The answer is simple. Learning SEO is hard because there is a lot of information to read about search engines and how the optimization process works, and this can be overwhelming at first.
How is SEO done?
SEO involves making certain changes to your website design and content that makes your site more attractive to a search engine. You do this in hopes that the search engine will display your website as a top result on the search engine results page.
What Is SEO Coding?
Search engine optimization coding is the process of writing or re-writing the programming for your website in such a way that search engines (like Google) can read and index your content.
What is SEO vs SEM?
SEO is sometimes used as an umbrella term that includes SEM, but because SEM refers strictly to paid advertising, they are actually separate. SEM is about getting traffic via paid ads, and SEO is more about acquiring, monitoring and analyzing organic (unpaid) traffic patterns.
What are the latest SEO techniques?
1. Find Your Competitors’ Best Performing Pages
The more you know about your competitors’ SEO strategy, the better your own site can perform.
When you take the time to figure out what’s working for the websites you compete against on the SERPs, you can take your analysis to the next level and understand why this approach is working before using this insight to inform your own approach.
One effective starting point is to find your competitors’ best-performing pages so that you can develop a picture of where their organic traffic is coming from, and what it’s being driven by. Analyzing your competitors’ top pages can point you in the direction of things like
- A content/keyword gap
- A link gap
- An opportunity to improve your existing content
- Keyword cannibalization
2. Inform Your Content Strategy Using a Keyword Gap Analysis
When it comes to creating a content strategy, you will typically have two main focus areas:
- Optimizing existing content
- Creating new content
While optimizing existing content is often the most effective starting point (after all, it’s easier to see gains from improving content that is already indexed than completely new pieces), most websites will get to a stage where they’ve optimized all of their existing pieces.
At this point, your efforts should turn to the creation of new content. But one of the biggest mistakes that SEOs make when creating content is doing so blindly.
You need to be creating content with a purpose and need to be able to justify why every single piece that you create exists. This means taking the time to carefully plan out a strategy for the creation of new content.
One of the quickest ways to steer your content plan is to conduct a keyword gap analysis that will help you to see the keywords that your competitors rank for but that you don’t. From there, you can create content around these keywords and topics to fill the gap. And you can do it faster and more efficiently with dedicated SEO tools.
3. Use Digital PR to Earn Authority Backlinks
One of the biggest challenges that SEOs face is how to earn authority backlinks at scale.
Backlinks remain one of Google’s top-ranking factors, and while there are many different link-building strategies that can help you successfully earn relevant links, the fact remains that many tactics are difficult to scale effectively.
When we look at Google’s link schemes guidelines, the recommendations are clear:
The best way to get other sites to create high-quality, relevant links to yours is to create unique, relevant content that can naturally gain popularity in the Internet community. Creating good content pays off: Links are usually editorial votes given by choice, and the more useful content you have, the greater the chances someone else will find that content valuable to their readers and link to it.
And one tactic that can help you to earn editorially placed links through the creation of awesome content is digital PR.
Think of this as creating and promoting content to journalists and publishers that they’ll want to cover and link to from within their articles. Content such as:
- Research studies
- Tools and calculators
- Expert insights
But really, it’s all about thinking like a PR and executing like an SEO. Digital PR isn’t about pitching out promotional pieces with a press release, but rather promoting linkable assets with a solid outreach strategy. The real appeal here is that the right story can deliver significant numbers of editorially earned links from publications where your next customer could be hanging out online.
Digital PR brings benefits beyond just links, including:
- Driving referral traffic
- Creating social engagement
- Increasing brand awareness
- Putting you in front of your customers when they’re consuming content online
- Generating sales
Here’s a great guide to help you to learn more.
4. Improve Your Organic CTR Using PPC Testing
CTR is used as a ranking factor and it’s something that you should be optimizing for. But let’s break down the elements that can impact your site’s click-through rate. Typically, these are:
- Title tag
- Meta description
At least, these are the ones that you have a fair amount of control over (bearing in mind that additional ad space, image blocks, and the like can all push down organic listings and result in a lower CTR). But how do you know what title tag or meta description will deliver the highest CTR?
That’s right; you test it!
While you could do this over a longer period of time by making changes and measuring the results, other variables could come into play. If you don’t want to wait too long for results, you can leverage PPC to test these title tags and meta descriptions.
Even if you’re not running a PPC campaign like a business, it’s worth loading in a budget and setting up ads for a set of pages to test different titles and descriptions. You’re not going to get like-for-like title tags and meta descriptions with ads due to the way ad headlines and descriptions are structured, but you’ll get some powerful data around key phrases and headings, as an example.
