Based on WordPress data, there are almost 3 million blog posts published every day. That’s only WordPress. It’s estimated there are 4.5 – 5 million articles published every day.
Whether you’re a developer, start-up, or business owner looking to rank on the first page of Google, we’ve got you covered.
- 1. Mobile Friendliness is Paramount
- 2. When Creating Content, Write About One Topic First
- 3. Learn Important Keyword Metrics
- 4. Inbound Link Anchor Cloud
- 5. Focus on White-Hat SEO, Avoid Link Buying
- 6. Use SEO Software Starting Day 1
- 7. Diagnose and Eliminate Technical On-Site Issues
- 8. SEO is Constantly Evolving, Keep Up with Google
- 9. Build Links from Websites with Relevant Content
- 10. Optimize Your Page Titles
- 11. Create Easy to Read/Understand URLs
- 13. Focus on Referring Domains, Not Just Links
- 14. Don’t Forget About Local SEO
- 15. Structured Data aka Schema Markup (SERP 2.0)
1. Mobile Friendliness is Paramount
Mobile internet usage surpasses desktop usage for the first time in history in 2016, and the trend is only going to get stronger.
In 2016, the adult industry was the leader, with 73% of the visits coming from mobile devices. Despite that, it was the biggest gainer this year, jumping up to 86% of all traffic coming from mobile.
The other fascinating thing is that the finance category and arts & entertainment categories are the only industries that still see more traffic on desktop, by narrow 52% to 48% and 51% to 49% margins, respectively. By next year, these should also get most of their traffic from mobile.
Google understands how important the mobile experience is to its users and harshly penalizes websites that offer an underwhelming mobile performance.
When creating your website, be sure to optimize for mobile, remove items that might slow a mobile load time down, and update your web page’s design and layout to offer a smooth and speedy mobile experience. 96.26% of new smartphones run Android or iOS.
Mobile SEO Actionable Tip: Run your website in Google Speed test and learn two things – your site’s speed and mobile score. Both numbers range from 0 – 100, with higher scores being better.
2. When Creating Content, Write About One Topic First
For many industries/businesses, writing about one specific topic will showcase your company as an authoritative, professional voice in their industry, and Google loves authority.
When starting a blog, we suggest focusing on one niche topic and making 80% of your initial posts about that specific subject.
For example, if you are a home restoration company, instead of making your first handful of blogs about all different topics, like, one post about drywall, one post about patio restoration, one post about flood damage repair, and one post about home painting; instead, choose one of those topics (say, home painting), and make almost all of your initial blogs about that topic.
Posts might include: How to Paint the Interior of Your Home, What Are the Best Brands of Paint for the Exterior of My Home, How to Correctly Mix Paint, etc.
Focusing on one specific topic will help present you as an expert in that particular niche. You will be more likely to begin ranking for a multitude of keywords regarding your niche topic and invite an audience of users looking for more in-depth expertise on your subject of choice.
3. Learn Important Keyword Metrics
- Search volume – Average number of searches each month
- Clicks per search – How many average clicks per search
- Keyword difficulty – A score of 0 to 100 with higher scores being harder to rank for.
- Try to find out what these metrics mean for your business.
4. Inbound Link Anchor Cloud
Within SEMrush (discount here, review here), Ahrefs, and Google Webmaster Tools, you are given access to your Inbound Link Anchor Cloud, which shows the popularity of different anchor text phrases on the number of backlinks pointing to your site.
Here’s an anchor cloud for one of the properties that review headphones, Headphone Charts:
Based on this example, you can recognize that 9% of their backlinks contain the anchor text “headphones better than beats,” and this makes sense because they have a popular post on Headphone Charts literally called Headphones Better than Beats, a post they put a fair amount of time into, and some effort link build
When you view your anchor cloud and notice that a lot of your anchor keywords are irrelevant or not the types of keywords that you want from prospective customers, then you will need to make updates to your website link portfolio to rectify that, including creating content containing the keywords you want to rank for, and then be sure to build strong relevant backlinks by sharing your new content on other high-quality websites.
5. Focus on White-Hat SEO, Avoid Link Buying
An outdated and shortsighted black-hat link building technique focuses on spending money to buy backlinks from shady websites trying to sell “easy SEO” solutions to companies that would rather spend money exchanging improved Google rankings spend the time and energy to utilize REAL SEO solutions.
The problem with this strategy is that Google is getting very adept at knowing the difference between high quality, relevant organic backlinks and low quality, irrelevant ones, making paid-for links not only useless, but they can absolutely get your site penalized by Google, causing your site to sink like a stone within Google search results.
6. Use SEO Software Starting Day 1
If you’re going to put in all of the hard work needed to create a high-quality website, it is mission-critical that you begin monitoring your site with advanced analytics starting on Day 1.
- Free SEO Tools
- Google Analytics
- Google Webmaster Tools
- Google Optimize – A/B Testing (just released late March 2017)
- Screaming Frog – Ugly interface, but great on-page SEO audit tool
- Paid SEO Tools
- Ahrefs (our most used tool at Placement Labs)
- SEM Rush
7. Diagnose and Eliminate Technical On-Site Issues
Most webmasters are often ignorant of the many issues their website has regarding how effectively Google’s spiders can crawl them.
