Ranking high in the world of SERPs is no easy task. It takes time and effort. However, there are a handful of SEO techniques that are easy to implement. Furthermore, these tactics have a good chance of reeling in positive results. The following are 21 tips on how to craft an effective SEO strategy.
Now before we dive head first into how to develop an effective SEO game plan, we should probably talk about an important precursor. Before you start tweaking your website and individual posts, you should conduct an SEO audit. While it is not an easy task, doing so will help you prioritize your actions and will save you a good chunk of time. Tools such as Moz and SEMrush are great starting points when it comes to conducting an SEO audit. It is also worth noting that the various actions below do not apply in every situation. Yet each one is worthy of your consideration nonetheless.
1. Optimize Titles and Headings for Effective SEO
Optimizing the titles and headings of your pages and posts is one of the easiest ways to ensure an effective SEO presence. That being said, make sure to target the ideal keywords. The title tag is the heaviest hitter in the SEO world, so make darn sure that your keyword is present in the title. Most importantly, make sure the target keyword is close to the beginning. Once this is accomplished, make sure to include the keyword in your headings as well. The H1 is the most crucial heading, so it should be the first thing on each page or post. In most cases, the H1 is the same as the title, but this is not true in every case.
If you’re running a PPC campaign, you can typically find inspiration from those keywords. Many think that PPC titles are unfit for SEO. However, the truth is that PPC titles tend to be focused on conversion, which is a hallmark of effective SEO. This will benefit SEO in most every case. The same can be said for meta descriptions. Optimizing your meta descriptions is yet another way to convince people to click on your link. It is essential that you include keywords in your meta description too. Not doing so will impact your SERP results in a negative way.
Once you get a solid grasp of the above two concepts, you can start targeting multiple keywords on one page. This article for instance doesn’t really target multiple keywords. However, it would be fair to say that it does target effective SEO and SEO techniques. This is an awesome thing since you can focus on writing longer pieces of content in lieu of smaller ones. In case you didn’t know, Google LOVES longer content!
2. Prioritize Pages in Website Navigation
Navigation is without question the most important structural element on your entire website. Why? Because it is the first thing linking to your ‘other’ pages and it typically at the very top of the page. This gives those links a log of weight. As you can see, for example, pages optimized for some of my more important keywords are linked to directly from the navigation menu. These links are featured on every page in the header. This highlights those pages as VIP (very important pages) for Google.
This is one of the reasons why the homepage of a website has such high authority on all sites. Why? In most cases, the site’s logo on each page links back to the home page.
3. Add Breadcrumbs to Your Pages
The simple act of adding breadcrumbs can be extremely beneficial to your website and is an effective SEO technique. This is especially true if your site is an eCommerce site. This is due to the simple fact that breadcrumbs create a strong sense of structure within your site. Most online stores link their products from their category pages. What does this mean? This means that the category pages direct some equity to the product pages, which in turn makes them stronger. This is a great thing, overall.
If you’re using a content management system (CMS), such as WordPress, things are pretty easy. The majority of themes come with breadcrumbs as a default feature. However, if your theme doesn’t include breadcrumbs there are plenty of WordPress plugins that can help you out. My personal favorite is Breadcrumb NavXT.
4. Implement Tracking on Your Site
Tracking is of the utmost importance for effective SEO on your site. It’s not complicated. Without this SEO technique, you can’t spot issues with your site if you do not track your rankings and traffic. What pages do visitors leave quickly? You should improve those first, especially if they have a high search volume. If you don’t monitor your organic search traffic, you can’t know if you’re making any progress. Worst of all, you won’t know if the search engines are penalizing your site or if your search rankings have dropped.
Google Search Console and Google Analytics help monitor your organic search traffic and keep tabs on issues with your pages. Both are relatively easy to install. Just as long as you have access to your server. Odds are that you’re able to install them via a plugin for your CMS. Google Tag Manager is a great way to implement all tracking codes. Doing so will make things easier to manage afterward. If you’re looking to take your tracking game to the next level, you can try out tools like HotJar. This nifty tool creates a heat map of where your users click most on a page. However, this tool is harder to understand and improve in a meaningful way, so a veteran web designer is helpful.
5. Install an SSL Certificate
An SSL certificate became a ranking factor in 2014. Why? Well, the answer is simple. Security. Cybercrime is on the rise and more people share more sensitive data on the web. Installing an SSL is rather easy. Most of the time your hosting provider can help you out. However, there is a far more simple solution – CloudFlare. All you need to do if you make use of Cloudflare is change your domain’s nameservers to point out to CloudFlare. CloudFlare will then take care of the rest by acting as a filter, blocking spam and malicious IPs from reaching your server.
6. Compress & Optimize Your Images
Believe it, or not, but images take up the most space on your server. That means they also take up the most physical space on your user’s device. This means they also take the most time to load. Slow loading times greatly impact your conversions and images really take the longest time to load. There are two ways an image takes up too much space. First, an image is not in terms of its physical size on the disk. This means that you can have two images that look the same, but one is 1MB and the other is one fifth of a MB.