Just be sure to properly set up your test to determine what’s having the biggest impact on CTR.
- To determine the best title tag to use, test at least three different headlines but keep the description the same for each.
- To determine the best description to use, test at least three different ones but keep the title/headline the same for each.
So long as you receive sufficient clicks on your ads, you’ll be able to rewrite your title tags and meta descriptions using this performance data and improve your organic CTR.
5. Optimize for ‘People Also Ask’
The SERPs in 2022 go way beyond the ‘10 blue links’ that once occupied Google’s first page, and smart SEOs need to be tweaking their techniques and strategies to take advantage of as many SERP features as possible.
One of these features that SEOs need to utilize is ‘People Also Ask’ (PAA). If you’re not familiar with PAA, it’s the questions that show on the SERPs, like below
6. Steal Your Competitor’s Broken Backlinks
We’ve already discussed how difficult it can be to build quality backlinks, but one great tactic you can use is a variant of broken link building.
While this tactic is typically based on finding broken links, creating content that fits the link, and reaching out to try and get it repointed to your piece (rather than the one that’s dead), there’s a spin on it that you can use to get a head start: finding the links that point to 404 pages on your competitors’ websites.
7. Use Supporting Content to Show Topical Expertise
Google wants to rank the best result for any given search query, and that’s why it’s so important for you to think about optimizing for topics, not just single keywords.
You need to be demonstrating topical expertise to stand a chance of ranking at the top of the SERPs for your main ‘money’ keywords, and this means getting to grips with the concept of supporting content. Familiar with topic clusters?
Essentially, this is the process of creating cluster content that’s internally linked back to a pillar page. These are more in-depth pages that answer a specific question about your broad topic and link back to the main pillar page. This strategy allows you to also create content that’s optimized for long-tail keywords.
Just think of supporting content as pieces that add topical depth to your site and demonstrate to Google (and users) that you’re an expert in your field. However, it’s important to remember that this content doesn’t always need to be created based on insights from keyword research.
In fact, publishing content around new breaking trends or subtopics is just as important as it is to be writing opinion pieces that can gain traction on social or other channels.
Supporting content, on its own, might not drive thousands of hits from organic search each month, but it can help your main pages to rank higher and earn their own traffic through other channels if promoted properly. Additionally, it can help your overall blog SEO, if you’re connecting posts to one another.
8. Use Internal Links to Supercharge Page 2 Rankings
Have you got keywords that are ranking on page 2 that need boosting onto the first page of the SERPs? Adding internal links that point to these pages could help you to achieve this.
Internal linking passes both PageRank (link authority) and relevancy signals. Internal linking is a massively underutilized SEO technique, and it’s often enough to see these page 2 rankings jump onto page 1.
To take advantage of internal linking, you first need to find opportunities to boost page 2 positions.
Enter your domain into the Semrush Organic Research tool and click the ‘Positions’ tab.
From the ‘Positions’ filter, choose #11-20. This then gives you a list of those search queries ranking on page 2 that could benefit from an internal linking boost.
9. Optimize for Image Search
If you’re not optimizing for image search, there’s an excellent chance that you’re missing out on opportunities to grab traffic from a source that your competitors probably aren’t considering. Let’s not also forget that visual search is a big deal.
While many would think of image SEO as tagging your images with alt tags, it goes way beyond this. If properly optimize your site’s images, you stand a real chance of being able to rank prominently on the image SERPs.
So, where do you start?
Reading our guide to image links will help you to dive deep into the SEO techniques that you should be using to optimize your site’s images, but in short, you need to be considering:
- Alt tags
- File names
- Resizing images to the needed dimensions
- Reducing file sizes
- Creating an image sitemap
- Hosting your images on a CDN
While going back and optimizing existing images might take some time, creating a process for adding and uploading future images to your site ensures that these boxes will be ticked from the start.
10. Clean Up Toxic Links
Just as backlinks can help your website rank higher on Google, the wrong type of links can also harm your rankings.
If we look at Google’s Link Schemes guide, we can see their stance on links deemed to be unnatural or toxic:
Any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. This includes any behaviour that manipulates links to your site or outgoing links from your site.
At best, these links will be ignored. At worst, they could harm your rankings.
If your site has toxic links in its link profile, it’s recommended that you take the time to clean them up. But let’s look at some of the reasons why your site may have toxic links in the first place:
- Links that have been bought (or received in exchange for gifted products)
- Link building using exact match anchor text
- Large-scale article marketing or guest posting campaigns
- Negative SEO
- Low-quality directory or bookmark site tactics