Improve your backlink profile
Arguably the most important aspect of SEO is your backlink profile. Although Google tell you it’s not as important as it once was, we all still know it’s still probably the single biggest influencer when it comes to improving your site’s visibility in the Google SERPs. So yeah, having a strong backlink profile (along with good onsite obviously) is kinda the key to a successful online marketing campaign.
BUT… and there’s always a but. Backlinks are f*****g hard to come by. Google tells you that it’s all about organic, ‘natural’ backlinks. And they’re 100% right… but lets face it, if you’re a small business without kind of reach some of your larger competitors might have, it can be impossible to get decent backlinks that will actually make a difference. They’re not something people give away freely, you’ve got to work hard to get them. I’m talking full-on outreach, finding good influencers, who write good content to link back to you.
Linkbuilding is no longer a case of outsourcing dodgy backlinks from abroad, that’s a BIG no-no in 2019, so don’t even think about it! There are factors to take into consideration. Things like domain authority, domain spread, and site relevance are all aspects that are taken into account when a search engine determines the legitimacy of the backlink. Tools like MozBar can help you determine if a potential backlink source is worth pursuing.
Google likes clean, editorial backlinks that flow naturally throughout the content. So no just asking your local junior football team for a bunch of footer links… that’s just not going to cut it I’m afraid.
So now you know what the aim is, how do you actually get hold of them? WELL that’s a whole other story.
Ensure you’re targeting the RIGHT keywords
I’ve seen it thousands of times over my 10 year career in the SEO industry. Customers that say things like ‘I just don’t understand it, we’re getting the traffic, but they’re not converting’. Well, that’s probably because the traffic you’re getting is probably not the right kind of traffic. They’re not your customers.
So now comes horror story number 1 (feel free to skip this if you’re pushed for time). I once worked with a customer who sold websites, they sold beautiful websites in fact. But they literally had no clue about SEO *sigh*. So they come to me and ask me if I can take a look at why their traffic wasn’t converting. After about only 10 minutes of research (which is a really short period of time by the way), I found that they had been using their main domain to develop websites on (eg. theirdomain.com/clientwebsite). Not only that, they hadn’t added password protection to those sites whilst they were in development… not only that, they hadn’t blocked the directories in the robots.txt…not only that but they hadn’t even removed the websites from the directories once the client’s site launched! Quite frankly it was a bloody mess. They were ranking for thousands of keywords. The keywords ranged from ‘plastic spoons’ to ‘adult nappies’. This wasn’t good. Their pages were ranking, but they were ranking for completely irrelevant terms. Their site was bringing in a healthy amount of traffic, but it was bringing in traffic for people looking for things like ‘dairy yoghurts’. Obviously this is an extreme example, but it just illustrates the point that not all traffic is good traffic. It’s a vanity metric if the users that are visiting the site aren’t at all relevant to what you’re selling.
So now you’ve heard that, I hope you understand how important it is to spend a serious amount of time researching your keywords! I can’t stress enough how important this is. Your keywords will be used across your site for internal linking, external links & backlinks, url structure, image alt text and more. So you need to ensure your keywords are going to bring in that sweet qualified traffic that you actually want.
Start off by using the Google Keyword Planner tool to get the search volumes for your initial keywords. You may find that the terms you thought your products should be targeted towards are completely wrong. The search volume could be so low that it’s pointless or the competition could be so high that you’re never going to stand a chance. Google Keyword Planner can often throw out some odd results, so it’s sometimes good to check those against another tool, I really like KW Finder by Mangools.
Use tools such as Search Metrics to analyse competitor keywords. Find out what your closest competitors are ranking for. You should then go back to the keyword planner tool to find out the competition and search volume. Don’t be afraid to go head-to-head with your competition. It could be the difference between search engine dominance or complete failure.
Clean up your URL structure
This is another essential. Make sure your URLs are clean. Not only is it important that your URL includes the keyword that you wish to target for that specific page, it’s also essential it’s not full of crap. Don’t try stuff a bunch of keywords into the URL, just pick the most important for that particular page. Make sure the URL doesn’t have a bunch of weird ol’ query strings in it, and it’s also important to ensure your URL isn’t sitting in a directory it doesn’t need to be in.
Make sure your URLs are neat, with a good flowing structure that makes sense. You should also try keep it no more than two or three levels deep. An example of a good product page URL would be: http://www.yourdomain.co.uk/product-category/your-product-name-and-keyword. It’s nice and neat, no unnecessary keywords, no unsightly query strings. It tells both search engines and users exactly what your page is about before they’ve even had a chance to read the page heading.
Always try to produce fresh new content regularly on your site.
Google, and all other search engines for that matter low fresh content, so it’s important you keep up with their demands. Ideally you should be updating your blog at three times a week with articles of 5000+ words. But that’s highly impractical, so you should be updating your blog at least once a week with an article that’s 400+ words. Not only does it satisfy the search engine’s demand for unique content, it also gives your user a better feel of your business and personality. Don’t shy away from going informal, keeping it light and interesting is key to successful engagement. Take a look at this article from SEO Guru Neil Patel to get a better idea on how you should write content for SEO
Improve your internal linking structure
Internal links are like a map for search engines. A clear internal link structure is essential for a successful SEO campaign. Pages should ideally be kept to no more than 2 or 3 levels deep (eg. yoursite.com/category/secondary-category/product). This is because search engines will assign a ’page authority’ to each page of your site. The deeper it is in your sites structure the less authority the page will have (theoretically – obviously in reality there are many more variables to consider, but it’s generally a good rule of thumb).
Your navigation should be clear and include all the pages of your site. This will help search engines adequately crawl your site without any dead ends. You should also link to your most important posts/products on pages such as the homepage and about us pages, as they’re likely to have a high authority. This helps spread the authority or ‘link juice’ throughout your site and tells search engines (and users) which pages are the most important.
Make sure your website is encrpted using SSL/TLS
It’s 2020, and it’s time to make sure your website is encrpyted. SSL is no longer just for e-commerce, it’s something that should be deployed on every website! There are millions of scammers out there looking to exploit your business and your customers, so it’s your duty to make that as difficult as possible for them. Speak to a security expert if necessary, but first and foremost ensure your website is using HTTPS secured with SSL/TLS. It’s also a no-brainer to do. The cost is minimal as there are countless domain resellers and hosting companies out there offering quality SSL certificates for peanuts. Failing that, using something like LetsEncrypt is FREE! So get on it and get your website Secure. Google has also outright said websites secured over https are more likely to rank than those without!
Speed up your website!
A speedy website is now more important than ever. With more users using mobile devices to access the web, even with a 4G connect a slow website will always be slow. Studies show an increase in speed by 100ms could improve conversion rates by up to 7%. That’s obviously more geared toward large e-commerce sites, but the reality is there’s no excuse for your website to take longer than 5 seconds to load nowadays. Reduce that imagery down, make sure your videos are optimised or stored on a video hosting platform such as Vimeo and use a tool like Pingdom Speed test
t to test your running speed.