When it comes to online marketing, you will likely hear a lot of people talk about the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and the best ways to generate traffic by optimizing your website for search engines. Last week I told you about SEO techniques that simply don’t work; this week I will be going through techniques that do work. Before that, I think it is important to note that building your site exclusively around SEO is a problem because when the big search engines like Google change their algorithms, you can see your referral traffic get cut in half or worse (I had one client whose referral traffic dropped 90% after the Google Panda update). If this is what you are depending on, then it can kill your business. That said, making sure that your website is optimized for search engines will generate free traffic, so it is important to know what you are doing. With that in mind, here are some of the strategies that have been most effective in recent months.
1: Write For Your Readers
The biggest problems in gearing your site for SEO is that you never know what the search engines will be looking for next month. The goal of most every search engine is to give people that are looking for information that best possible sources. Some online marketers learn what the search engine algorithms are looking for and accommodate that, however, when the algorithms change, you can be left out in the cold. Since search engines always have the reader as their first priority, you should likewise do. Do not write your content to appease a search engine algorithm, but rather, write content to satisfy your readers. Provide useful backlinks to relevant material, make sure each post has significant content, and don’t clutter your page with too many ads or monetization strategies. This will ensure your readers have a better experience, and if you are writing with the aim of doing that, then, you should be in good shape when the new Google or Bing update comes around.
2: Use Keyword Selectively
In my last post, I suggest that you avoid excessive use of keywords. Instead, use them selectively. If you have a popular keyword, no amount of uses in a given post is going to improve your ranking. You can still include it, but don’t use the word excessively. This won’t increase your SEO ranking, but it won’t hurt it. There is a trick you can use in regards to keywords that can increase your visibility. Use popular search words in your field and combine them with less-common words, though you want to make sure the less-common words are related. For instance, one of the online entrepreneurs I coach book reviews. When he writes a review of a classic work, he includes current keywords and suggest parallels between shared themes. He likewise reviews popular books that might not have critical analysis done and links them with theoretical terms. When people combine the two, his site often pops up on the first page and in some instances ranks first. The title of a classic work by itself will not help him, but the title of a classic work along with a keyword that is more current, however, frequently lands him on the first page. Try to find words that are not as common and use them in concert with popular keywords. When people are looking for a specific combination of words, you can be sure that they will find you.
3: Authoritative Backlinks
A couple weeks back I spoke about the important of backlinks. While cross linking your own site is a great way to get readers to visit more than one page on your site, it does not help your SEO. However, if you have links to authoritative websites, this can help your SEO ranking. As Brian Dean from Backlinko notes, Google employs what is known as the Hilltop Algorithm. This algorithm finds the most authoritative sites associated with a given keyword, and notes where all the backlinks are. If you have backlinks to some of the authoritative sites, then the algorithm may recognize that you have managed to aggregate some of the best pages on a given topic, and therefore see you as a hub of valuable information on that topic. What sites are authoritative? As I mentioned in my post about backlinks, site that end in .edu, .gov, and .org are often see by search engines as being of higher quality, so find a few sites like that in your field that you can backlink to on a regular basis. Wikipedia is great, but rather than always linking back to them, look in their citations section and try to find some reliable links in there that you can backlink to. Major news sites are also a great place to go for authoritative backlinks as well.
4: Include YouTube Videos
You’ve likely noticed that YouTube videos have been creeping up near the top of your search queries lately, and since Google now owns YouTube, don’t expect this trend to be stopping anytime soon. Instead, incorporate it into your SEO strategy. You don’t have to make long videos. You’ll notice that I put short videos in all my posts, usually just 2-4 minutes. In the videos I briefly touch on what my blog post is about, promote my site, and provide a link to the article I’m promoting in my comments. This will give you two sources for the search engines to find each time you post. Additionally, if you are sure to fill in the keywords and comment section of the YouTube video, you will be find that your video ranks higher than it otherwise would have. This will help it rank higher, and lead to referral traffic for you. It also enhances the reader’s interaction, which as I mentioned is key to keeping ahead of the game when it comes to SEO. Navneet Kaushal has a great post on how to optimize your YoutTube videos, so check out his article out for more details on that.
5: Include Images With Captions
More and more, people are using image searches. Though the people that do this are looking for images specifically, they are often looking for commentary on popular images. Whether it be Kim Kardashain’s most recent photo shoot, or the Charlie Hebdo satirical illustrations, people are always looking up images. With this in mind, try to incorporate image, not only because it allows readers to share your page on social networking sites like Pinterest, but also because it allows you to show up on image search engines. When you include an image, make sure you use a popular keyword related to the image for the file name, and include a caption that does likewise. This ensure the image will secure a higher ranking than it otherwise would. It also makes your page more interactive and therefore reader friendly, which works in concert with my first point: write for your readers and not for the search engine.
6: Make Posts At Least 1000 Words
Determining how long your content should be is tricky. Neil Patel from Quick Sprout reports that the average length of posts that rank in a search engines top ten average over 2000 words. However, readers often don’t read an entire article. You want to have a significant length to your post, but you don’t want to scare readers away by making it too long. There is a way to appease both your readers and the search engines. First, make sure your posts are over 1000 words, and certainly not less than 500 as that will hurt your SEO ranking. If your post is a 1000 words or longer, put headings before each topic. This allows your readers to scroll down your post and jump to the portions that relates to them. If, for instance, you’ve found this post via a search engine and have already read a couple articles about the topic, you may have already read about keywords and backlinks, in which case the headings I’ve placed over those topics will allow you to pass over them so you can instead jump to a topic you haven’t read about. This way the content won’t seem so daunting, and keeping the post reader friendly goes back to my first point. If you are verbose, aim for 2000 words, but keep it under 2500. Also keep track of which posts get the most traffic. If you find your readers gravitate to shorter posts, keep things short, as you want to make content that keeps your readers coming. Breaking pages up can also be a helpful technique.
These are some strategies that are easy to incorporate into your online business. I always discourage the people I coach from relying on SEO exclusively, as a change in the algorithms can kill your business and leave you vulnerable, but keeping these things in mind can help you to bring free traffic to your site. It is always best to drive traffic to your site, but if you are paying for traffic, you want be sure that you get an auto responder first so that the people who visit your site will return to it, otherwise you will be paying for traffic that might not return. If you are like a lot of the entrepreneurs that I coach, you might not always have the funds to invest money in traffic and auto responders or paid traffic when you start out, so implementing these free SEO strategies can help you to generate a significant amount of traffic and create a steady stream of income that can cover the costs of paid traffic and auto responders that you will need to start making real money.
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