Starting a new website or blog can be very exciting and fulfilling. The only downside is waiting for your site to get a decent Domain and Page Authority score, quality backlinks, and waiting on those rankings to increase. For some sites and brands, this is something that happens pretty quickly, while others anxiously and impatiently wait and wait and often end up with disappointing results.
What gives? Well, unless you really have a good grasp of SEO, then you’ll end up frustrated and want to give up. Don’t give up though because we’re about to give you some of the best tips to help improve your rankings more quickly and also boost your motivation. If you are completely new to the concept of SEO, you can follow these beginner tips, otherwise, keep on reading for the more advanced SEO best practices and working methods below.
Research and Study the Competition
It’s good to know as much as possible about your competition as possible so that you can know who you’re up against and what you should strive for. For instance, you may want to start by finding out how many incoming links your competitors have. This way, you have a good idea of how many you need in order to pass them. Also take a look at where they rank in search engines, what keywords they’re using, and what’s in their meta tags. You can’t strive for the top spot unless you know what you’re competing for. So be sure to analyze your competition as an initial plan of action.
A perfect niche market to make an example of is the world of online surveys and ‘get paid to survey’ review sites. Just by going to Google, we can see a wide range of sites for the search term “get paid to take survey” — which is made up of a mix of businesses (actual survey company), list articles, and review sites. The main difference between those that are ranking higher than others are the Domain/Page Authority of the site, and it’s incoming backlinks. If you take a look at the list articles, you will also find that they are often 2,000+ words in length as well.
As you can imagine, the online survey market is heavily saturated due to the fact that it’s one of the best ways to make money online with affiliate marketing. If you were to take a look at any typical survey review site, you would likely find a list of the top survey sites to join, as well as individual reviews for each — which also helps with the long tail ranking of these review sites for individual survey name searches as well.
Analyze Your Keywords and Your Competitors
It’s one thing to optimize your website for keywords, but if you’re using keywords that are not even being searched for then it’s a huge waste of your time. There are plenty of free tools available on the Internet that can help you find the best keywords that are being searched for consistently. These are the keywords that you want to optimize your site for. Also think about using long tail keywords, which are keyword phrases that have 3-5 words in them. These are great for drawing in targeted, quality traffic. Lastly, be sure to use evergreen keywords which have longevity and will be relevant for years to come. This way you can always count on them to bring you traffic.
When it comes to SEO research and seeing what sites rank for what (and where), SEMRush is one of the best tools out there. All you need to do is plug in the URL of any site, and you will instantly see not only what keywords they are ranking for, but also their current position, it’s monthly search volume, a competition score, and the ranking URL on their site.
You can see an example of all of this in the screenshot below, which was done for Buzzfeed.com. This tool is great for keyword research and finding phrases that you would never have thought of otherwise. Who would have thought the longtail phrase of “fun games for when your bored” would get searched over 40,000 times per month!
Now that you’ve seen this concept in action, start plugging in some of your top competitor’s URLs into SEMRush and see what kind of unique and crazy search phrases they might be ranking for.
Write Better Content than the Competition
If you’re not writing quality content, you really don’t stand a chance at ranking very high. Your content needs to be useful and original. When you create content, keep in mind that you want something that will make others want to link to it and share it. Try to focus on How To, tutorials, and lists because these tend to generate the most traffic. If you can, add numerous supportive facts and references. Also be sure to link keywords within your content to other useful and relevant web pages. When others see that you’ve linked to them, it will encourage them to link to you which will in turn help boost your rankings. If you are having problems on what content, keywords or search phrases to focus on, there are plenty of useful SEO tools and references out there to help with this process. Images and visual examples like charts, videos, images, and screenshots are also very useful and add to the quality of your content.
Again, this will all come down to not only the type of content you are creating for your site, but also how you promote it. To see an example of this in motion, head over to Google and search for “how to boil an egg”. It’s a super generic term but has been written about thousands of times. You will also notice that many of the site names ranking for this term are well-known or very large sites (ie: Pillsbury, AllRecipes and Martha Stewart) — which can make analyzing the content on these sites even more exciting. Who has the best text content? Which brand created custom videos and tutorials? How is each of them getting quality backlinks to their sites?
The search phrase “how to boil an egg” is currently searched more than 200,000 times per month, and has a difficulty score of 89 (via SEMRush). With so much competition in this space, it really does come down to who has the best site content and how they are effectively promoting it.
Deep Linking to Other Pages on Your Site
Deep linking involves linking to other pages within your site (other than the homepage) from within your content. It’s important to link to internal pages with anchor text that contain at least 3 of the keywords for that page. This will not only help with rankings, but it also helps to keep people on your site longer – thus reducing the bounce rate.
Depending on how many pages and posts you have on your site, this might be easier or harder than you think. This is something you probably notice a lot on bigger sites that focus on covering every topic within their niche. If you are a reader of The Penny Hoarder, you will notice how well they interlink to other site content within their articles. Each of the arrows below is pointing to a link that goes to another article on their site, and that is only the first few paragraphs on this one article.
Deep linking on websites and blogs takes a lot of time, but it can definitely pay off in the long run. It’s definitely recommended to deep link more often to your best and evergreen content, as they will keep working for you no matter when someone comes across your content and improve the chances of those pages ranking in Google.
Optimize Everything! (Site Headings/Subheadings/Images)
Just like your meta tags, you also want to be sure to optimize your headings and subheadings. These are your H-tags (H1, H2, H3, etc) and they really play an important role in organizing the information on your web pages. You should have only one H1 tag (the largest header) on your page; this is usually the title of the page or the title of your article (i.e. if you have a blog). You can then break up sections into H2 tags and even further into H3 if needed.
Next, we have the title and alt tags that are used within images to describe what they pertain to. Again, these can be optimized with keywords to help you rank higher. Remember that most search engines now have image search capabilities. When users search for specific images, the search engines use the keywords within your title and alt tags to help them display relevant images. This is why it’s so important to use them and include your keywords so that people can also find your content through image searching.
Each of these heading tags should contain keywords that you want to rank for. Since search engines consider the headings to be more important than the actual content, it’s really important to get those keywords in there. To best explain the many factors and components of creating a perfectly optimized page, simply refer to the infographic below and this super detailed articled provided by Moz.
Just like we analyzed other websites and blogs in each of the examples above, the same should be done with checking out your competition as well. If a site is ranking on the first page of Google for a really good search term, it’s likely they have great ON-site and OFF-site SEO. Study your competition, learn as much as possible, and then be sure to implement these same methods into your own brand, business, or blog.