Trying to gain traction in a crowded online marketplace when it comes to traffic can be a frustrating experience for many niche marketers. You could be creating the best content imaginable, ready to share your insight with your target audience, but unless Google and other search engines can find it and index it properly, it will be a waste of time.
When you’re trying to lead a demographic to achieve their goals, your content is simply not enough to make that happen. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the strategy that is going to tip the scales in your favor and allow you to outrank other marketers in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
SEO is something that helps your content get discovered, not only by your target audience, but by competitors and other content authority sites that are looking for good resources to link back to.
Once you have the ability to master SEO, and stay on top of it from here on out, you will have the competitive edge you have been looking for to deliver top quality, targeted traffic to your domain.
It will help you attract the right people who will convert better for you in terms of getting them on your list and turning them into buyers. There are many different working parts to mastering SEO, so take an incremental approach to learning and implementing this concept for better rankings.
The Fundamentals of SEO
Before you can divide your own strategic plan for implementing SEO, you have to understand what it is and how it works to help you generate organic traffic at no cost. This is a process where you optimize everything on your website so that it appeals to the users of search engines according to what their algorithm has ranked as most important and delivering a good user experience.
In the very early days of SEO, people were able to get away with unsavory tactics such as stuffing keywords into their content that didn’t necessarily make sense for the reader. But now, it’s far more advanced and ethical.
In fact, the algorithm is continually changing to enhance the results for their users. So this is a process that you will need to stay on top of so that you don’t lose your edge to your competitors.
There is both a technical and strategic mix to mastering SEO. For example, you still have to use keywords in order to assist search engine bots in identifying what your content is about.
But you also need to create content that the search engines feel will fully satisfy the visitors who land on your domain. If your content has all of the technical working parts, but lacks any substance, you still won’t be able to rank high in the SERPs.
Search engines will send a bot to crawl your domain. These are often known as spiders, and once they enter your domain, they will go from page to page to index every page with a content analysis that it stores in its database.
Then, whenever a person logs onto Google and types in a keyword phrase, the search engine goes to that database and pulls the best results for that user. It goes off of an algorithm that ranks it according to the relevancy to the search, the quality of your content, and user experience issues such as whether or not it is mobile friendly or if the pages load quickly.
If you can combine these SEO elements for your site, you’ll not only be able to siphon free, organic traffic from search engines, but you’ll also be able to parlay this increased visibility into authority that helps you get more opportunities for partnerships, backlinks and more.
Plus, the quality of traffic should be highly targeted and allow you to increase your conversions better than before – whether you’re selling your own products or promoting for someone else.
On-Page SEO Tactics to Master
Let’s begin with the technical side of SEO that is on each page of your domain. This is the most common aspect of what most people understand SEO to be about. It begins with keywords, because when someone is using a search engine, they’re typing in a keyword phrase to find what they need.
You need to have a good strategy in place to be using those keywords, including a primary keyword phrase as well as semantic or related keywords woven into the mix so that your content comes up as a clear match to what the user is looking for.
Ideally, you want to be using high volume, low competition keyword phrases. But the more content you produce and the higher your site begins to rank, you’ll be able to compete for broad keywords that have a lot of competition, too.
In addition to using these keywords in your domain, post titles, in the content itself as well as the tags, you’ll also want to integrate title tags and meta descriptions into each page of your content.
These are the first two things your users are going to see whenever Google presents them with the list of results that should match what they were looking for. The title tag is going to be the name that is displayed for them to click on, and the meta description is a summary of what that page is all about.
You want to optimize these two areas so that you improve your click through rate with the right target audience. If you are vague or your content doesn’t entice the user, google and other search engines will begin to bury you in the SERPs.
Another on page SEO factor is going to be your optimization of the content itself. You want to make sure that the content is well written and that it exhausts the topic thoroughly so that it adheres to Google’s Helpful Update criteria.
They want to make sure that when someone is searching for an answer, and they land on your page, they find everything they need to know so that they feel satisfied with the results and continue using that search engine as a valuable resource.
Other things you can do to boost your on page SEO include using a valuable structure that helps users navigate the content. This means you’ll be using header tags such as H1, H2, H3, and so on for the subheadings.
This allows people to skim through the content and view it in a logical order. You also want to make sure that you’re breaking up huge blocks of text into smaller content, using bulletpoints, images, or videos to help make your site sticky where people want to stay and consume more content.
Interlinking is going to be another on page SEO strategy that you have to consider. Your domain will have many different pages that are relevant to a user’s inquiry. So you want them to be able to easily navigate to other pages that are interesting and relevant to what they originally searched.
Make sure you are using descriptive, keyword based anchor text so that the user and search bots both know what that page is going to be about. You should aim for a goal of three clicks maximum to get to any page of your site.
Previously, we talked about how Google takes into consideration whether or not your pages load quickly or your site is mobile friendly. This is an on page SEO factor that is very important because users will click away in mere seconds if your page is lagging.
You can use strategies such as image compression, browser caching, limiting the use of plugins, and more to help your pages load quickly. You can also use free tools online to help test the speed with which your pages load to see if there is a problem issue that you can resolve.
