SEO. Every marketer talks about it. Every business wants to rank higher in Google searches.
Yet when push comes to shove and a marketer has to actually do SEO work, the most common reaction is confusion.
What kinds of hacky tactics should you be using? How does Google even rank pages? What can you do to get around their ranking algorithms?
Truth is, SEO is not about “tricking” Google into ranking your page higher.
It’s about putting in the legwork and developing best practices TODAY for a big payoff for your search rankings, domain authority, and organic traffic months down the line.
Yes, it can be a lot of work for a very small amount of instant gratification. But that’s also the case with most repeatable, scalable growth strategies.
So if you’re not sure where to get started with SEO, we’ve gathered up these 24 essential SEO strategies to make your life easier.
Take 30 minutes a day to think about and implement one of the following strategies for your site:
Adding your highest volume keyword target to meta titles and descriptions in your about page will improve your rankings on that keyword.
About pages usually have a lot more text than images compared to other pages on your site. This provides ample extra room for keyword optimization throughout the page.
If you produce original imagery for your blog, then chances are someone has reposted your images.
A quick Google reverse image search on your images can help you pull up a list of places where your images have been posted.
You can then contact them and ask them for a link, which is a lot more valuable for SEO than getting them to take the image down.
You should always be thinking about your blogs this way – as constantly updated products and not one off pieces.
You can only write about the same topic over and over again before your writing begins to resemble itself.
A good way to increase sharing and search ranking for your most important content keywords is to update your posts with new content, new insights, etc…
This is the most standard best practice you should be using in your content marketing efforts. The keyword you’re trying to rank for in search engines? Make sure it’s in the very first 100 words of the post you’re about to publish.
It may not be as helpful for crawlers as it was in the past, but it certainly can’t hurt and it can help make the connection between the content and title for your readers a lot more seamless.
Don’t be thrifty with your web hosting solutions. If you suddenly have a blog post explode and go viral, your cheap hosting solution will crumble to bits.
More importantly, fast page load times are a big deal for SEO and can help you rank faster by making your site a lot easier for bots to crawl.
When you create audio or video content (podcasts, explainer videos, live talks, etc…), transcribe them into text and publish them alongside the video.
This is a simple and easy way to get keyword-rich content. The transcribing process can also be outsourced easily via freelancing sites like Fiverr or UpWork.
Skyscraper is a classic technique that can help you create content that ranks higher than your competitors.
Here’s how it works: You read a ton of great blog posts every day. Find one that’s link-worthy, write your own unique version and make it better, and then do outreach for backlinks.
Think of it as a skyscraper size race – make your own content a dozen stories higher than the competing product.
Blogs shut down all the time. When that happens, a lot of backlinks die off and redirect to 404 pages. When you produce content you want backlinks for, find dead websites that have published similar content.
Then find other sites that link to them, send an email saying the site they link to is down, and offer them your content as a viable alternative.
Leverage your paid ads to test best versions and roll out on organic.
You gather a lot of data from the performance of your ads – how well they do with your audience, how many leads they generate, etc… That data can be used to advance your SEO efforts, since you already know what works best from your ads.
Google penalizes sites that have duplicate content – you should remove the duplicate content OR use a rel canonical tag to indicate which one is the original. Removing duplicate content can help your pages properly rank rather than competing against one another.
Comb through your site, find places where you have the same exact copy, and make changes and removals where necessary. A site audit tool can help you automate the discovery process for duplicate content.
This is an obvious way to get more backlinks and social sharing, but most people get lazy and don’t do it. Take advantage of the fact that you quote, reference, and feature different influencers in your content.
Send them a quick email saying “Hey! We featured your quote/post/etc… in our blog! Check it out. Would love to hear your thoughts on the post.”
Doing so will help you access their audience through social sharing and even start conversations.
One of the most important aspects of SEO is time on page. The longer people spend on your pages, the more SEO weight those pages will hold.
A great way to increase read time in your content is bucket brigades. These are small, short buckets of text (1-2 lines) that make your content easier to read and more scrollable.
Write about topics that have just been made newsworthy. For example, if a political candidate says something about your industry, there will suddenly be lots of people searching for that topic.
Inserting yourself into the conversation with timely responses, analysis, and news-worthy content of your own is a great way to get social activity and backlinks for your site.
