All businesses can go online in a matter of minutes. It is more challenging to benefit from high digital visibility. Many websites struggle to receive 100 visitors per month despite their efforts.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has 2 main purposes:
- Make the online platform discoverable
- Earn good organic rankings
Google, Bing, Yahoo! Search, Yandex, Cốc Cốc, and other search engines must understand what all web pages are about. To achieve this, they constantly crawl the internet to decipher the content currently live. Brands need to send the right signals, so search engines can notice them.
Once found, web pages must convince search engines that they share relevant content with online users. The problem is that SEO continuously changes.
The Google algorithm updates once or twice every single day. Marketers must permanently follow up on the 200+ SEO factors that impact website rankings.
This article will list the top #6 SEO techniques that help websites rank higher. We will focus on white hat practices only. Follow them to boost your website’s organic rankings in a sustainable way.
#1 Audit your Website
Any SEO plan should start with a website audit.
We need to identify what works well, what must be improved, and where the growth opportunities are. Based on this SEO audit, we can implement the right tactics to boost profits.
There are 3 main areas to review: the website performance, the onsite technical, and the outreach. We will detail each of them below.
The website performance & loading speed are crucial factors influencing organic rankings. They ensure a good user experience for online visitors. No one wants to stay on a page that takes 6 seconds to load or refresh.
To optimize your website performance, you need to have a developer with expertise in your Content Management System (CMS). Here is a list of the most important web vitals to monitor:
- Server response time
- Network payloads
- Web fonts
- Content Delivery Network (CDN)
- Render-blocking resources
- Image sizes
- Video sizes
- URL redirections
Besides the web speed, pay attention to the mobile browser version. In 2018, Google officially announced that websites should be designed for “mobile-first.”
The onsite technical part of the audit is the on-page SEO. It focuses on the website’s crawlability & indexing. In other words, it concerns the first purpose of SEO which is to “make the online platform discoverable.”
Check the following onsite technical elements to optimize in priority:
- Non-indexable pages
- URL structure & hierarchy
- Schema markup
- Duplicate content
- Thin content
- Content expertise & relevancy
- Keyword stuffing
- Page titles
- Meta descriptions
- Hx headers
- Image ALT text
Unlike website performance, you don’t need a developer to improve the on-page SEO. With a crawler tool like Screaming Frog & some solid analysis skills, you can cover the whole onsite technical work.
Outreach, or off-page SEO, is a technique that enhances your website’s organic visibility & authoritativeness.
There are many ways to improve this area. We recommend businesses prioritize the following outreach items:
- Referral domains
- Backlink quantity
- Backlink quality
- Spamming & harmful backlinks
- Broken links
- Anchor text
- Earned & lost backlinks history
- Link juice
This area of performance is the most time-consuming of the SEO audit. However, it remains one of the most beneficial. Digital marketers should take it seriously if they want to be competitive.
#2 Discover Valuable Keywords
Online users find brands, products, and services from their queries. They type keywords or keyphrases in the search engine that will return the most relevant results.
Consequently, businesses must optimize their web pages for keywords so they can be found by their potential visitors. Because not all keywords are the same, let’s differentiate the short-tail from the long-tail ones.
Short & Long-Tail Keywords
The short-tail keywords’ characteristics are:
- Broad & general
- High volume
- High competition
- Low intent
- Low conversion
On the opposite, long-tail keywords are:
- Descriptive & specific
- Low volume
- Low competition
- High intent
- High conversion
As we can see, long-tail keywords are better for conversions because more words imply a higher intent. Unfortunately, their search volume is also lower than broad keywords.
It is okay to optimize for a key phrase with a low search volume if it is at the bottom of the sales funnel. In parallel, we should not overdo the optimizations on long-tail keywords, because websites also need some traffic. Marketers must find the right balance.
