Ah, SEO. Some people love it. Others are terrified of it.
However you feel, SEO is becoming an increasingly important part of running any business with an online presence.
The right SEO strategy can help you reach more people, build your authority, and make more money. And isn’t that what every business owner wants?
However you feel about SEO, there are some simple steps you can take to boost your SEO game and help you to rank above your competitors.
Using these tactics, I improved traffic to my blog, The Writer’s Cookbook, by 912% in 12 months. It ranks #1 for many popular writing-related keywords.
But it never could’ve done that had I not taken these steps:
1. Do your keyword research
I love keyword research. It’s the main way I grew my blog traffic so much in such a short space of time.
Before that, I assumed I knew what people wanted to know about. I phrased things in a way I thought sounded best, not in a way that my audience was likely to use.
Not the best way to build your audience…
Just because you know your audience, doesn’t mean you know exactly what words or phrases they use—especially when you’re just starting out. It never hurts to double check.
It’s an extra five to ten minutes of work that could bring you traffic for another five to ten years.
For keyword research, I use browser plugin Keywords Everywhere. It’s $10 for 100,000 keywords, which last a year.
2. Write for readability, not search engines
When you’ve got a keyword, it can be tempting to throw it around your blog post like confetti at a wedding.
But your post will perform much better if you focus on readability first.
Search engines are SMART. They’ll be able to figure out the context of your post from what’s around your keyword. You don’t need to repeat it ad nauseam.
Forcing your keyword into your post over and over and over again is called keyword stuffing, and search engines frown on posts that do this. Worse—they penalise them for it.
Instead, you should:
3. Include related keywords
Repeating the same keyword can get really repetitive to write and read.
And, as we looked at above, it’s bad for your SEO.
Instead, come up with related words or phrases and use those instead. For instance, ‘small business marketing’ could also be ‘marketing for small businesses’ or ‘how to market a small business’.
This is more interesting to read and shows search engines you’re not just writing about a topic to rank—you genuinely want to provide value to, and make your post readable for, your audience.
4. Rename your images
File names tell search engines what your post—and the image itself—is about.
The file name is used to not only rank the image in image searches, but also to add further context to your content.
So don’t go with the default title that you camera gives something, or that comes from the stock photo site. Rename it to something that accurately describes what the image is of.
5. Resize images
Always resize your images so that they’re not three times the size of your average monitor.
Most photos taken on cameras these days are huge, and often from stock sites they can be 2-3 times the size you really need.
Great for print. Terrible for websites.
Gigantic photos are awful for people on mobile devices or slow internet connections. They make your page slower to load, ruining your website’s user experience.
The longer a webpage takes to load, the more you’ll be penalised by search engines for providing a poor user experience and eating up mobile users’ data.
You can get WordPress plugins that will shrink images for you, resize it in Canva, or use Photoshop.
6. Make the most of ALT tags
ALT tags are used by screen readers to describe what an image looks like to someone who’s visually impaired. But they also help with SEO.
And, Pinterest uses them as the default description if someone pins your image.
Include your keyword in your ALT tag, but also make sure it works for someone using a screenreader.
Don’t use ALT tags to stuff keywords or related keywords; that’s bad user experience and just another way of keyword stuffing in a more subtle way. Search engines will still notice.
Instead, write a sentence to describe your ALT tag that’s related to the image and that includes your keyword (or a related keyword).
7. Increase time on page with audio or video
Not everyone wants to read content anymore; some want to listen to it, or watch it, instead. Give them the option—and increase how long they spend on your website—by embedding a video or podcast episode into the post.
The longer someone spends on a page—and on your website—the more it signifies to search engines that your site is of a high quality.
Blogs typically have a high bounce rate (80% or more in some cases), so anything you can do to boost other ranking factors will help to counteract this.
Hearing your voice and seeing your face also increases someone’s trust in you because you go from some written words on a website to a living, breathing person. This could improve your sales.
Worried this will take longer? Factor it into your content plan before you start writing. Bullet point everything you want to cover, then film yourself talking about it. You could even have enable dictation at the same time, meaning that you’ll only have to do some minor edits to the video and the blog post when you’re done.
To really stop yourself from editing videos or audio too much, record it live. You’ll feel more confident and get better as time goes on, meaning you’ll be happier with the finished result and so will your audience.
8. Use HTTPS
When I added HTTPS to The Writer’s Cookbook, traffic skyrocketed. Back then, a lot of blogs weren’t doing it because they didn’t see it as so important, which gave me an advantage.
Now, most sites have HTTPS, which means those that don’t will get left behind.
Some browsers now put a warning in place if a user tries to visit a site without HTTPS, which means it doesn’t just affect your search engine rankings, it could also impact if someone visits your website once they click through to it.
You can get a free SSL certificate for this using Let’s Encrypt.
I beseech you, do not pay for an SSL certificate. Let’s Encrypt is free and easy to use. It’s their mission to make the web more secure. There’s no reason to need to pay for an SSL certificate.
9. Aim for quality, not quantity
This is a never-ending debate in the content marketing community, but the truth is, if you can’t commit to a regular content schedule, the second best thing you can do is to publish bloody good content.
Make it in-depth.
Explain things you’ve covered in other posts that are related to your post.
Add custom charts and images.
See your content as an in-depth guide on a particular topic.
Content written as a quick read isn’t going to rank anymore unless you’re Seth Godin.
If you truly want to establish yourself as an authority, you need long-form content that shows you know your industry and your audience.
Many fintech businesses don’t have regular content schedules, but they do create in-depth content that ranks well and is shared on social media by their audience as soon as it goes live. That’s a sign that their content is well-regarded and respected.
It’s designed to teach their audience something they didn’t know before.
And it works.
Businesses like Stripe are authorities in their industry and people flock to them for a reason.
Wherever you are in your SEO journey, these simple steps will help you to take your website to the next level.
They don’t take long to implement, but they could be the difference between ranking on the bottom of search, or getting a coveted top position or featured snippet.
What have you got to lose by giving them a go?
Want to publish more content—or more in-depth content—but writing isn’t your forte?
Or the thought of writing so many wprds gives you high school essay flashbacks?
Why not outsource it someone who loves writing and can get to know your business, just like you?