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8 Powerful SEO Techniques You Must Master

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Preface | 8 Powerful SEO Techniques You Must Master

This article has been created as a basic guide that you can use when working to build your search engine rankings on Google, Bing and other search engines. Getting your site to become visible on Google and other popular search engines are something that should be on the top of the to-do list for every business. This exposure on Google will have a tremendous amount of long-term value for your business. It is not an easy thing to do, but once you begin to get rewarded with organic SEO traffic you will know that all the work you put in towards reaching your goal of top Google rankings was time well spent.

To your success,

Jake Barefoot

 

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Best Practices

Jake’s Thoughts on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Best Practices:

“In order to do well on Google for the long term, you will need to put in a great deal of work. You might be tempted to try to find shortcuts or ways around this but more often than not this will end up in penalties that will only move your project backward. Organize your work and diligently pound away at it, bring on Virtual Assistants or automate any sections that you can to leverage your time but keep in mind that a great deal of time will be required to be put in on this project in order to reach your goal.”

Search marketing is a powerful and cost-effective means of expanding marketing reach and acquiring new customers for your business. However, the world of search engine marketing is getting more and more competitive and the top spots are getting much more difficult to get. The days when it was easy to rank via “keyword stuffing”. Simply adding keywords to your content, making paragraphs of invisible text and other quick-fix search engine optimization techniques are over. Today’s search engines have more sophisticated algorithms that are able to easily detect attempts to fool them. Webmasters and search marketers are countering by also getting more sophisticated. In addition to the ramp-up of the Search Engine/Webmaster battle, there are also other factors that are making it harder to rank. There is now more widespread knowledge of search engine optimization techniques to the common person. This access to information has also contributed to stiffen the competition in the search engine results pages across the whole spectrum of long and short tail keywords.

In the highly competitive industry of Search Engine Marketing, developing a sustainable SEO strategy that will give your company a long-term niche—is crucial to your success in building your organic search traffic. While you are crafting your strategy it is also very important to create a method that your competitors will be hard-pressed to duplicate.

In this white paper, we’ll outline a long-term strategy for creating a powerful SEO roadmap that will enable you to bring your business to the top of the listings. We will introduce and discuss eight proven methods that will be maximizing your return on the time and money that you spend optimizing your website for organic search. We will also introduce a selection of tools and services that will help you implement these processes simply, efficiently and successfully.

Understanding the Basics: What is SEO?

What exactly is SEO? SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. This is essentially a specialty skillset that encompasses the process of optimizing a website, in terms of content, structure, design, user interface and other factors, to improve search engine rankings for keywords that pertain to the webpage that is being optimized. The ultimate goal of SEO is to increase the volume and quality of traffic to the site. Spending time on SEO allows you the potential of placing your brand in front of millions of potential customers who use search engines like Google, or Bing.

The benefits of SEO offers a number of benefits to your business:

  • More brand exposure and awareness
  • Inexpensive, global advertising
  • A reliable source of sales and qualified leads

Essentially, by neglecting search as a marketing channel there is a major missed opportunity. It’s vital to your business interests that your team is able to become familiarized with search engine optimization best practices and incorporate them into your overall online strategy.

Step 1: Build Your Keyword Database

Jake’s Thoughts on Keyword Databases:

“This is the foundation of your SEO campaign, spend time populating your database with keywords that your target market is already using to try to buy products or services similar to what you offer.”

The first waypoint on road toward better search engine optimization is the process of keyword discovery. You will need to develop an extensive listing of words and phrases that your customers are using (or you believe they will start using in the future). Why is this necessary? Because as your project progresses you need to know where you are on the path of reaching your goals. If you do not make this list in the beginning that contains keywords that your customers are actually searching for then the value of your SEO will be dramatically affected. If your potential customers aren’t speaking the same language as you’ve been optimizing for, then you will show up for the wrong words and you won’t be able to connect with an audience that offers value to your business.

This common language of words and phrases between your company and your clients should form the basis of your keyword database. To fully capitalize on SEO, it is crucial to realize that your keyword database is more than a list of words. It’s a valuable, proprietary marketing asset that you’ve invested a great deal of time creating. This list should be kept private and managed with care.

How do you build up the value of your keyword database? This starts with keyword research but in the long run, you will need to continuously maintain the list to maintain alignment with the current keyword trends..

Tips for Success: Use existing tools to help identify keywords that are getting traffic from ones that are not. The Google Keyword Selector Tool or the SEMRush Keyword Analyzer are both very good options.  


