SEO, or search engine optimization, is a term most marketers are familiar with but few have mastered. Everyone has the lofty goal of making it within the top 10 list on Google when people search for keywords, however, creating an actionable plan is another story.
It all starts with your content and the website that you use to host your content. Google's SEO algorithm is changing rapidly. Consider that the first page of any given search gets the majority of all traffic (upwards of 75 percent in many cases), and it's no wonder more people are concerned about what it takes to take your SEO to the next level.
We are going to take a look at some tips that will help increase your chances of ranking high on search engines through proper optimization techniques.
Know your audience.
Some people would classify this first tip under extremely obvious, but it's so important that it's worth mentioning. If you want to create an effective SEO content marketing plan, it's crucial that you get to know the people who are going to be interested in reading your content and investing in your product or service.
There are multiple ways to get to know your audience. You could start by browsing social media and looking at the thoughts and comments on your competitor pages. You'll be able to identify their needs and help establish your content so that it answers their questions and gets more organic traffic, which improves SEO ranking.
You could also take to websites like BuzzSumo and NewsWhip to see what people in your niche are discussing. This will help you learn what kind and keep your finger on the pulse of subjects people are interested in reading about.
Use keyword research tools.
Once you've established the audience you want to write killer content for, you need to figure out which keywords you should use to rank high in the search engines. One of the best ways to accomplish this is through Google's Keyword Planner tool.
The Keyword Planner allows you to search for specific keywords and then see how those words rank on Google during a set amount of time. You'll be able to see the competition, which will rank from low to high and show you how many other people in this space are trying to rank for the same word or phrase.
You'll also be able to see how popular the term is on Google. The search volume also ranks from low to high with an estimated number of searches per month. Ideally, you want to look for phrases that have a high search volume and low competition.
Create a catchy title.
Now that you know who you are writing for and what keywords you need to target, it's time to start considering the content you'll be writing for your blog. A catchy title can make or break a business, and this seemingly small feature will likely determine whether someone clicks through and reads your piece. It's all about building interest.
There are plenty of tools out there to give you ideas on what kind of subjects you should write about. Answer the Public, for instance, is a free resource that allows you to enter a keyword or phrase and then gives you hundreds of ideas for topics you can write about using those keywords. This technique can help you brainstorm the best ideas that are likely to rank, all while using the keywords that you uncovered.
With the average session duration for sites surveyed by Brafton being just over two minutes, it's important to engage and hook readers early with a fantastic title.
Focus on website optimization.
Your loading times and design are more important for your SEO than you might realize. SEO ranking is largely dependent on the user experience. It's not enough to just use the right keywords and create a great title, your website has to be in tip-top shape so customers can have a great experience.
You should regularly run speed checks on your website to make sure your pages are loading. The average time a person is willing to wait before they bounce from your page is three seconds. If you can get your page to load faster, you're on the right track.
It's also important that you check the functionality of your website. Does your homepage look clean, trustworthy and professional? Is your contact page properly routing emails to your inbox? Do users have a clear understanding of what your website is about and what you offer? Think about these questions as you optimize your blog for SEO.
If you are able to tie together keyword and audience research, rich and valuable content, as well as a fast, fully functioning website, you're well on your way to reaching the first page of Google.