10 Tips to Help Shape Your SEO Strategy

10 Tips to Help Shape Your SEO Strategy

SEO Strategy

Every month we take the very best articles about SEO & content marketing and create an easy reading guide. Enjoy!

Content is king.

There it is. That deeply flawed slogan of the white hat SEO community — the ultimate over-simplification of what it takes to drive traffic to your website. Virtually every marketer under the sun has parroted this jargon at some point or another, ad nauseam. These are the words of a guilty man.

We treat content as if it were some furtive MacGuffin — hiding in plain sight, capable of unlocking the secret kingdom of Google. Speaking as someone who authored some truly inspiring works on dental and plumbing services — downright award-worthy — I can tell you: This simply isn’t true.

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Search engine optimization is a game of inches. There is no silver bullet. Telling me the answer to all my burning questions about optimization is simply ‘produce great content’ — that seems woefully inadequate. It’s like shouting ‘follow the North Star!’ to someone stranded at sea; thanks, but those generalized directions only help so much.

Let’s get specific. Here’s a bigger picture on how to boost your traffic.

Content Is King: The Greatest Lie Ever Told in SEO

Along with technical SEO and links, high-quality, interesting, engaging content is one of the three main pillars of any successful SEO strategy.

Traditional content strategies use blog posts, articles, images, and sometimes video as the main sources of content. And while those can be awesome for driving traffic and supporting your SEO efforts, podcasts are an often overlooked and underestimated medium. Podcasts can build your brand and drive direct traffic, while at the same time adding rich content to your site and supporting your link-building efforts.

Of course, you not only need to know how to leverage your podcasts for SEO but also how to rank well on the platforms specific to podcasts. So whether you’re starting out or are an established podcaster, read on for specific tips on how to SEO your podcast.

6 ways to grow your podcast audience with SEO

Think back to Q4, 2016 – you and your team are sat around a conference table to review the emerging trends and technologies from the past year as you develop your 2017 strategy.

But even with your 2017 digital strategy in hand, it’s impossible to take into account how fast SEO trends and practices evolve. Things like customer usage and expectations – not to mention the roll out of Google’s master plan for the mobile web – are always changing, meaning agencies and companies must be agile and forward thinking in their 2017 approach to SEO.

With that in mind, I’ve put together a top ten list of tips to keep in mind throughout the year:

10 Tips to Help Shape Your SEO Strategy

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SEO as a discipline has always struggled with its black hat or unethical practitioners saturating the industry with questionable link-building practices. As an ethical SEO, I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling pleased about Google’s efforts to fight against these attempts to game the system with algorithm updates like Panda and Penguin, resulting in a wider awareness of the risk of unethical strategies.

One side effect of Google penalizing common unethical techniques like link buying, link exchanges or flat-out content spinning has been an upsurge in the popularity of “content-led” inbound marketing strategies.

Why content-led SEO will always fail to build links effectively

If you’re doing client SEO, I guess every new client, without any exceptions, will ask you this question: 

“How long till my web site (page) ranks on top of Google?”

The common response to this question is obviously, “It depends,” because there are just too many variables to consider: website strength, competition, budget, skills, etc.

But here at Ahrefs, we decided to sift through the petabytes of historical ranking data that we have and give you a slightly more quantifiable answer, something more concrete than simply, “It depends on.”

How long does it take to rank in Google? 

How old are the top-ranking pages?

For starters, we identified how old the current top-ranking pages are.

We took 2 million random keywords and pulled data on the Top 10 ranking pages for each of them. Which resulted in this beautiful graph:

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Poor website performance is one of the most widespread problems for business websites, yet it’s an essential one hurting your business on many levels, from lost customers to bad reputation.

These easy-to-use tools will help you solve the problem.

Despite what some people may think, site speed is not a purely technical issue. Marketers have been talking about the necessity to speed up your page load for ages. Not only does poor page load time hurt your site usability, but it also hinders your rankings (by screwing your page engagement metrics), conversions, social media marketing campaign performance and so on.

Fixing the page load time issue is not that easy, though. It does take come development budget and good diagnostics tools. Luckily, I can help you with the latter:

All you need to master your site speed without getting overwhelmed

For the third year in a row, Searchmetrics has published its annual winners and losers report, which reveals how certain sites fared in organic search visibility on Google.

Searchmetrics’ analysis is based on the ‘SEO Visibility’ of each website, an indicator developed by Searchmetrics to measure a webpage’s performance in organic search.

This is not the same as organic search ranking but aims to give an overview of how often a website shows up in search results, based on “search volume and the position of ranking keywords” (as set out in the Searchmetrics FAQ).

