The world of digital marketing is forever changing. New traffic sources arrive on the scene every week, and as a beginner, it can get frustrating and overwhelming relatively quickly. However, one source of traffic that has been consistently great for over two decades is the good old search traffic SEO checklist.
As a business owner, search engine traffic is pure gold. Your ideal customers are literally searching for your products and services with their credit card details in hand, ready to purchase. The trick, however, is knowing how to overtake the endless amounts of competition that are all surfing the same rainbow as you, hoping to reach the pot of gold that we call “number one rankings”.
The SEO stratosphere can be volatile at times, and the constant algorithm updates by Google and countless horror stories can stop SEO newbies in their tracks before they ever get to see any positive results.
What’s so great about the SEO game, however, is the fact that it is very consistent. Sure, there are algorithm updates and sure, there are businesses that have lost a large chunk of their bottom line overnight (which is usually the result of shady practices, but I digress), but the foundation is still the same, and the fundamental practices that have worked for over twenty years are still as important today.
If you are just getting started in SEO and want to take your business to the next level, here are a few of those fundamental practices that you should be implementing as well as a few new tricks to make sure you are not falling too far behind.
Optimize For User Interaction, Not Just For Keywords
As tempting as it may be to simply throw a few hundred words of keyword-stuffed gibberish onto your page and “fake” your way to the top of the search engines, what benefit will that offer you, or your customers?
The first rule of SEO or any marketing strategy for that matter is to optimize for your customers first and foremost, then let everything else fall into place.
A well-written piece of content will not only inform, entertain and sell to your visitors, it will also let Google know exactly what your page is about, ultimately boosting your likelihood of ranking for targeted terms.
Writing good-quality title tags and meta descriptions is another way to optimize for your customers. Make the titles enticing, and use your meta description to really sell what’s on your page and why it will benefit them if they click your listing over the other X thousand.
Of course, the title tag and meta-description are still two of the most influential ranking factors, so you will still need to squeeze in your keyword if you want to have any chance of ranking well. Including your target keyword within the first few words of your title tag will give you the most bang for your buck.
Page Load Time is Important
Think about it this way; It’s Google’s job to provide their customers (people using their search engine) with the most relevant and well-optimized websites possible for their specific search term. That means a website that will fulfill their needs and one which loads fast. Nothing is more frustrating than a website that takes forever to load.
Google is extremely smart. It knows exactly which websites are slow and which websites are fast. Which do you think they will favor for the top spot?
The most recent research has shown that for each second a website takes to load, longer than the expected time frame of just two seconds, you can expect a drop in conversions of up to seven percent! To put that into perspective, a website that takes over ten seconds to load is likely to see up to a 56% decrease in traffic and conversions.
The good news is that speed issues are often easy to fix. Simply upgrading your web host to a more reliable one can make a world of difference.
This tool from Google will analyze your URL and let you know the specific areas that need fixing to speed up your website loading speed. The most common fixes tend to be along the lines of enabling caching, minimizing the size of your HTML, CSS, and JAVA, and also compressing the size of your images.
The smallest changes can have a huge impact on your SEO efforts, so don’t miss this one out.
Mobile Is Just As Important As Desktop Now
How people search the internet is changing. Thanks to smartphones, we now have the entire world at our fingertips, and people are taking advantage of that. The vast majority of websites on the internet in 2021 will see roughly the same, if not more traffic coming from mobile devices than desktop computers.
Google realizes that the shift towards mobile is as important of a ranking factor as any, so if your website is not optimized for mobile, you are starting at a real disadvantage. Go to your website on a mobile device and take a look around. If it’s not a website that you would personally use, then your customers will probably think the same.
Hiring a developer to make your website “mobile-friendly” is a good investment, as well as learning more about the new “Accelerated Pages” that have started becoming more and more popular.
Don’t Forget To Target Your Long-Tail Keywords
With the introduction of RankBrain in 2015, it’s obvious that Google has seen a major shift in the way people search. Longer tail search phrases are more and more popular nowadays, so always keep that in mind when optimizing the content of your website. Long-tail keywords have always been a great way to grab the “low hanging fruit” so to speak, but only over the past few years has this become more and more prominent.
People are searching for specific products and specific information. The days of people searching simply for “clothes” are long gone. Today, as web users become more “savvy”, you can expect to search phrases such as “red dress for a dinner party” or “men’s black leather shoes size 10”.
Of course, you don’t have to cater to every single long-tail searcher. That would be borderline impossible. Instead, you need to start thinking more about more specific terms for your products and services. Google will know exactly what the content of your website is about so don’t worry about it not being relevant. Remember, create content for your readers first and let Google find the audience after.
Never Underestimate the Power of Backlinks
Link building is without a doubt the most important aspect of any SEO campaign. After you have optimized your website internally, the only way for Google to know whether your website is worthy of a top ranking is by “votes” from other, high-authority websites. Backlinks from other websites count as these votes, and the more you have (from the right sources, of course) the better you will do in the SERPs.
Link building has been a cornerstone of the successful SEO campaign since the beginning of search engines and it will continue to be so for as long as the search engines are still around. Don’t neglect your external backlinking efforts and you will be rewarded with an increase in targeted traffic. It really is that simple.
Choosing the right backlinks, however, is a skill that can separate the rookie from the pro. Brian Dean from Backlinko.com is one of those pros. Here is his definitive guide to link building.
Use of social media for enhanced SEO
The quickest and most authentic way to build high-quality backlinks is to create content that people will love reading and want to link to. Reaching out to hundreds of influencers in your industry via email still works well, but it’s a long, tedious process. Why not supercharge your content marketing efforts by going straight to the source where your ideal customers hang out?
Social media marketing is a completely different beast when compared to SEO, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be used simultaneously to create a marketing campaign that blows the competition out of the water. People on social media love to share, and more shares will equate to both more traffic, and an increased likelihood that an influencer will pick up your piece to share on their own website or blog.
Stop thinking of different marketing channels as separate entities. While they are, in some aspects, they are also designed to work seamlessly together. Our job as marketers is to share value and attract the eyeballs of the people who may be interested in what we have to offer. Using other marketing channels will not take away from your other efforts, but instead, it will power them up and take you to levels you never thought were possible.
Implement these tips and tricks and you will be well on your way to a successful 2021 in the search engines.