Search engine optimization (SEO) is the continuously evolving process of increasing the quantity and quality of organic website traffic in top search engines. Since Google is by far the most influential search engine, most strategies are focused around those search results. Organic traffic is the lifeblood of businesses and blogs around the world.
SEO should always be a top concern for digital marketers and business owners across all industries. Your website’s ability to generate organic traffic can be the difference between sweet success and utter failure. Purchasing paid traffic with ads is usually expensive and social media’s organic reach has been waning for years. That means organic search engine traffic is even more crucial to driving brand awareness and sales.
SEO and digital marketing overall are constantly changing with continuous tweaks to the Google algorithm and fluctuating PageRanks for a billion websites across the globe. Your search strategy needs to adapt to these changes as well or your traffic numbers will pay the price and you’ll never achieve Google greatness.
Don’t kill the golden goose that is organic Google search traffic. Here are the top seventeen smart search engine optimization strategies and software programs for modern SEO specialists to help keep that organic traffic flowing now and for years to come:
1. Avoid Private Blog Networks (PBN)
A Private Blog Network (PBN) is a group of websites that you manage in order to drive high authority backlinks to your primary website. They are usually comprised of expired domains that had previously earned valuable backlinks. They are also usually pretty thin when it comes to providing visitors with valuable content.
PBNs should also be avoided at all costs if you’re looking to invest in SEO for the long term. They can get you penalized by Google in a worst-case scenario or just be a waste of time and money in a best-case scenario.
Back in 2011 & 2012 hundreds of websites dramatically lost their rankings after Google started rolling out their anti-black hat updates. Most webmasters who dabbled in link exchanges, comment link spam, content spinning and many other grey or black hat tactics were either penalized or suddenly lost their rankings. It was clear then that Google wasn’t going to tolerate PBNs any longer.
Private Blog Network owners have gotten smarter in the way they host and manage these sites, but Google is omniscient and catches on eventually. PBNs might not actually end up hurting your site rankings, but your energy and marketing budget would be better spent elsewhere. This is especially true in the age of modern SEO.
Instead of PBNs, we recommend that you check out some link building tips and get down to work, because white-hat organic link building will take time.
2. Maximize Your On-Page SEO
On-page SEO is still one of the most fundamental elements of SEO. Ever since Google first launched, its sole purpose was to index, categorize and prioritize data as accurately as possible. A website’s metadata including page titles and meta descriptions tell Google what your website is all about, and where you belong in search results. On-page SEO certainly does not guarantee a Page 1 Google ranking, but without it you may not rank even rank on Page 101.
On-page SEO considers dozens of the major Google ranking factors including keywords, meta descriptions, navigation, site security, internal links, external links, site speed, ads, word count, mobile-friendly pages, images, and video content. Do what you can to keep your page quick, user-friendly, and easy to navigate.
Another factor that many bloggers and webmasters don’t consider is broken links and link rot. Internal and external links on your site can become dead links if they no longer point to a viable site. If the links are internal you can easily fix them or create a redirect. If they are external links, then you can remove them or modify them to go to viable websites. This happens a lot over the years, especially if a website switches providers or adds a new SSL certificate. Top-ranked SEO software or free broken link checkers can determine if you have any of these on your site.
You might also be getting some links from spammy or penalized websites. These low quality backlinks don’t help your Google PageRank and can even damage it. Determine which spammy links are pointing to your site and use the Google Disavow Tool. You can and should also contact those websites to ask that they manually remove those links. Just disavowing it doesn’t always get the job done and you don’t want your site to be penalized as a result.
3. Longer Content Leads The Way
Content has been considered key in the SEO world since the beginning. The world’s top SEO professionals have preached that “Content Is King” for the better part of two decades. Even though some people still believe that high quality backlinks are far more important, content is still critical no matter how you look at it. But it’s not always about the quantity or frequency of your posts, but the quality and length that can make a big difference.
Research and case studies both strongly suggest that websites with longer content (1,000 – 2,000+ words) tend to rank higher. The frequency of content publication seems to have less of a correlation to higher rankings. So you might be better off publishing a lengthy blog post or article once a week rather than quick blurbs daily.
