SEO marketing can be a confusing topic and it’s made worse with the amount of terrible information on the web. But we’re here to change all of that.
What’s the problem?
Our clients approach us and say, ‘We’ve heard that we just need regular content,’ but are frustrated that their SEO efforts haven’t succeeded. How many times have you read that ‘interlinking is key’, but been left thinking, what on earth is that? And don’t even get us started on ‘keyword stuffing’. We want to wave a magical wand to erase all of the low-quality ‘expert’ advice on the internet. But since we live in the real world, we decided to write this post. This is the guide that we wish someone had handed to us when we first began working with SEO.
What is SEO?
In our humble opinion, we think SEO comes down to 3 core principles:
1) Be heard — you must stand out among your competitors.
2) Understand customer needs and behaviour — know your customers’ pain points and what they want from you.
3) Create high quality content — produce content that outperforms anything else in your niche to establish yourself as an industry authority.
We’ve created this super-actionable list of 20 SEO marketing techniques that are tried and tested by us. For each of these points, we’ve provided you with clear examples that you can apply to your own SEO marketing. You can use the quality advice contained in this guide to kick-start your SEO efforts, or give your existing SEO marketing efforts a boost. If you apply just a few of these techniques to your website, you’ll see positive changes in your SEO rankings. Whether you know nothing about SEO, are just getting started, or are an SEO pro, we’re sure you’ll find something valuable in this guide.
#1. SEO is just about publishing regular content on your website, right?
WRONG! When we hear this advice we want to bang our hands on the table — repeatedly. It’s about having content that your audience wants to read. Never make the mistake of going past market re-search and not asking your customers about their pain points. Let’s take an example. Do you sell school lockers to local primary schools? Your first instinct may be to write content about how affordable your lockers are compared to the competition. But is this the biggest pain point the headteacher is facing? Maybe it’s the delivery process that’s more important. The head teacher wants to know how long it will take. So it makes more sense to write a blog post around these pain points. A good way to find this out is asking your sales team customer’s most common questions. This is something echoed by Kayako’s Content Marketing Manager, Adam Rogers.
Always put the reader at the heart of whatever keyword you’re ranking for. Why would they be interested in this? Why is your page, service, or blog any better to what’s currently there? When you match your keyword with powerful content and SEO best practices, that’s how to really rank in Google.
#2. Make your YouTube videos into mini blog posts.
This tip comes from Backlinko and our favourite SEO guy, Brian Dean:
I don’t need to tell you that YouTube video results are dominating Google’s first page. And considering that Google owns the popular video site, it’s a trend that’s not likely to change anytime soon.
Did you know there’s a simple technique that can get your YouTube videos to rank higher for competitive keywords in both YouTube and Google? If you’ve taken the time to create a video but haven’t included at least 200 word description in your videos, you’re missing out! This is major real estate. Remember that Google can’t watch or listen to your video. They rely on your video description for you to tell them what it’s about. Not only does this let you rank better for your targeted keyword but it also ranks you better for your long tail keywords. You’ll see in the above example that the lifestyle channel called The Alternative Daily makes sure they have clear descriptions in their YouTube videos.
#3. Provide longer posts — 1000 words minimum
There’s a lot of evidence to show that longer posts crush 200-300 word articles. It shows Google that you’re providing in-depth information in your subject area. Note: longer posts don’t mean boring! The point is that you want to provide so much valuable information that the user spends more time on your page. This sends a strong signal to Google that what you’re sharing is important. Look at your industry, most posts lack depth. Most blog posts tell you why you need to do something without explaining how. Maybe you can fill this gap in your niche?
#4. Provide something different to what your competition is doing
I know we just spoke about providing longer posts of high quality content when most people are producing 300-400 word pieces. But you need to show that you’re better than your competition. What do we mean? Emil Shour is the content marketing manager at Snack Nation. He created the hugely successful post titled: 121 Creative Ways to Reward Employees – The Ultimate List When the competition were putting together 8 or 20 tips for employee wellness Emil went all out, he gave 121 examples. Here’s what he says about effective SEO marketing:
“When we created the 121 employee wellness ideas post, I noticed that most people in our industry were writing thin, short-form content. So our strategy was to put together long-form and more detailed content.
However, if other people we’re creating long-form content, I would have thought about creating more visual content (videos or infographics). I think being different has really been the “secret” behind the success of our content strategy.” Emil Shour
#5. SEO Friendly URLs
Clean up those ugly URLs and make them SEO Friendly Sometimes when you publish a blog post the url can look like this: www.domainame.com/u74sgb But it needs to look like this: www.domainname.com/20-seo-tips Why? This goes back to been user friendly. It makes it easier for your users to know what the blog post is about.
