Search engine optimization is intimidating. You’ve probably heard of it before, and if you’re reading this article you’ve probably spent a lot of time and money trying to figure SEO out. By now you’ve probably read about “keyword density” and how “content is king,” and you probably even know one or two SEO tools, and what SEO actually does for your web presence.
But of course there’s more to it than that.
A lot of people see search engine optimization as some kind of dragon standing between them and the gates of an improved web presence and sure success. But you can tame the SEO beast and use it to your advantage.
Now, what’s makes up the relevant and the best SEO practices and services in 2017 and in the coming years? This is going to be a long read, so be warned. Here you will encounter some more little minions of the bigger SEO alien—but we’ll break it down into digestible chunks for you. (You might also want to check out our other articles on the best marketing techniques to use in 2017.)
1. Indulge your customers and put user experience first
“User experience” is another scary, incomprehensible compound noun, we know, but stay with us. “User experience” just means the ease (or difficulty) your visitors have interacting with your website—assuming you already have one. It’s important to think about a few things like if your website is mobile friendly or if it looks super weird on a tablet. Does it load fast? Is it aesthetically pleasing? These questions should not be about you and your aesthetics, but your user’s and Google’s.
You see, Google penalizes websites that are not designed for mobile consumption. What does that mean for you and your business? Well, it means your business gets pushed down to page 20.
When was the last time you went to page 20 on a Google Search?
So remember to
Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly
Google—the conglomerate Internet Zeus, the God of the gods—announced in April 2015 that Google Search expands the mobile-friendliness of websites as one of the ranking signals. It is simple to understand. Your website should be readable and friendly to all forms of mobile devices. When you view your website on your phone or tablet, the site automatically conforms or responds to the vertical or horizontal design of your device. And if it is not, well... good-bye, visibility. Good-bye, clicks. Good-bye, business.
Make sure your website is aesthetically pleasing and user-friendly
User experience (UX) design is here for good. No customers (your users) ever want to spend money on a website they don’t understand and appreciate. Think of your users. What do they want to see when they open your website? How to aid them to purchase your products and services? The overall look and design of your website is a big factor for them to unleash their purchasing power.
For this, you have to sit down with your frontend and backend developers. These are the wonderfully creative people that ensure that your website is user-friendly. They take care of the overall visual aesthetics of your website—from the fonts on the website to the images and so much more. This is frontend. And the things you can’t see, and they’re all written different languages like PHP, HTML, CSS. This is backend. Now, they work hand in hand to make sure that your website is aesthetically pleasing, fast, and mobile-friendly.
2. Post High Quality Content
An eCommerce website without a blog section is boring and dry; you’re not going to hook anyone without great content and a great blog. It is a must for businesses to have a blog that covers all topics related to your niche (business). This is a sure way for customers (online users) to find your business.
Now, content marketing, where blogging is a big part of, has evolved. Gone are the days when search engine optimization was limited to lousy 300–500 word articles. Statistics shows that Google ranks content that serves the users the most. These highly ranked content are in-depth and informative.
So how do you make Google notice your content?
Not everyone is up to reading lengthy articles on boring topics like, ahem, SEO. That can be boring on top of being intimidating. For this reason, storytelling has become a trend among eCommerce communities. While storytelling, in different forms and shapes, has been part of our lives (think of your nosy neighbors or coworkers), it has been exceptionally relevant to businesses in the last decade.
Storytelling aids your content to flow effortlessly. It keeps readers on your website and holds their attention.
Sass up your content. Include your first-person story if you have to. The content marketing world demands drama and narrative. So own your content.
Be a bearer of good news
Drama is just, well, drama, when there is nothing for the reader in it. Users go to your website for information or entertainment. Why not both? An awesome blog leaves your reader inspired, entertained, and informed. But we are wired in such a way that funny, positive news makes the biggest impact to the reader. We did not make that up. That’s scientifically proven. So hop on the bandwagon. Be a bearer of good news while staying within your niche. Give what your reader want. And add some more.
Fun fact: 65% of the entire human population is made up of visual learners. It can be sad news for some bookworms, but that’s a different debate. Make use of this statistical fact. Make your content visually appealing and shareable.
While knowing the world of words is important in your business, it is not the sole world that you have to understand. It can be videos, infographics, and images. Break the monotony of text with beautiful and relevant images. You can also embed a relevant video in between text. Nowadays, infographics are becoming more and more popular sources of information—and for good reason. Text appeals to the left side of the brain, visuals to the right. And as we said, most humans—well, 65% of us—are visual learners.
The function of infographics is to tease, flirt with, engage, and tickle the right side of the brain. Its visual aesthetics make the information chewable, digestible, and shareable.
And last but not the least, make sure your blog has a share button plugin, so that it is easy for your readers to share your content on social media.
3. Delve into the dark technical SEO
Don’t worry—we’ll keep this really simple for you. Back then, SEO keywords could make a writer doubling as a grammarian hairless. They were a jumble of words that did not make much sense at all. As the Internet progressed, so did the way we ask Google for information. We are now in the age of how-tos. Search keywords have evolved into something more grammatical and varied, thankfully. How to make a banana pancake. How to survive a zombie apocalypse. All these keyword searches have duly answers on the Internet. You don’t believe us? Go ahead, search how to slay a dragon.
So you have to anticipate the right keywords that your users might ask Google and employ them in your content. To echo Google Keyword Planner, reach the right customers with the right keywords. Thankfully, you don’t have to be a psychologist to anticipate the right keywords for your business. There are now tools dedicated for keyword planning.
