You launched your website. Now you are one of the 342 million websites in the world. If you want to stand out from everyone else and rank on Google, you’ll need to truly master SEO.
The amount of information out there about SEO may make you feel overwhelmed, and you may often wonder where to even begin.
In this article, we’ll cover the nine fundamental SEO strategies that every website needs. This covers everything from keyword research and publishing compelling content to backlink acquisition and formatting posts.
Many of these tactics helped my new marketing blog AdamEnfroy.com get over 450,000 monthly visitors in under a year and a half.
Let’s get started.
Tip #1: Publish Compelling Content
Google aims at providing the most relevant search results to its users. Each of these results matches the searcher’s intent and provides sufficient information to answer their questions.
Readers don’t want to read long blocks of text. They need something to capture their interest and eye-catching graphics are an excellent way to do so.
Basically, the content you produce needs to be compelling enough to earn a place in the top results. Anything less than that won’t cut it.
Another angle you can take with content is creating comparison content. Comparative advertising is a huge way to build traffic from multiple keywords in a single post. For example, I do this below in my post comparing the best online course platforms:
Since you want to publish content consistently, using content mills seems like an efficient way to do this, right? Freelancers are affordable (read cheap) and available to write. But is it worth it?
Codeless conducted a study comparing the quality of content you’re bound to get from content mills. Here’s what they found out:
If you want to publish engaging content, content mills are out of the question. You’re better off writing content on your own.
When you’re just starting out, your writing skills might not be off the charts, and that’s fine. Using writing apps will help you improve your writing skills and publish better content that will rank and drive traffic to your blog.
Tip 2: Properly format your H2s and H3s for SEO
Your subheadings help you achieve three main objectives:
- Improve on-page SEO optimization
- Provide structure to your post to guide readers
- Boost your chances of obtaining featured snippets
- Capture the interest of scanners and prevent them from bouncing off
Google relies on H2 and H3 tags to understand your content and rank it accordingly. Include your target keyword in your H2 tag. Take a look at how an H2 tag appears in this blog post on link building.
The target keyword (link-building) appears in the title above and the H2 tag, as shown below.
When formatting your H3s and other subheadings in your post, use related keywords naturally. For instance, a searcher who wants to learn about link building will type related keywords such as; link building strategies, link spam, and backlink profiles. Here’s how these related keywords appear in the blog post:
You also want to make sure that you format your H3s to include numbers and keep readers engaged through curiosity, surprise, and appealing to their emotions.
So long as you publish compelling content, your readers will share it with their friends on social media. Social shares do not have a direct impact on your rankings, but they give you the exposure you need right now and establish you as an authority. Other bloggers will start linking back to your content, which, in turn, will improve your rankings.
Tip #3: Use semantic keywords
To provide relevant information to its users, Google understands more than just what people search for. It interprets the searcher’s intent and context from the search query by establishing the connection between the words that the searcher used. That’s where semantic keywords come in. They are keywords related to a specific topic that a user searches on Google.
Most people don’t search using a single word, e.g., “VPN.” Since there is a reason behind every search, searchers use more words to help them get the information they are looking for.
Instead of entering “VPN” into the search bar, a searcher might use the term “VPN provider” to help them get specific information on what they need to know.
Google collects data on the searcher’s location, their search history, global search history, and spelling to come up with a list of relevant semantic keywords, as shown below:
Given this list of semantically-related keywords, Google understands my search intent and context. It provides information on VPN providers, and here are the top results:
According to Google, this is the most relevant information for someone who wants to learn about VPN providers. These posts talk about topics related to VPN providers using relevant semantic keywords – terms like security, data privacy, etc. That’s why they came out on top.
Here’s how you can also leverage semantic keywords for better rankings:
- Once you identify your target keyword, use Clearscope to identify semantic keywords. If your target Keyword is “best credit cards” here are the semantic keywords you’ll get from Clearscope:
2. As you write about “best credit cards,” talk about the related topics you identified in step #1.
3. Answer people also ask questions related to your keyword. They also contain related terms around your topic. In our example, here are the questions you want to answer in your post:
4. Use keyword variations in your post. For instance, a searcher might use “best small business credit card” as opposed to “best credit cards” to optimize your post around your target keyword. These keyword variations can be placed in your H2 headings.