#6. Optimise your images using ALT tags that include your keywords
Google doesn’t see images, it reads the tags that appear over the images. Let’s look at how the team at the Ultimate Paleo Guide do this. They’ve chosen to share a recipe for a Tropical Fruit Salad, and they’ve made sure that when a user puts their cursor over the image, it’s tagged with their keyword “tropical fruit salad.” If you’re unsure how to do this ask your agency or whoever built your website and blogging platform. Use variations of your keywords to tag your images. Other version of the keywords, tropical fruit salad could be: Fresh fruit salad Tropical salad 5 minute tropical salad
#7. Internal linking
Link blog posts to each other. Make sure you link new posts to older posts. This is an easy thing to do and it’s likely that your blog posts relate to previous blog posts that you’ve wrote. With several parents to young children in the office, our team often visits A Mother Far From Home which is a blog all about how to handle the busy life of being a parent. Interlinking is done extremely well on this website. Just look at this example here You can see that within the first two sentences, the author has linked content to previous blog posts that she wrote.
Tread with caution here, though. Too many people make their content spammy. In an instant you can go from having an effective SEO strategy to been like every other blog post that someone clicks off. Not to mention that Google will penalise you. Here’s our suggestion:
- Mention your keyword in your title
- In the opening paragraph
- A few times in your text
#9. Focus on user experience
Does a user want to read a block of text or are you more likely to read a post that has beautiful images and infographics and headers? The answer is obvious. Why put in this effort? You want the user to stay on your page, Google notices the dwell time and responds to it. A nicely designed website is more likely to get the users to stay on your page. Don’t know how to design your blog post? Most people don’t. But this is a major advantage you need to capitalise on. Ask your agency if they design blog posts. If you don’t work with an agency contact a freelancer using UpWork or by doing a LinkedIn search. Let’s look at someone who does this amazingly well. It’s a blog post by Michael Patterson on Peg Fitzpatrick’s website. I mean just look at the visuals here:- You’re glued to the website. This is one that’s been done exceptionally well and it needs to be that good.
#10. Ensure your website loads quickly
Speed — or lack of speed — is a killer. It’s estimated that the majority of internet users expect websites to load in 2 seconds and if it doesn’t, they go to a website that does. Make sure you’re using a solid hosting provider. It’s as simple as that. The following advice comes from Minuca Elena who is known for expert roundups.
“Having a site which loads quickly is very important as it affects two parameters, website visitors and Google.
If your website is slow, visitors will leave your site as it is a poor experience and if your site is slow, Google will rank your site lower than other sites in its search listing. One easy solution is to convert your pages to AMP pages which is really very fast and can give amazing results.”
#11. Sprinkle your keywords in your heading and title tags not just your blog copy
Look at your on-page SEO. Erik Emanuelli tells us:
“Basically, you want to optimize your content for specific keywords. This includes adding your keywords in the URL of your page, in the title, at beginning and within the content in a certain percentage, in the images, in the H2, H3, etc.”
Remember to use variations of your keywords. Let’s say that you’re targeting “steel doors” You can use variations of this keywords such as: strong steel doors blue steel doors Steel doors for small businesses
#12. Give away free things that your users find valuable
We’re taking our own medicine here because you can download this guide for free. Any company, and we mean ANY company can produce high quality content that their customers want to read. The simplest way is creating an eBook and offering it to your users. A security firm? Well how about “20 ways to keep your office secure”? Do you sell curtains online? You could provide an eBook titled “How to take care of your curtains with this 1 handy tip.” Providing personalised printed t-shirts? How about “The 60 most iconic printed t-shirts of 2015”? Let’s take an example from: WTF professor As soon as you land on his website you see: He gives you 3 different documents you can download that are completely FREE and super helpful to his target market. Here’s what the site owner Tom Miller says about his strategy:-
“Because my site is targeted at college students in math, science, and engineering, a big part of my strategy for converting visitors into new email subscribers has been to create short 1-page pdf’s of the problem solutions and study strategies I write about on the blog.”
At this point a lot of people tell us that they don’t have time to do things like this. Producing high quality content does take a lot of time. You want to produce something better than the competition and this takes hours of effort. But again you want to show you’re better than your competition.