What to bear in mind when you place your right keywords in your content:
Don’t stuff your content with keywords
Or else your reader is going to choke, and your business dies. You don’t want that to happen. Keyword placement is a creative work of science. There are certain ways of doing it without being obnoxious. One sure ball is to use latent semantic indexing. It sounds fancy and intimidating, doesn’t it? Latent semantic indexing is just an annoyingly specific way of saying “synonyms”—or using similar words that your business is targeting. Say your business is has something to do with cars. Don’t just stuff the word cars all throughout your content. Throw in vehicles, automobile, transportation . . . Using latent semantic indexing in your keyword planning will then satisfy RankBrain, Google’s algorithm learning artificial intelligence system, which processes search results and provides relevant search results for online users.
Keyword density, the number of times your targeted keywords is used in your content, should not be overdone, because then Google sees it as keyword stuffing, which leads to your website being penalized by Google—and you without readers.
Where to place your keywords
Start with the title. The title of your article should bear the keywords you’re targeting. Customize the URL of your post, so the link of your post bears the keywords as well. In your content, it is ideal to put your targeted keyword in the first 100 words of your article, which then serves as the metadescription (the tiny description below the link, which can be seen on Google search results) of your content once it goes live. Just like the URL, you can customize your metadescription.
Distribute your keywords where the unobservant eyes can’t see. As we have mentioned before, breaking the text with images increases the shareability of your content. Before uploading your photos, make sure their tags bear the keywords you’re targeting. Don’t be lazy. Change the photo tags.
Try the Skyscraper Technique
Most likely you live in a highly urbanized city where skyscrapers compete one another. You can say, content marketing is like that. You are not the only one doing the business. Competition is real, but you want your content to be the highest skyscraper that everyone can see. You have to build that skyscraper. Know your competitors. Read their content. Write a better content than they do. Say your competitor came up with 15 things to blah blah, make 25 things to blah blah. Your content should be more informative and more in-depth for Google to notice it.
Reach out to people who have linked up to your competitors. Email and tell them that you have written some awesome content that they might be interested in. This whole process of other websites linking to your website is called backlinking. It is an important factor for awesome SEO.
Learn the difference between “no follow” and “do follow” attributes
This is geeky, but it’s fairly understandable. Once you link to something outside your website, the link is automatically do-follow. It simply means that Google is going to use it as a signal ranking for that website. In the long run, the domain authority of the website (the value of the site) is going to get higher. Back then, self-proclaimed SEO experts abused this loophole to make their own website rank better. They spammed other website’s comment section with their own URL; some even resorted to changing Wikipedia’s reference links. But not for long.
As usual, Google gods stepped in and introduced the nofollow attribute. All comments posted on forums are now automatic nofollows. It signals Google’s boots that these links are not counted for ranking.
Should you use do-follow and nofollow attributes to any outbound links? It depends. Google sets up a crawl budget for websites, you don’t want that budget to be wasted. So change the attributes to certain pages that you don’t want to rank. And also, if you are running an affiliate marketing business in your website, make all those links to nofollow.
How does backlinking work, you may ask. As we have explained briefly, backlinking is quality inbound links. Let us emphasize quality in there. Why? Because the Google god pays attention to the tiniest of details. If your content is about dogs, why would an automobile-niche website be linked to your website? It just sounds fishy. Now, we have a dog, an automobile, and a fish. What’s next? Your website being penalized for being dirty.
If you are in the process of building your backlinks, double-check that the websites providing you the inbound links are from relevant niches. If your niche is about dogs, then links from the cats would be purrfect. Travel and transportation niche can be linked up to cars.
Call for round-up articles
If you spend a good amount of time on Internet, we are pretty sure you have encountered this technique more than once. It is a listicle kind of article, say, twenty tips and techniques from SEO experts eCommerce owners must know. Or ten travelers to follow on Instagram. They’re everywhere! For a reason. This is a great way of reaching out to the followers of these people. And if you get lucky, aside from a brief post on their respective social media accounts, they might create a post, which then provides inbound links to your website. And hopefully it is do-follow.
Invest in Influencer marketing
With Google cracking down on shady SEO techniques, influencer marketing has been on the rise since 2016. Influencers are called such because their words greatly influence their followers, especially in unleashing their purchasing powers. Who are these people? You can find them on Youtube. On the blogosphere. On Instagram. They have thousands—sometimes even millions of followers.
Working with influencers, depending on their reach, can be tricky and expensive. Some Instagram rockstars charge $1000 for one sponsored post. We know, that’s a lot of money. So know your budget. How much are you willing to invest in this marketing trend? If you don’t have the resources, don’t be sad, round-up articles can make up for it. Or native advertising.
Blog owners are not naïve anymore. When they receive emails for a guest post or link building, they know it is business. Since Google eyes do-follow juices now, blog owners are rather picky when it comes to backlinking. They can do it for two reasons: as long as the content is within their niche and if the price is right. Don’t expect them to link to your website for free. It is either reciprocal (you link up to their website) or you pay for the link. Prices range from $20 to $500, depending on the domain authority of the website. The standard rate is $150 for a link to your website for DA 25-28. It is heftier for more authoritative sites. Oftentimes, the link is do-follow and permanent.
Now, that was a long read. Have we tamed the SEO beast for you? Do you have anything else you want to know? Let us know in the comment box. For more Internet aliens and monsters and on how to tame them, subscribe to our blog.