How To Properly Do SEO in 2019

How To Properly Do SEO in 2019
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Search engine optimization is not going away. As search becomes more ingrained into the way people find answers to questions and information pertaining to their activities and interests, the battle to the top will continue to be pivotal. But SEO is a tricky game that is always changing and never simple. So how can you make sure to stay ahead of the pack when it comes to organic rank?

SEO consists of two sectors: off-page and on-page.

  • Off-page SEO refers to the authority that your website has in the eyes of search engines
  • On-page SEO refers to the content and structure of your website itself

A strong focus on both off-page and on-page search engine optimization will do wonders in the organic ranking and traffic of your website, and will directly affect revenues, sales, conversions, and acquisition of customers. I am going to dive into these two facets in detail to tease out the important tactics and tricks to ensure that your site and brand stay on the up-and-up. Let’s dive right in.

Focusing on Off-Page Optimization

There are more ways to try and rank websites than there are fish in the sea. However, as time goes on, blackhat methods for link building and other off-page search engine optimization tactics are going by the wayside. So much of the tactics, tips, and tricks found on this forum are focused around off-page optimization and theories, that this section will be far less dense than the on-page focus section below. However, it is still crucial to dig into the facets of what works best for off-page SEO in the current era of the Internet.

Gear as much as you can towards quality over quantity. Spam works still in some cases, but if you’re looking to become an authority on a long-term website, you’re going to want to put quality first every single time.

When link building, push for the higher value options such as guest posting and blogger outreach. Look for sites that provide do-follow links on legitimate websites that have high metrics and ample traffic. Do your due diligence as well with tools such as Ahrefs and Archive.org to ensure that you aren’t getting duped with a website that has been spammed to death, or is a re-skinned PBN website.

Outreach and guest posts will always be the king of the jungle when it comes to link building. However, here are additional tips to ensure that your off-page SEO practices are flawless.

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OFF-PAGE SEO OPTIMIZATION TIPS AND TRICKS

Develop content that is easily digested and shared. Content is king to SEO. Develop content that matters to generate backlinks naturally from actual people recommending your page. Perform due diligence and plenty of research to stay ahead of the game in your specified niche.

Perform outreach and guest posts as often as you can. Take your valuable content and request backlinks from their blog. Additionally, when performing outreach, see about contributing to their blog as a guest author. Protip: It’s always good to already have a completed piece of content when pitching. Saves you from having to say “Okay, I’ll talk to you in a week or so when I have it written”.

Engage on social media. You can get solid social signals and natural links from social media channels, as well as increase traffic from social referring sources. Additionally, social bookmarking sites (such as Reddit) are one of the best platforms to promote your website. Forums are another wonderful social option for engagement and obtaining high-value links.

Links pointing from multimedia sources are a great way to diversify your link profile as well. Utilize YouTube and other video sharing websites, and add links in descriptions where applicable. Utilize Imgur and other image sharing websites, and again add links in descriptions where applicable. Soundcloud is great for podcasts, as well as other audio sites. The same goes for document sharing sites such as Slideshare and Web 2.0’s like Medium.

Finally, one of the more recent popular methods for grabbing traffic and backlinks comes from sites such as Quora and other question and answer engines. Look for questions relating to your niche, business, and topic, and provide concise, clear answers to the questions. Surprisingly, with enough engagement, a no-follow backlink on Quora can go do-follow.

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TOUCHING ON THE IMPORTANCE OF AVOIDING OVER-OPTIMIZATION

Keyword over-optimization is real. If you choose to only target exact match keywords, you are going to run into an issue in your link-building as it pertains to your rankings. In my opinion, an overwhelming percentage (think 90% or so) of your anchors should be generic and branded keywords, along with a few naked URLs. Remember, it’s important to appear as natural as possible when building links.

Only around 5 percent of your anchors should target the exact match phrase you choose to target. So, if I’m looking to rank for “cocktail tables”, I might have about ten anchors that are generic, branded, and niche relevant, a couple that are naked URLs to cocktailtables.com, and then one that is the exact match target.

My process is as follows:

  • For the first three months that a site is live and in growth stages, I will focus on generic and branded anchors.
  • Targeting as many branded anchors as possible, as search engines like brands. Make your site look like a brand.
  • After this, I slowly start to add a mix of naked URLs, LSI variations and exact match keywords.
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Focusing on On-Page Optimization

On-page optimization refers to changes and enhancements that can be made on the pages of website properties that you control. When performed properly, on-page SEO can be far simpler and far more effective and require far less research than off-page optimization.

