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By Dr. Peter J. Meyers

Head keywords. Long-tail keywords. The chunky middle. The chonky thorax. Is it any wonder why most people outside of SEO think we’re talking gibberish? Ask a dozen SEOs what keywords qualify as “long-tail” and you’ll get 13 opinions and 17 fistfights.

What we can agree on is that — due to Google’s advancements in Natural Language Processing (NLP) — the long tail of search has exploded. However, I will argue that NLP has also imploded the long tail, and understanding how and why may save our collective sanity.

What is the long tail of SEO, exactly?

The long tail of search is the limitless space of low-volume (and often low-competition) keywords. Tactically, long-tail SEO centres on competing for a large number of low-volume keywords instead of focusing on a small set of high-volume keywords.

Long-tail SEO encourages us to let go of vanity, because high-volume, so-called “vanity” keywords are often out of reach or, at best, will empty our bank accounts. Low-volume keywords may be less attractive on the surface, but as you begin to compete on hundreds or thousands of them, they represent more traffic and ultimately more sales than a few vanity keywords.

You’ve probably seen a graph of the long tail like the one above. It’s a perfectly lovely power curve, but it’s purely hypothetical. And while you may smile and nod when you see it, it’s hard to translate this into a world of keywords. It might help to re-imagine the long tail of SEO:

I’m not sure the “reclining snowman of SEO” is ever going to catch on, but I think it helps to illustrate that — while head keywords are high-volume by themselves — the combined volume of the long tail eclipses the head or the middle. Like the familiar curve, this visualization dramatically underestimates the true scope of the long tail.

What are long-tail keywords?

In the words of the ancient SEOs, “It doth depend.” Typically, long-tail keywords are low-volume, multi-word phrases, but the long-tail is relative to your starting point. Historically, any given piece of the long tail was assumed to be low-competition, but that’s changing as people realize the benefits of targeting specific phrases with clear intent (especially commercial intent).

Targeting “widgets” is not only expensive, but searcher intent is ambiguous. Targeting “buy blue widgets” narrows intent, and “where to buy Acme Widget LOL-42” laser-focuses you on a target audience. As searchers and SEOs adapt to natural language search, previously “long-tail” keywords may become higher volume and higher competition.

The long tail has exploded

Google has told us that 15% of the searches they see every day are new. How is this possible? Are we creating that many new words? That’s sus, bruh!

I can explain it to you in a very short story. The other day, my (half-Taiwanese) 10-year-old daughter couldn’t remember what her Chinese zodiac sign was, so she asked Google Home:

Hey, Google, what’s the animal for the Chinese new year calendar thingy for 2010?

It’s easy to get hung up on the voice-appliance aspect of this, but whether or not you believe in the future of voice appliances, the reality is that voice search in general has driven the need for natural language search, and as Google becomes better at handling natural language, we’re reverting to using it more often (it’s our default mode). This is especially evident in kids, who never had to learn to dumb down their searches for antiquated algorithms.

How can we hope to target keyword phrases that are literally evolving as we speak? Fortunately, NLP cuts both ways. As Google understands context better, the algorithm recognizes that many variations of the same phrase or question are essentially the same. Which leads us to…

The long tail has imploded

Back in 2019, I did a keyword research case study at SearchLove London on UK mega-retailer, John Lewis. In my research, I was surprised to see how many searches Google was automatically redirecting. There’s the obvious, like Google assuming that people who searched for “Jon Lewis” in the UK probably meant “John Lewis” (sorry, Jon):

It’s interesting to note that Google has gradually, quietly moved from the previously more prevalent “Did you mean?” to the more assertive (some might say aggressive) “Showing results for…” In this case, optimizing for Jon Lewis in the UK is probably pointless.

I expected a rabbit hole, but I landed in a full-on bunny chasm. Consider this search:

Hjohjblewis?! I landed on this misspelling entirely by accident, but I imagine it involved an attention-starved cat and cat-adjacent keyboard. This level of rewriting/redirecting was shocking to me.

Misspellings are just the beginning, however. What about very similar long-tail phrases that don’t surface any kind of rewrite/redirect, but show very similar results?

Note that this same set of terms in the US overwhelmingly returns results about former US Representative and civil rights leader, John Lewis, demonstrating just how much not only intent can shift across localities, but how Google’s re-interpretations can change dynamically.

That same year, I did an experiment for MozCon targeting long-tail questions, such as “Can you reverse a 301-redirect?”, demonstrating that posts written around a specific question could often rank for many forms of that question. At the time, I didn’t have a way to measure this phenomenon, other than showing that the post ranked for variations of the phrase. Recently, I re-analysed my 2019 keywords (with rankings from April 2021) using a simplified form of Rank-Biased Overlap (RBO) called RBOLite. RBOLite scores the similarity between two rank-ordered lists, yielding a score from 0-1. As the name implies, this score biases toward the higher-ranked items, so a shift at #1 will have more impact than a shift at #10.

Here are the scores for a sampling of the phrases I tracked for the 2019 post, with the title of the post shown at the top (and having a perfect match of 1.0):

You can see visually how the similarity of the results diverges as you change and remove certain keywords, and how this creates a complex interaction. What’s fascinating to me is that changing the question phrase from “Can you” to “How do you” or “How to” made very little difference in this case, while removing either “301” or “redirect” had more impact. Switching “you” vs. “I” by itself was fairly low impact, but was additive with other changes. Even the SERPs with “undo” in place of “reverse” showed fairly high similarity, but this change showed the most impact.

Note that the week-over-week RBOLite score for the initial phrase was 0.95, so even the same SERP will vary over time. All of these scores (>0.75) represent a fair degree of similarity. This post ranked #1 for many of these terms, so these scores often represent shifts farther down the top 10.

Here’s another example, based on the question “How do I improve my domain authority?”. As above, I’ve charted the RBOLite similarity scores between the main phrase and variations. In this case, the week-over-week score was 0.83, suggesting some background flux in the keyword space:

One immediately interesting observation is that the difference between “improve” and “increase” was negligible — Google easily equated the two terms. My time spent debating which keyword to use could’ve been spent on other projects, or on eating sandwiches. As before, switching from “How do I” to “How do you” or even “How to” made relatively little difference. Google even understood that “DA” is frequently substituted for “Domain Authority” in our industry.

Perhaps counterintuitively, adding “Moz” made more of a difference. This is because it shifted the SERP to be more brand-like (Moz.com got more mentions). Is that necessarily a bad thing? No, my post still ranked #1. Looking at the entire first page of the SERPs, though, adding the brand name caused a pretty clear intent shift.

The long tail is dead. Long live the long tail.

In the past decade, the long tail has exploded and then imploded (in many ways, due to the same forces), and yet somehow we’ve landed in a very different keyword universe. So, where does that leave us — the poor souls fated to wander that universe?

The goods news of this post (I hope) is that we don’t have to work ourselves to death to target the long tail of search. It doesn’t take 10,000 pieces of content to rank for 10,000 variants of a phrase, and Google (and our visitors) would much prefer we not spin out that content. The new, post-NLP long tail of SEO requires us to understand how our keywords fit into semantic space, mapping their relationships and covering the core concepts. While our tools will inevitably improve to meet this challenge (and I’m directly involved in such projects at Moz), our human intuition can go a long way for now. Study your SERPs diligently, and you can find the patterns to turn your own long tail of keywords into a chonky thorax of opportunity.

By Dr. Peter J. Meyers

Sourced from MOZ

By Cyrus Shepard

Does Google use engagement signals to rank web pages?

Certainly yes. Google even says so in their official How Search Works documents:

Source (emphasis added)

Exactly how Google uses engagement signals (i.e. clicks and interaction data) is subject to endless SEO debate. The passage above suggests Google uses engagement metrics to train their machine learning models. Google has also admitted to using click signals for both search personalization and evaluating new algorithms.

When pressed for specifics though, Google typically responds with either forced denials (“We’re not using such metrics“) to carefully-worded deflections (“clicks are noisy.”)

While many Googlers no doubt work hard to be helpful to the SEO community, they are also under pressure “not to reveal too much detail” about their algorithms out of caution that SEOs will game search results. In reality, Google is never going to tell SEO exactly how they use engagement metrics, no matter how many times we ask.

Most SEO debate focuses on if Google uses organic Click-through Rates (CTR) in its ranking algorithms. If you are interested, AJ Kohn’s piece is particularly outstanding as well as Rand Fishkin’s Whiteboard Friday on covering this topic. For a nuanced counter-view, I’d recommend reading this excellent post by Dan Taylor.

To be fair, I believe most of the debate around CTR up to this point has likely been far too simple. Whatever way SEOs think Google uses click data, how Google actually uses clicks is guaranteed to be far more sophisticated than anything we may conceive. This complexity gap gives Google easy deniability, and justification for calling otherwise reasonable SEO theories “made up crap.” (Google may very well say something similar about this article, which is fine.)

Not another CTR debate

At this point, you may think this is another post adding to the CTR debate, but in fact, it’s not. THIS SIMPLY ISN’T THAT POST.

Arguing “if” Google uses click signals leads us down the wrong path. We know Google does, we simply don’t know how. For example, are they direct signals, or used for machine learning training only? Are click signals used in the broader algorithm, or only for personalization?

Instead, lets propose something far more radical, and likely far more helpful to your SEO:

Why you should assume Google uses clicks for ranking

Not too long ago, Google patent guru Bill Slawski posted his discovery of a newish Google patent that described “Modifying search result ranking based on implicit user feedback.”

The patent is fascinating from an SEO perspective because it explains how using click signals can be very “noisy” (as Google often says) but describes a process for calculating “long click” and “last click” metrics to cut through the noise and better rank search results.

To be fair, we have no evidence Google uses the processes described in this patent, and even if they did, it would likely be far more sophisticated/nuanced than the process described here.

That said, the patent is riveting because it supports many of the same best SEO practices we’ve advocated for years. So much so that, if you optimized for these metrics, you’d almost certainly improve your SEO traffic and rankings, regardless if Google uses these exact processes or not. Specifically:

  1. More Clicks (“High CTR”): earns you more traffic no matter your rank, and initial clicks form the basis of all subsequent click metrics.
  2. Improved Engagement (“Long Clicks”): almost always a positive sign from your users, and often an indicator of quality as well as being correlated with future visits.
  3. User Satisfaction (“Last Click”): the holy grail of SEO, and ultimately the experience Google strives to deliver in its search results.

