So you find search engine optimization (SEO) a little intimidating, huh?
Well, we don’t blame you. But we’d also be remiss not to mention the fact that SEO isn’t as cryptic or technically advanced as most small business owners, entrepreneurs, and marketing professionals make it out to be.
If you want the truth, there’s a lot you can do if you’re simply willing to roll up your sleeves and get to work.
Before we take a deep dive into the nitty-gritty of SEO, let’s take a few moments to emphasize why SEO is so important to businesses at this very moment in time.
For starters, consider that the first organic result in any Google search result has an average click-through rate (CTR) of 28.5 percent. That means that, out of the millions of search results that are produced, a user is going to click the first organic page more than one-quarter of the time.
Things get even more interesting when you consider that the second and third positions get 15.7 percent and 11 percent of clicks, respectively. And if you toss in an 8 percent CTR for result number four and a 7.2 percent CTR for result number five, that means the top five search results account for more than 7 in 10 clicks.
If you’re not on page one? Well, good luck getting any organic search engine traffic. You might pick up some scraps here and there, but it won’t be enough to move the needle much. (Page two and beyond get less than 1 percent of all clicks.)
Here are a couple of other interesting search-related nuggets:
So whenever you’re tempted to think SEO doesn’t matter, please consider these data points. While it’s not easy to get ranked in one of the top search positions, it’s certainly possible. And by doing everything you can to enhance your SEO, you’ll dramatically improve your chances of driving traffic to your site.
While there aren’t many shortcuts to SEO success, there are some growth hacks you can use to streamline the process and leverage your time, money, and connections more efficiently.
Let’s take a look at some of the top SEO growth hacks to propel your efforts moving forward:
Links make the internet go round. And though link building can be an intensive process, there is some low-hanging fruit you can pluck with relative ease. Directory links certainly fall into this category.
To build up a few quick links, add your website to all of the main online directories, such as Yelp, Google My Business, Capterra, and any other niche/industry websites that are relevant to your field.
You won’t generate a ton of SEO juice from directory links, but it definitely has some impact. They’re free to claim and easy to set up – why wouldn’t you grab them?
Guest posting is one of our absolute favorite strategies. It works wonders and, when done with consistency, can move the needle in a major way.
The key is to find websites that are most likely to accept guest posts from you. You can search for opportunities by running a google search for “keyword + write for us” or “keyword + become a contributor.” But this is exactly the type of guest blogging sourcing that is dead.
In reality, the best type of guest blogging opportunities are proprietary, high authority, niche-relevant and don’t publicly list “write for us” on the site. Sourcing these types of opportunities is much more difficult, costly and time intensive, but it is possible.
Internal linking is another one of those low-hanging fruit options that you’d be crazy not to take advantage of. Any time you publish a post, aim to include at least three backlinks to other posts and resources on your website. This helps search engines associate your content. It may also pass along a little SEO juice from one page to another (particularly if you have a single page that ranks really well).
There are plenty of online SEO tools that will allow you to spy on your competition and study their backlink profiles. But did you know that spying can actually help you with your own SEO strategy?
Study your closest competitor’s link profile and notice which publishers they’re getting links from. It’s likely that a publication that links to your competition will also be willing to link to you. (Assuming you have quality content for them to use as resources.) It doesn’t hurt to reach out and ask!
We recommend taking a look at our Free SEO Backlink Checker Tool.
If you want to generate a maximum return on your investment, you can’t be selfish. Stop treating the internet like a one-way street and leverage it as the rich conversational platform it’s designed to be.
By participating in different online communities – including message boards and forums, Reddit pages, and Facebook groups – you earn the right to be heard. And after building up a little trust, you can offer your most valuable content and URLs as resources to help people. This has the potential to drive both SEO juice and traffic.
Your website is a dynamic digital billboard for your business. You should be using it in as many places as possible. Signatures are one simple and natural place. Include your website on your email signature, message board signatures, and in social media profiles.
