“The time spent building a solid foundation will pay for itself ten-fold.”
– Darren Varndell, SEO and Internet Marketing Author
SEO can be an overwhelming endeavor to those that have not made it their life’s work. The rules of the game are constantly changing and that leaves people scrambling to learn the ‘new’ best practices. Even with the most effective SEO tools in hand, ranking can still seem like a ridiculously difficult process.
If you fall into the category of people who just can’t wrap their heads around the practice, worry not. A relatively simple, effective, and smart strategy is about to land in your lap.
Before you can leverage this approach, however, you have to lay a bit of groundwork on your own. The foundation of any SEO campaign is built upon established brand goals, selling propositions, target audiences and the social channels to be leveraged.
Once you have defined all of these factors, you can then begin enacting a smart SEO strategy that won’t drive you bonkers in the process. If your preparations are complete, dive in and get to work on these five focus points for effective SEO.
1. Usability Above All Else
Your website is your digital home. This is where you likely aim to drive all consumers. It is for this reason that user experience is massively important to SEO efforts. Google wants to provide the best UX possible, so it expects the same from the sites it ranks.
Let’s make something clear: User experience does not mean that you have a pretty website. It means that you have a functionally sound website. While aesthetics are important, they are not nearly as crucial as performance. By keeping the presentation clean, uncluttered and focused on driving visitors to the next step in their journey, you will keep guests engaged for longer periods of time, which in itself boosts SEO.
When structuring your site, ensure that as many elements as possible aim to further the primary goals of your company.
Of course, there are necessary steps outside of functionality that you will need to take to improve your site’s SEO, such as image optimization, acquisition of inbound links, and keyword research. Which leads us to the next point.
2. Different Types of Keywords
Keyword research is at the bedrock of SEO. You must target the correct keywords to reach relevant audiences. While certain types of keywords, such as long-tailed, have recently risen to power, you should take your understanding to much deeper levels.
Market-defining keywords are phrases that search users will leverage to describe a business. These are going to be extremely broad and naturally difficult to rank for. Despite that, they still play an integral part of a keyword strategy. These terms should be leveraged throughout your website copy and content.
Related vertical keywords aim to target phrases that are closely related to your niche. These keywords are typically owned by brands that are not your direct competition; you may even seek to forge partnerships with these businesses. Many times, using these keywords can lead to link exchanges with a reputable and relevant brand.
Product keywords take a deeper dive into a niche. These terms characterize the offerings that your company handles. In order to leverage these in the most effective manner, they need to be extremely specific. If your brand sells shoes, the keywords you would want to use are brand names like Nike, Adidas, New Balance, etc.
Geo Targeting keywords are an absolute must for local SEO. These terms are all about location and help Google and other search engines to identify the whereabouts of a business, which can then be returned to search users. Geo targeting keywords are incredibly important when you consider that “50 percent of consumers who conducted a local search on their Smartphone visited a store within a day,” as stated by Google.
While the tactic will take time to produce results, a great way to obtain deeply intimate keyword information is by implementing a voice search feature on your website.
3. Hello HTTPS
Google places massive importance on the security of its users.
HTTPS URLs provide a much more secure experience for website visitors when compared to HTTP. In fact, the ‘S’ in HTTPS stands for security.
Google has gone so far as to make HTTPS a ranking signal in its algorithms. Backlinko, an SEO training service, conducted a study of more than one million Google search results and uncovered, “…a reasonably strong correlation with first page Google rankings,” and HTTPS.
Benefits aside, your site should adopt HTTPS purely so that it doesn’t get publically accosted by Gary IIIyes.
4. Support Schema.org
Schema is a specific type of structured data that helps Google and other search engines return more informative results to their users. Adding Schema markup to your site will help to improve the rich snippets used for your site in the SERPs as well as tell search engines where reviews are placed on your site, where videos are located, what niche your company caters to, and much more.
While Schema markup is not currently a ranking signal, Google has eluded to the fact that it may become one in the near future. In a recent Google Hangout, John Mueller, a Webmaster trends analyst for Google, stated, “…over time, I think it [structured markup] is something that might go into the rankings as well.”
5. Create Content
You are probably tired of hearing about content marketing at this point, but it is still worth reiterating.
Content plays a massive role in SEO and should be created regularly and centered on the keywords you aim to rank for. This is not to say that content should focus on the keyword instead of the end user. Developing useful content that readers will enjoy consuming is the name of the game.
Content not only contributes to a SEO strategy, but is capable of ranking all on its own, making it doubly effective. Additionally, regularly posting content calls back Google bots to crawl your site and shows them that you are active; another contributing factor to enhanced SEO.
SEO can be tough at times, but tactics like these are not at all complicated and provide massive benefits. If your site is going to survive online, SEO is a necessary marketing practice to heightening the awareness around your brand.
What other smart SEO strategies help to boost rankings? Which area of SEO do you have most trouble with?
Conscious online marketer, web executive, and multi-faceted writer Tina Courtney has been creating and fostering online innovations since 1996. Tina has assisted many clients in maximizing online production and marketing efforts, and is a staff writer for SiteProNews, one of the Web’s foremost webmaster and tech news blogs. She’s produced and marketed innovative content for major players like Disney and JDate, as well as boutique startups galore, with fortes including social media, SEO, influencer marketing, community management, lead generation, and project management. Tina is also a certified Reiki practitioner, herbalist, and accomplished life coach. Learn more on LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+.