We can summarize these principles into 3 tenets of click-based engagement metrics for SEO: First, Long, and Last.

Let’s explore each of these in turn.

1. Be the first click: earning high CTRs

As stated earlier, this isn’t a debate if Google uses CTR. There’s plenty of evidence that they monitor and consider clicks in a variety of ways. (And to be fair, there’s evidence that they don’t use CTR as extensively as many SEOs believe.)

As the Google patent US8661029B1 states:

Source (emphasis added)

Even if CTR isn’t a ranking signal, having a higher CTR is almost always good for SEO, because it means getting more clicks and more eyeballs on your content.

Besides the inherent value of earning a high CTR, clicks also form the basis of subsequent click-based metrics, including long clicks and last clicks. So earning that first click is an essential step.

How to earn higher click-through rates

Your ability to earn a higher CTR is almost entirely contained with optimizing your appearance in Google search results. How your snippet stands out and gets noticed for being a likely helpful, relevant answer—in a sea of other competing results—is the name of the game.

You may think your options at influencing CTR in this way are quite limited, but in fact, you have many, many surprisingly powerful levers to pull in your favor, including:

  1. Compelling, relevant Title Tags (My Master Class, definitely worth a watch)
  2. Compelling, keyword-rich Meta Descriptions
  3. Structured Data & Rich Snippet Markup
  4. Winning Featured Snippets
  5. Keywords-rich URLs, which Google may use as breadcrumbs
  6. Favicon optimization
  7. Increase brand search

What about artificially manipulating your CTR, either using bots or one of the many blackhat click services you can find on the web? More often than not, these tactics lead to disappointing results. One possible reason why is that Google is very skilled at sniffing out “unnatural” browsing behavior.

Source

So high CTR can be a good thing, but the fact remains—as Google has told us countless times—CTR is a “noisy” signal to use for ranking. Should a result with a flashy title be rewarded simply because users click on it, even if the actual page provides a lackluster experience?

In truth, while earning clicks is one of the primary goals of SEO, the “noise” of the signal is probably why Google avoids using CTR as a direct ranking signal itself.

In fact, earning a high CTR if your content leads to a poor user experience may actually hurt you in the end. More on this below.

So first, we need to figure out if our clicks create a good user experience. Read on…

2. Earn long clicks

So what if you trick people into clicking your URL, but your page actually doesn’t deliver what you promised, or even adequately answer the query.

This isn’t good for users, or for Google. And it definitely isn’t good for you.

One measure of content relevancy search engines can use is weighted viewing time, based on the concept that users typically spend a bit longer time on a site they find relevant, versus a page they find not helpful. Within this framework, “long clicks” can carry more weight than “short clicks.”

The patent explains it like this:

Source (emphasis added)

“But Cyrus,” smart SEOs protest, “not every query needs a long click. Many searches, like the weather or the “highest mountains in Europe,” can be answered very quickly, often in seconds. It doesn’t make sense for these pages to have long clicks.”

Those SEOs are right, of course. Fortunately, Google engineers understood not every query is the same and devised a clever solution: click scores can be weighted on a per-query basis, including language and country-specific click data.

“Note that such categories may also be broken down into sub-categories as well, such as informational-quick and informational-slow: a person may only need a small amount of time on a page to gather the information they seek when the query is “George Washington’s Birthday”, but that same user may need a good deal more time to assess a result when the query is “Hilbert transform tutorial”

— US Patent 8,661,029 B1

To dive a little deeper, it’s not so much how long visitors stay on your page, but your ratio of long clicks (LC) to overall clicks (C), weighted on a per-query basis. This LC|C ratio could be used to re-rank queries based on user-engagement.

Take this a step further: results with good long-click ratios may rank higher, while results with poor long-click ratios may rank lower.

So consider a situation where you “hacked” your CTR to earn more clicks, but the page itself doesn’t deliver, resulting in more short clicks. In theory, this could actually hurt your rankings, even though you started with a higher CTR!

So be sure to back up your higher CTRs with great user experiences, e.g. long clicks.

How to optimize for long clicks

Many SEOs refer to long clicks as analogous to improving your “dwell time”, or simply the amount of time a user spends on your site. The signals associated with improving dwell time are often known as “UX” (User Experience) signals.

The golden rule of getting more long clicks is simply this: provide the most useful, complete, and engaging answer to a user search query, in the most attractive and effective format possible.

A note of distinction: because most pages rank for multiple keywords, and multiple keyword variations, all with possibly varying search intent, it’s often helpful to target for those various search intents all on the same page.

For example, a user searching for information about meta descriptions may also be interested in “meta description length”, “meta description format” and “how to write meta descriptions.” Optimizing more completely for these varying search intents can improve your long click metrics.

Pro Tip: You don’t need to optimize for every user intent on the same page. Linking to other resources on your site is fine, and even encouraged! Visitors don’t have to stay on the same page for a search click to count as “long.”

Aside from the quality of the content itself, there are a number of UX factors you can employ to encourage your visitors to engage with your content at a deeper level. While not an exhaustive list, a few examples may include:

  1. Have a clean, easy-to-use navigation
  2. Make your site easy to search
  3. Place important content above the fold, where it’s easy to find
  4. Leverage high-quality videos (Moz’s Whiteboard Friday pages have an average view time of nearly 10 minutes!)
  5. Strive for 10x Content
  6. Use attractive, modern design
  7. Prominently link to closely related topics to cover multiple searcher intents. These can be internal links, or even external links.

Admittedly, there aren’t a ton of good excellent resources published on increasing engagement and improving long clicks. That said, I believe Brian Dean of Backlinko does an excellent job with this, and his resource on improving dwell time is worth checking out.

3. Be the last click

Yes, being the last click may be the holy grail of SEO.

A user clicks their way through a page of search results, not finding what they are looking for. Finally, they click on your URL and behold!…. You have the answer they sought.

It means you’ve satisfied the user query.

Source (emphasis added)

Put simply, being the last click means searchers don’t return to Google to select another result (e.g. pogo sticking.)

Even if Google doesn’t use this as a ranking factor, you can see how it might benefit your SEO to be the user’s last click as much as possible. Satisfying the user query means users are more likely to browse and share your content, as well as seek you out again in the future.

How to be the last click

In my own SEO, there are fewer things I’ve seen associated with greater success than improving visitor satisfaction, and this is exactly what Google seeks to reward.

It’s also damn difficult to achieve.

Sadly, a typical process in SEO is to give a content brief to a copywriter, expect them to cover all the salient points, hit publish, and hope for the best. But more often than not, do you believe this content truly deserves to rank #1? Is this the first, last, and only result a user needs to click?

Years ago when working in a successful restaurant, a manager gave me advice about delivering 100% customer satisfaction that I will never forget: “Whatever happens, make sure they want to come back.”

This is how you should treat SEO: make sure every visitor to your site wants to come back.

Exactly how to make sure your visitor wants to come back is going to vary based on each and every query, but generally, it means going the extra mile, answering questions more completely, and offering the user more resources and a better experience.

In short, deliver an experience superior to every one of your competitors.

Beyond this, I recommend these 3 resources when improving your content (all amazingly from Rand Fishkin):

  1. How Google Gives Us Insight into Searcher Intent Through the Results
  2. 121 Examples of 10X Content
  3. Optimizing for Searcher Intent Explained in 7 Visuals

Metrics for click-based engagement signals

To be honest, it’s nearly impossible to accurately measure click-based signals, as Google holds all the data.

(Even if you could accurately measure your long click/click ratio, or last click metrics, calculating their actual value would be meaningless without an accurate account of every other Google search result, let alone on a per-query basis.)

That said, there are metrics that can help you directionally measure any progress you might make. These are all available either through Search Console or Google Analytics:

  1. Click-through Rate (CTR)
  2. Average Session Duration
  3. Bounce Rate
  4. Goal Conversion Rate

Keep in mind that there is no such thing as a “good” score for these numbers, as everything is relative to the specific query it appeared for, as well as every single one of your competitors.

Regardless, these metrics can be directionally useful indicators when making improvements to your content. For example, if you see a drop in bounce rate and increase in session duration after a major content update, you can take this as an indicator that things are moving in the right direction. And in fact, it’s not unusual to see an increase in rankings/traffic after such a change accompanied by a positive shift in metrics.

While we can’t directly see what Google might measure in terms of complex click metrics, we can often make educated guesses.

And even if Google isn’t using these metrics exactly the way we speculate, we can still improve our SEO by paying attention to the user click behaviors we have influence over.

Thanks for making it this far. Remember:

  1. Be First
  2. Be Long
  3. Be Last

Get those clicks, and earn them!

Appendix A: Evidence of Google using click-based ranking signals (incomplete list)

  1. Google Posts That Local Results Are Influenced By Clicks, Then Deletes That
  2. How Google Interferes With Its Search Algorithms and Changes Your Results
  3. Evidence Mounts that Click-through Rates Affect Ranking
  4. User Behavior and Local Search – Dallas State of Search 2014
  5. Is CTR A Ranking Factor In Organic Results? (Negative result)
  6. Mad Science Experiments in SEO & Social Media
  7. Queries & Clicks May Influence Google’s Results More Directly Than Previously Suspected
  8. Yes, The Click-Through Rate Is A Ranking Signal, But…
  9. Test points to likely influence of click-through rate on search rankings
  10. Google Brain Canada: Google Search Uses Click Data For Rankings?
  11. Rank Fishkin: Yes, Google uses “user signals, like clicks.”

Appendix B: Partial list of Google-owned patents that describe using clicks as a ranking input

  1. Propagating query classifications – US8838587B1
  2. Modifying ranking data based on document change – US9002867B1
  3. Modifying search result ranking based on implicit user feedback – US8661029B1
  4. Determining reachability – US8838649B1
  5. Identification of implicitly local queries – US8200694B1
  6. Locally Significant Search Queries – US20140172843A1
  7. Modifying search result ranking based on implicit user feedback and a model of presentation bias – US8938463B1

By Cyrus Shepard

Cyrus Shepard is the founder of Zyppy, an SEO consulting and software company. He writes/tweets about Google ranking signals, SEO best practices, experiments, tactics, and industry updates. For the latest, follow Cyrus on Twitter, or check out more of his posts on Moz.

Sourced from MOZ

By Valery Kurilov

2020 was a very challenging year for everyone, with Covid-19 causing the global economy to plummet. As a result, brick-and-mortar companies and businesses with a limited online presence had to seriously consider their digital marketing strategy.

