Keywords are still vital to your SEO efforts but using specific keywords a given number of times to improve your ranking in the search engines doesn’t work anymore. Instead, keywords are valuable in what they tell us about the audience we’re trying to target.
Add to that a ton of information about SEO pushed out onto the internet and it’s hard to know what works anymore and what really doesn’t. Are backlinks still a thing? Should what little time you have to spend on this go to your on-page SEO efforts? Can you really add title tags that will help your search engine rankings? How does social media play into it all?
See what I mean?
I’m a writer like you and while I know the value of marketing and SEO, I would very much like to know what are the top SEO items I should be concerned with so I can implement and monitor them — and save the bulk of my time to writing.
So here are 7 of the top SEO techniques you need to know about. Using these techniques, you can drive more targeted traffic to your blog and increase your visibility in the search engines, like Google, all using white hat techniques. Are you ready?
1. The Need for Speed
Maverick: “I feel the need …”
Goose: “… the need for speed!”
One of the things your website must have to be successful in SEO is speed.
Up until recently, it wasn’t as big a deal if your website didn’t load quickly. Today, visitors expect your website to load in 2-3 seconds. When it doesn’t, there’s a high likelihood that they will move on to the next website and that’s the opposite of what you want. You don’t want to send them to your competitor’s website to buy their books. You want them to stick around to buy yours.
For every second your visitor has to wait for your site to load, the average result means you will have dropped 7% in conversions (sales), dropped 11% in page views, and 16% in customer satisfaction. On the last one, studies show that having a slower website can even translate to the site being untrustworthy to some people.
When Google announced in April 2010 that speed was a factor in their algorithm, the demand for speed went through the roof.
2. Linking to Other Relevant Websites is Still a Thing
Linking to other websites is important for your website’s growth. Now, you might think that doesn’t make sense. Isn’t the opposite true? You’d think including a lot of links to other sites on your website would take people away from your page.
What it actually does is send out traffic you can trace making it a valuable resource. You can’t just link to any website either. You need a good reason and you need a site whose information you feel is truly trustworthy. A visitor on your website is there because they trust you and believe in you. Remember that.
Plus, you can’t expect others to link to you and not reciprocate. One way to get links back to you from sites you want? Link to the content in those sites, show them your willingness to share their content and they may be willing to do the same. Notify them as your influencer that you’ve linked to their content. They may reciprocate or share your post even which could be a huge bonus.
Make building links on your website about quality and not quantity. A few links to highly relevant and trustworthy websites whose content is of great value will produce better results than a ton of poor-quality links that are placed there without an obvious reason.
3. Keep Writing for Humans
For my fellow writers, who work so hard every day to create incredible fictional characters and worlds in your book, keep doing that.
Many who get really invested in SEO begin trying to write content for their websites that they think will appeal to the search engines when their sites are crawled. Not so fast. Keyword usage isn’t being counted any longer and can’t be used. People are underusing long-tail keywords which are also leaving money on the table.
The basics of this one? Write content meant to help someone else, to share what you’ve learned. When you can do that, you’re doing it right.
When you put your audience first, you’ll be rewarded by the search engines because the search engines are watching your visitors. Surprised right? Because it would seem to be the other way around. When you write content meant to help others, you’ll be increasing the user’s experience (UX) and establishing trust with your audience for a double bonus.
4. Yes, Use Analytics
Once you’ve set SEO goals for your website and you’re creating content, you’ll need a way to measure results. There’s a lot of really great analytics available out there free to use. Google Analytics, Google Search Console and other, third-party analytics software solutions can help you track and measure your success.
Ideally, you should have analytics in place early in the life of your website. But it’s never too late to get those added so you can see which marketing approaches gain you the most traffic and results.
5. Relevant and Unique Meta Descriptions for Every Page
Meta descriptions remain very important in SEO. Meta descriptions appear in Google’s search results to tell your visitors what the page is about.
Keep in mind that you can’t use the same meta description for every page on your website. It needs to be about that specific page. If you happen to be using SEO, you’re in luck because you can simply install a plugin to do the work for you like All-In-One-SEO Pack or Yoast plugins.
6. Your URLs Must Be Readable
The URL of your page or post can even help you in search engines. But only if it’s readable by people and search engines alike. To give you an example of what I mean, take a look at the permalink options you have using a content management system like WordPress:
If you use WordPress, in the Permalinks section of settings you can control the formulation of your website’s URLs. It’s easy to see why many people stick with ‘Post Name’ because a good title there can tell a human visitor or search engine at a glance what the site is probably about. And that’s the entire point.
Remember that the search engines are watching visitors to your site and how they interact with it. Keep your URL naming convention simple with no more than 4 words included in any URL (beyond the domain name). The idea is to make your URL easy to remember for the visitor, search engine-friendly, and easy to type if necessary.
7. Use Social Signals to Get the Ball Rolling
Social media is a vital part of your SEO marketing strategies. The search signals are so important yet most have no idea how to focus on increasing this.
To this point, Google hasn’t added social signals to their algorithm but it’s widely believed that they do have an impact on visibility and search engine ranking for websites based on multiple case studies.
Okay, so what exactly do you need to do on this one? How do you increase social signals?
- Craft content that’s helpful to others and worthy of sharing across your social media platforms.
- Be sure you have social media share buttons on your posts and make them easy to spot.
- Encourage people to share your content or request that they do so.
- Host social media contests to boost your shares.
- Mention top social media influencers in your posts to let them know if you’re sharing their content.
Hope you find these 7 steps useful and a good place to start.