Every SEO experience can differ, depending on your goals and strategies. But that doesn’t mean you can’t learn about common obstacles and situations content creators and marketers face.
Here are your most common situations you’ll face and step by step instructions on how to succeed.
Finding the Right Keywords and Topics to Address
Keywords and topics are vital to keep in mind as you develop your SEO strategy. While search engines are changing the way we approach keywords, your target keywords still matter. But it’s not just about keyword stuffing and ranking each piece for one particular keyword.
You need to think in topic clusters. Here’s a step by step guide on building your topic cluster strategy:
Using your buyer persona research, focus on your ideal reader’s top challenges and pain points they’re looking to address.
Start with five to 10 core problems you want to address. Then, list general topics that align with their problems. These should be broad topics.
Break down each broad topic into a list of subtopics that have a semantic relationship. Use keyword research and content ideation tools to spark some inspiration.
Map out your content strategy to show how core topics and associated subtopics align.
Audit your current content assets to find gaps. Whatever you didn’t cover, list out content ideas and prioritize them.
Build a spreadsheet to track your topic clusters, associated pillar page, and your linking strategy. Use the following columns:
- Pillar page topic – Identify what topic is covered in your pillar page.
- URL – Link to the cluster content (blog article, video, tool, etc.)
- Cluster topic – Show what general topic the cluster content is associated with.
- Subcluster – Describe what subcluster the cluster content relates to (if applicable).
- Keyword – List what keyword the cluster content is optimized for.
- Pillar Link (Y/N) – Show if the cluster content has been linked to the pillar page.
- Re-linked (Y/N) – Write if the pillar page has been linked back to the cluster content.
- Other Action – Describe if you need to take another action with the cluster content. If not, leave this blank.
- Other Action Taken (Y/N) – Write “yes” or “no” to show the other action is complete.
- Links to pages – Add four columns here and include links to each live page.
Confirming On-Page SEO
Your on-page SEO refers to the practice of optimizing each webpage. For every blog article or webpage, you should check off all the boxes to ensure you get the most SEO mileage out of every piece.
Here’s what you need to do for every aspect of your on-page SEO:
You need to include your keyword in it, preferably at the beginning of the title tag. But also make the title compelling so when searchers see your result, they actually click it.
Your h tags play a big role in your SEO strategy. HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language, which is a common language used in creating webpages.
An HTML tag is a snippet of code showing web browsers how to display content. There are six different heading tags used in HTML (e.g., h1 through h6)
- H1 – Use this for the headline. Only include one h1 tag per webpage. It should be used to describe the topic of your page, usually within 20 to 70 characters. It will be similar to your title tag and your title of your blog article.
- Use the other h tags with keywords naturally.
URL (Uniform Resource Locator) is commonly known as a web address, specifying the location of a resource on the internet. It also includes information on how to retrieve that resource through the protocol (HTTP, HTTPS, FTP, etc.).
They are readable by humans. The text within URLs replaces the numbers (IP addresses) that computers use to communicate with servers.
With your URL, you want to accomplish two things:
- Demonstrate what the page is about. This delivers a great user experience because it describes exactly what the webpage is about.
- Include keywords naturally. While URLs are a minor ranking factor for search engines, they’re still a factor to consider. Keywords can provide a small benefit to ranking.
Moz provides this awesome URL cheatsheet to help you better understand SEO and user-friendly URLs.
These are HTML attributes providing summaries of webpages. They appear underneath the clickable blue links in SERPs.
While meta descriptions aren’t tied directly to search engine rankings, they do have a major influence on clickthrough rates. They can encourage or deter searchers from clicking your webpage. The more clickthrough your webpage gets, the better your page can rank.
Here are a few dos and don'ts of writing meta descriptions:
Do: Make them read smoothly and include keywords.
Don’t: Overstuff them with keywords and make them sound spammy.
Do: Use compelling language that accurately represents what searchers can find on the webpage.
Don’t: Deceive searchers with vague or unclear descriptions.
Keep in mind, if your meta description is not adequate in the eyes of Google, the search engine could find a snippet on the target page that better matches the query and use that instead.
Internal links are hyperlinks that target the same domain as the one that the link exists on. They serve a few key purposes:
User experience – When you’re strategic about internal linking, you can guide your visitors through several pages on your website.
