Highly Effective SEO Strategies That Bring Results
It’s a new year, depending on when you’re reading this. Yet, we know SEO is always evolving and changing.
As we continue to see changes in search engines, our Research & Development department at Hale Associations is always out there in action testing, optimizing and analyzing.
What can we tell you about SEO in 2017? What can you expect? What are the most important SEO strategies and techniques?
If you’re a business owner, an executive, webmaster or blogger, you’ve likely heard of SEO. If not, you may want to read What Is SEO.
It’s a common strategy that everyone needs to know to achieve organic results, keyword rankings and organic traffic. SEO, also known as search engine optimization, is a broad subject. We can spend months on SEO and still not cover every area. For now though, we’re going to discuss successful SEO strategies that are proven to work.
In total, there’s thought to be over 200 different SEO ranking factors. You’ve likely seen these SEO guides listing over 200 actionable SEO tactics, but who has time for that?
I know I don’t and I know you don’t need to worry about all of them. In fact, you don’t need to worry about 100 of them, nor 50.
(1) CTR (Click-Through-Rates)
Metadata, particularly meta descriptions are now more important than ever. I’m referring to the meta description you use in your metadata for any specific page or post.
Your meta descriptions need to be optimized for SEO, but also enticing to be click on in search results. A low CTR can de-rank your ranking keywords and pages.
The meta description needs to include the targeted ranking keyword in the paragraph(s) as well as being valuable and engaging to the user. After all, we can rank as high as we want, if our description is boring, you’ll find users skipping your listing. Proven, a low CTR will lower your keyword ranking.
However, if you’ve worked with SEO long enough, you have a good general idea to what works and what doesn’t. SEO has been around for years though and through SEO case studies and working SEO strategies over the years, we’ve been able to learn what SEO techniques work and which work the best. If you happen to be a SEO, always keep your data. Record everything. I was fortunate enough to do so. I don’t publish many case studies, but having past data, analytics and results to go back on is always helpful. Especially when you begin working niche SEO and market SEO.
2017 SEO ranking factors have changed from the previous year, they often do. Not really in terms of technique but rather importance. So you certainly want to pay attention to these successful SEO strategies that we’ve used with great results. If you follow them through, you’re going to see improvement and growth.
(2) Social Media Influence And SEO
Social media influence, social media signals, social media mentions, all of these are playing a role in SEO rankings.
There’s a lot of theories behind this approach. We know Google is using social media signals as a trust factor and ranking factor. Social media influence has been a SEO ranking factor for a few years now. The difference in 2017, more weight and value for your social media engagement,
What does it mean for you?
Focus on building engagement on ranking pages, pages you want to rank and your social media profiles. Make sure all of your profiles link back to your website. Get people to engage with your social properties, this should be your goal in 2017.
Make sure you’re using hashtags, ideally these would be your keywords. Make sure you’re using keyword variations, don’t just focus on the same old hashtags. Bringing in new hashtags will help you reach new users. Lastly, make sure you’re sharing your ranking pages consistently.
Want to learn more about how you can make social media work for your business. Read my guide to social media marketing.
(3) Backlinks And Anchor Text
Backlinks have been the most important SEO strategy for years and 2017 will be no different.
While backlink and link building strategies have changes, referring domains are still your top target.
First, how about we look at the backlink myths so you know what’s really working in link building and what is not.
Myth 1: Have To Get Backlinks From Relevant Websites
How many times have you heard this? While relevance is important to an extent, this claim is false.
Google knows websites have different purposes when it comes to linking to one another. While it makes sense for a marketing website to link to another marketing website, that’s not always the case.
It’s normal for websites to link to other websites that are not closely related.
Myth 2: I Need A High Percentage Of Exact Match Anchors To Rank First Page
Here’s another link building myth, SEOs saying you need exact match anchors to rank first page.
Sure, you’re going to have one or two exact match keywords, but don’t focus on only that unless you want a penalty.
What you need is a good mix of backlinks, using multiple anchor text variations with your targeted keywords.
If you don’t have backlink software, I would suggest getting one. Ahrefs.com is one of the top tier backlink and link tools out there.
Yes, this is a paid backlink tool but well worth the investment.
It allows you to see the value of links pointing to your website. Why is important to know the value of a backlink? Backlinks that have high value passes a majority of that value to your website, depending on if the link is a dofollow link or nofollow link.
Dofollow links pass along the value of the referring website while nofollow links don’t. Even though nofollow links pass no value from the linking website, they still carry a little SEO value. Ahrefs’ software tells you which links are dofollow and which are nofollow.
(4) Internal Link Building
Internal links are still vital to achieving high search engine rankings.
The number of internal links varies and I’ll include outgoing links also.
Usually, you want to start with a few internal links to your most relevant pages. You also want to add an outgoing backlink or two.
Internal links play many roles, so correctly utilizing them is very important.
Your visitors should have no questions about where to go on your website. If they find navigating your website difficult, you’re going to lose leads, sales, subscribers, what ever your trying to accomplish. Your site navigation should be clear. In the same token, you should be building internal links with your targeted keywords. You want to make sure all your internal links are relative to the content. Internal links are also a great way to build organic search queries, which can be tracked by Google Webmaster Tools, now known as Google Search Console.
