5 Tips to Kickstart your SEO in 2018
New year, same old ranking problems...
Search engine optimization is one of the most blogged about digital topics, but like block chain technology, there’s still few people who understand how it really works. Long gone are the days of keyword stuffing and link directories. Heck, figuring out how to rank nowadays is as much an art as it is a science. While I can’t offer you 2 degrees in one blog, I can give you some tips to get you started.
Here are my top five recommendations to kick-start your SEO in 2018:
1. Understand Your Website’s Primary Purpose
Let’s start this off with a simple question: what’s the primary purpose of your website?
- To promote your services?
- To generate leads?
- To sell your products?
If you answered YES to any of these questions, you’re wrong! When it comes to SEO, the primary purpose of your website should be to solve the problems and needs of searchers (ie: your potential customers).
Think about it! Google doesn’t care about solving YOUR businesses problems. It’s why the Ad Quality Score exists in Google Adwords. Even when you’re paying for clicks, Google is trying to determine if your content is going to answer the problems and needs of it’s primary customers: searchers! So start your SEO strategy from a place of searchers intent: understand what searchers need answers to, and create content to provide those answers.
2. Keyword Relevance is the new Keyword Research
So now that you know your potential customers have problems you can solve, how can you create content that they will find relevant? While in the past SEOs talked a lot about keyword research, these days we focus more on keyword relevance. On-site SEO is less and less about keyword repetition or placement on the page. You need to discover the words and phrases that searchers are actually using in Google to find answers to their problems, and then create high quality content that best fills those needs.
What you ideally are looking for is a primary content topic or phrase, and then a set of secondary keywords or synonyms that are contextually related to your primary topic. For example, if your primary topic was “wedding planning”, your secondary keywords may be “floral arrangements for weddings”, “wedding themes and colors”, “decoration trends for weddings” and “wedding venues”.
Here are some great tools to help you get started with keyword research…ahem…relevance:
- Google Keyword Planner
- Moz Keyword Explorer
- Answer The Public (great for long tail keyword ideas)
- Google Trends (great for understanding seasonal topics)
- Google Search Console (great for seeing how people are finding you currently)
3. Go SERP Sleuthing
Once you’ve started formulating your content topic/keyword plan, you need to do some sneaky SERP sleuthing! For those in the know, SERP means search engine results page(s). That’s right, I want you to actually search for your target keywords in Google and see what comes up!
If you’re solely focused on searchers intent, you’re only considering half the battle: you also need to understand the search engines understanding of the searchers intent. Sounds complicated doesn’t it? But let’s think about that for a second…
If Google thinks your target keyword means something different than the intended purpose of your content, you’re less likely to rank for that keyword. This means you may need to alter your targeting strategy to find keywords that align with Google’s interpretation of your content. On the flip side, through SERP sleuthing, you may find gaps in information that aren’t being served that you could take over the ranking positions for. Bottom line – don’t underestimate the benefits of SERP sleuthing!
4. Get Optimizing
With a content topic strategy in place that aligns with searchers intent and Google’s understanding of searchers intent, it’s time to start writing your content and optimizing it for success. But optimizing for search engines is no simple task. There are a ton of variables you need to consider, from UX, to social shareability, to content relevance, to technical considerations – it’s complicated – but not impossible!
Before you begin crafting your content, it’s a good idea to review all of the factors that affect on page optimization. While we can’t get into all of the nitty gritty details here, Moz has created this helpful cheat sheet to get you started:
5. Get Amplifying
While uniquely valuable content is the first step to SEO success, quality inbound links and social shares help Google determine how to rank the authority of your content and website. To rank, you need to amplify!
In the simplest terms, two pieces of content serving the same need with (relatively) equal optimization may rank quite differently depending on things like:
- how many websites are linking to the root domains of each piece of content
- the quality of the websites linking to the root domains of each piece of content
- who is sharing the content on social media
- how many people are sharing the content on social media
You can’t simply create content in a vacuum and expect to rank, so what are you to do?
First, start with your owned media. It seems simple, but this includes things like distributing your content via your website with strong internal link structures, to customers via your social media channels (organic and paid) and through your email list, and to your employees to share through their personal social networks via an employee amplification program. As you build these assets, your amplified reach will become stronger.
Next, consider partners and influencers that may find your content relevant to share with their own audiences. These could be clients, business contacts, or influencers you identify through organic research or through a paid influencer network. You could even work with a guest blogger to create content that is relevant to their audiences on your site – it’s a great tactic to offer expert insights to your customers AND get your link shared by an influencer.
Last, consider using paid content amplification platforms like Outbrain or Taboola to serve your content to audiences that they predict will be interested in it. While these services don’t create long-term indexable links, they do help drive additional traffic to your content, which could lead to greater social amplification.
Well there you have it! 5 simple (ish) tips to kick-start your SEO in 2018. Want more help? We’re here if you need us! Simply send us a note below and we’ll be in touch. And if you liked this blog, don’t forget to SHARE it ;-) and SUBSCRIBE for more.