However, many businesses jumped on the bandwagon without carefully planning out their strategy. So, they ended up blowing their budget on driving traffic through ads without first building a solid foundation—an optimized website.

Now is the time, more than ever, to master your digital marketing strategy to get your business in front of more eyes. But strap yourself in for a journey rather than a two-stop trip—digital marketing is not a one-off effort, but rather an ongoing objective that needs daily monitoring.

So, what steps should you take to get your digital marketing campaign off the ground?

1. Highly Optimized, Mobile-Friendly, Scalable Online Environment 

I could’ve simply said that you need a website, but what you need is an online environment that is secure, has a clear structure and works fast.

Here are three vitally important things any modern website needs:

• Speed: Create a clear site structure so that people can quickly find what they need. And with Google confirming that Core Web Vitals will be ranking signals in May 2021, you must pay extra attention to how users experience the speed, responsiveness and visual stability of your site’s pages.

• Mobile-Friendliness: Desktop searches fell behind mobile back in 2017, with over 55% of global web traffic now falling on mobile devices. Moreover, mobile is no longer a growing trend, but the norm, especially in Asia, Africa and Latin America. If your website isn’t optimized for mobile, don’t even think about going online.

• Security: Web security is critical in preventing hackers and cyber-thieves from getting access to sensitive data, including that of your users. Without a proactive security strategy and an HTTPS connection, businesses risk the development of malware attacks and attacks on other sites, networks and so on.

Search engine optimization (SEO) isn’t easy, but it’s essential when it comes to digital marketing. Don’t think that a set-it-and-forget-it approach will work here. You need to be consistent so that potential customers can always find your website for relevant searches.

2. Get On Google My Business

Another way to help customers find you is through Google My Business (GMB).

Google My Business puts your details where potential customers can find them more easily. It also puts your business on Google Maps where it can be reviewed. This can also ensure your business is ranking on the map alongside other similar businesses, giving you a massive boost in visibility, thanks to the Google Local Pack. Optimizing a GMB account is trickier than it looks to begin with. But there are plenty of sources online that provide extensive guides on this topic.

3. Social Media Profiles And Activity 

Besides being on Google, you need to actively engage your audience on social media. Think of the difference between eating at a chain restaurant or at a small local one. You never see chefs at restaurant chains, but at your local diner, if a chef talks to you, you find out more about the place and the ingredients used, and unless the food’s awful, you’re likely to spread the word and go back. As a small business, this is the approach you need to take on social networks: Actually talk to and engage with your customers.

Learn what social media platform is popular among your potential customers and get on it too. The most obvious option, Facebook, even has tools for promoting business pages to segmented audiences. If your clients use Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Instagram, expand your presence there too. This is something business owners may need help with, as the most effective way to grow an audience on social media is to consistently create and publish interesting, engaging content.

And if your audience has migrated to newer platforms like TikTok or Clubhouse, try them out. The point is, follow your audience to attract the right traffic.

4. Figure Out What’s Right For Your Business: SEO Or PPC 

Before making a decision, assess your financial capabilities and understand if you need to go for search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising or both at the same time.

SEO and PPC are both digital marketing strategies that ultimately get your site to appear on Google page one. But to yield positive results, both strategies need a lot of expertise, tech knowledge and a marketing budget.

PPC is perfect for quick sales if you have a new website that isn’t performing well in organic search, if you think you have a great product/service and want to test it out or if you have reasonable profit margins.

On the flip side, SEO is what you need if you’re looking for long-term growth and can afford to invest in it, if you want to build up your brand over time or if you want to optimize your marketing costs.

Unlike with paid advertising, once you start ranking at the top of Google searches using SEO, you’ll start driving high-quality traffic to your business at no cost. In PPC, you won’t get any clicks if you don’t regularly fork over a small fortune.

Alternatively, you can choose to do SEO and PPC at the same time. This totally depends on your opportunities.

Everything covered here is fundamental to boosting your business’s online visibility. For businesses new to digital marketing, these steps may feel huge to begin with, but once you get the hang of it, it will seem as natural as wearing a seatbelt in a car. With the right set of tools—a well-optimized website, a Google My Business account, an active social media presence and constantly-published engaging content—you can drive web traffic, generate new sales and even get customers to fall in love with your brand.

Feature Image Credit: getty

By Valery Kurilov

Co-Founder & CEO at SE Ranking, Serial Investor, IT Entrepreneur with 10+ years of experience in marketing and software development. Read Valery Kurilov’s full executive profile here.

Sourced from Forbes

Discover what it takes to rank higher in Google during 2021, versus that of previous years.

SEO is a key component of advertising that aids in increasing the site’s awareness for related queries. If your website does not appear on the Search Engine Result Page’s top page, you cannot do anything correctly. And this post will help you solve your issues.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a collection of approaches and tactics used to maximize the volume of visits to a site by achieving a high ranking in the search results. Having the website understandable to both consumers and search engine algorithms is an essential part of SEO.

SEO helps search engines assess what a given website is about and if it might help consumers. In today’s high world, it’s important to place as massive as necessary in search results, which requires an aggressive SEO technique Most users, though, are unaware of how to rank a fresh website on Google.

Let’s have a look at how you can rank your website on google in 2021.

Long-tail keywords should be targeted with low competition

Long-tail keywords are more descriptive (and typically longer) searches than more common “head” keywords. Long-tail keywords are less challenging and more focused than shorter-term keywords. When you’re just beginning your SEO strategy for a website, We would highly encourage you to concentrate on long-tail terms.

SEO is not about increasing the number of visits to a website. You would like to target people who need what you’re offering, which will turn into leads and, ultimately, clients.

That is only true if its rankings with the keywords that certain users will use while looking. Anything else, there’s no way they’d approach you. Because if your website was at the peak of the search results, there is also a threat.

As a consequence, SEO research continues by deciding what keywords prospective customers put into search engines.

Knowing words and issues important to your company is usually the first step in the method. Then, they are converted into original keywords. After that, do a detailed analysis to identify similar words that your target demographic would use.

Make your site speed super fast.

A slower website is inconvenient for the average consumer and is also damaging to search engine optimization.

As a response, a poor website can lead your website to perform slower in search engine rankings. This means fewer page visits and, as a result, fewer ad sales or user retention for you. There are many methods for optimizing a website for speed.

A load time, the time required for a consumer to be willing to access the website — is used by search engines to measure accuracy.

Most website components may affect it. Consider the size of a picture. For advice on how to boost the blogs, use Google’s Web Speed Insights Tool.

Create unique content.

How much do you make changes to your website? You actually don’t have a fantastic SEO ranking if you’ve not reached it since the day you created it. To boost visits to your website and its visibility, you must allow users to come. And if you are already using WordPress, then there is no excuse for not creating new and exciting content — it’s just way too simple!

Your content must be of high quality, fresh, and appropriate. The so-called moisture content is another aspect that influences your SEO score. This is the number of times users invest on your website every session.

While your site contains new, entertaining, or relevant content, users can stay on your website longer, increasing your dwell time. Websites with a lot of knowledge normally get a lot of users who stay for a longer time.

Use a straightforward URL structure.

Search engines do not appreciate large sequences of terms with complicated structures. As a result, leave the URLs as short as possible. Set them up to contain as few as necessary besides the target keywords for which you want to optimize the website.

Final thoughts on improving your site rankings

One important strategy is to maintain a strong monitor on your rivals. Find out where the rivals have their connections from and which marketers they are partnering with.

All of this data will be used to establish your own SEO roadmap for 2021. Hopefully, you will find this guide more suitable for a better ranking of your website on google.

If you enjoyed the content within this article, we’re sure you will love the latest resource guides we’ve written on how to use SERP checker tools, and also taking advantage of what Instagram growth services have to offer.

Sourced from Influencive

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Keyword optimization, building backlinks, and writing brilliant blog posts aren’t the only way you can increase your website’s visibility through SEO.

You can now use Twitter to improve your SEO ratings.

Google cracked a deal with Twitter a few years ago to get access to its live tweets data, which indexes tweets on the Google search engine. This makes Twitter a big player in the world of search engine optimization.

With 330 million users on Twitter, you are missing out if not promoting your brand on the platform. Apart from offering such a vast audience, Twitter also offers paid promotions for your brand.

How Twitter improves SEO and your online presence

Number-Of-Monthly-Active-Users-In-Millions-Twitter-For-SEO-1

According to Statista, there are more than 330 million monthly active Twitter users

Does social media really impact SEO ranking? Given that social media is more about pictures, one platform is more about words, Twitter. Google and Twitter struck a deal in 2015 where Twitter provides Google with its live tweet data and more.

This has in fact affected SEO in ways marketers didn’t think possible. Google now uses real-time tweets to showcase its search results. So, when you search a hashtag, Google showcases Twitter results with the most recent tweets that use the hashtag in its search results. This makes Twitter absolutely essential for businesses.

Twitter helps businesses get in touch with their customers, and interact with them. Twitter’s hashtags about a product can give insights about how the product is and businesses can learn how people are responding to their products/services. Twitter strengthens the PR relationship a company has with its customers, as well as employees.

Here are some ways you can leverage Twitter to its full potential for growth and visibility online.

#1. Paid promotions

Undeveloped-Domain-Marketplace-1

An ad by Undeveloped on Twitter

Paid promotions are the easiest way to reach your target audience, not only can you promote your tweets, but you can also promote your account.

Be mindful of what you write in your Twitter Bio. Deploying your brand’s Twitter Bio carefully is key. Make sure to add the correct keywords and hashtags in the Bio. The summary on Twitter should be effective and use keywords that are most relevant for your brand. This will increase your brand’s visibility on Google.

Creating a username with the brand’s name is crucial to bring you on top of Google’s search engine results. When someone searches for a brand name, Google also displays their Twitter accounts in the search list.

There are various tools that can be used to optimize reach on Twitter. By posting during the time most of your followers are online. Make sure to keep in mind the time for paid promotions too.

#2. Trending hashtags

Use-Trending-Hashtags-United-States-Trends-1

Twitter has a feature that showcases various trending topics from around the world as “trends”.

What is a “trend”? Basically, it’s a topic a lot of people on Twitter are talking about. It can range from politics to fashion, from technology to food, literally anything.

Find the latest trending topics that suit your brand’s image and get into the conversation. This helps with visibility on Twitter and will also bring up tweets on Google.

#3. Re-sharing content

Re-sharing old content shouldn’t be frowned upon. Re-sharing old content from your website or any content that may be relevant with the current time should be shared again with your Twitter audience.