Designing and coding your website without an emphasis on SEO can leave your site in a vulnerable position, as there is almost assuredly plenty of competition within your industry, including competition that has an SEO understanding and has already eliminated the majority of their on-page web issues, making them appear more authoritative in the eyes of Google.
A few examples of issues that your site might have (and often can be easily fixed):
- Pages with missing meta titles/descriptions
- Images missing an alt-text attribute.
- Pages with broken links (both internal and external) [Use LinkWhisper plugin to find them]
- Pages with titles that are too long
- Multiple pages with duplicate meta information
- Pages that are missing language declarations
8. SEO is Constantly Evolving, Keep Up with Google
Our lives as SEOs would be much easier if we believed we could continually offer the same services to our clients all the time, forever. However, that would be incredibly naive and short-sighted to assume that we can always do the same things and expect the same results.
As we touched on in our introduction, Google semi-regularly updates their internal algorithms to create better experiences for their users, but it is up to SEO experts to learn about and understand these changes and know how to implement new services and techniques in
9. Build Links from Websites with Relevant Content
One of the best ways to bolster your site’s credibility is to focus your link building efforts on sites that produce high-quality content relevant to your site’s industry. We cannot stress enough that this process is not easy, and sadly, there is no magic technique that will automate the process.
You have to sit down and do the hard work of finding backlink opportunities and physically reaching out to the site’s administrators in hopes of creating relationships that might yield future backlinks.
10. Optimize Your Page Titles
When you enter a search into Google, and Google provides you with the first page of search results, you will see each search result shows a title for the link (in blue text) and a short description of the page directly beneath it. That blue title text is officially known as your Meta
Title, and it is vitally important that you do a good job of optimizing these titles. Titles that are over 70 characters will not be fully shown in search results, and it comes off as quite unprofessional to users who can’t view the whole title.
11. Create Easy to Read/Understand URLs
One mistake we see many companies/people make unwittingly is creating pages with really long URLs. This is often an issue we see on WordPress sites (though they are certainly not limited to WP sites). Many websites offer a default setting where the URL slug is
automatically generated by duplicating the page’s title.
Google likes and suggests a simple URL structure. From Google’s content guidelines: “Whenever possible, shorten URLs by trimming
This isn’t just an SEO tip; this is a LIFE TIP for anyone in the business. Always immerse yourself in the latest news regarding your industry, and be on the lookout for anything new– new products, new techniques, new technologies, etc., and write about them as soon as you feel confident you have something valuable to the conversation.
Early Adopter SEO Actionable Tip
Use Google Trends to see and when people search for keywords. You can even look at keywords over a 5 year period to see growth or negative search trends. It’s great for keywords you are interested in and show you what trends the world cares about in real-time. Great way to find some topics that are in your market and trending
13. Focus on Referring Domains, Not Just Links
When creating backlinks, it is not only important to build as many as you can from high-quality sources. It is also important to show Google that your website is well-balanced about its backlink profile.
Remember, there are many other link types than dot coms– there’s .com, .org, .net, .gov, .edu, and many more; these are the main ones and are referred to as generic top-level domains (TLDs). Your TLD profile is taken into consideration by Google as they score your
website and well-balanced sites are generally well-received.
For example, a website which features 5 .com backlinks, 5 .org, 5 .gov, and 5 .edu within its backlink profile will look authoritative to Google, and, therefore, will probably rank higher than a similar website that has 20 .com backlinks. The second website in the example may have the same overall backlink total, but they are not nearly as well balanced as the first website. 50 links from one domain have less SEO value than 3 links from 10 different referring domains (total 30 links from 10 referring domains). This is a super overlooked SEO tip!
14. Don’t Forget About Local SEO
Geotargeting is a useful tactic if you own (or represent) a local business, particularly one with a real storefront. In today’s mobile age, people are constantly searching for businesses on their smartphones near where they are at that given moment.
Websites that clearly state their geographic location have an advantage of being listed in local searched over those which do not. Including your business’ location clearly and consistently formatted within your web content will help Google understand where you are located.
15. Structured Data aka Schema Markup (SERP 2.0)
Schema Markup is a powerful tactic to make your Google search results appear more professional and eye-catching than your competition. Schema markup is code that you can add to your site, which helps search engines return more informative results.Check out this example…When you search for “Stonewood Grill Menu,” you are presented with this as your first result:
The benefit is when Stonewood Grill updates the menu on the website, the changes will also be displayed in the above SERP (The image above). This is cost-effective since the menu is maintained in one place online.
It is also a better experience for the user who wants to dive into the menu.
Ultimately, SEO is rapidly changing from one year to the next—even from one month to the next. Business owners and marketers have to adapt quickly, but it’s still possible to give your business website the edge over your competition.
Just remember to focus on solid content creation and copywriting fundamentals, engage your viewers deeply, and stay abreast of technical trends like backlinks, SEO health, site speed, and schema.