5. Publish in-depth and detailed content. Depending on your topic, you might want to make sure that each post you publish has all the information a reader needs. For example, an ultimate guide on the subject.
Doing this will send a signal to Google that you’re providing the most relevant information people need, so you’ll start ranking higher than other bloggers in your niche.
As the former head of digital at BigCommerce, I can say that this tip alone is worth its weight in gold, especially when doing keyword research for e-commerce SEO. Semantic keywords are one of the top ways to gain a competitive edge.
Tip #4: Personalize your content through long-tail keywords
After starting a new blog, it’s tough to successfully compete and rank for informational keywords in your niche right away. Not that you shouldn’t try because if you consistently publish compelling content, you’ll gradually rise to the top.
Your blog will help you build an audience that will buy your product or service. A section of this audience is actively looking for specific information about your product or service.
Boost your rankings through publishing your bottom of funnel content. It has fewer competitors because people use long-tail keywords that are related to a service or a product they want to buy.
A great example of a bottom of the funnel piece of content is this blog post from GetVoIP on customer satisfaction surveys:
While this type of content may be considered bottom of the funnel as it is intended to educate and provide value to your audience, this is exactly the type of content that helps move readers through your sales funnel.
At the end of the day, people buy from who they know, like and trust. What better way to establish that trust than by providing valuable content your audience is already searching for online?
Not to mention, providing valuable content is another way to drastically increase user satisfaction. After all, studies show that customers would happily recommend a company to a friend after a positive experience. How’s that for a return on investment?
Just be sure to have a customer feedback strategy in place to make sure that what you think is valuable to your audience, is actually valuable. Don’t guess when you can easily ask them what they want!
If you’re not sure how to find out what your audience wants, try sending out a drip or scheduled email campaign to your list to get their feedback. You could set up an automated email sequence for whenever someone joins your list, and ask them in one of the initial emails what they are struggling with most in their business or want to see on the blog next.
Here’s an example of one of the first emails readers get when they subscribe to my list:
This is a much better strategy than sending out a broadcast, as drip campaigns tend to be more targeted. The thing is, your new subscribers never get to see all your previous emails when you just send out a broadcast.
By using a targeted drip campaign instead, you can set up a sequence that includes a welcome email where you send them all of your best blog posts and/or free training and also ask for their feedback on what they want to read next.
The following emails could include more tips on whatever it is you blog about and just be value-packed. This way, you get the most out of your existing content and don’t have to draft new emails all the time. Not to mention, drip marketing emails generate much more revenue than your typical broadcast. Need I say more?
Notice how at the end of the email, I encourage readers to reach out if they have any questions and I also add that I respond to every email:
This is a great way to encourage engagement and start building relationships with your audience as you move them down your funnel.
Looking for some more bottom of funnel content inspiration to reel your audience in and convince them to join your list in the first place? Another excellent tactic would be publishing an unbiased post comparing yourself with your competitors, just like Pandadoc did in their post on proposal software:
It’s a bold move that forces them to admit shortcomings in their product, but in the end, they come across as a trustworthy company.
Project management company, Proofhub, did something similar in a blog post comparing Asana alternatives:
You can also use WordPress or your choice of website builders to create long-form landing pages based on your long-tail keywords.
Identify these audience segments, then create landing pages and sprinkle long-tail keywords naturally in your copy.
Bonus #1: Another great way to collect your audience’s feedback is to install chatbots and get them to do the job for you. You can add them to your landing page or your blog and set up a sequence for a bot to engage your website’s visitors and gather relevant data. Here’s an example of how Tidio is doing that:
Bonus #2: If you want to take your customer feedback strategy even further to deliver really kickass content for your audience, you might want to create separate conversational landing pages for each of your products or features.
Not only do you get a chance to connect only with people highly interested in your business, but you can also do it one-on-one and therefore create a personalized experience for your website’s visitors and customers. What’s a better way to collect feedback?! Here’s an example of such a page built with Tidio:
Tip #5: Know how to effectively edit your stock photos
As a blogger, no matter how well you write, your words alone will never be sufficient to capture a reader’s attention. You need images to help you create the right emotional tone in your content to help your readers understand your message.
If you want to convince your readers to try a new idea, use images that make them feel good about it. This makes them open to implementing your suggestions.