Step 2: Conduct Personalized, Data Driven Research

Jake’s Thoughts on Data-Driven Keyword Research:

“This is the foundation of your SEO campaign, spend time populating your database with keywords that your target market is already using to try to buy products or services similar to what you offer.”

Traditional keyword research is flawed from the get-go because most people why are conducting it rely on the wrong tools. The majority of people usually rely on a handful of free, publicly available keyword tools that do nothing more than providing a very basic starting point of understanding. When it comes down to it they generally will fall significantly short of producing an extensive, high-value keyword list that is actually relevant to your business.

These commonly used tools generally fall into one of a few basic categories. Each of these categories has significant drawbacks for SEO:

  • Keyword suggestion tools: When you use a keyword suggestion tool they will return a limited number of high-volume keywords. Sometimes you will also receive approximated estimates of search traffic that correspond with each keyword. Because these tools favor historical popularity over relevance to your website, the keywords may or may not be able to bring traffic that is actually useful in the context of what you are offering. Additionally, the more popular keywords are oftentimes exponentially more difficult to rank for, even with extensive optimization efforts using simultaneous  SEO strategies.
  • Competitive keyword tools: How about just targeting your competitors keywords? These tools are based on the questionable premise that your competitors’ keywords will be useful to you to. The reality is that you don’t know how successful those terms are. Plus, these keywords are not tailored to your unique business and your competitive advantage. These tools can make for good SEO side projects once you are already established but should not form the basis for the foundation of your keyword list.
  • Keyword generator tools: These tools generally are just making variations almost like a digital thesaurus. You enter in a word or phrase and they will return mashed-up keywords that often times bear little resemblance to anything an actual user would ever type in when performing real searches.

If you’ve been relying on the above keyword tools don’t get down on yourself. They are a logical starting place if you are just beginning to learning how to optimize a new website or are trying to expand into a new keyword niche. In the long-run, it can be dangerous to rely too heavily on public keyword sources by themselves. They can be a good place to start but you can greatly enhance the value of your keyword research through keyword aggregation. Essentially, you will need to learn to supplement these tools with search query data from actual site visitors.

Simply taking the list of what people are currently searching for and you are ranking poorly for and combining it with the keyword phrases you get from tools is not enough. If you really want to attain a more complete keyword picture, your research should make use of private data sources. Make sure that you have Google Analytics installed on your site, we also recommend getting a SEMRush account so you can easily make keyword reports by logging in and accessing the data from your actual user behavior. Learning how to combine all of these tools together to generate valuable keyword phrases will ensure that you’re able to maintain relevant, up-to-date lists.

Advanced keyword research goes beyond basic keyword suggestions, allowing you to build on public data with your private user data.

This combination approach will offer multiple advantages:

  • Relevance: The keywords on your list are more likely to be qualified and relevant to your business, since they’re also based on data from actual visitors to your site.
  • Privacy: Your competitors won’t have access to the keywords that you generate, this data should be completely private.
  • Accuracy: The traffic and conversion numbers associated with your keywords are 100% accurate because they come from real user data, this will enable you to make informed decisions instead of relying on fuzzy numbers.
Tips for Success: Combine all of your information sources together to help make a very large keyword list. Then narrow it down to find the best performers. This process should be continuous.Your keyword list will be an ongoing part of your website’s SEO process.    


Step 3: SEO Is A Continuous Process

Jake’s Thoughts on Data Driven Keyword Research:

“It is very common for clients to tell me that they have already had their site “SEO’d”. The reality is that there is no such thing as having your website “SEO’d”, because it is a continuous process. SEO is something that should be maintained on an ongoing basis. Similar to how a farmer would tend to their crop.”

The fact of the matter is that SEO is not a one-time activity. SEO is an ongoing process. If you attempt to optimize your site using a short list of static keywords, your search engine results will probably remain static as well. Which in reality normally means that you will see an eventual decrease over time as more competition is added. Continuously improving your results requires an ongoing expansion of the keyword list. To grow your list over time and keep up with changing customer behaviors and shifting market trends is essential. But with so much on your search marketing plate, it’s very difficult to find the time to update your keyword research even every few months, much less every week or every day. This is definitely a challenge, but a challenge that is possible for you to overcome. We recommend leveraging your time by using a virtual assistant to carryout this task.

Allowing a Virtual Assistant (VA) take care of this for you will give you the ability to carry out this task on a continuous basis without taking up a large amount of resources. We recommend pairing your VA with a daily or weekly protocol using a tool like SEMRush that will allow them to find you new, high value keywords every day by following a simple routine. Getting this going is as easy as installing some code snippets on your website’s footer to enable Google Analytics and some other trackers and then connecting SEMRush to your Google Analytics account to run additional processes on your data. This allows automated tools to be able track visitors behavior to your website. Using this data your VA will be able to identify any changes and then automatically import any changes into your database. Reviewing these newly added keywords will be as easy as checking your email. This ensures that continuous keyword discovery is a continuous element of your regular SEO routine.

