Blog: Understanding SEO – Optimizing Website Content
SEO stands for search engine optimization. It is the process of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through search engine results. In this post, we will be explaining a strategy to optimize your website effectively. Later we will discuss how to do Keyword Research. First, let’s define the parts of Search engine optimization.
Quality of Traffic: Attract visitors to your website who are interested in your product/services.
Quantity of Traffic: Once you have the right content, the more, the better.
Organic Results: traffic that you don’t pay to get.
Now that we’ve discussed the parts of SEO let’s take a look at SEO strategy.
1. Develop a Goal
It’s essential to understand and develop goals for an SEO strategy. Search engines want to explore websites with quality content and specific keywords. To start, pick a website specializing in “content management,” for example, SEM Rush or MOZ. These tools will help you understand which pages are ineffective in terms of SEO.
Hubspot’s best practices for SEO
· Proper Backlinking
· Attempting to capture Google’s featured snippet
· Adding alt-text
· Going after the right keywords
· Achieving domain and topic authority
· Incorporating media-rich content
2. Finding Keywords
Specific keywords are different in every industry; words like SEO come to mind when customers think of Digital Marketing. Keywords help our customers locate our page so they can find our content. This is just but one example; keywords differ on a page-to-page basis as well. The process begins with something as simple as the title.
Meta descriptions are also a vital part of the creation of good content. A meta description is an HTML element that can help describe and summarize images & pages for search engines. These tags should be anywhere from 50-160 characters – recommended by Moz, an Industry Leader.
3. Create a Blog
One of the essential things for any website is creating a blog, which will help create content and drive potential customers to the website. It’s critical that you inform your customers in these blog posts, keep the content under 2,300 words. Studies have shown that many of the most-read posts in 2019 were under 1,500 words. So, don’t worry about every position is over 2,000 words.
If the main focus is to generate leads or sales, it’s best to create a blog post between 2,100 – 2,500 words. This builds authority, and it shows the readers that this company knows what they’re talking about, which helps generate interest. Also, by making a more in-depth analysis of the content, you can expect a better ranking.
4. Addressing Pillar Pages
What is a pillar page? A pillar page is a post that covers a topic broadly and can relate to many other similar issues. Pillar pages help develop topic clusters, which are a group of interlinked web pages. Topic clusters are built into pillar pages to link users to more narrowly focused pages.
A pillar page can have a length of anywhere from 2,137 to 10,939 words. That amount might seem like a lot, but it’s important to cover as much content as possible. This creates authority. A pillar page should take days or even a week to write. They should focus on the subject matter in a broader perspective and leave room for more details. It allows the user to view subsequent pages interlinked to the first by leaving room for more information.
Pillar pages are great for driving traffic to a website. It is also a very effective method to keep people on the website. Navigating traffic page to page on various topics can eliminate the need to look elsewhere. Thus, driving traffic from you to you.
5. Know your customer
Predicting customer behavior, desires, and concerns can lead to a competitive advantage. This information can be used to determine the types of queries your customers will search and the kind of language they will use. Knowing the buyer before doing keyword research, is the most effective way to generate leads. Below I’ve listed two common forms of segmentation to get to know your customer.
Two forms of Segmentation
1. Buyer Persona
Buyer personas are fictional characters used to represent customers for brands, products, or sites. These characters help marketers understand their target audience at a much deeper level. There are three variables to consider when determining a buyer persona: demographics, geographics, and psychographics.
· Education Level
· Where are they located?
· Get specific
· How does this affect them?
How to form a buyer persona?
An empathy map is a specific tool many companies use to visualize knowledge about a particular user. To create any empath map, ask these six questions.
1. What does the customer think and feel?
2. What does the customer segment see?
3. What does the customer segment say?
4. What does the customer segment hear?
5. What causes customer segment pain?
6. What causes the customer segment gain?
2. Customer Archetype
Customer archetype is closely related to behavior and experience. There are plenty of pre-existing customer archetypes that have been defined by others. It can be helpful to look at these personalities and try and match them with your audience. You could also create your customer archetype by using a storyboard. A storyboard is a visual representation of how a customer might react to the product. Furthermore, there are different storyboards, such as sketches, illustrations and screenshots, slideshows, animated, and live demos. A few of the defined personality archetypes will be listed below.
