Guest post by Sergey Aliokhin:
Nowadays, Google wants website owners to be focused on producing high-quality content. It no longer rewards mere technical SEO improvements.
Nevertheless, there are various SEO strategies to get you on Google’s good side – and some that will see your site slide down the rankings. In this guide, you will find some important SEO practices you should apply along with some “don’ts” to get your website ready for the next year.
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WHAT TO DO:
1. “DO” Target Long-Tail Keywords with Long-Form Content
Rand Fishkin once stated that long-tail keywords account for nearly 70% of all queries that people put in Google. Moreover, according to research by Ahrefs, the majority of Google searches have 3+ words in them. It means that long-tail keywords bring more quality traffic to your website in contrast to simple short keywords you might use.
But why should you write long-form content substantially?
Long-form content is more creative and informative (you can apply images, infographics, video material, etc. in it.) It attracts more people who will share it on their social media accounts. Furthermore, long-form content helps you target long-tail keywords more efficiently. It is one of the best strategies you should follow this year.
2. “DO” Measure Keywords Metrics Before Writing Your Content
It is crucial to measure and analyze keywords metrics you use for your website. There are a few basic metrics you should follow to understand if a particular keyword is a good fit for your site. These metrics are:
- Keyword difficulty
- Search Volume
- Return Rate
Don’t forget to analyze keywords performance if you want your site to be found in the search.
3. “DO” Follow Relevant Linking Wisely
When it comes to linking, you should be careful in what you do. Yes, it is essential to link to other websites and content. On the other hand, thoughtless linking might cause your site to be considered full of spam.
If you don’t want to fall into a trap with your linking strategy, I recommend you focus on authoritative web-resources with a high Domain Rating and visibility.
4. “DO” Build Static URLs
A website’s quality depends on the URLs each of its pages has. There are lots of discussions about what types of URLs perform better – Static URLs or Dynamic ones. To set things straight, let’s see the definitions for each type of URL.
A Static URL is the one that keeps its content unchanged as long as changes are not hard-coded with HTML. A Dynamic URL is one which is a result of a search within a website driven by a database running on some script. But why do Static URLs perform better in contrast to Dynamic ones? Here are some reasons for this:
- High keyword prominence and relevancy
- High click-through-rates in SERPs, emails, web pages
- Can be adjusted to a particular anchor text that would help the page to rank higher when linked-to directly in URL format
- The major search engines handle static URLs easily in contrast to dynamic ones (if there are multiple parameters)
While Dynamic URLs have lots of cons like:
- Lower click-through-rate
- Lower keyword prominence and relevancy
- Almost impossible to remember the URL
- A high chance of cutting off the end of the URL that might lead to 404 or other errors
So, building Static URLs is an option you should seriously consider.
5. “DO” Image Optimization
The top priorities should be a good quality and small size. Remember that images can slow down your site. If a visitor notices that your website loads too slowly because of the images, he or she will leave it without hesitation. Furthermore, Google states that page speed is one of the most important ranking factors. Therefore, test your pages with the help of Pagespeed Insights tool.
Here are other image criteria you should be focused on:
- File name. A descriptive filename is just like a keyword you use in a particular URL. It helps search engines determine relevancy. Each image must have the information about it. So, do give it a full descriptive name. For example, “floyd-mayweather-punches-mcgregor.jpg”, not “imageABC123”.
- Image linking. Images are ideal for linking. To do this correctly, you should use relevant keywords. Furthermore, this technique performs well when you publish a guest post on other websites. You can add a link back to your site directly from the images.
- ALT tag. It is one of the most important image attributes. ALT tag tells search engines about the topic your image is relevant to. Practice shows that it is far better to keep ALT tags short but descriptive.
- Image relevancy. It goes without saying that the images you apply must be strictly relevant to what they describe. You shouldn’t post an image of a “child” on the page related to “soldiery.” It makes no sense at all.
- Image size. Perhaps, this criterion plays the crucial role in the process of optimisation. If images make your page load slowly, it will lead to “user crisis.” People don’t like to wait even about 10 seconds until the page downloads. So, you should compress any images yo add to your website.
6. “DO” Create A Sitemap
You know that a search engine must index all the pages on your website to display it in SERPs. However, newcomers don’t know how to help search engines to index website’s pages. The solution is as easy as ABC: Create a sitemap. The sitemap lists every page on your website, which makes the indexing process much simpler for search engines.
7. “DO” Mobile-optimization
Nowadays almost every single person uses mobile devices to stay in touch. Google knows it as well. Thus, the main search engine in the world likes mobile friendly websites. To avoid being ignored by Google, you must do a mobile optimisation of your site. Don’t overwhelm your website with ads and try to make it easy in navigation for mobile users.
8. “DO” Focus on Local SEO
Did you know that 43% of Google, 25% of Bing, 25% of Yahoo searches are location-oriented? Furthermore, 50% of all mobile searchers carried local intent.
Local SEO is an excellent strategy that will help you attract business from your area. Here are some tips:
- Stick to local keywords.
