2019 is the year that we level the playing field for SEO
SEO comprises of the technical and content-related elements that elevate rankings, drive traffic to your site, and increase visibility within search engines. Over the last year, developers and content producers have seen just how important it is to build not only engine-friendly websites, but people-friendly websites. While starting out with an SEO strategy seems like a daunting task, we have scoured the web to find some great hacks for getting your content ranked— at any experience level or budget. From title tags to link building to optimizing your video content, 2019 is the year to perfect your SEO strategy.
Tools to Test Your Strategy
Before we share our best SEO tips, we want to recommend some useful tools for testing your strategy. These tools fall under two categories: pre-strategy research and post-implementation assessment.
- Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer: Ahrefs offers a cache of fantastic SEO tools, but we especially like the Keywords Explorer, which helps you to assess the best potential keywords to utilize for your website and potential customers.
- MyPresences is a great way to find new avenues for SEO, and new avenues of potential traffic for your website.
- Seranking is an all-in-one SEO cloud-based software that offers a great SEO competitor research tool.
- Linkminer helps you see how to best utilize backlinks and build your link profile.
- Buzzsumo displays the best influencers and platforms for sharing specific content.
- Spotibo’s SEO Audit Tool helps you to “find duplicate content on your site, error pages, wrong anchor texts, redirect chains and much more.”
- Browseo is a web app that focuses on what pure HTML websites look like — without stylization. It also shows what parts of a page that are relevant for SEO.
- If you have a WordPress website, the Yoast plugin is an excellent tool for assessing how your current layout and content ranks, and how to improve.
- Kissmetrics is a fantastic tool that offers behavioral insights showing how users get to your page.
- Botify gives “SEO stakeholders the data, tools, and diagnostics necessary to create and maintain high quality digital assets for search engines and voice assistants.”
This isn’t to say that you need to conduct an SEO strategy once and you’re done. As you’ll see, the entire field is constantly changing given innovations in search engine algorithms and new mediums, so we always advise that you continue to educate yourself on the latest trends and how to adapt. Your rankings will thank you.null
Title Tags — Search Yourself
The first step to developing an effective title tag optimization strategy is to search for businesses, content, and websites like yours on Google — and other search engines. According to a recent article from Search Engine Journal, 2019 is the year we go beyond assessing only Google search results. There are a bunch of great ways to assess how your website and title tags fare in comparison to others, such as the Ahrefs Keyword Explorer, which provides advanced metrics to assessing how your page ranks with different search queries. Once you figure out where you rank compared to, say, your competitors, you can begin formulating your own strategy. Once you start formulating your title tag, there are a few key points to remember. Start out by assessing what the top-ten search results for your query are, including in their title tags, and keep this in mind when formulating your own.
One of the first lessons journalists learn is to create compelling headlines — something that grabs your reader. Think of Google’s search result page as a collection of headlines, or title tags, to be clicked on. You want to leave your potential viewer, customer, or reader wanting more, and the best way to do so is to devise a direct, appealing and informational title tag. The challenge is getting both people and search engines to like your title tag — it is their first impression of you, after all.
First, your title tag must be under 66 characters. That’s all you get to drive customers to your website, and anything more will simply be truncated with an ellipses. Next, it’s very important to include the name of your brand, blog or website in the title tag. It increases brand awareness and authority. Many people forget that Google utilizes title tags for every page of a website, not just the homepage. Using keywords in the title tag means that search engines will bold that term when it’s directly in the search query. This increases visibility and drives greater traffic to your website. Title tags are also displayed when your website is shared on social media pages, so an effective title tag will not only help your search engine results, but your website’s visibility across platforms. For more information on crafting the perfect title tag, we recommend checking out Moz’s tutorial on the subject.
Use your keyword once in the title tag, and keep it organized and concise. Keyword Cannibalization is another potential pitfall of including your keyword too many times in a title tag. It can hurt your rankings and confuse potential customers. Speaking of keywords…
Keywords and Content
Keywords are the foundation of SEO-it’s how search engines organize the endless information on the internet. Other than making a text-rich, well-planned website, there are a few ways to effectively utilize keywords. In 2019, focusing on ‘on-page optimization’ will continue to be extremely important. The first step is to start out with a well-organized website — the goal of search engines is to organize the internet, and the best way to rank is to make their job easier. “Siloing,” or simply organizing your website by theme or topic will help both your users and search engines to find information. It’s extremely important to have clearly laid-out pages, headers, and subsections on your website — which will help search engines get potential customers to the right page of your website — which will lead to higher conversion.
Audience-focused content is key. You can have a perfectly written, SEO-optimized website — but if it’s optimized for the wrong audience, then all of your hard work will go to waste. Whether your website comprises of an online marketplace, service, or other content, it’s necessary to blog, backlink to articles about your field, and create meaningful content on your website. “Google algorithm updates in 2018 revealed that Google is intensifying its focus on evaluating content quality and at the depth and breadth of a website’s content,” according to Search Engine Journal. For example, if you’re offering graphic design services, keep a blog on your company’s profile about the latest graphic design trends in your area. This not only provides a great place to share your expertise and make you an authority in your field, but will help you to rank higher in search results. Be careful not to overdo it on the keywords, however never partake in “keyword stuffing or over-optimizing.” Using specific keywords too frequently in your content will hurt your search engine rankings.