Tips for Success: Make a process that requires none of your time to maintain and then make a point to go over the data periodically so you can stay up to date with current trends.    

Step 4: Group and Organize Keyword Results

Jake’s Thoughts on Keyword Grouping and Organization:

“It is very common for clients to tell me that they have already had their site “SEO’d”. The reality is that there is no such thing as having your website “SEO’d” because it is a continuous process. SEO is something that should be maintained on an ongoing basis. Similar to how a farmer would tend to their crop.”

Keyword grouping and organization are absolutely critical to the success of your long-term SEO strategies. In fact, grouping your keywords is the what many believe to be the key step that differentiates top-ranking sites from the rest. Take Amazon: One of the reasons it ranks on the first page for so many keywords is its well-defined structure and meticulous organization.

Unfortunately, this is a best practice is often short-changed or ignored by search engine optimizers. Without organization, you will eventually end up with a large, sloppy and unorganized list that is difficult to update and maintain. In addition, the list will probably be full of duplicates. An unorganized list will leave you with no clear plan of action in sight. You can’t just cram all your keywords on a page and hope to rank for each individual keyword and simply track the results, this will never work. In order to succeed you will have to organize similar keywords together and then create focused content for each set.

By effectively grouping keywords you can turn an unwieldy list into a meaningful, useful tool that will enable you to make data-driven decisions. You can use your VA to maintain keyword grouping which will give you access to the tools to break down your database into groups of related keywords. On top of this, you will be able to further segment those groups into subgroups. At the lowest level, your keyword groups will provide you with smaller, more manageable sets of keywords phrases, even if your total number of keywords runs into the hundreds of thousands.  

A keyword database that has been intelligently organized will provide your company a large advantage over the competition. This will benefit your SEO efforts in a number of ways. For example, if the data from your tool creates a natural, logical information architecture for your website this will allow you to design it to be easier to use. The organization that comes from your data allows you to create a more user-friendly destination. This helps boost other key user metrics like average time on site and bounce rate. Well-structured, easily navigable sites aren’t just more appealing to search engine users; they’re also favored by search engines. If search engines can more easily crawl through your website’s architecture, you’ll enjoy better rankings in the SERPs. Organizing your list is crucial to success, make sure you allocate enough resources to this step.

Save money when creating your content creation plan by treating groups of keywords as one. Instead of making multiple small pages to target each keyword phrase, see if it is possible to make more comprehensive pages that target whole groups. Segmenting your keyword phrase list will allow you to improve the quality and relevance of the copy for each page of your site. It’s much easier to write copy when you can create specific guidelines of how to create informative landing pages that are based on high-value keyword phrases. This technique also can be used to create blog posts and other marketing content around the keyword groups on your list

The next step is to create a unique page for each keyword group. This will provide a destination that searchers will be able to easily find. Search engines reward pages that offer what users want. If you are able to do this successfully your rankings will improve and your traffic will climb. This will bring compounding benefits that will add long-term value to your site.

Unique, informative content that naturally captivates the attention of the reader is more likely to attract outside links. This side effect is crucial! Link-building is one of the most significant factors in the off-page SEO of your website. If you can acquire links from authoritative websites that also have quality content, the better your rankings will be.

Tips for Success: If your project is a new website that has not yet been built, I would recommend getting to this point before you even create the wireframe of your website. If you know which phrases you will be targeting ahead of time this will allow you to incorporate those phrases into the design of the site to maximize the SEO.  

Step 5: Make Data-Driven Decisions

Jake’s Thoughts on Data-Driven Decisions:

“A hunch can be a good place to create a hypothesis but should never be something that is used to justify an activity where company resources are being used. If a decision if a good decision that makes sense to do you should be able to prove it with data.”

Search Engine Optimization is an ongoing project that requires constant experiments and adjustments. In order to maximize your effects, you need to make sure that your actions come from somewhere that is based in data. Your decisions should be driven by your most accurate and up-to-date analytics data. Using data allows you to take advantage of a wealth of valuable insights that you already have. Information from analysis of your data will allow you to understand your website’s performance. In addition, you will also have a much greater understanding of your prospective customers’ wants and needs. When you make discoveries in your data that teach you something you didn’t know, use that insight to steer the direction of the project. Make this information work for you by turning insight into actions.

