Search Engine Optimization January 20th, 2020
When you’ve been publishing on your site for some time, you begin to spot a pattern with what works and what doesn’t in your SEO (search engine optimization) strategy.
If most of your traffic comes from Google or other search engines, you need to start applying advanced SEO techniques.
Some of these techniques will have more effect on your site than the rest so we can divide them into major and minor.
Let’s get straight to it, here are six major techniques you can start using right now:
The first on the list is competitor research. It gives you an overview of the site structure more successful sites in your niche are using. Most of the reports you’ll analyze here will be repeated individually for your website.
Competitor keywords are the first thing you should look at. Look at how many keywords close competitors are targeting to see if they’re low hanging fruits you could use for your site.
Then look at the keyword report of superior sites in your space. A lot of their keywords will be out of your reach as you don’t have the authority to rank for them, so you should look at long-tail versions of their keywords.
For example, the keyword “paleo diet recipes” may be out of your reach, but “paleo diet recipes for vegetarians” is a long-tail version of that keyword and something you can snap quickly.
Analyze competitor links to look for opportunities you can replicate on your site. If they got a guest post on an accessible site in your niche, you should also try to get your link on that guest site.
It’s easy to do all of this with Ahrefs, just input the competitor domain name into the search bar, and you can generate a report for each metric.
Analyze their pages for broken links, when you find one, see if it’s a page you can recreate on your site.
Top tip: Export the backlinks to that page into a spreadsheet, get the contact details of the people behind those sites and pitch them your post to replace the broken link.
Google spiders crawl your web pages before they’re indexed or added to their search results pages. If you have issues with crawling, your pages will be ignored.
The first thing you should check is that your website isn’t blocking Google from indexing it.
Take any page on your site and view the code for that particular page, using the find feature on your browser, search for this line of code: “<meta name=”robots” content= “noindex” />”
If you have that code on a page, it shows you’ve blocked indexing on those pages. This is important for pages with administrator login info you don’t want to be indexed, but harmful on pages you’re trying to rank.
This is even worse if you find the code “User-agent: *Disallow: /” on your robots.txt file as this applies site-wide blocking of any form of indexing.
Finally, monitor your external and internal links, so you don’t have too many broken links on your site. This signals that the website may have been abandoned to the search spiders.
You can do this for free with a chrome extension like Check My Links that gives you broken link data for the current page you’re on.
Links could be on-page or off-page. External and internal links are what they’re called when on your site. Backlinks indicate that there’s a link from another website pointing towards yours.
External link analysis is important to get an idea of the quality of sites your pages are linking to. Link neighbourhoods are a thing, and if you’re always linking to spam sites, Google begins to treat yours as spam too.
Internal links are a great way to send links to pages webmasters hardly link to, product and affiliate pages on your site fall in this category.
Internal link analysis exposes possible opportunities on your strong authoritative pages where you can pass link juice to those affiliate pages.
Backlink analysis is the most important part of a link analysis report. Relevant links to your site remain one of the top metrics Google looks at to decide where your pages should rank.
Your backlink analysis report will help you add more sites to your link prospecting list. If they have linked to you before, they are likely todo it again.
Here’s what a backlink analysis report from Ahrefs looks like:
Every post on your site should target one focus keyword and many other related keywords. Keyword analysis can expose completely unrelated keywords your page is ranking for.
Your site could also be targeting the same keyword on different pages, making it difficult for Google to decide on the particular page to rank for that keyword.
This is called keyword cannibalization and is very common if you operate a site that targets one product and has different pages targeting a particular keyword.
Another thing you should look at when doing keyword analysis is tracking the change in search positions for a particular keyword over time.
This is very important, especially on a new site as Google doesn’t rank the site’s pages immediately, something called the sandbox effect.
Keyword position movement for new sites is usually slow and steady. On established sites, it helps you decide what keywords may do better with a few links.
When you compare a keyword analysis report with conversion rate data, it exposes the keywords bringing the highest conversions so that you can focus your optimization techniques on the poorly-converting keywords.
Things like keyword stuffing on your title and meta tags are techniques that improved page rank in the past, do that stuff now, and you’ll get a Google penalty.
