We all want our posts to rank on the 1st page of Google. But how do you do it? That’s the question.
In my experience these are the 11 tips on SEO that matter the most.
And what’s more they work.
1. Internal Linking For SEO
First, your content needs to be found. This happens when Google follows links from somewhere on the web.
Internal linking gives them a clear picture of the structure of your site.
It also helps visitors navigate through your site.
Time visitors spend on your site is a factor Google takes into account for rankings.
Additionally, internal links help to optimize your site and benefit SEO.
One page with high authority can pass along some of that authority to other pages on your site by linking to them. The linked to pages can then receive a boost in rankings.
Take a look at the graphic above. You can see it looks like a pyramid with the apex being the homepage
Three tips for a good internal linking strategy:
- Links should be relevant to the content of the page you are optimizing
- They should be inserted into the content itself and be natural, so it makes sense
- The anchor text (the part of text that forms the link) should make sense as well
2. External Linking – Best Practices
A link that points to a website other than your own. Also known as outbound links.
When linking out it’s best to use descriptive keywords in the anchor text (clickable link)
and referencing the same subject.
Don’t try to use the same keyword every time, or too many times either. The links will be regarded as spammy by search engines.
Use different relevant anchor texts to improve usability for your visitors as well as search engines.
Internal vs External Links
Internal and external links are both important and useful to help your SEO efforts. But they do very different jobs for your site.
As I said earlier, internal links show site structure helping visitors and search engines navigate your site. And, pass “link juice” (authority) through your site to boost rankings on your content.
When you insert external links in your posts you are aiming for credibility. You want your visitors and Google to trust you.
So by linking to other credible and authority sites you are showing your content is built on knowledge and research not what you think is correct or your life experience.
Plus it gives visitors an opportunity to gain more in-depth knowledge, if that’s what they need. Search engines need users to find the information they seek: when you include helpful links you are supporting the search engine.
Your site on it’s own cannot contain all the information someone might be looking for about a specific topic.
3. Page Speed And SEO
It’s important to your on-site SEO to factor in page speed. For two reasons.
Visitors to websites don’t like waiting around for sites to load.
Research shows sites taking longer than 3 seconds to load are often abandoned.Potentially you are losing sales and leads because of this.
Not just sales but, every major metric is impacted by page speed – bounce rate, search rankings, page views, conversions and reader enjoyment.
According to Cloudflare pages that load up to 2.4 seconds had a 1.9% conversion rate – compared to sites loading at
5.7+ seconds with a 0.6% conversion rate.
Walmart found that for every 1 second improvement in page load time, conversions increased by 2%
Second, it’s an important ranking factor in Google. Ten years ago Google decided to include site speed as one of the major ranking factors in it’s algorithm.
You’re losing the fight for top rankings if you ignore page speed.
WordPress is a great CMS but can easily become bloated with too many plugins. If they aren’t necessary delete them.
That also goes for your sidebars. In mobile, sidebars load last, so think about what you have in them and delete non-essential widgets.
Reduce the file size of your images. You can use a plugin to do this.
A good one I use on my site is Short Pixel It’s easy to use. There is a pro version which will give you a lot more credits.
Presented by Skilled.co
4. Online Content – Write For Humans
How to create online content is not difficult but creating the right content is another matter. More content is produced than ever before, so how to make your content stand out?
According to Orbitmedia 52% of bloggers report that it’s getting harder to get readers to engage with their content.The average blog post is 1236 words long and 53% longer than six years ago.
Graph created by Orbitmedia
How is it possible to get your content noticed in 2020 and beyond?
There’s only one way: your content needs to be better than anything previously written. More in-depth, longer, more authoritative, citing more expert knowledge, better graphics/images, video or, to put it another way, far more impressive.
Quality or Quantity?
What’s more important Quality or quantity? The answer is both.
Quality is essential for visitors to engage with you. But, you need a reasonable quantity for the search engines – at least as much as your main competitors.
You should make content re-purposing part of your overall content strategy.
It’s not easy to keep writing epic content if you don’t have a massive team of writers and designers behind you.
But, you don’t have to start something new all the time. Put your existing content on different formats. For example create videos, podcasts, slideshows etc.
Beware though, content standards are not what they were. They are more demanding now.
Simply recycling your content won’t work, you need to adapt that content to suit the medium you are using.
Links And Social Shares?
Your content needs to attract links and social shares. But, is it possible to attract both from the same article?
In Fact, Backlinko and Buzzumo teamed up to analyse over 900 million articles and discovered there was no relationship between the two.
The takeaway here is – write content with a particular goal in mind links or shares – not both.
Graph created by Backlinko
It’s clear that longer articles attract more backlinks but, there’s little point in padding articles with fluff. Your writing has to add value to be useful to readers.
5. Have Trustworthy Sites link To You
Why Are Inbound Links Important?
If you have been around SEO for even the shortest time, I’m sure you have heard about links and, the need to have them pointing to your site. They are seen as a sign of trust and authority.