Keyword Research Factors
To select the most valuable keyphrases for their businesses, companies must perform research. Here are the top criteria to choose the right keywords:
- Search volume
Keyphrase relevance is key in SEO. We cannot optimize for keywords that are “good for the business” but not related to the company’s activities.
Search volumes help digital marketers understand where to focus their efforts. As we saw above, we need a combination of short-tail & long-tail keywords to conduct an efficient organic campaign.
There is a correlation between search volume & user intent, but they remain separate. Businesses should not only optimize for “branded” keywords that are good for awareness but do not convert.
Competitors also optimize their websites & rank for keywords. We must benchmark them to identify the feasibility & potential effectiveness of our optimizations.
Keyword Research Process
Businesses conduct keyword research to anticipate what people want & are looking for. They must find the keyphrases that will match the online users’ queries.
Here are the most efficient ways to investigate & choose the best keywords:
- Online social news aggregators (Quora, Reddit)
- Google Search & Auto-suggest
- Google Analytics
- Competitor keywords benchmark (with Ahrefs, SEMrush, and Google Keyword Planner)
People look for answers on the internet. Doing keyword research helps brands know in which topics their potential clients are interested.
We can check the trending topics on social networks or on Google Search, which provides “neutral data.” On Google Analytics, businesses see what their best-performing pages are, which is more “specific data.”
Thanks to competitor analysis, companies identify their most promising pages. They can do some reverse engineering by creating better content.
Once we finalize the keyword list, the best way to evaluate if they will drive conversions is to use them. Real data helps but nothing beats actual implementation.
Having the keywords does not end the process. We must decide on which target pages we will optimize because not all web pages are relevant.
Then, it is time to develop the content around the keywords. The next section will teach you how to write valuable copies for search engines & real people.
#3 Write Killer Blog Content
A blog is one of the most powerful branding tools available in the digital market. Publishing useful content about various topics boosts online discoverability. All brands willing to showcase their expertise should have a blog section on their website.
Copywriters start producing content after the keyword research is done. When writing blog articles, the most important rules to follow are:
- Be straightforward
- Cover completely the topic
- Use a natural tone
- Keep sentences short (20 words)
- Write easy-to-understand copies
- Avoid the passive voice
- Insert appealing & unique images
- Proofread the article before publishing
Let’s complete this general copywriting guideline with some specific advice about the structure. Blog articles should always include the following:
- Long content (never shorter than 1,000 words)
- Engaging headline (60 characters)
- Descriptive meta description (155 characters)
- Subheads (H1, H2, H3, etc.)
- Short paragraphs
- Bullet points (1 line each)
- White space
Experienced copywriters know that the title tag & the meta description are critical to improving the Click-Through Rate (CTR). Their job is to get enough clicks so people will read the piece of content. More traffic results in more sales.
Writers must take time to polish the headline, which represents 80% of the copy’s attractiveness. They should also pay attention to the meta description which directly impacts the CTR, which is another ranking factor.
As quality is more important than quantity in blogging, we recommend brands update old content. Copywriters should review their articles at least once every 2 years.
It is a good strategy to consider “evergreen” content. Those copies are timeless because they deal with topics people continuously search for.
#4 Build Meaningful Links
Link building is a major SEO technique to boost organic performance. As there is some confusion about them, let’s differentiate the 3 main kinds of links:
- Internal links
- External links
We explain them in detail below.
A backlink is a link generated from another website that points to yours. It connects both domains starting from the anchor text, hosted on the external website, to the destination page, which is on your website.
Backlinks are like online votes: the more backlinks, the more other websites quote yours as a good source of information. They pass “link juice” & authoritativeness, thus it is important to get backlinks from related & trusted websites.
As for keywords, marketers can perform a competitor analysis for backlinks. Ahrefs & SEMrush help to report the backlink gap which is a good starting point in identifying new outreach opportunities.
Given the power of backlinks, it is tempting to massively “purchase” them. This black hat practice was working in the early 2000s, but today, search engine algorithms are smarter. Unnatural backlinking or “rush link increase” gets penalized. Websites can lose their rankings because of that.
