SEO (search engine optimization) is an important part of brands, whether they're online or off. Maybe you're a smaller brand with a small budget, or maybe you want to...
According to research, the SEO industry is now worth a whopping $80 million. People are recognizing the importance of SEO, and are investing with a great ROI. If you are not investing in SEO services, you need to take an SEO crash course so you are not wasting your time.
Search engine optimization can literally make or break your online business. You could have the best website in the online web, but if no one can find you, you will not have sales, period.
In addition, as of 2019, there are 1,518,207,412 websites in the world, that is a lot of competition to be up against.
So the problem is, how do you get traffic to your website and stand out from this mass amount of competition?
Thankfully, we have those answers for you. Keep reading for the ultimate SEO crash course, so you can avoid the newbie mistakes and skyrocket your traffic.
Let's get started!
What is Search Engine Optimization?
Before we get started with the SEO crash course, we should cover the basics and explain what SEO really is, and why it is important to know.
Imagine the internet is a giant library, and since Google owns 90% of the search engine market share worldwide, we will use them as the librarian. Now, let's say you poured everything into writing this amazing book that will solve the problems of many people, and that book is stored in this giant library.
How exactly is that librarian going to find your book and deliver it to those who are looking to solve their problems? Well, first, those people will tell the librarian (type in keywords) in hopes to find a solution.
Some people think that those keywords are enough to find their book (website) in this giant worldwide library (internet). However, it goes much deeper than that including link-building, building relationships with other reputable websites, curating relative content, and more.
You also want this book to be a long term success, so you also need to make sure you are playing by the librarian's rules so that they will keep revealing your book to the people who need it. If you do not, you will be penalized and your book (website) will be hidden. This is the difference between White hat vs Black hat marketing.
1. Avoid the Black Hat Temptations
Simply put, if you are going to cheat the search engine game, in a matter of time you are going to be caught, no matter how sneaky you are. But what exactly does black hat marketing look like?
Black Hat Tactics to Avoid
The following is a list of black hat marketing tricks to avoid in the search optimization game:
- Keyword stuffing, visible and non-visible
- Stealing content from other websites
- Duplicating your content on multiple websites
- Purchasing backlinks, or links from non-relative websites
- Content that is not relative to the theme of your website
- Re-directing or cloaking users to another one of your sites.
- Guest posting on irrelevant websites
As you can see, these tactics are geared towards manipulating the search engine rather than actually targeting real people. This scammy technique will eventually lead to your website getting banned, don't do it.
2. Not Creating Relative Content
As Bill Gates once said "content is king" back in 1996, it still rings true today. However, this doesn't mean that ANY content on your website is good content. This is a huge mistake that most novice website owners make as they pump out content about everything under the sun.
You cannot be everything to everyone, so curate your content to target your ideal audience. With over 7 billion people on the planet, you are not lacking in people to target, so be everything to that person who needs your information the most.
3. Not Paying Attention to Meta Descriptions, Titles, and URLs
Do you notice when you scroll the internet that many meta descriptions are just the first sentence of their actual blog? This is a huge mistake that you need to avoid! A meta description is your sales pitch to the reader that your article is worth clicking and reading, make it catchy, short and sweet.
Same goes for your title, it needs to be catchy, quick, and entice the reader that your article will answer their questions, as well as the URL.
4. Not Placing or Using Keywords Appropriately
Now that you know the consequences of stuffing keywords, where should you place them for best results?
- Meta Description
- The first paragraph of your article
- One header in your article
- In the conclusion.
- Naturally placed within the article
Do your research carefully and find the best keyword to use in these places. Make sure the keyword is not too competitive but also has a lot of traffic and CPCs. Your keyword needs to be relevant to your website, the article, and overall purpose of your content.
Even if the Keyword you find has big traffic, if it does not relate to your website, you are actually ruining your chances to show up high on the SERP.
Google's crawlers are too smart to trick in this department, and they will pay close attention to when a user finds your website via keywords, but then quickly bounced right after.
5. Too Much Focus on Only One Keyword
To add to the above topic, you need to have your main keyword optimized properly, but do not think that one keyword will do the trick.
Many different people write many different phrases into the search bar, this means that you need to cater to these as well. Find the top 5 keywords to back up your main one and include them naturally throughout your article as well.