Title and meta tags are still an essential part of a current on-page SEO plan, but only if you use them right.
Use only one keyword in the title tag. Ensure the title has the h1 tag, platforms like WordPress do this automatically for you but if you’re on a different platform, view your page’s code to confirm.
If you have not exhausted your character limit, you can then add modifiers to your title to get a few long-tail variations of your keyword in there.
Then edit all your permalinks to make them SEO-friendly. If you just published a post on paleo diet recipes, “https://yoursite.com/7467328” is a bad permalink, https://yoursite.com/paleo-diet-recipes” is an ideal one.
The second is short, keyword-rich and descriptive. You can read it and guess that this page could be talking about paleo diet recipes.
40% of people on the internet search only on a smartphone. That figure is projected to keep rising, so if you’re ignoring mobile traffic, you’re losing a lot of money.
The first thing you should do is check if your site is properly optimized for mobile and you can use the Google mobile-friendly checker to do that.
You’ll get a report with some recommendations on what to improve on.
A technique that’s not commonly talked about is optimizing a page for the thumb of your visitors.
Most people browsing with a mobile phone will have thumbs larger than the traditional buttons on a desktop screen so you should make sure your navigation buttons are responsive to the thumb.
Finally, make your pages load quickly on mobile by optimizing your images. Use fewer plugins if you use WordPress and apply as little code as you can on your site’s pages.
The final four in this post are minor techniques because they don’t have as much effect as the major ones mentioned. Nonetheless, they are techniques you can use to create a more optimized site. Take a look:
Creating a Google search console account after starting a new website is a great way to monitor how Google views your website. Look at the crawl errors section to pick out things like 404 errors you could quickly fix.
A very important part of the search console most advanced SEOs use after every Google update is the manual actions bar.
If your site has lost rankings after an algorithm update, it’s usually due to two things, an algorithmic penalty or a manual penalty.
You can always get your site back up quickly after an algorithmic penalty. That’s because top SEO blogs will have analyzed the update and figured out the kinds of things Google was punishing, and everyone can get their site in line with new guidelines.
A manual penalty is different; it involves a human at Google looking at your site and handing you a ban once there’s enough evidence your pages were spammy or against the existing quality guidelines. If you’re having a hard time creating a mobile-friendly and responsive website – getting the experienced designers/developers on-board to handle your web design from an engaging service provider will make things easier for you.
That’s why you should monitor your search console, it kind of checks your site SEO health and notifies you when something is going wrong.
When you’re going head to head against sites on the SERPs (search engine results page) that are as optimized as yours in every other area, things like content freshness begin to matter.
There are keywords that evergreen posts work with, and an example is “how to be a good leader.” A post published in 2003 could still work for that keyword because core leadership principles will never change.
The keyword “link building tips” isn’t evergreen. That’s because tips that worked in 2009 won’t work now so content freshness will influence ranking. And that’s why you should update your old content, especially those already ranking.
The focus keyword for a page should be wrapped in your title and meta tags. The body of the content is where you have enough room to target related and long-tail variations of the focus keyword.
That can only happen if you’re publishing long-form content. This is any post above 1000 words. This length of content also increases your time on site metric and gives you enough room for self-promotion.
No website can do without content; that’s why “content is king” is popular marketing saying. When you evaluate the content, you’re usually checking for stuff like originality, proper use of grammar and other important metrics.
Quality content drives the conversations and conversions on every site, but what if the content on your website isn’t original?
Apart from the search penalty, you’ll receive one for plagiarized content, and there are other non-SEO problems you could get yourself into.
Confirm that your content is original with Copyscape. You simply put in the link to the post or copy and paste the post into the empty box to get your result.
Grammarly will handle the word usage aspect of your post. This is very important if you’re not a native English speaker.
Try to use images where you can explain complex parts of your post. It helps those who’ll like to scan the post, and it generally improves user experience because no one likes to read a block of text.
These techniques are not easy to implement, but they work, and that’s why they are advanced techniques. It’ll take time to get them working on your site, but their effects are long-term. An easier option would be to hire an SEO agency that can do all the heavy lifting for your brand.
Building relevant and authoritative links is a strategy that worked a decade ago and still does so today, just like the other techniques in this post so go start using them today!