For some time, a lot of entrepreneurs saw SEO as some kind of inaccessible wizardry. With the sheer amount of buzz around this subject in popular business journals and convoluted marketing guides, it can be a pretty overwhelming subject for any business owner to tackle.
You can make things much easier for yourself by focusing on a smaller number of manageable changes and building your strategy up from there. SEO, like any facet of digital marketing, never sits still, and now that we’re almost a whole quarter of the year, you need to make sure that your strategy is up to date. Here are a few important things to keep in mind…
Consistent Content is King
If there’s one phrase that pops up in digital marketing blogs more than any other it’s this: “content is king”. While keeping this in mind is a step in the right direction, it leaves out the sheer importance of consistency. Remember that quality should always top quantity.
These days, taking the time to fine-tune the message of your content, and being both specific and succinct is very important to Google, and not just to your audience.
There was a time when Google favored longer articles over shorter, 500-word posts. This was mainly to stem the tide of catchy, cloned articles which were being churned out way too rapidly.
Since then, Google has crafted an algorithm which is more concerned with the actual content that’s being written and published.
Keeping content well structured, not repeating yourself, and offering some real value to your customers, are all major factors in how highly Google is going to rate your content.
HTTPS Matters More
At one time, “https” was just something that you checked in the address bar before you made a payment on a website.
It signified an encrypted security layer which meant that if some hacker was to intercept a transaction, it would be much harder for them to actually access your information. Whether or not your customers trust your brand is now beside the point.
Google are putting much more emphasis on website security, and have announced that they plan to start marking websites without HTTPS as “insecure”. This is sure to have a big impact on ranking and visibility for any sites that haven’t taken such a rudimentary step in securing their website. Sure, you might still visit the websites that you did before the change happened.
However, a lack of HTTPS is likely to put off anyone who’s unsure of what the term meant beforehand. Talk to your developer about this, and make sure you’re totally secured before Google starts penalizing websites.
Keyword Stuffing is Extinct
For some time now, Google has been penalizing content in search results that are guilty of keyword stuffing.
Despite this, countless entrepreneurs are still committing this marketing sin and hurting their campaigns. Believe me, you wouldn’t catch any competent SEO agency doing this!
This isn’t to say keywords aren’t important, and you should still be using them as part of your SEO strategy. However, you need to exercise a little more care and delicacy when using them.
I could write a whole other post on getting the balance right, but there are still a few basic habits you can keep to, ensuring that you’re not committing this big marketing sin.
Be sure to choose your keywords carefully, applying a mix of competitive words and phrases that are getting a lot of searches, and words that are a little more specific.
The AdWords keyword planner is a great tool for getting a good mix. You have to sign up to the AdWords service to use this, but you won’t have to put out any PPC ads. Still, this can be a great auxiliary measure to your base SEO.
Be sure to use your main keywords in the title, the alt text for images, and the URL of the content. It’s important to remember that you don’t need to use any exact keyword or phrase over and over again throughout the body of the post.
Google’s modern machine learning techniques are always being developed, and now has a pretty good understanding of when two phrases relate to the same subject.
This is making it progressively harder for people to play the system and bringing us closer to a world that’s full of valuable, authentic content.
You’re still going to need to use keywords, and they’re probably going to be a big part of SEO for years to come (there are many tools to help you find the best keywords, like Long Tail Pro or Serpstat). However, it’s increasingly important to make sure that your content and all the keywords within it are relevant to one another.
Know Your Links
Almost every start-up owner could benefit by going out of their way to improve their understanding of link building.
There are three main types of link that you need to be familiar with. Internal links are the ones you include in a post that links to other pieces of content on the website. You can include this is part of a sentence, a product name linking to a review, or the title itself. Whatever you use for the anchor, you should have at least one of these in every single post that you publish.
External links are one on another site that links back to yours. Guest posting can be a great way to do this, but you shouldn’t focus too much on it. Don’t waste your best content on guest posts, and make sure that the higher-ups of a reputable website will agree to link back to your site before submitting anything.
Finally, you have no-follow links, which essentially tell Google’s algorithm to ignore them. It won’t get tallied as an external link, which can be beneficial for an up-and-coming brand.
However, Google will smell something fishy if you have too much of one or the other. You should make a point of having a good balance of do-follow and no-follow links.
There’s still a lot that needs to be learned about this last type of link, so approach no-follows with caution.