Your new audience will probably miss out on good content that was posted in the past. So pick up the most educational/informative content and post it again.

Do it a couple of times, or you can just pin those tweets to the top of your profile, giving important content visibility on your page.

#4. Engaging in relevant conversations

Engage-In-Relevant-Conversation-On-Twitter-Tweet-Your-Reply-1

You can search for hashtags and keywords on Twitter in connection to your brand. Hop onto conversations that you might think speak in the tone of your brand. Retweet, share tweets, or just reply to tweets that are discussing your product, by giving information or just having a simple conversation.

Being responsive to complaints, queries, etc, prompts the consumer to make a purchase. Make a Twitter plan that also includes engaging your audience, and engaging an audience that reposts and shares tweets is very important.

A few tools that help with Twitter growth and engagement

  • MeetEdgar – This app helps with posting your content on a schedule and will also write your tweets on a lazy day.
  • TweetDeck – A twitter owned app, helps you see multiple feeds in a side-by-side view. You can follow hashtags, conversations, and even your competitors’ feeds.
  • Bitly – If you want to post your website links on Twitter, make Bitly your best friend. It gives you a shorter version of any link. Not only a link shortening app, but Bitly is also very informative about data analysis for Twitter.

While building social media for a brand, always have a reliable monitoring tool for insights, study the insights and make changes. Blending all the steps with your brand’s goals for Twitter will help it reach a better and larger audience. Be consistent, and patient to see growth, it doesn’t miraculously happen overnight.

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Semil Shah, Chief Marketer at Shrushti Digital Marketing

According to his team, Semil Shah can take any digital marketing profile to the next level. With over 15 years of experience in the SEO world, he is a certified SEO specialist, who mainly focuses on growing businesses. He is the Chief Marketer at Shrushti Digital Marketing. In his free time you will catch him either listening to podcasts or trekking in the jungle clicking some really cool pictures.

Sourced from Jeff Bullas

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Knowing how to do an in-depth SEO competitor analysis is crucial to your search engine optimization strategy.

Sadly, not many do it. And those doing it do it haphazardly.

But knowing your competitors is essential to helping you create a roadmap for SEO activities that will help you have the edge over your competition.

What is an SEO competitor analysis (And why is it important)?

SEO competitor analysis is the practice of looking into your competitor’s SEO strategy, especially those who are doing better than you. Conducting an SEO competitor analysis is important as it will help you discover a lot of insights you can use to boost your own strategy.

You’ll be surprised at how much you can learn by simply looking under the hood of your competitor’s SEO strategy.

Some of the things you can discover are:

  • SEO strategies that are working for your competitors
  • What they’re doing, that you aren’t
  • How difficult it is to rank for important keywords
  • The traffic potential in your niche

However, the most important reason for conducting an SEO competitor analysis is to gain insight into what you can do to create an effective SEO strategy.

Before we dive into the six steps that you should take to analyze your SEO competition properly, you need to gather the right SEO tools to help you mine your competitors’ data. You’ll also need to create a spreadsheet that you’ll use to gather the data you collect.

And because there’s so much work involved, you’re better off hiring a freelance SEO or a full-time one if your organization is large enough.

With that out of the way, let’s get started.

1. Start with keyword research

Keyword research is one of the pillars of SEO.

That’s why when you conduct your competitor analysis, you must start by identifying all your important keywords. More than that, you must understand the intent behind those keywords when your audience uses them in their search queries.

The keywords you want to focus on must be powered by informational, commercial, and transactional intent.

That’s because those are usually the money keywords that result in visitors eventually going down your sales funnel.

But more on that as we discuss competitor keyword analysis.

Knowing which keywords you’re creating content around and trying to rank will play a huge role in later aspects of competitor analysis. So, the most important thing you need right now is a list of your primary keywords. We won’t go into great detail on how you can get them, but if you’re interested, check out this article on how to discover relevant keywords.

2. Identify your real competitors

While it may seem obvious, one of the first steps to conducting a competitor analysis is identifying your real SEO competitors.

Sure, you may think you know who they are, but until you dig deep into the data, you’ll be working on assumptions.

So how do you identify your real SEO competitors?

First of all, be clear on who is not your competitor. Some websites may rank for keywords that are important to you but are not in your same vertical. An example is Wikipedia. They rank for millions of terms but have no intention of monetizing any of them.

Secondly, make a distinction between your primary and secondary competitors. Primary competitors sell the exact products and services you offer and target the same audience as you. Secondary competitors are those interested in ranking for the same keywords as you (thereby creating similar content) but don’t offer the same products or services.

To get a clear picture of who your competitors really are, there are a few strategies and tools you can use. Here are some of them:

Use the SERPs

Google is always your best friend when it comes to anything SEO. Simply type in your main keywords and note which of your primary and secondary competitors rank for those keywords.

Alternatively, you can search for your product and its alternatives. The search results will give you a good picture of who your real SEO competitors are.

Use Competitor Analysis Tools

Another way to discover your real SEO competitors is to use competitor analysis tools. These will help you better understand who your real competitors are and give you the data to back it up. Examples of such tools include Ahrefs Site Explorer and SEMrush’s Competitive Research Toolkit.

To find your competitors, simply enter your domain name into your SEO tool of choice and navigate to the competing domains. You can sort the results using the common keywords tab to get a clearer picture of your closest competitors.

SEO-competitor-analysis-organic-competitors-common-keywords

Once you’ve identified your real SEO competitors, it’s time to move on to the next step of your SEO competitor analysis…

3. Benchmark competitor SEO performance

Once you’ve identified your real SEO competitors, you need to gather data and metrics about their SEO performance. The reason for that is so you can have top-level data to use to benchmark with.

Some data you should use to benchmark includes:

Domain Rating and Domain Authority

Two important metrics that you must consider two critical metrics in your competitor analysis: domain rating (DR) and domain authority (DA).

Domain Rating

DR is a metric developed by Ahrefs to show the strength of a website’s backlink profile. It uses a logarithmic scale that goes from 0 to 100. This metric is vital because backlinks play a major role in the way search engines rank websites.

When conducting your competitor analysis, compare your DR to your competitors’. If it’s lower, you will have to build more backlinks to improve your rankings. Note that you’ll probably have to work harder at building more backlinks for competitive pages.

As you look at DR, Ahrefs will show you the backlink profiles of each of your competitors. Make sure to note the websites that you can include in your link building campaigns.

Domain Authority

Domain authority is a Moz metric developed to predict the likelihood of a website ranking on search engines. The algorithm takes into consideration many factors that search engines use to rank websites and calculates the outcome on a scale of 0 to 100.

Again, you can use your competitors’ DA scores to benchmark your own. If yours is lower, you must design a robust SEO strategy to help you catch up and overtake them.

Both DR and DA are good indicators of your starting point in improving your SEO. We’ll touch on how to improve on them later in the post as we look at other aspects of competitor analysis. For the moment, you just need a list of:

  • Your real SEO competitors
  • Their DR and DA scores
  • Your keywords
  • Potential backlink targets

Armed with this information, you can now proceed to collect more data on your competitors.

Number of Indexed Pages

Another crucial piece of data you’ll need as you conduct an SEO competitor analysis is the number of indexed pages your competitors have. To rank pages, search engines first need to find and index them.

You can use Google to easily check how many indexed pages your competitors have by searching for “site:domain”.

For example, if the Jeff Bullas blog is one of your competitors, here are the results you’ll get:

SEO-competitor-analysis-Google-search

From the above screenshot, your competitor has 3,500 indexed pages. Do this for all your competitors and put the data in a spreadsheet. You can then compare the number of your indexed pages to those your competitors have.

Again, if you have fewer indexed pages than your competitors, you’ll have to create and index more content to catch up. But of course, the aim is not to catch up but to overtake your competitors. This means you’ll have to create more SEO-optimized content than them to give you a better chance of taking the top spot.

Keyword Rankings

Your competitors’ keyword rankings are another aspect of competitor analysis you must consider. You want to consider whether they’re increasing in the number of organic keywords ranking in the top 10 positions.

Again, you can use SEO tools to get this data.

Competitors who have enjoyed consistent growth in this area over the past 6-12 months are the ones you should focus on. This growth is a sign that they’re consistently creating content and working on improving their rankings.

Traffic Trends

The primary function of SEO is to drive organic traffic to your website.

That’s why checking your competitors’ traffic trends is crucial to your SEO competitor analysis. Here’s an example of PandaDoc’s traffic comparison to their competitors:

SEO-competitor-analysis-domain-vs-market-dynamics

As you can see, this electronic signature software company has a lot of work to do to catch up to the prominent players on the market. So what kind of traffic metrics should they focus on as they conduct their SEO competitor analysis?

Monthly Organic Traffic

Identify competitors that are getting the most organic traffic. You can take this to a  more granular level by analyzing their traffic at the domain, subfolder, subdomain, and URL levels. This will help you identify the best traffic opportunities.

Organic Traffic Growth

Still on traffic trends, you also need to analyze your competitors’ organic traffic growth. Note whether your competitors’ traffic is:

  • Growing
  • Declining
  • Plateauing

You’ll want to pay attention to those competitors whose traffic has been consistently growing over the past 12 months.

Traffic Value

Your competitor’s traffic value shows how their SEO strategy helps them scale traffic across commercial intent keywords. While this metric is based on traffic brought in by paid ads, it’s a valuable indicator of the revenue your competitors are getting from their traffic.

Backlink Growth/Referring Domains

Trends in referring domains are crucial to helping you develop a backlinking strategy. Growth in this area shows that your competitors are actively building backlinks to their content.

SEO-competitor-analysis-referring-domains-graph

Again, focus on competitors whose referring domain numbers are growing as it shows their link building strategy is working.

Social Media Performance

Social media plays a significant role in SEO.

For one, social signals are an indicator that content is relevant and helpful. Secondly, social media is a good vehicle for getting your content in front of the right audience. It helps drive the right traffic to your assets. Finally, a social media analysis will help you know which types of content gets the most engagement.

Analyze which social media platforms work best for your competitors and which audiences they target there. This will help you design your social media strategy around tactics that work.

Benchmarking your SEO competitors’ performance is one of the essential parts of your SEO competitor analysis. You must take your time and gather as much data as possible at this stage as it will help you create a roadmap for your SEO success.

4. Analyze your competitors’ technical SEO

Each website has its own unique digital makeup. Understanding how your competitors’ boost their SEO through their website’s technical makeup is another essential component of your SEO competitor analysis. That’s why you must make sure to use the right platform to build your website. You must also invest in good web hosting.

