Ranking in today’s SEO ecosystem is difficult. Between the 4 billion “best strategies ever!” blogs and Google’s increasingly complex algorithm, trying to compete against your top competitors can make you (p)irate. So, today, we’re going to give you some SEO tips that will help you weather the ocean storms no matter what niche you’re in. These are the ranking tips that we give our customers on a daily basis.
No “quick fix” clickbait here. Just some down-to-earth ranking tips that will make you ranking shark, not just another clown in the school of fish.
We’re going to put these tips into 7 buckets.
- Social Media
Let’s dive right in!
1) Slow Down Captain!
Before we start getting actionable, we really need to make something clear — don’t do too much at once. Ranking takes a while; fish with a pole, not a net. Sure, proper link structure (SEO tip #5) can give you a nice little SEO boost, but if you start littering your website with links in a desperate attempt to rank, you’re going to get burned in the end.
The idea that SEO is a quick game was heavily proliferated in the early days of ranking (think 2009) — when keyword stuffing could literally get you to the top of SERP.
But, you’re not playing against little baby sardine Google anymore. You’re taking on big daddy megalodon Google, who wants maturity, consistency, and organic, value-driven results.
So, when you’re reading through these tips, don’t start thinking “Ok! We can do this by tomorrow. Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy!” Instead, think, “How can we align some of these strategies with our long-term ranking goals?”
If you do that, you’re already on your way to a consistent, realistic ranking strategy. Yeah, buoy!
2) Catch(y) Content
Again, this second tip is a little abstract. But, before we talk about links, keywords, analytics, etc., we have to talk about the reason people are visiting your website — your content.
Your content is the bait. You throw it out to search engines in the hopes of reeling clients onto your site.
What subjects should you put out content about? Well, we’ll talk a bit more about that in our keywords section, but, really, you should be creating content that you’re passionate about and you think readers will care about.
Content comes in a variety of forms: written, video, and even audio.
Content can be reduced to 4 core elements.
Your content’s “value” is probably why your reading this post. You’re here because you want some ranking tips, right? So, if we don’t give you some valuable tips, then we just wasted your time. That’s not good! Content that isn’t valuable to your users, isn’t valuable at all.
Note: Value shouldn’t be confused with artistic value. Don’t try to write a book! Digital content should be easily digestible. Users bite because they want to learn something, not to see how good your vocab is.
SEO Tips on Brand Voice
Your brand voice is how you sound. To clarify this, take a look at any Forbes article, then, afterward, look at Neil Patel’s content. You’ll notice a stark difference in the way that is “sounds.”
That’s your content’s voice. If you keep your voice consistent across your site, it will make your entire library of content infinitely more consumable. Users want content-consistency, your voice gives it to them.
To brand your content, you have to have something unique about you that you can deliver to users — like our silly octopus jokes.
It goes deeper than jokes. We wrote a handy-dandy-brandy post about it here.
Do you want to create content that has long-winded paragraphs or short-burst style sentences? Do you want content that’s mostly narrative as opposed to littered with bullet points?
That’s your structure.
Usually, brands choose their structure based on their niche, but, honestly, just find a structure that you like to read. If you’re passionate about the content you’re putting out, it’s noticeable.
Structure goes beyond your sentence/paragraph/word choice — it also includes how you layer visuals into your content.
Having consistency across those four “channels” of content is critical towards your overall content strategy.
Of course, there are other variables, such as freshness, regularity, word count, etc.
3) You Need Keys to Hunt Treasure! (Keywords)
Choosing the right keyword is like finding the pearl in the oyster — it takes time, and you may burn through a few.
Now, in certain corners of the SEO world, you’ll hear echoes that “keywords are dead!” After all, Google’s algorithm is growing in complexity and identifying searcher intent is far more sophisticated than it used to be.
However, let’s make a quick clarification — keywords aren’t dead; the old methods of tracking and analyzing keywords is dead (a.k.a keyword stuffing and simple Google analytic tracking)
In fact, keywords are more alive and vibrant than they’ve ever been.
So, how do you go about tracking down those mythical keywords?
Let’s do this as a step-by-step process.
1. Think about it
Think about a keyword that you think would rank. Maybe you’re an aquarium supply salesman, and you want to rank the for fishing jokes as a way to drive some traffic to your website (stop stepping on our turf!) So, now you’ve got to pick the right set of keywords. Think about what keywords you think would draw users to your site.
2. Use tools
There are a ton of free tools (and paid tools) that you can leverage to find related keywords. In fact, you can just flop onto Google and check out the “related searches” at the bottom if you’re feeling particularly la(sea).
Once you have 20+ keywords written down, it’s time to start breaking them down.
3. Long Tail vs. Head Terms
You want to have a good mix of long tail and head term keywords. What’s the difference? Long tail keywords are phrases that contain 3 or more words. Head terms are short one to three-word keywords.
Best fish (head term)
Coolest yellow breeds of fish (long tail)
In general, head terms are much harder to rank with (think how many pieces of content have that keyword!) while long tail is usually quicker to rank, and Google actually uses long tail intent as its backbone in modern SEO.
4. Check your competitors
Keep your friends close and your anemones closer. You need to know how your competition is ranking. This doesn’t mean you need to grab keywords that are valuable to them, but it does give you a pretty good idea of how you can overtake them on certain phrases. There are tons of tools that do this; we aren’t going to specifically recommend any (we don’t want you to think we’re being fishy 🐟.)
