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Search engine optimization (SEO) still matters - and it’s going to matter for years to come. The majority of consumers now use Google on a mobile device or computer to search for branded solutions. Earning a high-ranking for key search terms and your customer’s frequently-asked questions can send loads of organic traffic and prospective customers to your company’s website each year.
What SEO Tips and Tricks Do Marketers Need to Know?
Marketers need the ability to perform basic optimization, testing, and improvements on their websites to win the favor of search engines. To be clear, this isn’t all that’s required to optimize your site. Technical SEO is really important. An inbound marketing consultant or professional web designer should be able to guide your company through XML sitemaps, robots.txt files, and other aspects of SEO that require some light coding or content management system (CMS) abilities.
In this blog, you’ll learn some highly-effective SEO tips and tricks that are simple enough for your average inbound marketing manager to perform on their own, or outsource -- and a bit of insight into just why they’re so effective.
1. Use Keywords
There’s a great deal of misinformation and myths floating around in regards to keyword research and integrating keywords into blog posts. The SEO experts at Moz believe that even in today’s search climate, keyword research is “one of the most...valuable and high return” things you can do. And we’re definitely inclined to agree!
Keyword research is not a tool for any of the following:
- Cramming keywords repeatedly into awkwardly-phrased blocks of text
- Tricking search engines
- Trying to rank for irrelevant-but-popular concepts
- Achieving a magically perfect density (hint: there is NO perfect density)
Keyword research is an invaluable tool for understanding trends in your industry, and the language your consumers are using to find your products. Understanding trending search terms, and using this language to shape your page titles, descriptions, and concepts is definitely a best practice for modern search-minded marketers.
Remember, relatively recent updates to search algorithms have introduced a concept known as “semantic search,” which has some natural language processing capabilities. Modifying keywords to fit naturally into your page title and content will still be recognized by search engines.
2. Use Best Practices for Building Links
Backlinks to your website don’t matter nearly as much to your search ranking as they did several years ago. Searchmetric’s research on SEO ranking factors indicates that while backlinks matter, social signals (such as earned Facebook “likes” and Google +1s) may matter even more.
Google will penalize marketers who engage in any shady or questionable link building practices, which include:
- Submitting your site to excessive directories
- Nailing blogs with low-quality, lame comments
- Poor-quality guest blogging for the sole purpose of building links
- Deliberate “link exchange” schemes with sites that aren’t related to your brand
Simply put, if the link isn’t a “natural” part of high-quality content, it probably has no business being online. If poor-quality or irrelevant links to your site become a pattern, you could be penalized heavily.
However, there are modern approaches to building links organically that are highly-effective. Obviously, consistently publishing high-quality content that earns citations is key. Additionally, the following activities can result in a surge of organic links to your site:
- Compiling “best of” posts that link to your competitors
- Publishing original research
- Creating high-value, interesting press releases
- Guest blogging on sites where you can offer significant value to the audience
- Becoming an active member of the comment community at high-value, relevant websites
- Following-up on brand mentions that don’t include a link to request a citation
3. Optimize Your Pages
Marketers with a user-friendly CMS should regularly audit their site pages and all new published pages to ensure that basic on-page SEO criteria are met. Every page on your site should include each of the following attributes:
- One or more keywords
- A descriptive, short URL
- A H1 tag that informs and contains a keyword
- A meta description which describes the page accurately
- Proper H2 and H3 tags for readability
- User-friendly content formatting
For marketers who have thousands of website pages with poor SEO optimization, performing a website audit can represent an enormous time commitment. However, taking a methodical approach to auditing and improving your pages can yield significant gains in search performance and user experience.
4. Map Your Strategy to an Audience
Google, Bing, Yahoo, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook are constantly tweaking their search algorithms. In fact, Moz reports that Google’s update may change more than daily, and often more than 200 times a year. The precise components these complex algorithms consider are closely-guarded trade secrets and increasingly consider human behavior like social media shares.
No marketers will ever figure out exactly how to trick Google. If they do, the algorithm could change several hours later. It’s simply not worth it.
The only SEO tactic that’s guaranteed to remain effective as long as search engines are in daily use is to map your content marketing strategy to an audience. Create robust, vibrant buyer persona profiles, and create content that’s filled with value for your target audience. Algorithms are continuing to think more and more like humans. Providing value to the people who are searching for your brand is your best hope of winning the hearts of your future customers and search engines.
5. Focus on Site Speed
Site speed matters to Google and your customers. Abandonment on desktops and mobile devices sharply increases if a page takes longer than two seconds to load.
Marketers should measure the performance of their website’s top pages using a free tool like Google’s Page Speed tool. According to Smart Bug Media, the top factors that can cause your pages to drag include:
- Video Embeds from YouTube, Vimeo or another source
- Very large or uncompressed image files
- Excessive images or videos
- Poor-quality code
- Excessive page plug-ins
While your average marketer may not have the ability to resolve site speed issues that are rooted in complex issues like bad code or too many plugins, they can certainly identify issues for their web team to develop. Also, marketers can avoid publishing fresh content that loads slowly.
Marketers don't necessarily need to master the art of technical SEO. At many organizations, learning the factors that drive positive rankings (or penalization) are enough to significantly improve your site's performance in search. By understanding the fundamentals of modern SEO best practices, you can continually audit and improve your rankings.