Search engine optimization (SEO) is all about trying to get your website to the top of the search results for specific keyword queries in search engines. According to Advanced Web Ranking, the top five results in a google search will receive 67% of the clicks, so good SEO can lead to a lot of clicks and therefore a lot of business. There are many different strategies to achieve high rankings and marketers often divide them into two different categories: white hat and black hat.
White Hat vs. Black Hat
These two diametrically opposite paths are the light and dark sides of the SEO force. White hat SEO is geared toward achieving sustainable results by following recommended search engine guidelines and practices while black hat SEO is all about trying to scam or trick a search engine into giving a website a higher ranking than it deserves. Black hat SEO tends to be extremely short-sighted and nearly impossible to sustain over the long run.
I am not a developer (thankfully, we have wonderful developers here much better suited for that line of work than I am), so the SEO techniques I’ll describe here will not include development approaches but will instead focus on making the most out of the content you create.
Content Is King
If you are brand new to SEO and online marketing, you might not be familiar with the phrase “Content is King” while some of you are surely worn out with that cliché. Nevertheless, it is an accurate statement when it comes to SEO. Creating unique, quality content is the most effective white hat SEO technique, and it can also be the most challenging.
Unless you work for a big company, you probably aren’t going to publish articles on a daily basis, so make sure what you do publish is of the highest quality. Write content that people will find useful and helpful and will want to share. That means proofreading your content multiple times and evaluating your syntax and sentence structures for easy readability is paramount. It’s also important to use images and other media as this will make content more appealing for visitors than a page filled with just plain text.
Link Your Sources
This is a key way to build trust with your readers. If you are writing an informational post, visitors are coming to your page to learn something, and you want them to find the answers they need. If you succeed, you will build trust with readers, and they will be more likely to return to your site and read future articles.
However, your post isn’t going to always have all the information visitors want, but by providing links to your sources throughout your article, you might be able to direct them to where they can find those answers. Even by pointing someone in the right direction, you are building trust as a credible source.
Focus on Evergreen Content
Try to write evergreen content, or posts that are geared to remaining relevant for a long time. Yes, it’s fun to read (and write for that matter) “The 10 Worst Halloween Costume Mishaps Ever,” but it will stop bringing traffic to your site shortly into November. That’s not to say that you should always avoid this type of timely content, but it should not be your main focus. Writing evergreen posts also allows you to return to, update and repost old content for a new audience over time.
Target the Right Keywords
Another key aspect of writing quality content is researching and targeting the right keywords. When choosing a keyword to target, you need to fulfill two criteria. A keyword must be relevant to the content you are creating and should garner decent monthly search volume.
Moz’s Keyword Explorer is a wonderful tool for researching and choosing keywords. It gives you a monthly search volume estimate for any keyword and shows you different keyword phrase variations that might receive more search traffic than your original one. This allows you to pick the keyword that receives the most searches while still being relevant to the content of your post or website.
Use Your Keywords Correctly
Once you’ve chosen the perfect keyword, make sure your post’s content is geared toward that keyword. This means including the keyword in your title, description, headings, URL, meta description and content. However, you should avoid overusing your keyword (this is known as keyword stuffing, a black hat SEO technique, and search engines will punish you for doing it).
Since hard-set rules are extremely rare in SEO (due to frequent changes in the industry), discerning the difference between good keyword use and keyword stuffing isn’t always easy. Generally, try to make the use of your keyword sound as natural as possible.
If you’re still struggling with SEO and need even further guidance, contact Ruby Porter Marketing and Design. Our professional digital marketers can get you on the right track to ranking for your keywords.