How is this possible? Sadly, I’m not exactly sure how image compression works, but the general gist is that it makes images smaller in size on the disk without reducing their size or quality on the screen. You can use plugins such as Smush Pro, which is an amazing tool from the team at WPMU DEV – these guys really know their stuff when it comes to effective SEO techniques. You can also use image compression tools such as ShortPixel which involves APIs. Another option is to compress your images every time you upload them using TinyPNG. If you cannot connect a tool, simply download batches of images, assuming that you don’t have thousands, compress them and then re-upload them to your server.
Second, you have an onscreen size. It should go without saying that a 2,000 by 2,000-pixel image will take up more physical disk space than a 250 by 250-pixel image. With that in mind, simply avoid uploading 2,000 x 2,000 images, only to shrink them down to 500 x 500 using CSS. Doing so will force the browser to download an image four times larger than what is really necessary.
7. Increase Site Speed for Effective SEO
While images have the greatest impact, there are other various elements that can slow down your site’s loading speed. The majority of the time it’s related to files. Other times it can be due to PHP conflicts or database queries taking a long time to load. One way to avoid conflicts and slow database load times is to limit your use of plugins. Do you have unnecessary plugins or extensions? If you’re nodding your head…get rid of them! Does something look nice on your sight, yet you rarely use it or it provides little value? Ditch it!
One of the first things you should remove is your slider plugin. These literally have no purpose. Instead, replace any slider with a static image and a CTA button. People rarely click on slider and they take up a lot of space. Furthermore, they can be very annoying when you’re reading something and the image automatically shifts.
8. Interlink Your Pages with Keyword Rich Anchor Texts
Interlinking is one of the most effective SEO techniques. You can link important pages using specific anchor texts. This tactic is far less risky than building backlinks on keyword rich anchor texts and best of all, you have 100% control over it! Whenever you add new content, make sure you link to other relevant pages within your site. The same goes for the other direction – go back and edit some old pages from your site and add links to your new content. Do note that this should only be done when the text that is linked is directly relevant. It can be difficult to interlink if you have thousands of pages, but fear not, there is a tool for just that – Yoast. You really just need to check it out.
9. Share Other People’s Content
Make sure you share interesting content, even if it isn’t from your own website. If you want people to share your content, you’ll have to share theirs. It’s better if you get shares from other pages instead of people since the majority of personal profiles are not indexed. This means that Google won’t be able to see the backlinks created from those shares.
10. Link to Relevant, Authority Websites
It’s only natural to prefer that other websites link to you, but just like the social media example above, you need to share other people’s content in order to get linked to yourself. This typically improves the effectiveness of your SEO. Why? Google works on backlinks! This is how the great Google machine finds stellar content and figures out which content is worth ranking at the top. This is why Google urges webmaster to link to great content.
11. Secure Your Social Media Profiles
Even if you only use one or two social platforms, it’s a good idea to claim as many as possible. Social media profiles are a great way of getting initial backlinks to your website. Sometimes you might even lose the name if someone else, say a competitor, registers it before you.
The most popular social media platforms are Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn. However, if your involved in the right niche, you could consider enlisting the power of Reddit or any other niche oriented social media platform, such as SoundCloud or Yelp.
12. Increase the Shareability of Your Pages & Posts
If you’re looking to get more traffic to your website, you need to use social media to get viral. Even if people read your content and fall in love with it, they might not bother sharing it with their peers if you don’t make it painfully easy and simple for them to do so. Help your readers share your content by adding share and like buttons on your pages and posts. While you can add an abundance of sharing buttons to your content, focus on just a few platforms that are most relevant to your content and overall marketing mix. You can also add CTAs to your content.
13. Post Fresh, High Quality Content
It’s not a secret and it’s definitely not rocket science by any means. The more high quality content that you publish and post, the more traffic you’ll get. However, there are a lot of new websites that are itching for traffic and SEO rankings, but lack a blog. If you only have five pages featuring your products, odds are that you won’t outrank Amazon for ‘diapers’…even if your diapers are of the self-changing variety! You need to publish blog posts on a regular basis to show Google that your website is active. It’s also an awesome way to earn new backlinks since more people will likely share said content in lieu of your service or product pages.
14. Update and Improve Existing Content
If you already have content on your site that is targeting a specific, don’t try to reinvent the wheel. This will lead to keyword cannibalization. Keyword cannibalization occurs when you have multiple pages competing for the same keyword, which will result in none of the pages ranking in most cases. It’s really pretty simple. All you need to do is add new content to an existing post.
15. Make Your Website Mobile Friendly
This is part of an effective SEO strategy that isn’t exactly easy to do. Depending on the age of your website, it may require an entire redesign, or even rebuilding from scratch. However, it is totally worth it! Google has recently moved to a mobile first indexing process. This means that Google will rank your pages on how they’re viewed by users on mobile devices. You can fix everything via a CMS by simply installing a mobile friendly theme. However, depending on your plugins, some functions may suffer from the change. It’s not really a low effort change, but it is definitely a high reward task.
Hopefully none of these tips are Earth shattering by any means. However, the real question is whether, or not, you’ve actually tried them out before. Not all effective SEO tactics are easy to implement, but you can certainly improve you rankings with them. Everything listed above doesn’t require a deep expert understanding of effective SEO strategy and will not put you at risk of search engine penalties.