Here are nine solid tips to check to make sure your on-page SEO is in tip-top shape.

ENSURE EXACT MATCHES FOR KEYWORDS APPEAR IN THE TITLE

Search engines need to know what your web page is about. It is crucial to ensure that the main keyword you are trying to rank for is found in the title of your article. Very few search results lacking the main keyword in the title will rank for that keyword or relevant LSI long-tails.

For example, if you are targeting “Cocktail Tables” as your main keyword, and your website is focused on restaurant supplies and services, this might be your default title page search engines see:

HOME – COCKTAILTABLES.COM

In comparison, an ideal title that search engines will love could be:

RESTAURANT SUPPLIES AND SERVICES | COCKTAIL TABLES

USE A PIPE INSIDE THE TITLE, BETWEEN KEYWORDS

There has been debate on the aesthetic and SEO value of separators, and which are the best to separate out keywords in a title meant for search engine relevance. While some prefer dashes, I have noticed extensive benefits in pipes. Pipe separators visually show that there are multiple things being focused on simultaneously. Which of these looks more appealing to you, dashes or pipes?

  • Dashes: COCKTAIL TABLES – BUILT-IN LEGS – HAND-SEWN TABLECLOTHS
  • Pipes: COCKTAIL TABLES | BUILT-IN LEGS | HAND-SEWN TABLECLOTHS

Pipes provide stronger distinction between more than one subject, especially in situations like the above where there are dashes in the focus keywords.

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BE UNIQUE IN META DESCRIPTIONS, AND USE MAIN KEYWORD(S)

Meta descriptions are key. They are your elevator pitch when ranking organically. Think of your meta description as a billboard for your web page, or even as an informative tweet. You want things to show properly, and you want to achieve two goals:

  1. Uniqueness in descriptions while maintaining character count
  2. Utilizing your main target keyword or keywords

It’s the difference between this:

Home – About – Blog – Contact – All Rights Reserved 2017 cocktailtables.com Terms of Service Privacy Policy

And this:

Looking for cocktail tables with extensive features for your growing business? Look no further! We provide extensive cocktail table options.

ENSURE PROPER LENGTHS IN TITLES AND META DESCRIPTIONS

The title of your page (that search engines see) should not exceed 50 to 60 characters if at all possible. At the same time, you don’t want your title to show too little information to cause confusion.

The meta description of your page should cap out around 150 characters. This will ensure that you aren’t going to get truncated in any way in search results.

So let’s compare our bad example:

HOME – COCKTAILTABLES.COM

Home – About – Blog – Contact – All Rights Reserved 2017 cocktailtables.com Terms of Service Privacy Policy

To our good example:

COCKTAIL TABLES | BUILT-IN LEGS | HAND-SEWN TABLECLOTHS

Looking for cocktail tables with extensive features for your growing business? Look no further! We provide extensive cocktail table options.

While the original shows some information, it lacks informative appeal in almost every way. Our good example, though, provides multiple target keywords in the title and description, meets character limits without exceeding them, and gets the point across in a concise and eloquent fashion.

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USE KEYWORDS AND LSI VARIANTS IN HEADER TAGS IN-TEXT

Your header tags tell search engines the overview of your content. They go from H1 (largest, typically title tag) to H6. The most commonly used tags in articles and posts are H2 and H3. If you don’t utilize header tags at all, crawlers will have a difficult time discerning what your article is about quickly, and the structure of your post will suffer for human visitors.

Best practice is to consider H1 your post title, H2 your main section titles, and then H3 your subsection titles. It is important to use variants of your LSI keywords in these heading tags. LSI stands for latent semantic indexing, which is a system search engines use to analyze the other words people use surrounding a given topic.

LSIGraph is a solid free tool for discovering LSI keywords, which are the keywords that are similar to target keywords, but are more focused and have lower search volume.

KEYWORD DENSITY – DON’T DROWN YOUR CONTENT

While Google loves keywords and loves when you put your keyword in your articles more than once, you don’t want to drown out all of your content by stuffing your target keyword(s) too many times. But there has been much debate over proper keyword density percentages. Here are what a smattering of places state is their ideal keyword density:

  • Shout Me Loud: 1-3% of keyword density along with “semantic keywords” and LSI keywords works best for me.
  • Yoast: In Yoast SEO, I aim for a keyphrase density of 0.5% to 3%.
  • Develomark: There is no specified ideal keyword density but it is recommended that you set a goal of between 1-3%.