The more you have pointing to your site, the higher you might rank in SERPS (search engine results pages).
They are not the only ranking factor and not all inbound links are created equal.
Inbound links are from another site that point to your site. They’re commonly known as backlinks.
For search engines to consider them they must be clickable.
If a clickable link is placed on a site, and visitors click on it, the site they visit gets referral traffic. It’s good for the receiving site especially if the referring site is popular. Potentially it’s massive traffic for free.
Definition Of A Good Inbound Link
A good link is:
- Has the appropriate anchor text
- The link is from an authoritative site
Anchor text is a piece of text that has been hyperlinked for example (the text “for example” is the anchor text in this case) and it should be natural not optimized to fit some keyword or phrase that makes no sense.
Search engines would view this as unnatural and discount the link, possibly even giving a penalty if it appeared many times.
5 B’s Of Bad Link Building
Borrowing, begging, buying, bartering or bribing. For links to be of any use they need to be from an authoritative source. For more information on this check out this article by Hubspot
6. SEO Tips For URL Optimization – Best URL Structure
URLs Need To Be Readable And Understood
As a site visitor if you cannot make sense of the url you’re reading, search engines will have the same problem.
We all want to read the address before we click on links because, we want to know if we are being sent to the correct place. Search engines are simple machines (even if the algorithm is sophisticated) they don’t try to decipher addresses. They don’t do weird and wacky.
They read the content and try to match it to the best search results.
So keep the URL nice and clean. For example https://braddavenportwrites.com/what-is-seo/
Use Hyphens Not Underscores
Google prefers hyphens and not underscores. Nor do they like words mashed together. Read more about it here
If you want to be ranked high in the biggest search engine then it’s their rules that count.
WordPress SEO URL/Permalink Structure
This one causes some debate…
Should categories be added into the URL structure?
For example /%category%/%postname%/ or /%postname%/
I’ve always gone with the postname option. I like my blog posts to be treated as important pages. And, it makes the URL slug much neater. Which makes it easier to share.
The only time I would add in the category would be if the site was very big. Lots of posts and lots of categories. If you do add categories make sure to put each post in just one category.
Don’t Use Capital Letters
It doesn’t look right, and it’s confusing. Which of your visitors will remember that you’ve added a capital somewhere. It’s making it more difficult when you should always strive for simple.
Include Your Target Keyword
Try to include your exact keyword in the URL. While that may be hard on your homepage you should easily manage to insert keywords in blog post URLs.
Broken URLs And 301 Redirects
There may be times when you have to change a URL for some reason. If the search engines have indexed your content and, you change your url the content will no longer be found.
Add a 301 redirect from your old to new URL. Information from Google re 301 Redirects
7. Social Signals For SEO
Why social signals? Because Google doesn’t seem to have added them to their ranking algorithm.
Social Signals might not be a direct algorithm factor, but it certainly affects your SEO rankings.
In May 2018 Hootsuite ran an experiment to find out. Search engines have been for and against using them as ranking factors. Back in 2010 both Google and Bing declared social was used to help determine page results.
Four years later and Matt Cutts (Google’s former head of webspam) released a video claiming they were not used in search results.
What about today?
Well going back to the experiment the results showed there did appear to be a relationship to social activity and search engine rankings.
Graph designed by Hootsuite
While social shares may or may not improve rankings, social profiles definitely do help. Learning more about any brand is made so much easier if they have social profiles. And all serious companies are on social media platforms.
It definitely pays to have useful, active and engaging social channels.
Let’s not forget that social channels are fast becoming search engines themselves. Social Media platforms enable brands to be discovered and followed. For example – brands on Pinterest and Instagram are regularly found by their great visuals and images. Youtube is also a huge social channel.
Use social as well for your SEO efforts. Make it easy for users to find your profiles and identify your brand.
8. Meta Description For SEO Benefits
What Is A Meta Description?
It’s a HTML tag including a snippet of text that describes what the post or page is about.
Here’s an example meta description :
Even though they are not considered a major ranking factor, it’s still important for on-page SEO.
Search engines claim they do not use a meta description in their ranking algorithm for ranking a page, but there is a secondary benefit…
Google uses a CTR (click – through – rate) as a ranking factor. The more searchers clicking on your search result signals to Google your listing is a good result. Should this happen frequently your listing can be moved higher. Optimizing is important for this reason.
Meta Description Best Practices
Meta Description Length
There’s no rules that say how long the meta description character count has to be. But Google will only show between 155-160 characters. Not letters because spaces count as well. It can also be shorter if you want. But my advice would be to use all available characters.
Remember it needs to persuade searchers to click on your result. It needs to be fresh and motivating without being click bait.
Add A Call To Action
It’s not click bait but try to add a call to action. This is sales text. You are not trying to sell a product in your meta description but, you are selling the click to the article or other content that you want to send them to.
