If you’re playing the Google Game – that is, trying to get your site ranked higher in Google – you’ll need to employ the most modern SEO practices and pull out all of the stops. That means using all of the SEO campaign tactics that allow some websites to outrank much larger organizations, many that have their own dedicated SEO strategy teams, and keeping up with the ever changing Google Game. These are the 23 strategies that are absolutely vital to SEO success and by using them you can blow past the competition and see your organic traffic quickly grow.
1. A Long List of Potential Keywords
The first thing that you need is a list of keywords that are targeted specifically to your audience and your products or services. How you compile this list will be covered below, but your first task is to make a broad list of keywords that you think are relevant to your brand or the products and services that you will be selling. Use tools like Google’s Keyword Planner to get ideas and post your potential keywords in a spreadsheet for later research.
2. Discovery of Long-Tail Keywords
This is a very important strategy in the Google Game. It’s very difficult to rank for head terms even with niche products and services because head terms are often targeted by big companies who have their own SEO team and a great deal of authority and budget to keep them at the top spots in Google.
But you might be able to rank for long-tail keywords. For example, instead of targeting “fish tanks”, you might target something like “wood base 55-gallon fish tanks.” If there are enough people searching for your long tail keywords, and there isn’t much competition for it, then it could be very lucrative for you.
Learn more about Long Tail Keywords from Wordtracker.
3. Extremely Thorough Keyword Research
The way that you compile that list of keywords is through a thorough keyword research strategy. According to the experts at Kissmetrics, compiling a list of keywords requires knowing your brand terms, product keywords, which of yours are easy to rank for, and even the keywords that your competitors are targeting.
4. Optimization Of The Title Tag
You want your title tag (that’s the one that people see at the top when that page appears in search results) to be extremely well written, between 65 and 70 characters and contain the keyword(s) that you are targeting.
Don’t just use the keyword as the title tag. Make it compelling and enticing to the reader so they will click on it. Check out Moz’s information on title tag optimization for guidance.
5. Internal Linking
You should be linking pages to other pages in your website – where it makes sense. You get pass ranking power around your website when you link to a relevant page from another part of your site, but you need to keep in mind to no overdo it, keep it relevant and useful to the user.
Check out this resource from Yoast about internal linking strategies.
6. The Anchor Text of the Internal Links
In addition to internal linking as part of your SEO campaign, you should ensure that the anchor text leading to a relevant page contains the keywords that you are trying to target. If you have a 400-word post you should have 3-5 links within the content that contain keywords that you want the target pages to rank for.
The experts over at Search Engine Watch used this exact strategy to rank number one for the term “internal links.”
7. Headings and Subheadings
This is one of the things that even those knowledgeable in SEO Strategy sometimes skip. Google is God as far as those of us trying to get ranked are concerned, and Google wants to see H1, H2 and H3 header tags, and they want to see them using the proper search terms that you are targeting.
Only use the H1 tag for the page heading and only use it once. With H2 and H3 headers, you can use them for subheadings and navigation, and use as many as you need to break up section of content on a page into topic sections which support the primary topic of the content.
To find out more about heading and sub headings you can read our SEO basics article.
8. Image ALT Text
Yes, you need to use images throughout your content. They visually reinforce points that you’re making , they keep readers from feeling like they are drowning in an endless sea of text, and they provide you with another opportunity to let Google know what keywords you want your webpage to be ranked for – by using the image ALT text to include your keyword phrases.
There are three main benefits to using alt text image tags from Network Solutions:
- If an image is broken, the alt text image tag will be displayed instead of a broken image symbol.
- If a visually impaired person is using a special browser that reads text on websites, it will read the alt image tags.
- Your website’s images are also more likely to show up if someone does an image search for your selected keywords.
9. Website Content that is Well Written
Website content is the most important part of SEO success. Content is everything. It is the foundation of your website and the thing that will draw visitors in and keep them coming back. This means that content is concise, free of spelling and grammar errors and does exactly what is it supposed to do without fluff, meandering ideas or poorly constructed sentences.
10. Website Content that Provides Value
Not only does your content need to be slick, shining and written by a professional, it also needs to provide value to your reader. Heidi Cohen recently put together a panel of experts to talk about what quality content that provided value actually is, and it’s worth taking a look at what they said.