#13. Invest in good copywriting
At most offices, the blog writing is outsourced to the new intern. This is one of the worse mistakes. You need to make your content worthwhile and something that you’d want to read. Here are some fantastic resources to get your writing up to mark. 10 Ways to Write Damn Good Copy The 3 parts to a remarkable blog post Ogilvy on Advertising If you don’t have the time to learn reach out to a content marketing agency and ask them to write the copy for you. A few pieces of high quality content that speaks to your audience is more important than hundreds of pieces of content that mean nothing.
#14. Set up your Social Media channels
If you still think Social Media isn’t important you’ve probably already been left behind. But don’t just take it from us, Sam Hurley is ranked the #1 Digital Marketing Expert in the world and this is what he says about social media:
The point is that companies shouldn’t just focus on Google as their search engine forum they need to look at social media platforms too. When someone searches for you on social media make sure it’s super easy to identify who you are. It should be clear that you’re page is the official page. How? At a minimum, do the following
- Have the same contact details across your website and all of your social media channels
- Make sure you have consistent brand images across Facebook, Google+, Instagram etc.
- Fill our the “About Us” section and include your keywords
- Post content users will find interesting
#15. Put your keyword in the title & make it catchy
If your keywords are make extra money, put that into the title. But make sure it’s something exciting like 50 simple ways to make extra money There’s no doubt that your title is the key piece of your blog. It’s your first chance to grab your reader’s attention. Here’s some examples of headlines we love: 37 Reasons You Should Never Visit Serbia Serbia isn’t exactly the place you have on the top of your holiday list. What is there even to do there? Is it like a real country? The authors of this post know you’re thinking this and play into it. And then you click on it. How to tour the U.S.A. for £35 a week If we’re going to reference amazing headlines how we can ignore the king that is Mr. David Ogilvy? When he wrote this title he knew that Europeans had an exaggerated outlook on how expensive it was to visit America. This headline is ultra specific, it answers their pain point with a solution and the benefit is clear – Visit American on the cheap.
#16. Get rid of your broken links and 404 pages
No one wants to click on a link and find out that the page is dead. Prune your website! Jeff Bullas tells us
“Search engines consider a large number of broken links as a signal of an old, neglected site and this can impact your SEO ranking.”
Don’t have time to go through every single page on your website to find broken links? Neither do we, here’s a handy website that does it for you — W3C Link Checker Get deleting.
#17. Make sure your website is mobile friendly
You only need to look around you to see how many people are on their smartphones. With this in mind, you should absolutely make sure that when you design your website it’s mobile-friendly. What does that mean? It means that your website should load and display correctly on a mobile device so that visitors can have the best user experience. Unfortunately, too many websites look distorted when you view it between desktop computers, tablets and smartphones. It’s one investment you can’t afford NOT to make.
#18. Include meta descriptions
Your meta description is the snippet of text that will appear beneath your title in search engine results. Let’s look at an example, if you search “curing tennis elbow” on Google, on the results that show you will see the keywords “tennis elbow” appear in the description. Notice how Google puts the key word in bold text. Therefore it makes sense to work your keywords into the meta description text.
#19. Have a Google Listing
This allows customers to review your company directly on Google. It also lets customers find out where you are, show your opening times, contact details, and it lets them know you’re a real person The point is, if Google knows you’re real, people will know you’re real. Go to Google and type in “google my business”to get started. Here’s our Google listing:
#20. Connect with influencers in your niche
Part of any good SEO strategy is promoting your posts. This doesn’t happen by itself. The aim is to have content that others want to promote and link to. You need to know who the key influencers in your niche are so you can build relationships with them and let them know when you’re going to publish a new post.
Let’s say you own a driving school. A relevant blog post will likely be how to find the best car insurance. Go to Google and search “tips for finding cheap car insurance.”Here you’ll have a list of the most popular articles on this topic. Add these websites and bloggers into an excel sheet and note their contact details so you can connect with them and let them know when you publish your post.
No matter what sector you’re in and no matter the size of your business, you will benefit massively from an effective SEO strategy. SEO is a vital part of building your brand, attracting new leads and making more sales. Many of the best SEO strategies are done by companies who want to provide the very best information to their audience, information that will genuinely help them. We urge you to take this approach, too. Now it’s your turn. What strategies are you going to implement?
Kirien Sangha works in the digital marketing team at Creative Ideaz. If you have any questions at all about this article you can email him on email@example.com or tweet on @kirien89. If you found any use in this article, we’d love it if you could share it.