For the most part, Google searches tend to be very specific and focused — leading to searches with fewer, but more accurate results. Long-Tail Keywords are keywords that are “unpopular” on Google, but that yield high conversion rates. For example, if somebody searches, ‘coffee roasters in Berlin,’ they’re going to receive fewer, more specific results than if they just searched for the query, ‘coffee.’ The former results, however, are more likely to be clicked. The more you understand the specific queries people may search when looking for your website, the more excited they’ll be when they see your page in the search engine results. Therefore, it’s best to use a range of specific keyword combinations that will not only drive traffic, but intended and purposeful traffic.
Link Building & Backlinking
Link Building is the practice of the generating links from other sites to drive traffic to your website, and Backlinking refers to the result you get after link building. The more people share your website and link to your content, the higher you’ll rank in search engine results. When you’re first starting out with your SEO strategy, it’s difficult to get people to write about and cover your content — so do some research. This is often the facet of SEO optimization that newcomers have the most trouble with. It takes time, money, and effort to get other websites to link back to you — plain and simple. According to Kapwing.com, however, there are a number of cost and time-effective ways to begin link building. And remember, not all publicity is good publicity. You don’t ever want to spam potential customers, buy links, or focus too much on linking to Youtube and other non-domain websites.
The first, and most time consuming, way to get backlinks is to reach out to bloggers, reviewers, and journalists to write about your website. According to Kapwing.com, “send brief emails with clear calls to action to bloggers and journalists letting them know about your product.” Oftentimes, a few key mentions in highly-viewed blog posts can send SEO results soaring.
Next, it’s effective to start posting and commenting on forum and ranking websites like Product Hunt, Indie Hacker, Pinterest, Quora, DesignerNews, HackerNews, and, of course, Reddit. Buff up your Crunchbase, AngelList, and LinkedIn profiles by streamlining your content across all platforms — with backlinks. This is a free and effective way to increase exposure across a broad range of platforms, and grow your presence on search engine results.
Lastly, it’s best to keep your blog and content marketing up-to-date. The more cutting-edge, enlightening and relevant content on your website, the more likely journalists and other bloggers are to reference you. This not only helps to build your backlink profile, but to define your authority in the field. It’s also a great idea to use effective and direct Calls-To-Action in your content.
Optimizing Video Content for SEO
Video SEO has changed dramatically in recent years with the advent of video marketing, video-sharing websites like Instagram, and live video streaming. If you’re having difficulty achieving high rankings with your videos, it’s because of the recent boon of the medium. It’s easier to get your video ranked under Google’s “video” tab, but much more difficult to get it to rank against the millions of other videos indexed.
First, it’s important to consider what platform you’re using to host your videos. Search results for videos uploaded on YouTube, for example, will click through to YouTube and not your website. Some platforms like Wistia include SEO metadata with uploaded videos — increasing your video’s chance of ranking higher. Secondly, one of the best ways to increase the SEO of video content is to focus on the content surrounding an embedded or uploaded video on your website. Video transcriptions are the best way to do this — they simply act as copy on the page. Make sure you include at least partial transcriptions for any video featured on your website.
Remember when we discussed title tags earlier in this article? The same goes for video title tags. Videos with a direct and intriguing titles will garner more clicks and views for your website. Not to sound cliche, but a picture is worth a thousand words. The selected thumbnail of your video acts as the video’s “title tag.” It’s important to create a custom, attractive thumbnail for your video to draw in viewers.
When embedding videos on your website, it’s best to make your video the focus of the page it’s on — and optimize the content following the video for SEO as well. Lastly, it’s great to embed a selected video close to the top of your homepage. If your homepage is ranking well, Google is more likely to include a clickable thumbnail of your video in the search results for your website. Video SEO is a new field, so it’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest trends and changes in Google’s video ranking algorithms.
Want to know more, but don’t have time to read the multitudes of SEO information available online? There are a bunch of great SEO-centered podcasts that can help you boost your rankings. Our favorites are Search Engine Nerds, Search Talk Live, and MozPod!
In the end, the biggest principle of SEO strategy is to produce content that’s relevant for your potential clients, users, and readers, rather than focusing solely on the parameters of the search engine itself. If people find your website through SEO, but aren’t kept there by the information that’s actually on the website, then the goal of an effective SEO strategy hasn’t been met.
So remember the basics we’ve taught you and have fun with your content. If you have some tips and tricks you’d like to share, or maybe you’re an SEO expert and you want to share your story via a LAMA interview, shoot an email.
Jill Beytin is an American radio and print journalist living in Berlin.