5. Create content
Now that you’ve found a good list of keywords and you understand where your competitors stand, it’s time to use those keywords in some content. It takes a while to rank for keywords post-content-creation, but, if you keep at it — and you create some killer valuable stuff — you’ll be a ranking piranha in no time.
Note: Keyword density is a highly contested subject. Personally, we think its dead and of-fish-ally gone. Don’t force keywords. Create content ideas using keywords; don’t stuff a bunch of keywords in your content. Google’s smarter than that.
Want More SEO Tips?
This is only the first part of our full-content blog. Just keep swimming!
4) Scale Up With Links
Let’s not be koi; links are a big deal. We’ve talked about links a ton in the past.
But, there’s a reason for that. Links can make-or-break your ranking strategy. — as confirmed by Google when asked about the most important ranking factors.
“I can tell you what they are. It is content. And it’s links pointing to your site.” (Andrey Lipattsev, Search Quality Senior Strategist at Google)
There are two primary types of links: backlinks and outbound/inbound links.
Backlinks are links from another website that link back to your site. While outbound/inbound links are links within your content that link to another website or your own website
Both types of links are extremely important, but typically people struggle more with backlinks — since they can’t directly (or at least many people think that) influence them.
Here’s the thing, you definitely can!
To build quality backlinks, all you really need are some sound linking strategies.
The three most common strategies are:
- Reciprocal linking: Link exchange isn’t a bad thing if you do it correctly. It has to make sense from the users point-of-view, and you shouldn’t do it too often.
- Guest posting: Posting content on other’s blogs/websites is a great way to get some links incoming. That being said, don’t start stuffing your guest post with links — stick with the simple CTAs, bio links, and one good content body link.
- Web directories: Aim for niche directories and hyper-relevant directories. Posting links “willy-nilly” is silly. It will earn you a ranking hit.
5) Web Design Dolphinately Matters
Seriously. Web design has a significant impact on ranking — and bad design can flounder your ranking results. Let’s segment this section into two handy-dandy sections.
Speed: One of Google’s ranking signals is page speed, which is how fast your website loads content. The faster, the better. But, remember, mobile speed is what’s most important — Googlebot indexes via mobile. You should be looking for 2–3 seconds at most. Use a tool like WebPageSpeed to check yours.
Design: Really, design is about branding, ease-of-use, speed, and UX. Of course, web design has fallen into a bit of a rut over the last few years, and the majority of websites seem to lean on pre-built templates that let you shove elements into containers.
The result, of course, is a ton of websites that aren’t well branded and contain mostly negative space and overused fonts.
Let’s be clear, minimalist design is great! It reduces clutter, improves speed (important!) and provides a ton of ease-of-use. But, minimalism doesn’t have to be confused with negative space and black-on-white.
Your website still needs to leverage branding. Remember, brand your content, brand your website, brand everything. You’ll draw in more visitors, convert more prospects to join your email list, and increase your likability — which will all increase your SERP.
6) Have a Sofishticated Social Strategy
Social ranking is complex. For starters, no one is perfectly sure whether or not social links (linking to social media, i.e., Twitter comments, Facebook profiles, etc.) increase SERP or not.
But, leveraging social media really isn’t about getting your website to the top of SERP, it’s about making sure that your social media profile gets ranking. Remember, your social media profiles can all rank! The higher they get on Google, the better.
At the same time, maximizing your social presence will simply get your leads (which is why you want to rank on Google, right?) Social media websites are search engines themselves, and they’re pretty darn good at generating leads.
Finally, Some Quick Tips to Give You Porpoise (+10)
Let’s wrap this up with some quick burst SEO tips — nothing complicated; just the basics.
- Emojis can actually impact local searches! Try shoving an emoji in a title or two.
- When you’re doing that keyword research, make sure to include queries that make sense with voice search. That’s a huge vertical.
- Use HTTPS!
- Header/Footer links don’t rank well. That being said, they work great on guest posts — especially for driving traffic.
- eCommerce brands should invest heavily in Instagram and Facebook Messenger.
- Since long-form content reigns supreme, think about going back and changing all of your old content. Also, feel free to create pillar content around your most popular posts.
- Keep track of your SEO key performance indicators (KPIs) — such as click-through rate, bounce rate, and organic traffic rates.
- Don’t be afraid to rewrite old content, especially if it ranked well. Make it fresh, but you can use the same theme. *hint, this isn’t our first SEO tip post.
- Align your SEO needs with your web design. If you hire a company to make you a website, make sure that they know what they’re doing!
- Influencers are still a great strategy but don’t go reaching for the biggest fish. Choose someone who aligns with your brand and your product/service.
- If you hire an agency (like us) to do your SEO, make sure you’re touching base with them continually. Having an agency doesn’t automatically make you good at ranking — make sure that you’re getting your money’s worth.
There you have it! These are our ranking tips. Sure, we didn’t cover everything, but we hope that these tips and strategies will help some you boost your ranking.
Before we go, here are some other great SEO resources:
Shopify’s eCommerce SEO Tips
Moz Beginner’s Guide to SEO (a.k.a “the holy grail”)
HubSpot’s Guide to SEO in 2018
If all of this sounds a little too complex for you, we get it! Ranking is tough. But, hey, that’s why we’re here to give you some killer SEO tips. If you want to start ranking with the sharks, contact us. We’ll walk you through every step and help you growth hack your business: no gimmicks, no carp. Plus, we have the fish jokes that will have you Kraken up — what’s not to love?