Based on this metric, Searchmetrics then analyzed the change in websites’ SEO visibility during the course of the year and sorted the top 100 winners and losers by absolute change in visibility.

While the results are limited to Google.com – and thus are mostly applicable to websites from the U.S. – they are an interesting insight into how the trends and algorithm changes that we cover throughout the course of the year affect sites in real terms.

So who did well, and what was the secret to their success? What caused the downfall of the poor performers?

What can we learn from the winners and losers of search in 2016?

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If you're a business owner and are being plagued by questions as to which online marketing strategy is better for you, if there is more than one strategy that you should follow, in what proportion you should use the strategies, which strategy is easier to manage, and which one would give you more success in your marketing endeavour, read on to get some insight into a couple of online marketing strategies: PPC and SEO and as to which one would be more suitable for you.

With regard to these strategies, it is also vital for you to know that both the strategies have one point in common: both are means of driving up the traffic directed to a website. Both the techniques can be used independently of one another and it is also true that both can be used simultaneously. This has more benefits.

Online Marketing Strategy: PPC Advertising Vs. SEO

I hear it all the time: My website’s too small for SEO.” I totally get this mentality. This is how I thought when I started out. If no one’s even showing up to your site, why should you spend time on SEO?

There actually is an answer. You should spend time on SEO especially if no one visits your site.

I know that sounds a bit silly, but bear with me. The whole point of SEO is to make your website more visible. If you’re not doing SEO, your visibility isn’t increasing.

In fact, doing a little SEO could mean the difference between having 0 visitors and getting warm leads from your site.

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I think SEO is crucial for every site, including yours. Even if you literally have no visitors on an average day, there are SEO techniques you can do to get the ball rolling.

Every site starts off small. When I started out, I was terrified no one was ever going to visit my site. I resisted SEO because I thought it wouldn’t help. How wrong I was!

Today, SEO plays an important role in my marketing, and it’s one of the first things I suggest to people.

If you have a tiny website that no one visits, spend some time doing some SEO. You might be surprised at the result.

It doesn’t have to be difficult or take a long time. Here’s how to do SEO on a site with no traffic.

How to Do SEO for a Website That Doesn’t Have Any Visitors or Money

When it comes to choosing a reputable company to manage your SEO, there's both a right way and a wrong way to go about the hiring process. 

How to Choose a Good SEO Company for Your Business or Website 

If you’re wondering what factors to consider as you build your SEO strategy, links are still the top-ranking factor for Google’s algorithm with content close behind. And high CTR is still at the core of the rankings pack as well.

Earlier this year, Andrey Lipattsev, a Google Search Quality Senior Strategist, fielded questions about the top ranking factors for Google. Lipattsev said, “I can tell you what they are. It is content. And links pointing to your site.”

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Recent Study Put Links to the Ranking Factor Test

A recent study by Eric Enge of Stone Temple Consulting put links to the ranking factor test. And links emerged as powerful as ever.

Previous research by Moz and Searchmetrics found a high correlation when comparing high SEO rankings and external links. However, data from other ranking factors were close behind links.

For example, the Moz study found the number of external links to be rated at 0.30, but the Moz authority rated at 0.28, and the page authority at 0.37.

How could links be so vital to SEO efforts and not have a significant statistical edge on other ranking factors? Enge wanted to know why, and he found that the Moz and Searchmetrics studies used commercial search terms, and evaluated each SERP individually.

“Based on consultations with a couple of experts (Paul Berger and Per Enge), I did a different type of calculation, based on the Quadratic Mean,” Enge explained.

Different varieties of search terms were also employed in the Stone Temple Consulting study. Long tail commercial terms, commercial terms, and informational keywords were used to test the power of links.

The results of the new study certainly matched Google’s announcement, crowning links king of ranking. Links per ranking URL rated at 0.39 with domain and page rating far behind at 0.27.

Links are Still Powerful Amid Hundreds of Google Ranking Factors

Did you know Google uses around 200 ranking factors to rank websites? This may be a lot for SEOs to take in all at once. However, focusing on links is still the best practice.

Building your SEO strategy in 2017: what’s most important?

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SEO for startups is simple: Produce good stuff

Remember, Google’s goal is to find the best content for your audience. That means your job is to produce the best content you can and to make that content easy for Google to find.

Produce, optimize, share, repeat. Google will find your awesomely-designed product -- just make sure they’re impressed when it does.

SEO for Startups: 7 Strategies to Get It Right the First Time

Who doesn’t love working on low-hanging fruit SEO problems that can dramatically improve your site?

Across all businesses and industries, the low-effort, high-reward projects should jump to the top of the list of things to implement. And it’s nowhere more relevant than tackling technical SEO issues on your site.