Find pieces of content that link to more than one competitor as they will likely be a ’roundup’ post that could link to you too. Reach out to the blogger, writer, or content marketing person at the blog that wrote the post and offer your own post as an addition to the list. Make sure your post provides both relevant content and appropriate added value over the other links in the roundup.
Our biggest blog posts (10,000 words or more) tend to do extremely well on all important SEO metrics – sessions, pageviews, time on page, sharing, returning users, etc…
That’s because this type of content is both immediately actionable & useful, and is long enough that people bookmark it for later visits.
There are usually people searching for ‘competitor alternative’ or ‘product vs competitor’ – these are incredibly high value searches because these users are actively searching for a solution.
Create a page full of content comparing the relative advantages of your product over that solution. As well as helping you rank on the more niche ‘you vs competitor’ search terms, you may find you start ranking on the competitor’s search terms also.
Give testimonials for tools you use and like. This serves several functions for your business. It will get you a backlink for your website, will help increase brand awareness, builds relationships with other businesses and influencers, and can position you as an influential figure with a valued opinion in your space.
Offer to give testimonials to your favorite tools and services. In return, make sure they actually link to your website in that testimonial.
Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) Keywords can be a great way to boost SEO when included in your content. These keywords can be found at the bottom of a Google search page.
Just search your chosen keyword and scroll to the bottom to find the “Searches related to” section. Those are great LSI keywords you can incorporate into your content and copywriting.
Build a free tool or widget to attract backlinks. For example, a personal finance company can build a free mortgage calculator to help their visitors. This is both a useful service and one that will attract links from blogs and other companies, as well as help you submit to sites like Product Hunt to drive traffic. At Ladder, we built the Ladder Playbook as this sort of free resource.
This is an absolute basic SEO tactic, but everyone forgets it consistently. Alt tags for images not only help explain to Googlebot what images are on your site, but can be strong SEO juice in and of themselves.
Google will be able to understand what each image is and how to index it. Keep your alt tags relevant to the content on the site and the image itself so that it both explains what’s going on in the image and what the content is that surrounds it.
The vast majority of SEO traffic comes from links in the top 3 positions in any given search results page. If you can crack the top 3 by optimizing anything in position 4-5, you’ll see a big boost in traffic.
This works regardless of whether you’re on page 1 or page 3, so even if you can’t crack the top 10 for a search, put in a bit of effort to make sure you’re top of the specific page you’re ranking on.
Link out to relevant sites to prevent users who come to your site through search from returning to Google. Google considers a search more successful if after clicking on a search result, the user does not return to the search results page to select another link or create a new query.
This is known as time to long click. Link out to valuable information sources so users leave your site on your terms rather than through Google, meaning an increase in long clicks and an increase in your search ranking.
Content around interesting data you have on your users or industry is a great way to get attention and PR for your business.
You collect a lot of insights about your customers that can shine a revealing light on different parts of your industry and your own business’ performance. Sharing that data with the world as content is sure to grab attention with journalists and in your industry.
Another SEO best practice for all blogs, instead of having random strings or the blog post title as your URL, use the keyword you’re trying to rank the blog post for as your URL slug.
This both helps you have a clean URL that’s easy to understand for your readers, and whenever the link is copy-pasted, it acts as anchor text, which is great for retaining the SEO benefit of your link.
This should be first stop when you’re doing keyword research. What keywords are your competitors ranking for / trying to rank for? What keywords are they advertising on?
This research will help you determine which keywords you should be targeting with your ads, copy, and content efforts.
Adding social share buttons to your website makes it incredibly easy for your users to share your content with their social networks.
They create benefits for your brand on a number of key marketing fronts including brand exposure, site traffic, user experience, and SEO. It takes 5 seconds to set up SumoMe’s version, and it massively increases sharing activity on your blog posts and pages.
SumoMe’s Smart Bar sits at the top of any page you want it to appear on and can be used for many purposes.
From allowing your visitors to join your newsletter to linking them to your site, you can pick exactly what you want to show on your site. A smart bar is much less aggressive and more effective than email capture exit intent or scroll boxes.
Example: our blog has a top bar that directs you to our homepage with a single click.
Those 24 SEO strategies will help you get started on your journey towards higher search rankings and more organic search traffic. If you want more advanced SEO strategies, you can find them along with 1000+ other tactics in our Playbook.
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