There’s a number of different analysis on link building. You see so many articles online telling you this and that, it can be tough to know which link building strategies do work. Through link building case studies, we know that having a natural and diverse link profile is the best strategy. Having a good mixture of branded links, branded links with keywords, exact match keywords and URL links is needed to obtain the highest possible SEO rankings.
(5) Keyword Location
Where you place keywords in your website matters.
Best SEO practices, we’re told to include keywords at the main beginning of our titles. It’s also best practice to list your keyword in the first paragraph of the article.
All links have weight, so using your main target keywords in your main navigation menu (first level) can influence keyword rankings.
Keyword density (from what we’ve tested) should be around 1-2 percent, which means 1-2 times per 100 words.
(6) Outreach For Backlinks
Backlinks are the most important SEO ranking factor, believe it. Your ability to build relationships for backlinks is going to be critical.
Take it from me, we don’t build backlinks first, we build relationships first.
Go out and begin connecting with industry leaders and influencers. Your objective is to help them, what you must become is a valuable asset.
Once the relationship is built, then you can approach them for backlinks, not a second before.
Unless you want the low valued backlinks that will give you minimal results at best, you need strong, powerful links.
You need authority backlinks to your domain from domains that are trusted by Google.
Start your outreach campaign today, right now, that’s how important it is. Take the time to meet people, build genuine relationships, don’t just do it for the backlinks. We all need them, most people understand that, but they will be more willing to link to you if they know you. Common sense.
(7) Using Proper Heading And Subheadings
Knowing how to structure content for SEO is important. Another techniques that we include in our SEO strategies is proper heading tags, H1-H6 tags. While your H5-H6 tags can be overated, your H1-H4 are important to proper SEO content structure. It’s important to note that your page’s title often counts for your H1 heading and you only need one main heading or title. In your content, you should start with your H2 and H3 tags.
I know what some of you may be thinking, how do I use all these tags when they have different sizes and make my content look terrible? You can change the size of your headings/titles and subheadings/subtitles. You’ll need to do this with your source code. If you’re on WordPress, your theme if you chose to go with one may have options to change the text sizes.
(8) SEO Content Structure And Pages
The structure of your content and the elements added to your pages play a vital role in how a specific page is valued and keywords ranked. If you ever can find time, take a few minutes to look at the top ranking pages for competitive keywords. Review those pages and check out the different elements that are on those pages. This will give you a general idea of what can add high value to increase page authority and keyword rankings on that page.
Images are one of those elements that can be added to increase the SEO value of your pages. Search engines can’t see pictures at this time, so they rely on alt image text. This is an area that can be used to store a keyword that describes the picture. If you’re not using the alt image tag on images, we suggest you do immediately. Videos are another element that can add SEO value to an article. Audio files is another. The more you add, the better chance you give your page and keywords to rank.
(9) Keyword Density
We’re quickly heading into 2016 and from a few recent SEO case studies, I can say keyword density is still important to ranking a specific keyword. If your keyword pages aren’t ranking, you may need to add more keywords to your article. You’ve likely heard of keyword density before, ranging from 1 percent up to 8 percent. From my experience, you want to be on the upper spectrum of that range. At least 4-5 percent.
I recently worked with a client rebuilding content for a relaunch and most of our keywords were around 1-2 percent. We aimed for 5 percent (and I know some thing this is high) but we’ve seen organic traffic grow to the tune of 67 percent on a high traffic volume website. (At the beginning of October 2015)
(10) Targeting Your Keywords
I can’t count the number of clients we bring on that have published multiple pages targeting the same keyword. Never do this, never target the same main SEO keyword more than once. This is a common mistake and you’re left with your own pages fighting to rank for the keyword. Honestly, you may be better off keeping the best performing article or best written article, deleting the others. You don’t need 50 pages on “SEO Strategies” to rank for the keyword. Likely, you’re not ranking now because your pages battle one another for ranking.
Only target one main keyword per page. Open an Excel spreadsheet. Document the URL and the potential keyword ranking. Keep track of this and make sure you don’t target the same main keyword twice. It’s ok to use that keyword in other articles. but not as the main SEO keyword.
(11) Content Is The Most Important On-Site SEO Strategy
Content is still king of SEO and maybe more so now than ever before.
Your content has to be many things;
- Based on data (works best)
- Written for a purpose
- Visually appealing
It’s getting harder to rank for keywords, competition is at all-time highs and always growing. How can your website stay competitive against industry giants? I know how, great content! Your content can take you from the valley to the mountain top but only if it’s great.
Content that has 2,000 or more words has been proven to rank higher in Google.
Your content should be very informative, organized well and it should serve a purpose. Content without a purpose is often a waste of time. It should contain several images that are related to the topic. It should contain relative internal links to add value to the user. All of these are important. And enough with the 100-200 articles.
At the least, you should be pushing for 2,000 words or more to rank for competitive keywords. In most cases, the content that is more informative and longer in length have the biggest upside when search engines consider where to rank your page.
Proven SEO Strategies That Work
The proven SEO strategies above not only work but are quite effective in helping you achieve high search engine rankings. It all starts with great content. And after you publish that content, it’s all about backlinks. Great content and authority backlinks are big SEO components and enough to take your business to new levels. It’s not easy though, there’s great effort that goes into writing quality content and building relationships. But if you do, you will see SEO results, I guarantee you that.