SEO is not easy to master. It keeps evolving, with new specifics and techniques added almost daily.
However, it is imperative to lay the foundations of good SEO by accomplishing time-tested tasks that both beginner and advanced SEOs usually follow in their daily routines.
In part one of this series, the author explained the most important SEO tasks related to SEO tools, keyword research, and on-site optimization.
It is now time to tackle technical SEO, content, and off-page optimization.
Technical SEO is vital to your site’s success. For example, one single error in your robots.txt file can prevent your site from being indexed.
Though technical SEO covers a broad range of subjects concerning the elements needed for optimization, you should primarily prioritize the following areas:
- Crawl errors. If you keep receiving Crawl error reports, this means that Google cannot crawl your site’s URLs and, consequently, cannot rank it. Regularly check Crawl error notifications in the Google Search Console and be sure to fix them as soon as possible
- Google’s access to pages. Unfortunately, crawling error reports do not necessarily indicate that all unreported pages have been scanned and indexed nicely. Sometimes Google is unable to access a page at all. Regularly check all of your pages to ensure they are visible to Google in the Google Search Console
- Broken links. Broken links are a big red flag to Google. Regular checks for broken links should become a vital part of your SEO routine. Fortunately, there is no shortage of tools to find and fix broken links (e.g. Netpeak Spider, Serpstat, Screaming Frog SEO Spider)
- HTTPS has been a ranking signal since 2014, so if you want to give your site an SEO boost, implement HTTPS. Additionally, it will provide your site with a layer of security, which your visitors will appreciate. Check out this guide to make sure you correctly migrate from HTTP to HTTPS
- Duplicate metatags. Google doesn’t appreciate duplicates of anything — be it content, URLs, or metatags. So access the Google Search Console and go to the HTML Improvements tab to find duplicates of title tags and meta descriptions, and then fix them
- Mobile-friendliness. Google has started to use the mobile version of a page for indexing and ranking, so making your site’s pages mobile-friendly is highly advised. If your site is not optimized for mobile, it can still rank nicely in search, but its chances of topping the SERPs will not be as high. So test your pages and make them mobile-friendly
- Loading speed. Page speed for both desktop and mobile is a key ranking factor. Make sure to check your website’s loading speed with the PageSpeed Insights tool, and then move forward by implementing any optimization suggestions it provides. Otherwise, you may risk appearing lower in the SERPs.
Content is the fuel that feeds Google. Content is an important ranking factor, and sites that consistently craft high-quality content are more likely to have better rankings (but it is not a single decisive ranking factor).
To succeed with content SEO-wise, you should prioritize the following areas:
- Duplicate content. Duplicate content is a big no-no. Check your site with Copyscape or Siteliner to find all pages that are similar or have content that is partially featured at a third-party website (i.e. plagiarized content). Otherwise, a Google penalty is inevitable
- Keyword use. Optimizing your content around core keywords (or a set of keywords) might be hard, but it is absolutely necessary to get your content seen by your target audiences. Figure out which core and support keywords to place on specific pages of your website, and track their performance regularly
- Content structure. It is hardly a secret that customers skim, rather than read content. For this reason it’s important to properly structure your content:
- Use shorter sentences
- Break down longer paragraphs
- Use subtitles and bulleted lists
- Include multimedia elements, such as images, videos, GIFs and audio files.
This will make your content easier to digest and should keep visitors on a page for longer.
- Audience personas. Never start putting together a piece of content without having a clear picture of your audience persona in mind, including gender, age, occupation, responsibilities, challenges, and problems they need to solve. Additionally, be mindful of the stage in the buyers’ journey your audience may be at, and enhance your content accordingly
- In-depth, high-quality content. The importance of high-quality content cannot be overemphasized. If you cannot produce quality content, you will lose a considerable portion of your ranking potential in Google and any other search engine. Put out expert content that is supported by data and your own research, such as surveys, reviews, links or traffic analysis. Only high-quality content will matter to your readers, journalists, and eventually to search engines
- Schema markup. Want to help Google understand your content better? Use Schema markup. Though it is not a ranking factor per se, adding rich snippets may increase CTR and, accordingly, benefit your appearance in the SERPs. To do the heavy lifting, Google offers its Structured Data Testing tool
- Multimedia elements. The more images, videos, GIFs, Twitter embeds, and other visuals you use in your content, the better. They allow you to illustrate your point, keep users on the page, and help your site to rank better.
Links are the bread and butter of SEO. No matter how important other ranking signals may become, links will remain crucial to calculating a website’s ranking in the SERPs, since they are viewed as external citation authority.
Off-site optimization and link building are not easy to master. To increase ranking, you need to attract high-quality backlinks from relevant, trustworthy resources – and links like these are not easy to come by.
Here are a few practical steps you can take to start driving backlinks:
- Analysis of existing links. Before building new backlinks, look through existing ones. It will help you:
- Understand which sites link back to you
- See which pages attract backlinks and which do not
- Disavow backlinks that negatively impact your appearance in the SERPs because of their lack of relevance and trustworthiness
- Delete broken backlinks.
To run the analysis, you can use Ahrefs, MajesticSEO, Netpeak Spider, or any other backlink analysis tool you may have access to
- Analysis of competitor links. One of the most efficient approaches to driving backlinks from your niche is to analyze your competitors’ backlinks and emulate their strategy. Your goal is to find which websites and pages are most linked to, and which of the linking sites drive the most traffic. After that, you need to drive backlinks from the top-performing resources
- Guest posting. Featuring your content in established media and on respected sites is one of the best long-term strategies for driving high-quality links and traffic to your website. Get invested with guest posting, and you may never run out of backlinks
- The problem with guest posting is that you need to become a contributor first, and only then will you get a coveted author box with a link to your website. To get on the radar of established media or industry thought leaders, you have to master outreach – featured posts, links, and mentions will follow (provided your guest posts are good enough)
- Directories and listings. Registering your business on directories and listings is the easiest way to improve your site’s positions in local search. All you need to do is identify top-tier business directories in your niche, fill out and optimize your directory accounts, and make sure that all information you submit is consistent across all directories, listings, and CDAs
- Google My Business. A claimed and properly optimized account at Google My Business (and Bing Places for Business) can make all the difference for your company. It will help you secure a spot in Google’s local three-pack, which means more local traffic and improved rankings
- Link-worthy content. Finally, it is worth noting that content can make or break your link building efforts, specifically when it comes to outreach and guest posting. You will not be able to create contributor accounts and garner backlinks if your content is repetitive and does not offer actionable advice to users. You need to stand out to succeed in the content department.
In this article the author has shared perspectives on the most important SEO tasks with regard to technical SEO, content, and off-page optimization.
These three areas of SEO knowledge are essential to master if you want to succeed in increasing your site’s SERPs, driving traffic, and attracting valuable leads. However, bear in mind that you need to set up and fine-tune your SEO tools, do your keyword research, and improve your on-page SEO first.