Images provide a great reading experience because readers understand and remember what they read. And that’s why blog posts with images get 94% more views.
Using images might sound simple. You may consider pulling a few stock photos and inserting them into your blog posts. Before you do that, you remember that for your images to be effective, you need to be strategic about how you create and use your images.
Similarly, you can use compelling infographics, data-driven images, and quotes to add variety to your content.
Tip #6: Create a podcast
While starting a blog attracts people who love reading, a podcast allows you to attract people who love audio content.
86 million people in the US listen to podcasts in 2019, and by 2022, the number of listeners will grow to 132 million people.
Podcasts are flexible so one can tune in on their morning commute or when they are engaged in other activities during the day. Starting a podcast gives you more visibility and boosts your presence on social media, so you come across as an expert.
Besides, the title, show notes, and the transcript are great places to use keywords and insert links taking listeners back to your blog and other channels.
It’s easier than ever to get started podcasting thanks to all the different podcast hosting companies who have something to offer everyone, no matter where you are in your podcast journey. After all, different podcasters will require different needs in their hosting.
If you start a podcast, be sure to create a dedicated Instagram profile for the show to reach more of your target market. There’s plenty of ways you can grow an Instagram following from scratch organically by posting consistently and choosing hashtags wisely.
Here’s an example from Jenna Kutcher’s podcast, the Goal Digger Podcast:
With over 1 billion active users, it’s a no-brainer that Instagram is amazing for growing a podcast (and a blog!)
Tip #7: Build your domain authority
Domain authority helps you know how well you’re ranking on Google as compared to other bloggers in your niche. Domain authority score ranges from 1-100, and, as a new blogger, you probably have a low score. No need to worry, though, since you can improve your score through link building and guest posting.
Start by analyzing the sites linking back to your competitors using a backlink analysis tool:
Once you do this, you have two options:
- Write a guest post for these sites. Here’s how to go about it:
- Read content on these sites
- Identify posts or topics that you can expand on
- Pitch a guest post idea and follow their guidelines for your proposal
- Building a relationship with the owners of the sites you want links from. Here’s how to do it:
- Read their content and post meaningful comments
- Follow them on social media and subscribe to their emails
- Initiate conversations with them centered around what they are interested in
- Be consistent and genuine in your interactions
Once you do this, create a link-worthy post, such as a thorough guide on a topic they have talked about on their blog.
Then, share the post with them and then request them to link back to your post. Do this consistently until you’re able to see a gradual increase in your domain authority score.
Tip #8: Nail your calls to action
Having a great call to action (CTA) is critical for growing your new blog.
While optimization and great content bring in traffic, it’s your job to also keep that traffic hanging around and coming back for more.
To do this, you’ll need to build calls to action that resonate with your readers. Ones that provide value and a reason to keep reading your content or give you their email address in exchange for a lead magnet.
For example, Reply.io nails this with their upgraded content lead magnet CTAs:
Complete with custom, beautiful design, it’s a no-brainer for someone to grab these free ebooks and become a lead in their funnel.
This ensures they convert fast as the offer and value leaves fast.
This not only improves your CTA, but ensures that organic traffic starts to build trust in your brand, rather than forcefully pushing sales.
Nail your calls to action to ensure your SEO isn’t just for impressions, but for real customers too.
Tip #9: Invest in Link Building
According to Google, link building is tied with content in terms of SEO importance. Yes, you heard that right:
Content without links is just content that won’t rank.
Meaning you need backlinks from high-quality websites to build your domain rating and rank for the keywords you want.
Links tell Google multiple helpful signals:
- Your content is good quality (if being linked to from good sources)
- Your content is relevant to the content it’s being mentioned within
At the end of the day, link building is paramount to impactful SEO. I also talk more about growing your blog’s traffic through link building in my guide on starting a profitable blog.
Which tip will you start with?
Ranking on Google takes time. You might be tempted to implement all these ideas at once, and this will leave you exhausted.
Focus on one thing at a time, then build momentum as you move forward. You may choose to create stellar content, start a podcast, or boost your domain authority.
Whichever you choose to start with, measure your rankings every quarter then improve on the results you get. Once you start getting consistent results, come back here and choose another idea, then go ahead and implement it.
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This blog post is about:
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- SEO Tips
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