This will not be as easy as it might sound. There is a high likelihood that you, (like most search marketers) will end up with analytics dashboards and SEO to do lists have nothing to do with each other. This disconnect can create a huge bottleneck in your process. Creating a situation where a potential goldmine of information just lies fallow, and your hard-fought SEO gains diminish.

Associate web content with keyword groups on your list. Then you can see your degree of coverage and prioritize content creation as necessary. In addition, this will allow you to be able to identify the larger, more broad keyword groups so you can quickly segment them down into subgroups. This will allow you to capture more targeted traffic because of your deployment of more granular information architecture.

Keyword research and analysis become pretty exciting when you’re using the data to drive actions that create immediate SEO gains. Of course, with so much information you can then create another problem of having a full to-do list, but that is a good kind of problem to have to deal with.

Tips for Success: Let the data guide your decision making. Look at your data, decide what you want to improve, then figure out how to accomplish that goal.

Step 6: Make A Prioritized Action Plan

Jake’s Thoughts on how to Prioritize Your Action Plan:

“Make your list and split it into two columns. The first is for your in-house team, the second is for your outsourced team. Only check the tasks to your in-house team that are absolutely necessary.”

An endless number of things you can do to optimize your website exists. Unfortunately, you don’t have endless hours in the day. Working with tight schedules and limited resources is a reality most companies must deal with. SEO takes time and time is not free. It takes a lot of hours to author, review and publish good content on the internet. Given these costs, it’s vital to determine which SEO tasks are most high-priority. Once you’ve identified the priority tasks, accomplish those first.

Use a protocol to determine the priority of tasks and use your VA to help you whenever possible. One way to prioritize SEO work is to look to your pay-per-click campaigns for guidance, which leads us to the next best practice.

Tips for Success: Return on investment of time is what you should use to prioritize your list. There are many ways to make money, make sure you are engaging in the activities that will allow you to make the most money.

Step 7: Use PPC Data For SEO

Jake’s Thoughts on how to use PPC Data for SEO:

“It is very common for clients to tell me that they have already had their site “SEO’d”. The reality is that there is no such thing as having your website “SEO’d”, because it is a continuous process. SEO is something that should be maintained on an ongoing basis. Similar to how a farmer would tend to their crop.”

There’s no need to segregate your SEO and PPC activities. In fact, if you do this you will miss an opportunity for large gains. SEO and PPC are complementary. You should use data from each to help create your strategy.

Tools like SEMRush integrate with your Google AdWords account, this information sharing allows you to align efforts between your PPC and SEO efforts. The two areas can gain from each other if you integrate them together. Your PPC campaigns can benefit natural search engine optimization in several ways:

  • Tracking your PPC results gives you fast answers on which keywords perform well for your business, this can help you decide which keywords you should target without having to wait for pages to index and gain authority. Use these keywords you’ve identified to be valuable to prioritize content creation for your website. Eventually, you will be able to cut down the cost of the traffic from those keywords by organically ranking for them.
  • The keyword group hierarchy you create and maintain for your PPC campaigns also will help guide you towards a more natural, hierarchical information structure. Well organized, user-friendly sites are favored by search engines.
Tips for Success: Use PPC to test keywords before you invest time to create content to try to rank for those keywords. This strategy can save a huge amount of resources in the long term.

 

Step 8: Coordination Of Your SEO Team Is Key

Jake’s Thoughts on how to coordinate your SEO Team:

“If everyone is able to work together efficiently the overall production is bound to improve.”

Make sure you have set your team up for success by providing them with the best tools. Like how SEO and PPC should work together, various members of your team should be able to work together on your website optimization efforts. This won’t be possible if your team is not using cloud-based collaborative SEO tools. Make sure you can have multiple people working on the same account or project at the same time. It’s quite difficult to keep a basic offline spreadsheet updated so that everyone sees the same “version of the truth.” These kinds of issues will create a major obstruction to workflow.

We can help recommend many tools that you can use to allow your team to work together more efficiently. Each company has different qualities they need in their collaboration tools so there is no single solution that we can recommend. Please feel free to contact us for recommendations of what kind of collaboration software will work the best for you. If there is anything else that is contained in this white paper that you would like to discuss we are happy to take some time to go over in more detail. We hope that this document has provided some value to you, we want you to be successful and a well-crafted SEO strategy will get you much closer to where you need to be.  

Tips for Success: There are many tools that are available to allow your team to work together as efficiently as possible. All of them are a bit different but with a bit of research you should be able to find one that works for the needs of your company.

 

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