Let’s focus on easy-to-identify, straightforward-to-fix problems. Most of these issues can be uncovered in an afternoon, and it’s possible they can solve months' worth of traffic problems. While there may not be groundbreaking, complex issues that will fix SEO once and for all, there are easy things to check right now. If your site already checks out for all of these, then you can go home today and start decrypting RankBrain tomorrow.

How to Find SEO Problems That Can Be Damaging Your Site

No ONE tool does it all in 2017. Here is a list of my notes on my favorite entry-level tools to help to do SEO in the coming year.

These are time-saving tools I use, have purchased or can recommend, with 15+ years experience in internet marketing. These include free browser extensions and plugins; cloud-based online tools and paid desktop software packages.

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The best SEO tools will save you valuable time, can provide you with insight and can quickly help you explore challenges and opportunities. The caveat being, of course, you will need some degree of experience to get the very most out of them.

Tools like these help you make a better website and increase user satisfaction. That is very important if you want to rank high in Google.

Your competition is using these tools and others like them, so you should think about using them too.

I am a bit stuck in my old ways, and I don’t rely on too many tools but the ones I do, I use regularly.

Best SEO Tools for 2017

Optimizing your eCommerce site for better rankings should be a top priority for any growth-focused business owner.

Being on the first page is no longer enough to generate enough traffic, CTR, and sales, for 2016 and 2017, the main goal should be to rank 1 and I will tell you why.

In 2011, a research conducted by Optify and published by Search Engine Watch showed that “websites ranked number one received an average click-through rate (CTR) of 36.4 percent; number two had a CTR of 12.5 percent, and number three had a CTR of 9.5 percent.”

This report illustrates vividly the value of holding the number 1 spot in search results.

In the article below, I will be sharing five proven SEO strategies for retailers to rank their eCommerce sites in 2017.

Five proven SEO strategies for retailers to use in 2017

SEO Strategy

We recently ran a successful split-testing title tag experiment to improve our search engine optimization (SEO), the results and methodology of which we shared in a previous Code as Craft post. In this post, we wanted to share some of our further learnings from our SEO testing. We decided to double down on the success of our previous experiment by running a series of further SEO experiments, one of which included changes to our:

Lessons from Multivariate SEO Testing at Etsy

It makes sense at times to produce content without worrying too much about the SEO aspects. (Please know it isn’t easy for me, an SEO professional, to write that.)

Some SEO purists suggest that website content should be optimized at all times. It’s inevitable that someone – or a team – will follow an internal process and think about the content with an everything-SEO mentality.

But there are situations when you don’t need to sweat SEO – or can at least scale back the effort. Here are five occasions to consider.

5 Reasons SEO Should Take a Back Seat With Website Content

Firstly, let’s break down SEO as I think businesses and marketers have a tendency to overcomplicate it, which results in an overwhelming feeling of "this isn’t for us" or "we don’t have the expertise/time for this." Actually, SEO is quite simple when you dispel the SEO myths and break it down to its core fundamentals: on-site (changes you make to your actual website) and offsite (things you do outside of your own website).

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On-site SEO is simply the process of making your website search-engine friendly. This includes tactics like optimizing your title tags, publishing great content and being strategic about your website’s structure.

Offsite SEO is the process of getting validation from other websites that your website is useful to searchers. The best way to do this is by earning backlinks -- in other words, having other websites link to your website (Note: it’s very important that you don’t try to earn what Google calls "unnatural" links -- this could result in a penalty if done at scale!)

Does Your Company Really Need to Focus on SEO?

I remember being awestruck back in 2013 by Brian Dean’s list of more than 200 Google ranking factors. My first thought was, “Wow! Think of the work and research that went into this!” followed by, “This will be so useful!” and finally, “Oh god, there aren’t enough hours in the day for all of this.”

Fortunately, not all ranking factors are created equal — you can maximize your SEO efforts by focusing on a few specific ranking factors. Of course, Google’s algorithm is always changing, and we can’t rely on yesterday’s ranking factors. These top four ranking factors are based on the most recent studies by SearchMetrics, Backlinko, and my colleagues at SEO PowerSuite.

Read on to discover how to optimize your site for today’s important signals.

2017’s Most Important Ranking Factors, According to Industry Studies

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21st Renaissance

We execute, test and track a content marketing strategy for your business that focuses on SEO.

We analyze how your current online presence is setup and analyze if your brand's messaging is aligned with your business’ objectives from an outside perspective. We analyze your website and review all pertinent and important metrics with you in a detailed report to confirm your content marketing is moving in the right direction and how it needs to adjust for the future.

The Top 10 SEO Factors

The Top 10 SEO Factors

SEO & AI, How To Take Advantage Of New Technology

SEO & AI, How To Take Advantage Of New Technology