Also building local links for SEO using link citations is also a must!
Google takes notice when a page has a high bounce rate and low average time on page, versus when it has a high conversion rate and long average time on page. Thus if you want to improve your rankings and stay in Google’s good graces, you must optimize your pages for conversions.
At the heart of conversion optimization is A/B testing (also known as split testing). This is where you run two elements of the same page, but you change up small elements and study different versions over a period of time. The version with the highest conversion rate is the winner. This is the one you serve moving forward.
The voice search revolution is alive and well. And you can expect it to boom even more in the coming years. According to the latest data, voice is now the number two choice for mobile search, trailing only the mobile browser. Nearly 50 percent of all search is conducted via voice.
This means you can no longer afford to ignore voice search in your keyword and SEO strategies. Optimizing for voice search means creating pieces of content that use natural language. You’ll also reap more value from content that answers questions from your niche.
Have you ever heard of the skyscraper technique? It’s an under-the-radar SEO hack that can help you elevate your content game and increase your odds of getting indexed for particular pages. It works like this:
This technique can be time-consuming, but if you make it a point to do at least one skyscraper piece per month, it’ll have a noticeable impact.
As website security becomes increasingly important, you want to signal to the search bots and search users that your website is safe and trustworthy. The best way to do this is by getting a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate so that you’re able to encrypt data and other important information. (You can tell when a website has an SSL certificate by looking at the start of the URL. It’ll have an “HTTPS” rather than a plain “HTTP.”)
Google has made it clear that they prefer for all indexing websites to come equipped with HTTPS. In fact, they’ve even made it a point to rank HTTPS sites more prominently in the rankings as a way of encouraging people to develop more secure sites.
You might not be familiar with the term “rich snippets,” but you’re certainly familiar with what they look like.
Rich snippets are those search engine results that are highlighted near the top and include things like images, thumbnails, ratings, reviews, quotes, and other elements that most results don’t provide.
The best way to send rich snippet information to Google is to add structured data markup to your website’s HTML.
Page speed is a very important component of your SEO and search rankings. If you have a slow page loading speed, it’s considered a conversion killer. And since Google wants to keep its users happy, they’re less likely to give you prominent real estate in the search results.
One way to speed up your page loading speed is to optimize your images. Here are some pointers:
Optimizing your images also gives you an opportunity to include targeted keywords so that the search engines better understand what your visual content is all about.
In the “olden days,” you could cram a bunch of links into your website footer and trick Google into bumping you up in the rankings. Today, this is considered a spammy practice (and you’ll end up paying for your transgressions with penalties and suppressed rankings). However, the footer is still valuable real estate.
The key is to ensure that all links you include in your footer have optimized and descriptive anchor text that corresponds with the search terms people use when they search for that type of content. Secondly, you can link to your best blog content and other high-value resource pages.
If you have 404 pages – which indicate an error or missing link – you’re squandering valuable opportunities to secure backlinks and enhance your SEO profile.
Use the Google Search Console to identify all 404 pages on your website. Once you find out where they’re looking to/from, you can step in and fix them.
Here’s the correct process:
If you have a lot of 404 errors, this can be a fairly time-intensive process. However, it’s something you must do to get your site on track.
Do you have trouble generating enough content for your website or blog on a regular basis? While quality is always more important than quantity, it certainly helps if you have a steady flow of exceptional content being published to your domain.
One of the best ways to amplify your content is to develop your own contributor program where you accept guest blog posts and feature them on your blog. This essentially gives you free content that you can produce at scale.
This is sort of a given by now, but there are still millions of websites that have not taken the step to become optimized for mobile search.
The best way to handle this is to develop a responsive website that automatically optimizes and adjusts based on the device accessing the site. This is a pretty standard feature of new websites, but you may need to do a little tweaking if your website is older and hasn’t been updated in several years.
At SEO.co, it’s our mission to supercharge your brand’s online presence and search traffic by producing the highest quality content and securing the most authoritative backlinks on the internet.