Let’s look at some of the crucial technical aspects you must consider in your analysis.

Site Structure

The way a website is structured is essential to SEO for two main reasons:

  • Determines whether a website is easy to crawl or not
  • Impacts user experience (UX)

A good site structure makes a website easy to crawl. Search engines reward this with better rankings. Things to note here include how subfolders and subdomains are structured.

UX also impacts rankings as search engines reward websites that offer a positive UX. Besides, good UX results in increased dwell time, one of the known ranking factors.

Analyzing your competitors’ website structure and navigation will help you see any structural changes you may need to make on your website to help improve its performance.

Navigation

Your navigation, especially the top-level navigation (TLN), is also an important part of your site structure. As such, it has a bearing on your SEO. A few things to consider when analyzing your competitors’ TLN include:

  • Do they link to their main pages from the TLN?
  • Do they use optimized anchors?
  • Can users get to important pages within the prescribed minimum of 1-3 clicks?

The insights you get from your competitors’ navigation can help you design optimized menus.

Content Silos

Content silos refer to a technical SEO strategy that involves grouping together topically-related pages. This is usually done by creating a strategic internal linking strategy.

SEO-competitor-analysis-home-page-downline-graph

Image Source

Content silos are a great way of making it easy for search engines to crawl your website and understand your main topic. They’re also great for UX and keeping visitors on site. All these are contributing factors to how websites rank.

Analyze how your competitors’ structure their content and use the insights to optimize your site structure.

Site Speed

Site speed has been a major ranking factor for years. And will continue to be one of the elements of every technical SEO strategy. The reasons for this are that fast sites:

  • Are easier to crawl
  • Offer a better UX
  • Have better conversion rates and fewer bounce rates

Analyzing your competitors’ site speeds will help you gain insight into how they optimize for speed. You’ll have an idea of the changes you can make to your site to make it faster.

Mobile-friendliness

It may be a song that has been sung to death, but yes, mobile-friendliness is still an important design and SEO issue.

With Google’s mobile-first indexing policy, no serious business can ignore the need to have a mobile-friendly website.

Again, checking for mobile-friendliness is easy as you can use Google’s free Mobile-Friendly Test to check if your competitors’ websites are mobile-friendly.

SEO-competitor-analysis-mobile-friendliness

But mobile-friendliness is not just for the sake of making search engines happy. Statistics show that mobile accounts for about 56% of all organic traffic in the US. This means even customers expect to have good mobile experiences websites.

With all this data on your competitors’ technical SEO, you’ll have a clear picture of their strengths and weaknesses. Most importantly, you’ll have an idea of opportunities to capitalize on to give yourself an edge.

5. On-page competitor SEO analysis

Another step you must take in your SEO competitor analysis is to check your competitors’ on-page SEO strategy and performance. This will include elements such as:

Competitor Keyword Research

Competitor keyword research is the practice of analyzing your competitors’ keywords. The point is to identify keywords that your competitors’ are ranking for, but you are not. Take particular note of keywords that are valuable and that you can rank for. You should also pay attention to keywords you’re ranking for, yet you’re still lagging behind your competitors.

Besides primary keywords, you must also look into your competitors’ secondary keywords. These are keywords that add more context to your primary keywords and are usually related to search intent. Search intent refers to one of the four reasons a user is using that particular keyword in their search query:

  • Navigational intent. This is when users want to go to a particular website or page. An example of navigational intent is “online course platform Teachable.”
  • Informational intent. When a user wants to know more about a certain product, service, or topic. For example, “online course platforms.”
  • Commercial intent. This is when a user intends to buy a product/service soon but are still researching their purchase. For example, “What is the best SEO Tool?” Here is a live example.
  • Transactional intent. People searching with transactional intent are ready to make a purchase. A good example would be “Thinkific online course platform subscription.”

To create web pages and content that meet your business needs, you must leverage keywords and search intent together. Check how your competitors’ are doing this and get some tips from their keyword strategy.

Top-performing Content

Content plays a crucial role in SEO.

That’s why you must analyze your competitors’ top-performing content. Top-performing content simply means content that drives traffic as well as converts well. When analyzing your competitors top-performing content, look for attributes like:

Content Type

Of your competitors’ top-performing content, check which content types work best. Is it:

  • Long-form vs. short-form articles
  • Listicles
  • Reviews
  • Informational content
  • How-to guides
  • eBooks
  • “Best of” or comparison articles
  • Product pages

Content Format

Apart from content type, you must also investigate the content formats that work best for your competitors. Common content formats include:

  • Written content
  • Video content
  • Audio content
  • Visual content (like infographics)

Content Length

Average content length also plays an important role in rankings. Search engines want to serve users content that’s as comprehensive as possible. When analyzing your competitors’ top-performing content, take note of the average length. To create content that ranks, apply Brian Dean’s skyscraper technique and create longer, in-depth, and higher quality content.

The purpose of this step of your SEO competitor analysis is not just to copy the content your competitors are creating. The objective is to know what kind of content you should be creating — then create better content than your competitors.

Internal Linking

Internal links are part of a successful on-page SEO strategy. Building internal links has three important SEO benefits:

  • Help users navigate a website
  • Define the information architecture and hierarchy of a website
  • Help distributes link equity throughout the site

Despite popular belief, you don’t build internal links randomly. There must be a well-defined strategy if you’re to reap the full SEO benefits of your internal links. That’s why it’s a good idea to analyze your competitors’ websites to see how they create their internal links.

With your on-page competitor analysis done, you can now move on to the next step of your SEO competitor analysis — off-page competitor analysis.

6. Off-page competitor SEO analysis

Off-page SEO refers to all activities away from your site that help improve a website’s search rankings. The most common are link building and other promotion strategies that help drive traffic to your website. However, link building is still one of the most significant off-page activities that websites rely on to boost rankings.

And that’s why you must conduct a thorough competitor backlink analysis as part of your SEO competitor analysis.

Let’s face it. Ranking without backlinks is almost impossible.

And obtaining relevant quality backlinks can be quite a daunting task if you don’t know where to get them.

And that’s where SEO competitor analysis comes to the rescue.

SEO-competitor-analysis-Backlinks

Looking into your competitors’ backlink profile will help you know:

  • Websites that could potentially link your content
  • The type of content and pages that work best as link “magnets”
  • Identify link building strategies that work
  • Gauge how many links you need to build and the timeframe you need to build them in to be competitive

One observation that will help boost your link acquisition is websites that link multiple times to your competitors. It’s a sign that they create content related to your niche and are always on the lookout for resources to link to.

Don’t be intimidated if you find some of your competitors get thousands of links from the same domains or networks. It simply shows they use risky link building tactics like PBNs. Don’t try the same tactics as search engines frown on such tactics.

Looking into your competitors’ backlink profile can’t be done manually, of course. But a good SEO tool can give you all the data you need in a matter of minutes. And once you have the data, you can use it to build your link building strategy.

SEO competitor analysis – Putting it all together

All the data you’ve gathered from your SEO competitor analysis is not the end of the journey. It’s simply a means to an end. Your results and data collected are simply the foundation for the next phase of your task – mapping out your SEO strategy.

Armed with data on your competitors’ strengths, weaknesses, and industry SEO best practices, you can now devise an SEO strategy that’s bound to help you beat your competitors.

But remember, an SEO competitor analysis is never a once-off project. You must conduct them regularly to help you stay ahead of your competition.

By

Hanson Cheng is the founder of Freedom to Ascend. He empowers online entrepreneurs and business owners to 10x their business and become financially independent. You can connect with him here.

Sourced from Jeff Bullas

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The top six Google tools to help grow your website SEO score

Building a website has never been easier than it is today. However, building a successful website is getting harder and harder in a highly crowded space, especially when considering the importance of website SEO (search engine optimization).

While choosing the best web hosting for your website will go a long way to helping you succeed, there are numerous  other tools you should be make use of, and Google’s toolkit is a great place to start.

In this article, we look at six of the best Google tools. If you’re not already taking advantage of them, it might be time to change the way you work.

1. Google Ads

website seo

Google Ads is a powerful marketing tool (Image credit: Google)

Most experienced website owners will agree that Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords) is one of the most powerful marketing tools available. It includes a suite of smaller tools, effectively allowing you to perform keyword research, low-key competition analysis, and PPC (pay-per-click) marketing from one central hub.

Of course, this isn’t free, and it can cost quite a bit if you don’t know what you’re doing. But learn how to run effective ads, and you will soon be driving a decent amount of traffic to your website, no matter your budget.

2. Google Analytics

website seo

Google Analytics is a very powerful website statistics tracker (Image credit: Google)

When you own a website, it’s important to understand how it’s performing at all times. It might be that you’re suffering from a high bounce rate, but don’t know why. Or perhaps you’d like to know what your main traffic sources are. Whatever information you’re looking for, Google Analytics can help.

To get started, you will have to link your website to your analytics console. There are a few ways to do this, but the easiest is to paste a small code snippet into your website source code. Google provides a full tutorial on how to do this.

Once you’re connected, you will be able to access your analytics portal, where you will find information on everything from visitor demographics and source to your most popular content. And as you can imagine, this information is extremely useful for making future business decisions.

website seo

Google Trends is a great way to track keyword search volume over time (Image credit: Google)

One of the hardest things to do as a webmaster is to keep track of your keywords. Keyword research is all well and good, but search volumes are constantly changing, and it can be difficult to identify up-and-coming keywords or phrases with normal research.

This is where Google Trends is useful. Basically, it allows you to view the search volumes for specific keywords or keyphrases over time. You can compare the performance of different search terms while filtering by location, search platform, time period, and more.

4. Google Search Console

website seo

Any webmaster who is serious about developing a strong online presence should take advantage of the Google Search Console (Image credit: Google)

SEO is difficult at the best of times, but it’s almost impossible if you aren’t using the tools at your disposal. All webmasters should be using the Google Search Console in some way or another, largely because it’s a great source of information about the effectiveness of your SEO campaigns.

For starters, it allows you to submit sitemaps and individual URLs directly to Google to ensure your entire website is indexed properly. Keep track of search analytics, and get notified when Google finds any problems with your site and its content.

5. Google AdSense

website seo

Google AdSense provides a great way for small website owners to monetize their sites (Image credit: Google)

If you run a content-based website, there aren’t a lot of ways to monetize your work. You could sell premium content or add a little ecommerce store, but these both require a lot of effort. Alternatively, you could include some form of advertising on your website by signing up for Google AdSense.