- Add yourself to the Google My Business
- Prepare high-quality content on your blog
- Point out all contacts that are related to your business
- Create localized domain name
9. “DO” Have a Social Media Presence
I consider social media marketing as one of the best and free ways to promote your website. Social media is not just about creating accounts, but more about how frequently you post content and the level of engagement you get.
Furthermore, you know that search engines use their algorithms to specify if your content is worth being ranked well. Users of social media platforms choose share-worthy articles. If they see that your content is readable and useful, they will share it on their social media accounts, and Google will rank your content higher.
10. “DO” Blogging
Blogging is a “must” option for your website from SEO perspective. Furthermore, blogging is a powerful weapon for your business needs. You should know how to set up a blog for any kind of business you are going to manage.Nevertheless, blogging requires a couple of rules that you obey.
First of all, nobody wants to read content that is outdated. It means you should produce high-quality content as often as possible.Secondly, don’t restrict yourself with writing formal articles that are based on “”text” only. Mix content up with images, infographics, and video material. Try to make your blog look impressive and eye-catching.
I’ve mentioned that high-quality content is well-sharable on social media channels; it will bring more traffic to your website.
11. “DO” Guest Posting
This item of the article has a slight connection with the previous section I’ve mentioned above. Yes, blogging and guest posting have one common attribute. Obviously, it is content writing. However, if blogging is directed to making your blog better, guest posting is all about writing articles for other websites.
Guest posting has only benefits like:
- Get quality traffic
- Establish authority
- Improvement your writing skills
- Social networking benefits
[/one_half]WHAT TO AVOID:
1. “DON’T” Chase for Backlinks Only
You might think “building backlinks is a core strategy I should apply in practice” and I don’t want to deceive you – it is. Yes, it is important to build links to relative websites but don’t do this blindly.
The reason why you should walk the line concerning link-building is simple. Google might consider a huge amount of links to or from other websites as something suspicious (for example, gray/black hat SEO strategy.) So, use linking wisely!
2. “DON’T” Pay for Links
When you link to some reputable websites or get backlinks with the help of guest posting, Google won’t hurt your site. However, when you buy links from low-authority (or even high-authority) web resources, you might get in trouble.
Remember that Google is kindly disposed towards those backlinks to your website that has been made naturally. No payments. No using what is called “link farm” websites. Only natural ways of getting links are preferable.
3. “DON’T” Use External Linking Too Often
It’s not surprising that using external linking too often might be disliked by Google. When Google finds a lot of external links on your website, it might consider these links as spam. It has been already stated that using unnatural ways of linking will be penalized by Google. Again, don’t overuse external linking in your practice.
4. “DON’T” Stick to Keyword Stuffing
Now I would like you to back to early days of SEO when various professionals used different shady techniques to affect website ranking in Google. This way led to an instant focusing on keyword density until Google didn’t start penalizing.
To help you recollect or understand what “keyword stuffing” is, let me give you an explanation first.
“Keyword stuffing” is when a particular website contains a list of keywords (words, phrases) that is not relevant to the content of the website. Here are examples of keyword stuffing that Google gives:
- Using the same words or phrases too often (eg. Our company produces high-quality mobile apps. If you need to buy high-quality mobile apps for low prices, you can check our prices here. If you already decided to buy high-quality mobile apps, then get in touch with us using this email address.)
- Different lists of phone numbers or addresses that are irrelevant to your website
Keep in mind that there are pretty many sites that use keyword stuffing in their practice. But don’t be led by the nose by this practice because keyword stuffing makes SERP rankings lower (you can check out Google’s SERP quickly.) And it is going to be harder for a searcher to get a proper information he or she needs.
5. “DON’T” Focus On “Text” Content Only
Now I don’t want to argue that written content performs terribly. No. Written content is after all the basis for every blog on the web. You must enrich your blog with high-quality articles without any doubt. However, I encourage you not to become too reliant on text to get you message across and improve your SERPs.
Instead, try to show a bit of creativity. Publish video content. It will resonate with your target audience perfectly. There is a bunch of people who like to read 3,000 + words pieces of content but almost every second person doesn’t mind to watch an interesting video instead. To sum up, devote yourself to creating videos.
6. “DON’T” Use the Same Titles for Multiple Content
When you use the same titles on different pages of your website, it makes difficulties for search engines to recognize the diversity of content your website contains. It is a well-known fact that people use long-tail keywords as the titles of the posts on their blogs. But the problem is that these people use the SAME “long-tail keywords” titles for several articles in a row. You must never do this.
7. “DON’T” Copy External Content
While copying pieces of content on separate pages of your website brings you neither value nor harm, doing the same procedure with external content will bring you some troubles. It clouds search spiders and makes it hard to recognize the syndicated content. Eventually, your website may lose its rankings on Google (or even get a penalty.)
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Over to You
I’ve listed 11 “DOs” and 7 “DON’Ts” that you should take into consideration. I am sure this list could be updated with other practices as well. So I encourage you to share your thoughts in a comment section – and don’t forget to tell your friends about this post via social media channels!
About the Author:
Sergey Aliokhin is a Marketing Manager at Ahrefs. Apart from working at Ahrefs he likes spending his time with family, studying martial arts and plucking fat bass guitar strings.