankings and may even hurt them. The key is to have all of your backlinks coming from not only from established websites, but sites that are in the same general industry as your organization. It doesn’t have to be exactly the same type of business or organization, but it should be related. If you cannot justify it being related in some way, then it’s not a good backlink. You may also have to pay for high-quality backlinks. One method is to write a guest post for a well-known website that pertains to your organization’s industry. Let’s say you have a small blog about teaching English abroad and you want to improve your page rankings. Contact one of the larger firms in the industry. Most likely they have a blog. Offer to write a well-written blog article for them. In exchange, they should provide a link back to your site in that same blog article (this is a backlink). In some cases, they may charge you for this, but it could be well worth the investment as it should boost your page rankings over time.
4. Make sure your site is fast!!!
Nobody likes a slow site. Well, maybe a nihilist wouldn’t mind so much, but they likely aren’t your target audience. Your site needs to be fast not just from a user experience perspective, but also because the Google search algorithms reward speed. We live in a fast world where people have come to expect information instantly. Considering that Google is designed to provide users with the most relevant content, it only makes sense that they would prefer to provide customers with sites that are not only informative, but also efficient. You can have a fantastically designed site with beautiful images, but if it is loading slowly or inconsistency, it will most definitely lose points with the Google search algorithms as well as from a user-experience perspective.
There are a number of actions that you can take to speed up your website. A good starting point is to test your site’speed. Two of my favorite free tools for testing site speed are pindgom.com and gtmetrix.com. These tools not only provide an accurate page load speed, but offer a list of useful recommendations. You don’t need to have a score of a 100, but you should aim to reach at least a score of 90. However, when it comes to your site’s loading time, the most important factor is your hosting package. The best advice I can give any individual or organization with a website is not to go for the cheapest hosting service. I know that companies like godaddy and hostgator offer incredible deals, but don’t do it. It’s not worth it. Even if you are on a shoestring budget, you can afford $10 per month for hosting rather than opting for the most inexpensive plan at $5. Don’t be cheap when it comes to hosting . If you have the budget, I advise spending a minimum of $30 per month for a VPS (virtual private server) or even $100 to $200 for a dedicated server depending on the size of your organization. Remember that the best hosting companies are probably not the ones spending huge amounts on advertising. Your website is the face of your organization, so make sure you have some decent power under the hood. My advice is to buy as much as your budget allows.
5. Be Creative
This is probably the hardest of the five to implement simply because being creative requires one to think outside the box and try new things. If you are in charge of digital marketing for a business, you may be hampered by the business owner’s conservative nature or stubbornness. If you are running your own business or website, well then you can do whatever you want! Let’s say you are doing the SEO for your company or a client. In that case, the difficult part might be convincing the owner to stop being such as dinosaur! Simply put, humans for the most part don’t like change, but the web is a constantly evolving place. Those who can be flexible, creative and embrace new ideas will find success.
Being creative, whether via a blog article or social media postings, is really about having engaging, quality and original content to share with your audience. If your audiences rewards your creativity by sharing posts and leaving comments, then your site will ultimately be rewarded by the magic of the Google search algorithms. In a nutshell, it’s good to follow what your competitors are doing to some extent, but don’t be afraid to be original and do your own thing!
Seo is a time consuming, yet necessary in today’s digital economy. LinqSEO offers comprehensive SEO services. Contact us today to find out if we can work together!