Once you’ve signed up, you will need to be approved by Google to become part of the Google Network of publishers. Once approved, you will be able to place small ads on your site. These are usually targeted at your audience according to their interests and past browsing history, and you will be paid whenever ads are published and/or clicked on.

6. Google Alerts

website seo

Google Alerts is basic yet powerful (Image credit: Google)

Google Alerts certainly isn’t the most powerful tool in the search engine’s toolbox, but it’s extremely useful nonetheless. It allows you to set alerts for keywords, phrases, or anything else you want to monitor on the web. When a relevant piece of content is published, you will be notified. A lot of webmasters use this to monitor the exposure their website is getting across the web. Simply create an alert for your brand or website name, and wait for the results to start rolling in.

Summary

Google is the most popular search engine in the world, and it comes complete with a suite of tools to help webmasters improve their website’s performance and search engine ranking. The above six are some of the best Google tools available, and now you know what they’re useful for and why you should be taking advantage of them.

Feature Image credit: Edho Pratama (Unsplash)

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Sourced from tom’s guide

By Spencer Haws

Today, I’m excited to share with you an interview I did with Steve Wiideman from Wiideman.com.

Steve has been in the SEO industry since 1999…a dinosaur in internet years!  His first job out of college was doing SEO and search engine marketing.

So, Steve brings all of his SEO knowledge and experience to the podcast today.

In particular, we discuss how his SEO consulting group is working with clients doing local SEO, eCommerce SEO, and much more.

During the interview we discuss specifically how the Wiideman group helped Bob’s Watches:

  • eCommerce SEO
  • Bobs Watches has grown to over $40 million a year in revenue
  • and much more

We also discussed his view on affiliate sites and how it relates SEO.

  • Are affiliate sites really providing value or are they just doorway pages?
  • What sort of link building and keyword research should be done?
  • Ranking affiliate sites in Google

Steve is also a professor at Fullerton college and UCSD where he teaches SEO and online marketing.

He’s put together lots of video materials that he is giving away for free.

If you want to get free access to Steve Wiideman’s SEO videos you can go to AcademyOfSearch.com.  Use coupon code SEOSteve to get free access.

Get Academy of Search for Free

Free Access with Coupon code “SEOSteve”

If you’d like to follow along with Steve, be sure to head over to:

Watch Entire Interview with Steve Wiideman

 

 

Read Transcript

Hey Steve, welcome to the niche pursuits podcast.

Steve Wiideman: What’s up, Spencer, how are you doing? I’m doing really good.

Spencer Haws: It is great to connect and connect with an SEO veteran. You’ve been in the industry

Steve Wiideman: for a long time.

Spencer Haws: I do what I can and to know, but some of our listeners, maybe aren’t aware who you are. Right. So why don’t you give us just a quick background, who you are, what you’ve been involved with professionally.

Steve Wiideman: Of course. Yeah. So I started in digital, around the late nineties. I was freelancing doing some web design work for friends and family members. And. Really discovered a passion for it. One of my jobs, my I, my day job at IBM global services was to migrate data from what was going to printers and mail rooms to be online.

And I had this epiphany. I’m like, you know what? I’ll bet every business is going to have a website at some point, you know, and we’re talking late nineties, there were some sites didn’t even exist yet. Google didn’t even exist yet. And so, you know, I had that epiphany, I went back to school. I got a degree in e-business management.

You got to learn everything from database networking, graphic design, and pulling it all together through project management. And my first job out the Gates, my first professional job out the gate was as a search engine optimizer for a local. it’s more at the time it was more of a national, but I had a, brick and mortar location for monitors and that sort of thing.

And what year was your first job? Oh, geez. That was professionally. It was probably 2004, 2005. Okay. So before that I was just freelancing and going to school and, yeah, so 2000. Late 2005, I get a phone call saying, Hey, this this little company ran by a mouse, wants to hire you to manage paid advertising with this Google ad words and, and MSN ad center thing.

You know, could you, could you see if that’s something that’s a good fit for you? And I’m like work for Disney? That’d be amazing. So, I ended up actually being the STM account manager for disneyland.com, marketing and commerce marketing, you know, new Nemo ride grad night, commerce tickets, packages, reservations, and a new brand that they created called to adventures by Disney.

And that was an all flash website that couldn’t even be crawled or, you know, with no pages to index, there’s just a Swift file. So, you know, my, my role there, was mainly paid and I convinced my manager to give me a shot at this SEO thing. he, wasn’t very impressed that I ranked number one for.

Orange County SEO expert. And he said, tell you what show me that you can rank for SEO expert and we’ll talk. And so three months later after creating my SEO expert page and doing some promotion for it, adding video, getting some links to it. I’m on the first page. I’m like, like, Hey Terry, check it out.

I’m on the first page of Google for SEO expert. Let me do some SEO on these websites. And, and it comes back and goes, well, you’re not number one, few months later, I got the number one spot. I held it for 12 years, until I realized that my peer group and you know, that the community thought that it was bragging.

And I got blacklisted from a lot of speaking opportunities. the moment I dropped that some three years ago now. now I, I get the most amazing adventures with some of these peers that, that, before I thought I was just this guy that bragged about being number one for SEO expert. And now I get to go camping with these amazing friends and it was so worth it.

So that’s interesting.

Spencer Haws: So you think people didn’t like you because you ranked number one for SEO

Steve Wiideman: expert. And in fact, I, I saw lots of hate and blog posts and things back in the day that. It’s like, you don’t even know me. I, a few times I actually found the contact information of the people who wrote things about me and I’m like, Hey, let’s, let’s talk for a few minutes.

So you get to know who I am, you know? And then afterwards they post this guy actually had the audacity to call me. And, but it turns out he is actually a pretty cool guy, you know?

Spencer Haws: So I think that would be a good thing if you’re ranking for SEO expert.

Steve Wiideman: Well, I would just

Spencer Haws: ignore the haters.

They

Steve Wiideman: didn’t know what they were talking about anyways.

Yeah. Well, those, those haters now are my best friends and they’re so supportive of me. And when I get stuck on a really difficult technical or, or contextual SEO issue there they’re right there for me. So. we have some pretty exciting, amazing, you know, brands we get to work with now, a few restaurant chains, and I didn’t have that peer group around me, folks that were.

Just as experienced or veteran is as you call an earlier, you know, I don’t know that I’d be as successful. So I think it was worth it to, to move on from that what we’re going to hold list of new keywords. We’re going to try to tackle, but, I don’t think SEO expert is going to be one of them. Okay.

Spencer Haws: Well, so how did you actually end up making your first dollar online?

So you’re ranking for SEO expert. Was that kind of the first way you were getting clients or. Just curious. Yeah. How did you make your first

Steve Wiideman: dollar online? I think I started some of our own websites around 99 in 1999. I started to create some web directories. I had some web directories for, DJs and limousine drivers.

And at first it was just to help my, my friends and, and, you know, freelance clients that had those businesses. And then it evolved to something where I had people subscribing to my online directories. They pay an annual fee or monthly fee and. that was probably where I made the first dog was really just kind of creating my own line online directories.

All right.

Spencer Haws: that’s very cool. so what are all the businesses that you’re involved with now to kind of catch people up? You know, you’ve kind of given some of the history now, but, but what are you involved with now? is it just the one business? Wait a minute.com or. Is there

a

Steve Wiideman: portfolio there? I think, I think all of us, as we get started, you know, we, we get to a place after a couple of years, we own 500 domain names and we want to do something with all of them.

And we’ve got all these great ideas of what we want to do. that list has gone down, you know, it’s probably less than 70 domains that I own now, of which I probably use 10, some of which, are projects that I worked on with, students at some of the colleges I was doing guest speaking for and some mentoring for.

but the only two sort of companies or anything that I’m doing at the moment, one is just running our small group here at Wayman consulting. You know, we’ve got nine employees now and. we support everything from, you know, your local HVAC company to, you know, one of the largest restaurant, casual dining chains in the country.

and the other, the other sort of role I’m taking right now is an adjunct professor at Cal state Fullerton, UC San Diego. I’m not teaching six classes at Portland community college. So when everyone else gets off the clock and they go home and eat dinner and. You know, and watch the very entertaining news right now.

no I’m being sarcastic. I’m not, I’m, I’m putting courses together and helping students and helping the next generation of SEO so that, you know, in five, 10 years from now, You know, the, the, hopefully there’ll be more transparency, more ethics and more strategy and less, tactic, less, black hat and, you know, things that, that manipulate search results.

Instead, we’re building good foundations on how we, you know, how we handle digital marketing. So collectively I think I have. just over about 160 students. So, you know, it’s, it’s, because it’s an online course for digital certificate programs. Some of them are only one unit long. it’s not that challenging, but there are days where I’m like, I’m not going to get home tonight.

It doesn’t do things I’m doing, I’m running that demand at the moment. And, and with, wait a minute, we’ve got, you know, our, our training programs and our digital programs. And then I have the teaching side and the teaching side actually helps build a weight of insight. As we reinvent our website over the next month or two, it’s gonna be very educational and it’s going to leverage a lot of the content that I’ve created for the students.

Spencer Haws: Yeah. You know, I think it’s very cool that you’re teaching in college and the fact that there actually is a degree or courses for SEO and search engine marketing, that didn’t didn’t exist when I was going to college. I was actually surprised to hear that there was an E business, Degree when you graduated.

I didn’t know that existed back in there, but

Steve Wiideman: I got that postcard. I’m like really? Wow. I’m not going to say no to that. And then I saw a full sale, had a, an actual master’s degree program, like, Hmm. Should I go back to school and get a master’s degree? And, an e-business and I just never did. So did you graduate in, like, what

Spencer Haws: was it?

2003,

Steve Wiideman: 2004, 2004? Yeah. Okay. All right. So,

Spencer Haws: I hate to admit it, but I might be older than you. I graduated in 2002 and they didn’t have any online business courses that I was aware of. At least

Steve Wiideman: this was through Westwood college of technology and that’s awesome. It was a tech school, but. I also had a bit of a break between high school and college.

I had, you know, three years where I served in the us army in Fort hood. and then, you know, came back and did the work grind for a few years before I went back to school. So. Gotcha.

Spencer Haws: Very cool. So we did a brief call, before hitting record here and we kind of talked a little bit about what I’m involved with.