4. Optimize For Voice Search
People are buying millions of Amazon Echo and Google Home units and a variety of similar devices. Your website, content, keywords and overall SEO tactics need to start reflecting this reality and optimizing for voice searches. Keywords will often times be long-tail and conversational instead of just a few specific words like in regular typed searches. Your writing should reflect how people actually speak, especially in regards to how they ask questions.
Voice searches will continue to be a growing trend as these devices become more popular and more advanced. Automobile manufacturers are now starting to include them as built-in features in new cars, so people can do voice searches while they’re driving. That’s just the tip of the iceberg though. Soon you might be asking your smart refrigerator or high tech stove to provide you with search results!
5. Keep Your Website Fast & Secure
When it comes to data security and privacy, corporations like Google aren’t taking any more chances than they have to. Google prefers ranking secure websites higher and site security has been a ranking factor for a long time. They’ve taken things to the next level by clearly displaying “Not Secure” on Chrome browsers for websites without a valid SSL Certificate and no “https” domain prefix. Other major browsers like Firefox and Safari have followed suit.
If you don’t have an SSL Certificate, you can get one free or relatively inexpensively depending on your site. Websites without them have dropped in ranking and appear less trustworthy to visitors so this is becoming a necessity.
6. (High Quality) Content Is King
People are sick of reading fluff content and filler blog posts. In the early days of content marketing, the focus was on creating the greatest quantity of content possible. Weakly rewritten articles and watered down posts would get published daily because it got those precious clicks and filled a content quota. Everyone knows that low quality content doesn’t get results anymore.
However, in the last few years, we have started to see more ‘epic’ content. Epic content means long-form articles, which cover the topic comprehensively. But many people are not a fan of this style, so we are seeing a shift to ‘dense’ content in some cases. Dense content covers the whole topic in a way that keeps the article as short as possible. It makes sense because people have lower attention spans and all the Yes this kind of contradicts #3 about longer content leading the way, but it can depend on the topic and industry.
The main takeaway is that regardless of content length, it needs to be unique and helpful to the user. Filler or scraped content doesn’t cut it any more. And your content needs to fulfill a query to become and remain highly ranked.
Write for people and not just search engines!
8. User Experience Optimization (UEO) Is Part Of SEO
The user experience has been a part of SEO for a long time, at least to some degree. Google has started to favor sites that are optimized for most devices, load within a short time, and have users that stay on the website for a longer period of time. And Google isn’t very forgiving of websites that have a copious number of ads on each page, especially if they are intrusive and effect user experience (UX). In our modern marketing age, we’ll continue to see UEO become a major part of SEO.
9. Utilize Google My Business
Google My Business is a valuable free tool that gets your physical business listed on glorious Google Maps. If Google sees the right signals then your company can rank well in local results too. The local rank results are the results you’ll see when Google has interpreted your search query to be location specific.
Try typing ‘plumbers near me’ or ‘restaurants near me’ into Google and you’ll likely see a few ads and some localized listings before you see other organic search results. These first results could be comprised of several ads or several local listings depending on how competitive the market is.
Local listings are valuable to your business so you want to make sure you create and verify your listing with all of the necessary information included.
10. Improve Page Speed
We’ve already established that user experience plays a significant role in determining conversions for many businesses. According to recent studies, nearly half of customers expect a page to load within two seconds. Also, almost half of people move to other web pages if the page that they are browsing does not load in three seconds. You’ll need to speed up your website for both desktop and mobile searches.
It’s necessary that you get rid of issues which hinder your page’s loading time. Some of the best methods to do so includes using better servers and a content delivery network (CDN). You should also aim to limit your redirects since they can negatively impact your page speed.
Other useful methods include enabling browsing caching, compression and reducing the number of plugins. Reducing the number of ads displayed on your page can also make a huge difference. Streamline your site to keep it quick and uncluttered.
Dominate The SEO Scene
SEO is constantly evolving so you need to stay on top of your game to get that Google glory in and beyond. Learn from the past and don’t resort to cheap SEO tactics if you plan to stay in business for long. Don’t neglect the most fundamental elements of your search strategy. Getting top ranked pages on Google isn’t a sprint, it’s an endless marathon.