An internal link connects 2 separate pages hosted under the same domain. For example, it can be a product page with a hyperlink redirecting the user to a blog section that fully introduces this product.
Web crawlers like Google bots need links to navigate the internet. Links provide context between the billions of websites available. Internal links tell search engines that the 2 pages are related. It allows crawlers to understand the content better.
Use internal links to provide a glance at your website architecture & page hierarchy.
External links are pretty much the opposite of backlinks. This time, your website is the one pointing at another domain. It means you are the one passing some “juice” to the other website.
Make sure you link out to reliable sources of content. External links are an SEO factor because they make your web pages useful for online users.
In a blog, a good practice is to insert links in the first & last paragraphs of the copy. This is where they are the most effective.
Not all external links are equal. If a link has a rel=nofollow HTML tag, it means that search engines will ignore it. Such a link does not pass any juice to the destination page. Dofollow links, on the other hand, send some authority to the pointed domain.
#5 Boost your Potential Web Pages
SEO is a long-term digital strategy. It usually takes months & some budget to see significant organic results.
There is an SEO technique designed for quick & easy wins. It requires boosting the web pages that are currently ranking after the 10th position on the Google Search Engine Result Page (SERP).
On the first page of Google SERP, online users can see 10 organic results. The second page returns the 11th result, and so on.
Everyone knows that 95% of people only scan the first page. The top #3 positions alone share 70% of all clicks. Brands want to appear there.
This SEO technique allows marketers to rank high with a minimum of effort. Check for which keywords your website currently ranks on the second page of Google SERP. If they are meant for your business, you should focus on them because they are likely to reach the first page soon.
To identify your web pages satisfying those conditions, go to your Google Search Console. In the performance tab, check which pages & keywords rank at the average position of 11-20.
If those candidates are good for your business (meaning if they can potentially increase your sales), then you should optimize them to benefit from this “quick win.”
Here are the 2 easiest techniques to optimize the pages sitting on the second page of Google:
- Optimize the page meta
- Add internal links
Review the page title, meta description, and Hx headers so they go by the keyword you are optimizing for.
Add internal links coming from your most authoritative pages (for example, the website homepage). It will help the low-hanging fruit page to rank higher.
#6 Optimize your Local SEO
Many people search for local businesses, especially brands selling physical products. This is typically the search engine queries including “near me.”
Local SEO is a top technique to consider for those companies. Optimizing the local search traffic guarantees great results in terms of footfall.
To optimize for local SEO, consider the following top-ranking factors:
- Physical location
- Online reviews
- Web content
- Online directories
To get started, you must have a Google Business Profile account (GBP, formerly Google My Business). This service is free & extremely powerful. It offers organic visibility on the GBP knowledge panel, the local finder, and the Google Local pack (3-pack) as well.
Pay extra attention to the NAPW which is an acronym for:
The NAPW information must be the same everywhere. Your GBP NAPW information must match the name, address, phone, and website you input on social media networks, guest posts, and all online locations mentioning your brand.
Final Tips on Best SEO Techniques
The internet is full of poor and/or duplicate content. While it takes time to produce valuable information, few publishers do not hesitate to plagiarize those articles for their benefit.
SEO techniques make the difference to stand out from the crowd. They optimize web pages for search engines but also for people.
Marketers should follow those professional tips for their blog content, and also on their product & category pages.
There is no need to optimize the whole website. Search engines like Google rank web pages, not entire domains. Under time & budget constraints, businesses are better off focusing on the pages that convert.
When applying those SEO techniques, make sure to measure your web performance with the tools mentioned in this article. Focus on the metrics that matter, not on “vanity” metrics like “number of likes.” The point is to generate revenues after all.
To go further on this topic, read our complete SEO guide. You will learn everything you need to optimize your website & rank high for your desired keywords.