When it comes to being a mobile friendly site, you want to choose a theme that is mobile responsive, allowing it to appear correctly on any type of gadget or browser. Google takes a mobile first approach, meaning they rank sites that are mobile friendly higher than those that are not.
Off Page SEO Techniques to Implement
Now that you understand the on page SEO factors, let’s take a look at the off page issues you want to address. These are primarily rooted in the back links that you have pointing to your site.
The more quality backlinks you have showing that you are a valuable resource, the more weight that will hold with Google and other search engines as a vote of confidence that your site is worthy for a top ranking.
Getting good backlinks is also a great way to get additional free traffic, because other top sites will be pointing to your domain, for their users to follow. With every piece of content that you publish, you want to aim for the goal of becoming the top authority page on that topic.
Guest blogging is another good way to get these backlinks. As long as you are looking for other authority sites to get backlinks from, approaching them for a guest blog opportunity is a great strategy.
Take time to analyze like what their site is about and what kind of content their users respond best to and then approach the site owner with an idea for a piece of content you know their readers would appreciate to see if they’d like to publish it on their blog.
If so, they will include a byline with your name and a link back to your domain. Ideally, you can get them to use a keyword based anchor text link instead of something like click here.
Another off page strategy that you want to implement directly count in the algorithm ranking, but does contribute to increase traffic is the use of social signals for SEO. This is not something that is clear cut with search engines, but having many different quality accounts on a variety of social media platforms pointing to your domain as a reputable resource can’t hurt.
When you have many social media accounts pointing to you, it’s an opportunity for bloggers to discover your content and add that link to their own domain, increasing your off-page SEO.
Additional Technical SEO Strategies for Your Site
Now there are other SEO factors you’ll want to consider, too. These aren’t necessarily on-page or off-page, but rather overall technical best practices for site owners. It starts with a solid sitemap.
You want the bots to know where to crawl, and having that simple structural map in place helps make sure they don’t miss pages. You can use online tools to quickly and easily generate a sitemap for you.
Robots.txt files are also beneficial for SEO. This is going to be in your directory to communicate with the spiders that access your site and tell them where they should be crawling and where they need to stay away.
This can be created manually or you can use tools that will generate it for you. If you have any pages that you want to disallow search bots from accessing, using a Robots.txt file can help with that.
Canonical tags can also help steer search bots towards or away from content that may be similar, so that there’s no question about which page you want them to index or ignore.
You can also create Schema Markup for your domain. This piece of data helps search engine grasp what your site or page is all about in more detail. This often boosts your ability to secure a spot in the featured snippets position.
You also want to pay attention to things like how people search. More users are relying on voice search with tools like Siri or Amazon’s Alexa, so search engines are looking for sites that are optimized for the people speaking their queries rather than typing them.
This is done by using full questions or long tail keyword phrases that mimic how people speak. If your site caters to them and answers the most commonly asked questions, this can boost your ranking.
Tools to Make Easy Work of Your SEO
While much of the SEO process is done manually, there are many tools to help you with everything, either by creating things for you or testing and helping you tweak your approach.
Starting with keywords, you can use free or paid tools like Google’s Keyword Planner or SEMRush, WordRecon or a variety of other tools to help you see how people are searching, what kind of volume and competition the phrases have, how easy they are to rank for, and more.
For sitemaps, you can use something like the Google XML Sitemap plugin to generate it for you and keep it up to date for search engines to use. There are also tools to create Schema Markup and titles – including the use of free Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools to help with your SEO endeavors.
For tracking and tweaking your search engine optimization, you can use tools like GA4 (Google Analytics) to help you gain valuable insight into the metrics you can use to boost your ranking.
You’ll be able to see where traffic is coming from, how they behave and engage with your content, and more. Google also has a Search Console tool where you can see things such as site indexing information, search queries, errors bots encountered and more.
You can also pay for tools that will audit the performance of your site in terms of search engine optimization. Tools like SEMRush and Ahrefs can analyze your on page and off page optimization efforts to see how it’s working for (or against) you.
Maintaining Your Edge with SEO
SEO is not something where you do it once and your task is complete. Search engines are always trying to elevate the working nature of their platform, so the algorithm changes periodically.
They will give you a heads up about changes that you should be making to prevent a dip in traffic and rankings. But sometimes they’re not very specific. You’ll want to set aside time in your work schedule for SEO mastery where you’re looking for update news and reading blogs or watching videos of SEO experts who can guide you on what to do.
Sometimes, a core update can decimate someone’s ranking and demolish their business, while simultaneously giving an instant boost in revenue and rankings to another site that is now deemed worthy of a top spot in the SERPs.
Search engine optimization can be an aspect of your business that feels exhausting and intimidating. Focus on user experience and providing value first. That will always be a core component of top ranking sites.
With the technical and strategies issues, don’t try to worry about everything in a single day. Go through the tips one by one and learn and implement them so that you being to see your site rising in the SERPs and bringing more free targeted traffic to your domain.
If you get fair warning that an algorithm update is going to take place, take preventative measures to shore up your site and ensure it won’t lose its place, or will even benefit from the new guidelines.
Overall, the fact that search engines are taking the time to improve their process is not something you should view as an assault on your business. It’s meant to help users, and if you can weed out your non audience and harness the people most likely to buy from you, that’s a win-win for everyone involved!