I mentioned that a lot of my listeners are building affiliate sites. I built a lot of affiliate sites and sort of in that discussion, you mentioned. Sorta that you don’t do your, your group doesn’t do a lot of consulting. I essentially asked you have any clients that are doing sort of affiliate marketing, you said no, not, not really.

and you sort of mentioned that, oftentimes, you know, affiliate sites are building a lot of doorway pages and, it’s just Google. Doesn’t really like that very much. It’s I’m

Steve Wiideman: paraphrasing. Yeah. A lot of, a lot of our effort is around lower funnel content. How do we drive customers? To our clients, you know, that the brick and mortars and the small stores and restaurants and some online, you know, e-commerce websites that we support where there’s an actual sale or a product.

So we can actually calculate ROI. One of the. One of the things that we really enjoy is geeking out on analytics and being able to say, Hey, you invested X, thousands of dollars in SEO this month and generated X dollars of revenue. It’s really to do that. Or you’re really easy to do that when you have an e-commerce website or a hybrid, if you’re a brick and mortar and you can place an online order, especially now during the pandemic, but can’t you do that with an affiliate site to some degree?

Yeah. I mean, you could do it where you’re, you’re calculating and importing data back. If you’re doing some. online ads to promote your, your page from an organic perspective, I suppose. Depending on how you’re doing it. If you’re doing it through a third-party network tying in which, which keywords generating traffic and that sort of thing can be a little more tricky with affiliate when there’s not a sale on the site itself, unless you’re drop shipping.

Of course job, ship’s different. Cause they’re still ordering on your website. I see.

Spencer Haws: When you, when do you want to get that granular data, right? You want to see that you ranked number one for this

Steve Wiideman: particular keyword. You want to see

Spencer Haws: how much this particular product sold from that page. cause, cause certainly we’re doing a lot as affiliate site owners, we’re doing a ton of analytics, you know, cause, that is the primary driver of traffic for affiliate sites is SEO.

Steve Wiideman: Right? Right. So if you were to perform a query right now for a product, with an intent to purchase, most of the results are going to be your, your Amazons and your, you know, your online stores. if you were to do a longer sweat, so query how, where compare versus ideas, strategies, tips, lists, right?

Those are the, the, the obvious opportunity for affiliate sites to create really rich long form content. Right. You’ll make recommendations within that content to, you know, to drive affiliate. We do have two affiliate clients that, that are in the medical industry and they’re selling like essential oils and those sorts of things.

And, and they’re doing really well because they create amazing content. They’ve got these great videos and like, hi, I’m Dr. So-and-so. And this is my wife, Dr. So-and-so and say, we’re going to be talking about backs, the unboxing, the YouTube videos that you know, that people are looking to decide whether they want to buy a product that.

You know, the, the product review keywords that you’re going after. I think there’s a huge opportunity there for affiliate marketing. but our, our forte has always been focused around, you know, direct sales and, you know, we really don’t have a lot of affiliate clients, but that’s not to say I don’t believe in it.

I think, I think affiliate’s amazing. And I think any, any entrepreneur, who’s not doing something to, to drive affiliate revenue. I mean our whole, our whole new website that we’re launching has a section for partners and folks that we recommend where the goal is to of course have affiliate relationship there.

So you’d be, you’d be silly not to diversify your, your online income streams by not doing a little bit of affiliate marketing. Right, right.

Spencer Haws: Yeah. No, and that’s, that’s good to hear just. To clarify for listeners, because most of them, that’s what they’re doing. You know, sort of those opportunities that you laid out said, Hey, there’s great opportunities for the comparison, the reviews, the lists, the all that, that, that’s exactly what I teach, and have been teaching for 10 years, right?

Is, is building these sort of niche affiliate sites. You write really in-depth content. You rank number one for Google for best XYZ product or. X versus Y product or whatever. and a lot of people built, you know, that’s their livelihood, you know, people do this full-time and they’re making really good money doing

Steve Wiideman: it at the equipment in my room was supposed to because of recommendations that I found likely.

Yeah. Ended up on BNH or somewhere else.

Spencer Haws: So just to clarify, you think Google is happy and, and they’re okay. Ranking this type of content affiliates that are building this in depth type of content that we just mentioned. Shouldn’t have to worry.

Steve Wiideman: No, not at all. I think, I think where they would have to worry is if, if they were trying to compete against a very behavioral targeted query, like by purchase order right out the gate, if you’re doing, you know, buy.

IPad case, you know, and, and I, I definitely encourage anyone who’s listening and watching to that, to do some of these queries where they’re using words like buy purchase order, reserve book, those, those types of call to actions, you know, really are conducive to somebody who’s in the, I need to buy now.

They’re not really interested right away to read an article. Their intent is I know what I want. I’m going to buy it. But if they’re in sort of mid funnel or upper funnel, it’s great. The greatest catalyst I can imagine. It’s more, you know, driving income through affiliate. back my, one of my first eBooks that I wrote in the two thousands was called SEO in a day.

And I went after, is it Monety or the little how’d you call it? It’s a saw you drink, right? Oh, I saw that they weren’t doing any, any sort of digital marketing for themselves and I’m like, all right, I’m going to pick, I want to pick one of these MLMs and just create a, a affiliate site and show that you can do optimization and get.

traffic and revenue in a day or less. And so we went through with this whole WordPress walk through our board, a little video on how to do it and create a content was up to like, you know, 10 o’clock at night creating content. The first thing that I optimized for was the thing that I had the most trouble with.

I couldn’t sign up. To become an affiliate without talking to an affiliate. I’m a tech introverted, you know, guy. I don’t at the time, I didn’t want to talk to anybody. So I did this search for Mondavi distributor ID, and I just wanted to set enters through your ID to sign up. I’m like, crap, I don’t have one.

They don’t want to talk to anybody. Five by pages into Google. I find a distributor ID and someone’s thread on some other website. And so I grabbed that and the very first page I create is Mondavi distributor. I need five, six, whatever, you know. Right, right. In the title of the page. And, you know, with, within a couple of weeks, I started getting calls from mom and be like, what are you doing?

You’re getting more downlines and more orders than like any of our affiliates who you working with, this, this person isn’t even responding to our emails. And I’m like, I don’t even know who the distributor ID was. I grabbed, I, I just, you know, I knew what I wanted. I was trying to find it and I optimized for it.

And so, yeah, four months later I’m getting checks from people who are buying this product and. so it was called STO in a day and it’s totally outdated now because it was pre Google penalties, like, you know, their penguin link penalty and they’re Panda content penalties. So a lot of the suggestions in there and the methods that I used to get links to the site quickly, you know, were obsolete.

But, but yeah, I love and passionate about it. Affiliate is I’m sure. All of us are awesome. Not

Spencer Haws: very cool. So, now you’re focusing more on, at least through Wiedemann group consulting. You’re more focused on local companies. e-commerce companies, those, those that, you know, they’re, they’re making purchases either on their side of they’re trying to drive foot traffic into their business potentially.

Steve Wiideman: Right, right. And part of it’s because you know, it, it gives us more of a challenge. You know, when, when we get a large corporate client who comes in and says, we’re on this really wonky CMS system, and we’re getting beat by all these competitors, what do we do? It gives us the opportunity to really challenge ourselves.

you know, the best could that competition and really big industries and, and, and explore and pioneer new areas of search. So, you know, for one of our restaurant chains, for example, we did a study recently of some 300 local pages. You know, if you have a brick and mortar company and you’ve got multiple locations, you’re going to have multiple pages or those locations.

And so we got to study all of those different pages and their attributes. What’s the difference between one that’s ranking higher and one that’s not, you know, and, and in doing that, you know, we’re, we’re creating and we’re building data and best practices and sort of the anatomy of a local landing page.

And, and that’s exciting because now, now you’re a pioneer now you’re. You’re someone who’s, who’s looked on as the guys who, who love to research and discover things and people will pay for the information. That’s the best part is we, as we do, you know, push a lot more of our educational stuff and the road, you know, the, the, the sales part of that and how we really generate revenue is when they purchase, you know, some of the research that we built.

Spencer Haws: So I wanted to ask a little bit about that. Just kind of how, your consulting group is set up. I understand that you’re not an agent agency, but you are a consulting group. So can you clarify that? And, and why is

Steve Wiideman: that? Sure. You know, I, I didn’t have a good experience in agency when I left the corporate world, 2008 or so I did two years in the agency and I was miserable.

I didn’t like it. How, how agencies treated clients in general. I didn’t like that. Yeah, the way that they they’ve really tried to have their secret sauce of what they do. And instead of being transparent, you know, when I, when I went off on my own and, you know, decided to be a freelance consultants, you know, late 2009, it was built around transparency.

Hey client, here’s all the things we’re going to do together. I’m gonna load it up into our project management system and we’re going to work together to get it done. And they’re like, wait, you’re giving me everything you do. Are you afraid? I’m just going to do it all myself. I mean, you’re looking at all this, so you really, you really want to do it all yourself.

Like no. So, and those clients that are DIY, they’re going to figure it out one way or the other. Anyway, those people who know and trust your expertise would feel better knowing that you’re their wing man. So we’re, we’re, we’re using a model that, that allows us to, to really help. Businesses to bring in their own SEO team, their own content writer, their own technical, you know, resources managing the tech side of SEO and their, their own outreach and link building digital PR teams.

And now all the things that they’re doing have the brand voice on them. And they’re, and they’re saving so much money. Once these resources get trained up and, and are able to do all the same things, agencies do. They get to save so much money in what would have gone to overhead and leadership and, you know, and, and, other costs.

By Spencer Haws

Sourced from NICHEPURSUITS

By Gideon Kimbrell

The ABCs of SEO have changed a bit over the years. Usability and mobile experience have become more important elements in the past five years by an order of magnitude. Beforehand, they weren’t really part of the ranking algorithm much at or other . However, as a builder of , I find too many clients and counterparts in the SEO and Web development space treating these metrics as if they are the only ones that matter.

More than anything, content absolutely remains king — and always will. Google has stated that even if a website has a horrid design and janky user experience, it can still rank first if it has vastly superior content.

In my experience, a good SEO strategy involves 30 to 40 percent creation of high-quality, , including well-researched, in-depth articles; 30 to 40 percent link-building in a manner that’s as organic as possible; and the remaining 20 to 30 percent is UX, Core Web Vitals (such as CLS), bounce rate and session duration (for sites that use Google Analytics), and all these other remaining trends.