6. Not Optimizing the Speed of Your Website
The speed of your website will decrease your bounce rates, and provide a much better user experience. Let's say that you are gaining some good traffic, and your analytics are going through the roof, if you have not updated your website loading time, you may be saying goodbye to all those new visitors.
Certain elements can slow down your website such as banners, videos, photos, graphics, and while these features are essential for attracting customers, they can also turn them away very quickly if you clogged up your site.
Some things you can do is compress your images, use fewer front-loading plugins, and limit the number of fancy features you have on your home page. Remember that even if it loads quickly on your phone, if another user has limited space on their phone, it will load much slower on theirs.
Use online tools such as Webpage Test, and Google Pagespeed Insights to check the speed of your website. Then get to work to reduce what is slowing those pages down, and watch your bounce rates decrease! You may be better off hiring a web design company for this part.
7. Forgetting to Link Build
When most people hear that they need to link to another website, their first thought is "why would I link away from my website?". There is some truth to that, as you never want to link to a competitor in your niche, but you do want to link to a reputable website in hopes to build a link-building relationship with them.
Once Google notices that another big website has linked to yours, you are now considered as a website that must be relevant and reputable too. However, do not sit around thinking that people will link back to you, you need to contact them and start building that relationship.
Links are a great way to back up your information, it adds credibility and provides your users with more relevant information.
A key to successful link-building is to focus on quality and quantity.
When linking to other websites, you need to make sure that it is a relevant website, is not directed to a homepage, and includes good anchor text. Avoid using the phrase "click here", as it is unoriginal, instead, include it in the body of your text with the relative words.
When link building, you need at least three good-quality links to other websites. This also gives you an opportunity to add more information, quote that information and link to it as proof for your facts.
8. Not Optimized for Mobile Optimization
More people are using their phones for Google searches then ever before, this means that if your website is not optimized for mobile use, you could be missing out on major traffic and sales.
If you realize that you are not set up for the mobile era, do not panic because there are many tutorials online to help you fix this problem, and even better, hire an SEO agency to work their magic and optimize for you.
9. Not Optimizing Older Content
Now that you know how to avoid the major SEO mistakes, that doesn't mean that you just start from now on with your new content. You need to go back into old content and start adding everything you have now learned.
This may mean that you have to re-write entire articles, but once you see the new traffic come in, that hard work will feel much worth it.
10. Not Measuring or Tracking Properly
You need to have a clear, measurable goal of what you want with your website. Then you need to follow the tips in this article to reach it. The last piece of this puzzle is, how are you going to know what is working without tracking results?
If you cannot measure the results, you will not know where you need to make some tweaks to improve it, and with SEO, there is a lot to measure!
Here are some of the key areas that you should be tracking:
Time Spent on Page
In Google analytics, look for the tab "Average time on Page", and you will see a complete rundown of all your pages. From here, you can see which pages are attracting readers and which are turning them away.
These rates completely range depending on the type of your website, for example, if you have a blog, you want more than five minutes on each page. If you have a landing page for sales, you want thirty seconds that leads to sales.
This is the only part of analytics where you do not want a high number, this means that people are landing on your page and trying to escape as quick as possible. In order to avoid this, make sure nothing is misleading about your website, never "trick" anyone into visiting your page!
This is the kind of traffic you want, this is the real deal, unpaid traffic. Anyone can create ads to find more viewers, but it is great search engine optimization that will attract people organically.
Once you have found some great keywords to optimize your blogs with, you now need to check the results and see how well they are doing! This is also where having keywords with a low difficulty level will help you.
If you found a keyword but the difficulty ranking is over thirty, then you need to be a big, reputable website in order to get rankings for that keyword. If you are new to the game, stick to the keywords with a lower ranking. This way you will start to build up some credibility as you start ranking for more keywords.
The SEO Crash Course Continued
Now that you know how to avoid the newbie SEO mistakes, it is time to put your new knowledge to work! Your SEO crash course is not going to miraculously change your rankings overnight, but with consistency and proper tracking, you are on the road to a more successful website and business!
If you would like to learn more, or need some help with your website, SEO, and Social media, feel free to contact us at any time.