The innocent: Rooted in moral values, optimistic, traditional, hopeful, dreamy.
Hero: Competitive, masculine, fighter, likes to win, optimistic, faithful, and enjoys challenges.
Explorer: Adventurous, individualistic, likes innovation, doesn’t want to conform.
Artist: Creative, tech-savvy, self-taught, innovators, dreamers, don’t like mediocrity.
Wise man: Intellectual, mentor, likes research, science attracts them.
The visionary: Born leader, mentors, consultants, technical knowledge, opportunistic.
Steps to Keyword Research
Keyword research is an opportunity to optimize your content in hopes of driving more traffic to your website. To start, we’ve listed a 6-step process below that works hand-in-hand with the strategy we listed above.
1. Pick a topic
2. Identify Keywords
3. Expand the list
4. Prioritize & categorize the list
5. Utilize Keyword Silos
6. Refine the list over time
1. Picking a topic
If you’ve already developed the strategy, picking the topic should easy. Go through the customer archetype and your buyer persona before choosing a subject and a title. Understand what they might be looking for and how they’ll end up at your site. Then you can find a topic that you know will drive potential customers to your site.
2. Identify Keywords
Brainstorm a list of words that are relevant to your business. There are plenty of tools to help you do this, and a few are Google Keyword Tool, Wordtracker, and Keyword Access. Once you find the right tool, you can expand your list. These tools will help you look at similar keywords and compare their popularity to one another. The words you use don’t always have to be the most popular. Many other companies might be using those words, so your page might not rank as well in comparison. It’s crucial to figure out what words are being searched without many companies using them. This information is easy to find with these tools. Make sure you use them!
Another great tool you can use is Google Trends. It’s important to know when the most recent searches for these words have been. This can help you understand what words might be “old news” and what words might be the “next thing.” There are plenty of words in every industry that get out-dated reasonably quickly, making it all the more important to update your keywords continually.
3. Expand the list
Testing the popularity and conversion rates is vital to determine the best keywords to use. These metrics are also information that is readily available thanks to many of your competitors. Popularity and conversion rates will help narrow down the list and determine which keywords will help you target potential customers. Keywords are the first step in link building campaigns, which we will discuss later.
The exact number of keywords you use depends on the timeframe. For most businesses, they use less than 5 per page. The less you use, the more singular your focus is. Creating a more narrowed focus is a great way to drive the exact potential customer you want to your site.
The bigger the company, the more extensive the list of keywords is to keep track of. If you have five unique offerings, you can expect to have somewhere between 9-36 keywords for the whole site. If you want to know how to track rankings, you can use STAT, Ahrefs, or Google Search Console tools.
4. Prioritize & Categorize the list
Once you have a decent list of keywords, categorize them into more specific lists that focus on business goals. Organizing keywords allows your team to understand the plans at a deeper level and focus on what you’re trying to accomplish.
Now it’s time to figure out what people want when searching for each of your keywords. Simply just Google each word and look at the first few links that pop up. Review their meta title and description, and then further investigate the page. Then ask some basic questions about that page.
- What type of page is it?
- How do they make money?
- Can it work for you?
- Look at the comments!
The questions will help you create pages and monetize them by understanding what your competitors are doing right and, more importantly, what they’re doing wrong. There are two great free keyword research tools you can use: Ubersuggest and MOZ.
5. Utilize Keyword Silos (Advanced SEO)
Blogs are not everything. Blogs have a very flat or horizontal structure where every post looks the same to a website crawler. For these crawlers, it’s much more helpful to group by category than by date. A silo structure can help you create a vertical website architecture that is easily understood.
So what is a silo?
Silos are a great way to separate subject content to different parts of the website using hierarchical groupings. This is an advantageous way to structure your website in the eyes of Google. The more content you have on a specific category, the better your website will rank. As you create more content in each category, your website will cover more queries that might be searched.
For example, for a Digital Marketing Company, “Digital Marketing” would be at the top of the hierarchy. Secondary silos could be but are not limited to SEO, Website Building, Content Marketing, and Email Marketing. These secondary silos will likely have silos below them and maybe even have silos below that. As you can see, we are creating almost a pyramid-like shaped structure with Digital Marketing at the top. This structure is vastly different from just blogging away.