Link equity (aka link juice) – This is a ranking factor that relies on this concept – between each page, you can pass value and authority through links. You can build link equity in internal and external linking, but you need to follow these rules:
- Make the link followed: No-followed links tell search engine crawlers to ignore it.
- Include links in the body of your webpage: If you bury it in the footer or sidebar, they don’t carry as much value.
- Ensure relevancy: If you’re linking to other webpages that don’t make sense, search engines will learn, and you won’t earn link juice.
- Don’t overthink anchor text: Use naturally occurring words and phrases to hyperlink. No need to optimize anchors.
Keyword stuffing be damned. In 2018, delivering value to your readers is the most important area of focus. Here are a few quick SEO tips on on-page content:
- Mix keywords with natural variants (synonyms and related phrases). Search engines can understand relationships between variants and your keywords.
- Rename images with descriptors, and optimize your alt text for images so Google can learn about the relevant image.
- High-quality content matters because if your metrics (like bookmarks, repeat visitors, and shares) are good, search engines will acknowledge you as an authority.
- Add social share buttons so readers can distribute your content across multiple platforms. When your content is shared, search engines notice your content is valuable to many and worth ranking higher.
Put simply, if your users have a pleasant experience on your website and enjoy your content, you’re going to see major results. There are a couple important factors to consider with UX:
Site speed: Users want to find and consume content quickly. Work with your hosting provider to ensure your load time is the best it can be. Otherwise, if your webpages take forever to load, you will see high bounce rates and less returning visitors.
Design: Mobile responsiveness is a must nowadays. Ensure your design is responsive on all devices
Analyzing Your SEO Efforts
This is arguably the most important aspect of your SEO strategy. If you’re not measuring and analyzing SEO metrics regularly, you don’t know what’s working, what’s not working, and how you can improve your efforts.
Follow the NAP approach – numbers, analysis, practice.
Start with your numbers. Here are a few SEO metrics you need to pay attention to:
- Pageviews – number of views each particular webpage earns.
- Average time on page – shows how visitors consume content, either glancing at it or reading it through to the end.
Unique visitors – how many visitors your content is attracting, which shows a good size of your audience.
New and returning users – how your content attracts and retains new audiences.
Bounce rate – how many users left a page without visiting other website pages.
Pages per session – average number of pages viewed in one session (shows interlinking)
You should also look at engagement (social shares, comments, mentions, etc.) to see what users do with your content.
But numbers are just numbers without context.
Read through your metrics, then connect them to actionable takeaways. Each metric tells a story.
For example, if a particular blog article has a high bounce rate, that means when visitors land on that page, they’re not satisfied with the content they see.
Look at every aspect of the content. Does the title align with the body of the article? Is the content well organized and high value?
At this stage, with your data and takeaways handy, you’re ready to take action. Start putting what you learned into practice.
For example, if your analysis shows that your blog articles that are over 1,000 words generate more leads than your shorter articles, adjust your content strategy to account for more long-form articles.
As you experiment, continue measuring your SEO metrics and adjust accordingly. But remember, SEO results take time. So give your experiments time so you can gauge your results accurately.
Boosting SEO Via Social Media
Social shares can ultimately pay off big in both expanding your brand awareness and potentially improve your search rankings. While social signals are not a ranking factor, search engines do crawl social sites like they do any other site.
When your content is shared, it’s being promoted, which can lead to more engagement and traffic. It can also lead to link building, which builds your link equity and improves your ranking.
Don’t overlook the power of social media profiles. Not only do they rank, but they can also be an extension of your brand. It delivers a fun, unique experience for your readers.
Historically Optimizing Your Old Blog Posts
The process of historical optimization is essential to your SEO strategy. Essentially, historically optimizing entails dusting off your old content and adding fresh, updated content.
The main goal of historical optimization is to ensure accuracy and comprehensive. This way, you’re delivering the most value with every piece of content.
The benefit is that you can generate more traffic and more leads.
But don’t just jump into any blog article and started updating the content. Follow these steps:
Run reports to find blog articles that are outdated or can be improved and have the potential to rank higher for keywords.
Update the content enough so the article has noticeable improvements.
Without changing the URL, simply unpublish then republish the content so it appears as a new, featured article on your blog.