Use The Focus Keyword
Every page or post on your site should have just one focus keyword. Make sure this is included in the meta description, preferably at the beginning.
This will tell visitors what the content is about but, also it might encourage Google to use your meta description and not a random one of their choosing.
Match The Content Of The Page
I’ve already mentioned it should not be click bait. But, more than that. It has to match the content on your page that you send visitors to. Google can penalize your page if they see it as misleading visitors. And, those same visitors will pretty quickly click away.
This will increase your bounce rate and reduce the dwell time : two factors that will affect your rankings.
It Needs To Be Unique
There has to be a unique description for each page or post. Even if your titles are all different there will still be confusion in what your page is about. This is terrible for user experience.
Rather than doing this you would be better off leaving the description blank and letting Google choose a snippet for you. But my advice is learn how to write the best meta descriptions you can. And say what you want to say to get that click.
9. Why Are Web Analytics Important?
What Are Web Analytics And How Are They Used?
If you were a star athlete you or your coach would be recording every aspect of your training. Your times, your best results, your bad results, your competitors results, your diet etc. All this for you to get better and better. This is how athletes become world beaters.
You can’t be a world beater by relying on “gut instincts.” You have to know for sure you are moving in the right and best direction.
Your online business or blog is exactly the same. Metrics takes emotions and feelings out of it altogether. There are no feelings where metrics are concerned, they’re just numbers and are easy to compare. Without metrics you are in a very dark place with nothing to guide you out.
How Can Web Analytics Help A Business?
The analytics that you track can give you amazing insights into, conversions, sales, clicks and page views.
Here’s a short list of what analytics can do for you:
- Which part of the world your visitors are from
- Click analytics
- Dwell time
- Bounce rate
- Who or where your traffic is referred from
- Number of visits
- Time on your site
Content Marketing Analytics
Earlier in this article we discussed how important content is to your site, credibility, trust and rankings. Well to do all of it, you need to track results. I would advise you to use Google Analytics it’s free to use and you have an incredible amount of information at your fingertips.
Because, you will know how popular different pieces of content are. Which content is doing the job it was intended to do and, which isn’t. Instantly record the effect of blog posts or social media posts.
- How often are individual pages visited
- Are visitors being converted into leads or customers
- Are they using your site’s search function (if they do it can give you some idea of content that can be added to the site)
- How are visitors moving through your site
Analytics For Social Media Marketing
Your social media results should be tracked as well.
- They enable you to understand your audience
- Which network works best for the type of content and visuals you produce
- It will help you produce better quality and more relevant content
- Helps you understand your competition
- Will enable you to strategize better
- Show you how campaigns are performing for you
Mobile Data Analytics
It’s over 5 years ago that mobile usage exceeded desktop and, smartphones are now the main way the internet is accessed. Companies not using mobile analytics platforms are falling behind their competitors.
According to Statista worldwide mobile advertising spend in 2019 amounted to 190 billion US dollars. As competition hots up on mobile advertising it’s important that advertisers understand how their ads perform and, if their ad dollars turn into customers.
For a more in-depth look at mobile analytics platforms check out this article by Mixpanel
10. Does Changing Domain Name Affect SEO?
Domain Name Change – SEO Impact
Does a name change hurt SEO – Yes it does.
The majority of site owners, especially a site that has high rankings and doing well, will avoid changing names at all costs.
But, there are two situations to consider here.
If the site owner is holding onto the old domain then 301 re-directs can be set up to send traffic to the new URL’s. Minimizing the damage. Search engines will understand the page has permanently been moved and transfer the links to the new page.
However, if the old domain is sold then control will be lost. Any link equity will also be lost. Even if the domain is sold the content can be placed on a new site, eventually if it’s excellent content it might regain it’s links and ranking positions. But, that’s likely to take some time.
Image Keywords – How To Use Them
Google’s search delivers as many image results as text ones.
On almost every results page image search results show up before the organic results.
This alone makes it worth your time to optimize images correctly. And, don’t forget search engines do not read images if you don’t add alt text.
Always use plenty of images in your posts. It breaks up the text and can keep visitors on your site longer. And, it can provide you with extra traffic.
Try to use original images whenever you can. Stock photos are being used so often it becomes obvious what they are. If a photo won’t do justice think about creating relevant graphics. As long as they reflect the topic covered or you’re using them to illustrate some points.
Images can be huge file sizes. They will slow your site down.
Make sure you only upload the maximum size you need and use a compression plugin such as Short Pixel.
Tips On SEO – Takeaway
There’s a lot to learn in SEO and it never ends because search engines consistently update or change their algorithms. But don’t doubt yourself. You might even feel intimidated by the sheer weight of information you need to understand. You can learn this stuff. Or at the very least learn enough to get your pages ranked high in Google.
I hope these tips on SEo help you get started or in some way reinforce what you already know. For further SEO reading you might like my article What Is SEO – Everything Beginners Need To Know