You might have seen this website structure before and not even realize it. Have you ever clicked on information that was on a home page, and it took you elsewhere? Not to a blog but more information that lead to even more information? That is precisely what a vertical structure is, and it’s essential to recognize it when you see one.
Creating blogs is a great way to disseminate information, but that information should also be readily available throughout the website. Without doing this, there’s likely no way to keep users from just googling for their answers rather than look through blog posts on your site.
Internal links are so important. Using silos, you can create excellent internal links on your website. Usually, companies use internal links to their blog posts. Although many do this, it isn’t right. You are creating a one-way link that will likely lead to your customer exiting your site.
Some will say this structure leads to too many clicks away from the home page. But that’s what we do, we see the information that we want to know, and we click on it. It is the most effective way to do this and makes it so much easier to read. It’s a lot easier to read smaller bits of information on a few pages than all of the information on one blog. People want to know the nitty-gritty details, so it’s crucial to explain using these silos.
Silos don’t have to be part of your plan initially, but they definitely should be a part at some point. This architecture will allow your site to rank better, be more organized, and have users stay on your site longer.
6. Refine the list over time
Constantly revisiting your list can help you identify new keywords or new business opportunities. This is especially important for seasonal items.
Refining keywords in old posts don’t have to be done as often. You can quickly get away with spending six months without refining the position, but three months should be the general rule. Things move fast in this digital world, so it’s vital to revisit information as new information becomes available.
What is link building?
A link building campaign is a process of trying to generate more links directing people to your site. To do this, you need an asset (some type of content) to acquire those links.
Assets vary from business to business, but assets will be how you can entice customers into looking at your site. Examples can be content, data, services, products, and people. Make sure these assets are relevant to your customers that you want to engage.
How to get links (Beginner Tools)
- Ask people you know
- Be specific with your content and outreach strategies
- Blog Commenting
- Blog Directories
- Chamber of Commerce
- Company Directory Submissions
- Create Niche Content
- Intern/job postings
- Write testimonials on particular products
How to get links (Intermediate to Advanced Tools)
- Ask customers
- Blogger reviews
- Brand mentions
- Case Studies
- Contribute to Wikipedia Pages
- Coin a new term
- Create something controversial
- Use Data and Research
- Create an influence
- Buying Websites/Creating a Microsite
Wrapping up SEO
Optimizing Paragraph Text
Back in the day, you could get away with writing your keywords many times on your page to rank better. This is known as now “keyword stuffing,” in which Google will penalize you for doing so. It’s important to remember that you need a variation to your keyword. This will help limit the usage of a specific keyword and maximize effectiveness.
One of the best resources to figure out which variations of your keyword you should use is Long Tail Pro. With this software, it’s never been easier to find supporting keywords.
Optimizing Meta Title
Using the correct meta title is crucial because it’s how search engines understand your page by putting a specific keyword at the title’s front.
Optimizing Meta Descriptions
Meta descriptions are an opportunity for a business to get clicks. Once the searchers find the page, they read a short little snippet, the meta description. This will help them decide whether the information is what they’re seeking or not. Try to keep them within the accepted range of 50-160 words.
Optimizing Header Tags
Header tags help you provide structure for your content. It’s important to use them in the right place so that we will list their uses below.
H1 Title: This title will give an outline for the content of the blog or page.
H2 Title: This title will cover sections in the article.
H3 & H6 Titles: These are subsequent titles for subheadings with a section.
Adding keywords to these header tags will allow your page to rank better. Use these tags to break up chunks of content effectively. That way, it will make your pages more comfortable to read, just like writing a paper or book.
Optimizing Image Alt Tags
Image optimization is all about improving images and their descriptions. Descriptions will help Google better understand those images. Using images will allow you to rank better on Google’s image search and enhance overall visibility on the site. Many people think it’s a good idea to spam keywords in alt-text. Using the same alt-text to describe different images is a terrible idea but a quite common mistake.
When optimizing these tags, they must be unique, relevant, and descriptive. These tags should all be different, and you should understand the image without even looking at it.
Although there is a lot to follow in terms of SEO, hopefully this simple guide will help steer you in the right direction. Good luck!