While 1-3% seems to be the gold standard suggestions across the board, all of these sources also agree that keyword density is an arbitrary ranking factor. All that is really known is to include your keyword(s) at least once, and don’t drown your content in keywords. Personally, I like to play it safe and keep things around 1.5%.

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GET AS MUCH CONTENT AS POSSIBLE ON PAGE, BUT BE EFFECTIVE

In this day and age, content is king. It wasn’t too long ago that the ideal option was to churn out as many keyword-drive 500-word articles as humanly possible, do some SEO, and you were ranking. Those days are gone. As time moved, things changed. Now, content is king. Get as much content on-page as possible, but be sure to avoid the pitfalls, including:

  • Adding in too much content that should be split into multiple topics. You don’t want a 15,000-word article.
  • Pushing in filler to try to amp up the number of words.
  • Popping as many keywords as you can into your long-form articles (see the keyword density tip above).

You’re not Seth Godin, pushing out a 200-word article and getting a standing ovation. However, you also aren’t Neil Patel, publishing massive 8,000-word guides on deep dive topics. The trick is finding a good and effective in between.

Look at the popularity of Amazon affiliate sites and buyer’s guides. You will be hard pressed to find a well ranking, high-performing buyer’s guide less than 2,500 words. Here is a great tool to check word count and keyword density.

DENOTE YOUR KEYWORDS WITH BOLD AND ITALICS WHERE APPLICABLE

This is somewhat controversial, and is less of a search engine play and more of a keyword recognition play for your users. Here is what Google’s John Mueller had to say a couple of years ago on emphasizing your keywords:

But does [bolding] give you a little more ranking weight for the keyword you bold on your page? It might says John Mueller of Google. He said “you’ll probably get more out of bolding text for human users / usability in the end.” “Bots might like, but they’re not going to buy anything,” he added.

In the end, it all comes down to your personal preference. However, I suggest it, even if only for the human element.

INTERNAL LINKING IS KEY TO CRAWLING

Search engines will crawl websites via following both external and internal links through bots. The bots get to a home page, render up the page, and then follows the first link. Through following links, search engines work out relationships between posts, pages, and other available content. This allows the crawlers to determine which pages on your website cover similar subjects.

Internal linking establishes hierarchies on your site as well. This allows you to give pages and posts that are more important higher link value than pages and posts that may be less valuable. Using a proper internal linking strategy is a major SEO play.

In my example, I might add five internal links in a guide on Choosing the Perfect Cocktail Table, pointing to three specific cocktail table reviews, and two articles about Events Where Cocktail Tables are Ideal and Components of Cocktail Tables.

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TOUCHING ON THE IMPORTANCE OF WEBSITE SPEED

The above are vital, sure. However, one of the most crucial pieces of on-page search engine optimization is the speed at which your website loads.

Search engines such as Google have long indicated that page speed and site speed are one of the major algorithmic signals used for ranking pages. Further research by independent parties such as Moz, Ahrefs, and others have shown that market share titan Google may be measuring time-to-first-byte as well when considering page speed.

Additionally, slower load times means that these search engines will crawl less pages on an allocated budget for crawling. This can have a negative effect on the indexing of your site. Some of the best ways to increase the speed of your website include:

  • Enable compression onsite with a tool like Gzip.
  • Minify your CSS, HTML and JavaScript.
  • Reduce the number of redirects on your site.
  • Remove render-blocking JavaScript.
  • Leverage the caching of your browser.
  • Improve the response time of your server.
  • Utilize a CDN, or content distribution network.
  • Perform high-quality image optimization.

WP Rocket is a wonderful plugin that handles all of the above except for improving server response time and performing image optimization. Here is a comprehensive guide to using WP Rocket to increase the speed of your website. For image optimization, I suggest Imagify.

For improving the response time of your server, I highly recommend using a web host with a track record of extremely high performance, as well as stellar customer service. I suggest SiteGround, as it checks all of those boxes and then some. Off-topic for SEO, but I recommend Namecheap for domain purchases.

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That’s everything! Follow the steps above for both on-page and off-page search engine optimization, and you will have the techniques in your toolbelt to ensure a high-performing, well-ranking website.

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