Just because these other trends represent only 20 to 30 percent of the ranking factor does not mean you should ignore them. When you are competing for highly competitive search terms, these may make the difference that can push you onto page one. This is especially true if your competitors already match your quality with content and links and if you’ve maxed out your edge on those leading factors.

Remember, when it comes to SEO, you don’t have to be number one. You just have to be in front of everyone else.

The men in black

Many small businesses still trust or default to more “black hat” SEO tactics for two primary reasons: speed and cost. Black-hat SEO techniques can be appealing to small and mid-size businesses because they can provide quicker boosts than playing by the rules does. But as rapidly as the boost came, it will go away.

Back in 2004, when was only a year old, I was one of the first to figure out comment spam. I created a bot that scoured the website for blogs and left comments on them, linking back to the company I worked for. Within three days, we were number one on Google for every search term we wanted to rank for. Of course, this didn’t last long, and Google caught on. I don’t employ black-hat techniques like this anymore, but the process taught me a lot about page rank, authority and hub sites.

Six steps for proper SEO

Proper SEO can seem expensive at first, but it typically yields a much lower cost per acquisition than pay-per-click, print, TV, etc. A host of viable SEO strategies are available to employ in 2021. Here are six steps for proper SEO that are both highly effective and are personal favourites of mine.

1. Perform competitive analysis

Remember with SEO that your placement is relative; there is no absolute placement in the search engine results pages. You simply must analyse what your competitors are doing: Where are they getting links? What kinds of sites? How long have they had those links? You need to do as well or better.

What about their content: How deep is their research on various subjects, and how large is their semantic net? Your site’s vocabulary on these subjects needs to be slightly broader. This applies to all SEO metrics. In , we have a saying: You don’t have to outrun a grizzly bear; you just have to outrun your friend.

2. Start small 

Go for the less competitive key phrases, then work your way up. Many tools, including SEMrush and Wordtracker, can help with long-tail keyword research (and normal keyword research). It may seem counterintuitive, but with SEO, it’s better to lock-in placement and traffic for less competitive search terms (usually the longer multiword phrases, also known as “long tail”) before trying for the more competitive ones. The idea is to get users onto your site in the short term and get the ball rolling.

3. Make use of structured data 

When you search for cookie recipes in Google and see a carousel of recipes appear before the actual search results, those rich snippets are from websites that provide Google a special markup, in the Schema.org format, called structured data. This is how Google knows it’s a recipe and not just a blurb about cooking.

Ten years ago, Google was just a list of Web results without these carousels and accordion elements. Now, most of the first page of a search query on Google are snippets, carousels and accordions (expandable elements) provided using structured data. It’s important to describe everything on your website — products, videos, reviews, etc. — using JavaScript Object Notation, or JSON. This is how you can get more visibility when Google knows the searcher’s intent. Just make sure to not abuse this, like by using structured data to tell Google that your products, say, have five-star reviews when they actually don’t just to have five stars appear on Google next to your website.

4. Get creative 

If you have developers, try creating widgets or badges that link back to your site and that customers, vendors or affiliates can put on their websites. This is an excellent, legitimate link-building technique that can result in exponential growth in the right situations. TripAdvisor is one of many such companies that offer badges to users for interacting with its site and submitting reviews, thereby boosting SEO efforts.

5. Start blogging

Unleash your inner writer and create your own blog with well-researched, in-depth blog posts — 2,000-plus words. Having blog content on your site is especially handy if you run an e-commerce website. When you are trying to get other sites to link to you, it’s easier to get them to link to a blog post than an e-commerce store; it appears less “spammy” to them and their users. And please, do not use content spinning — using software to tweak your article just enough to trick Google into thinking it’s a separate article — or similar hacks to generate content. These tricks are not good for real users and, therefore, not good for SEO in the long run.

6. Consider guest posting 

Another valid way to gain new visitors is guest posting on other blogs. Then you can publish content that links back to your website or blog. Just make sure the content you write is rich, original and authentic and that the site where you post is reputable. Keep in mind that you are creating the content, which should do the following:

  • Provide information that real humans would find useful. (Would complete strangers link to it from their sites because they found it informative?)
  • Be original. (Can it all be found on another single web page?)
  • Be authentic. (Are you giving both the pros and cons and being as neutral as possible on the subject matter?)

Just remember that none of this matters if you don’t track all your key SEO metrics over time and in relation to your competitors. Tracking is key.

By employing the white-hat techniques above, my clients have enjoyed years of steady SEO growth without suffering the major drops in the search results that many complain of when Google makes a major update — and they’ve never suffered a manual penalty either. Writing expert-level, researched, in-depth articles has yielded considerable returns, with top websites linking back to the material. The formula may change a bit, but the path to successful SEO is still paved in solid content.

Feature Image credit: Westend61 | Getty Images

By Gideon Kimbrell

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor, Co-Founder and CEO, InList.com

Sourced from Entrepreneur Europe

Sourced from Entrepreneur Europe

Black-hat tactics won’t further your SEO goals. These six steps promote sustained success the proper way.

The ABCs of SEO have changed a bit over the years. Usability and mobile experience have become more important elements in the past five years by an order of magnitude. Beforehand, they weren’t really part of the ranking algorithm much at or other . However, as a builder of websites, I find too many clients and counterparts in the SEO and Web development space treating these metrics as if they are the only ones that matter.

More than anything, content absolutely remains king — and always will. Google has stated that even if a website has a horrid design and janky user experience, it can still rank first if it has vastly superior content.

In my experience, a good SEO strategy involves 30 to 40 percent creation of high-quality, , including well-researched, in-depth articles; 30 to 40 percent link-building in a manner that’s as organic as possible; and the remaining 20 to 30 percent is UX, Core Web Vitals (such as CLS), bounce rate and session duration (for sites that use Google Analytics), and all these other remaining trends.

Just because these other trends represent only 20 to 30 percent of the ranking factor does not mean you should ignore them. When you are competing for highly competitive search terms, these may make the difference that can push you onto page one. This is especially true if your competitors already match your quality with content and links and if you’ve maxed out your edge on those leading factors.

Remember, when it comes to SEO, you don’t have to be number one. You just have to be in front of everyone else.

The men in black

Many small businesses still trust or default to more “black hat” SEO tactics for two primary reasons: speed and cost. Black-hat SEO techniques can be appealing to small and mid-size businesses because they can provide quicker boosts than playing by the rules does. But as rapidly as the boost came, it will go away.

Back in 2004, when was only a year old, I was one of the first to figure out comment spam. I created a bot that scoured the website for blogs and left comments on them, linking back to the company I worked for. Within three days, we were number one on Google for every search term we wanted to rank for. Of course, this didn’t last long, and Google caught on. I don’t employ black-hat techniques like this anymore, but the process taught me a lot about page rank, authority and hub sites.

Six steps for proper SEO

Proper SEO can seem expensive at first, but it typically yields a much lower cost per acquisition than pay-per-click, print, TV, etc. A host of viable SEO strategies are available to employ in 2021. Here are six steps for proper SEO that are both highly effective and are personal favourites of mine.

1. Perform competitive analysis

Remember with SEO that your placement is relative; there is no absolute placement in the search engine results pages. You simply must analyse what your competitors are doing: Where are they getting links? What kinds of sites? How long have they had those links? You need to do as well or better.

What about their content: How deep is their research on various subjects, and how large is their semantic net? Your site’s vocabulary on these subjects needs to be slightly broader. This applies to all SEO metrics. In , we have a saying: You don’t have to outrun a grizzly bear; you just have to outrun your friend.

2. Start small 

Go for the less competitive key phrases, then work your way up. Many tools, including SEMrush and Wordtracker, can help with long-tail keyword research (and normal keyword research). It may seem counterintuitive, but with SEO, it’s better to lock-in placement and traffic for less competitive search terms (usually the longer multiword phrases, also known as “long tail”) before trying for the more competitive ones. The idea is to get users onto your site in the short term and get the ball rolling.

3. Make use of structured data 

When you search for cookie recipes in Google and see a carousel of recipes appear before the actual search results, those rich snippets are from websites that provide Google a special markup, in the Schema.org format, called structured data. This is how Google knows it’s a recipe and not just a blurb about cooking.

Ten years ago, Google was just a list of Web results without these carousels and accordion elements. Now, most of the first page of a search query on Google are snippets, carousels and accordions (expandable elements) provided using structured data. It’s important to describe everything on your website — products, videos, reviews, etc. — using JavaScript Object Notation, or JSON. This is how you can get more visibility when Google knows the searcher’s intent. Just make sure to not abuse this, like by using structured data to tell Google that your products, say, have five-star reviews when they actually don’t just to have five stars appear on Google next to your website.

4. Get creative 

If you have developers, try creating widgets or badges that link back to your site and that customers, vendors or affiliates can put on their websites. This is an excellent, legitimate link-building technique that can result in exponential growth in the right situations. TripAdvisor is one of many such companies that offer badges to users for interacting with its site and submitting reviews, thereby boosting SEO efforts.

5. Start blogging

Unleash your inner writer and create your own blog with well-researched, in-depth blog posts — 2,000-plus words. Having blog content on your site is especially handy if you run an e-commerce website. When you are trying to get other sites to link to you, it’s easier to get them to link to a blog post than an e-commerce store; it appears less “spammy” to them and their users. And please, do not use content spinning — using to tweak your article just enough to trick Google into thinking it’s a separate article — or similar hacks to generate content. These tricks are not good for real users and, therefore, not good for SEO in the long run.

6. Consider guest posting 

Another valid way to gain new visitors is guest posting on other blogs. Then you can publish content that links back to your website or blog. Just make sure the content you write is rich, original and authentic and that the site where you post is reputable. Keep in mind that you are creating the content, which should do the following:

  • Provide information that real humans would find useful. (Would complete strangers link to it from their sites because they found it informative?)
  • Be original. (Can it all be found on another single web page?)
  • Be authentic. (Are you giving both the pros and cons and being as neutral as possible on the subject matter?)

Just remember that none of this matters if you don’t track all your key SEO metrics over time and in relation to your competitors. Tracking is key.

By employing the white-hat techniques above, my clients have enjoyed years of steady SEO growth without suffering the major drops in the search results that many complain of when Google makes a major update — and they’ve never suffered a manual penalty either. Writing expert-level, researched, in-depth articles has yielded considerable returns, with top websites linking back to the material. The formula may change a bit, but the path to successful SEO is still paved in solid content.

Feature Image Credit: Westend61 | Getty Images 

Sourced from Entrepreneur Europe