11. Pay Attention to Potential Search Trends
Search trends are a great way to skyrocket the traffic on your site, and even though it goes back down relatively quickly, you’ll be surprised to find that your ordinary levels of search traffic are now higher due to a certain percentage of the trend visitors sticking around.
To find trends in keyword use, you can use keyword trending tools such as Google Trends.
12, Use Google’s Auto Complete Feature
The reason that this keyword tool belongs in your SEO toolbox is that the search terms that you see there are the most up-to-date search terms that people are actually using, and it is a gold mine of terrific long tail keyword ideas.
Kern Media has a guide that you can use located here.
13. Make Analytics Your Bible
Google Analytics is simply the most effective source of information about your website’s successes and failures and you get the information almost immediately so that you can take action right away. Learn how to use all the features of Analytics. Become an analytics expert.
Moz has a beginners guide to to Google Analytics here.
14. Follow Google’s Search Algorithm Changes Closely
Unfortunately, you are always going to be chasing after the magic formula for Google’s search algorithm. They change and improve it constantly based on spammer behavior and the desire to make their search results user focused.
Google Senior V.P. and primary algorithm engineer reported that Google makes around 500 improvements to the algorithm every year. That means you need to pay attention daily to the changes and stay ahead of the curve.
15. Expand Your Idea of What Keywords You Should Use
Many people simply concentrate on all of the keywords that go with their product or service, but there are a lot more keywords out there than the ones directly associated with your product.
You want to examine:
- Brand keywords, if people are familiar with your brand
- Keywords associated with your product
- Tertiary keywords and terms that are vaguely related
16. Link to Authority Sites Relevant to Your Site
Linking to other websites is a best practice that can have positive effects on the traffic that comes to your website. We are not saying that linking out automatically increases rankings but when you link out, and those sites noticed you have linked to them, they may Tweet or share your article – thus driving traffic to it and marketing it for you.
However, and this is important, you only want to link to individual pages of their site, link to authority websites, and only link to the page if it contains relevant content to the content you are linking from.
Learn more about the benefits of linking out here.
17. Become a Description-Based YouTuber
Have you noticed that YouTube videos are dominating the front page of Google? So, if you want a shortcut to the top result of the SERPS, create a relevant video with real benefit to the viewer and then write 200-300 words in the description box, using the keywords you are targeting.
Google doesn’t actually watch every cat video or Harlem Shake flash mob. They rely on data points such as the description you use, how many times the video is watch, how many times it’s shared and commented on, and other factors to determine if it’s relevant for first page rankings.
Learn more about how Google ranks videos from Ryan Stewarts guide on Medium.
18. Pretend like you’re from the Future
Many searches include the current or upcoming year. For example, “best new coffee makers in 2017” or “newest dress styles of 2018.” Include the current or a future year in post titles where the year fits naturally. Don’t try to force it in where it doesn’t belong though.
19. Find Questions You Can Answer
If you haven’t ever visited Quora, you are missing out on a valuable resource for search engine optimization. Quora is a question-and-answer site that contains thousands of unanswered questions. If someone asks a question and others show interest, there’s an excellent chance that you’ll rank first on the SEPPS if you answer it.
Check out Shiverwebs guide for using Quora here.
20. Never Let Your White Hat Turn Black…or Even Grey
Look, that guy on Fiverr who says that he can get you 100 links to your site for just five bucks, is a black hat-wearing web demon and he will destroy your site if you let him. Link building is a slow, steady process that requires careful research of sites that you want to link to you. Low-quality links are not going to raise your ranking, they are going to get you deindexed.
Want to know what black hat tactics to avoid, check out our black hat tactics guide here.
21. Use Random Anchor Text Most of the Time
You need to make sure that not all of your links contain your keywords. In fact, only about a quarter of your links should be keyword optimized and the rest should be random anchor text. Otherwise, Google Penguin is going to slap you and it’s going to hurt.
22. Invent Your Own Keywords
If this sounds ridiculous, keep reading. Let’s use my favorite keyword “Harry Potter.” Suppose that you had known or suspected that this keyword was going to be searched millions of times a day and created a site to take advantage of that. Now, think of a keyword that you could make up yourself and garner interest for, and you then set up a site that ranks number one for that keyword.
23. Continue Learning The Google Game Forever
Guess what, no matter what you know about search engine optimization right now, in five years most of that knowledge is going to be out of date. If you’re an internet marketer, you’re basically going to be attending the University of Google SERPS forever. So, make sure you like your dorm roommate and settle in for the long haul.