How to Ace Your SEO: Part 3
Cracking the SEO puzzle, one piece at a time.
Read Time: 12 minutes / 2365 words
SEO is a moving target. In fact, it’s almost like trying to hit a moving target with a blindfold on. We rely on SEO experts to help us deduce what the really important things are when it comes to what factors genuinely influence our ranking in the search engine results page (SERP). It’s kind of like a jigsaw puzzle – you know what you’re aiming for because there’s a picture of how it’s all meant to look, but there are 500 pieces in front of you and no real clue of exactly how they all fit together.
To help you bring some order to the SEO puzzle pieces, we’ve broken down your SEO priorities into this handy three-part training guide that allows you to prioritise and work on your SEO, piece by manageable piece. First we looked at things to check straight away, second we looked at what to add next. In part three, we’re looking at what you can work towards regularly to create a strong and cohesive SEO practice. So let’s put all the pieces together…
11. Using digital assets to boost your SEO
Digital assets include things like images, layout and other visuals on your page. How you use them to create an engaging experience that appeals to the eye of the user is what matters most. Think about the jigsaw puzzle again – if the overall picture were bland and boring, it would be pretty hard to stay engaged and put the pieces together. It’s the same for the human eyes looking at your site – it needs to be great to look at and easy to navigate if you want those eyes to stay on the page! Remember, it’s not just about the keywords for the search bots… because the search bots follow the human engagement.
Is your page text-heavy and boring?
Ok, at least you’re honest! Here are some things to think about:
- Get some images into your text! High quality, free to use images are easy to find – check out Unsplash or Pixabay. Make this standard practice every time you post.
- Think about changing it up on your page with a graphic, for example, an icon-based image, flowchart, graph or infographic. Audit your current posts to see where this may come in handy to highlight key information, or liven up a boring text chunk. Canva is a great (and free!) tool with some readymade templates to help make your page look as professional as possible in this regard.
- For images and graphics (any file to be precise), get into the habit of a consistent file naming protocol that uses lowercase characters and hyphens instead of spaces, for example: ‘doc-type-title-name.jpg’. Click here to see more about file naming protocols.
- Are your brand colours used consistently and in a way that adds to the look of the page without making it hard to read or over stimulating?
- Have you included a Call To Action (CTA) and is it clear? Don’t just think about the wording, check if it stands out on the page. Does the visual flow lead the viewer’s eye towards it?
- Break up large chunks of text into smaller paragraphs. People are more likely to read information thoroughly if it looks easy to get through. Also, try bullet points and using subheadings to help organise information easily. Here’s some more tips for organising your content in Part One of this guide.
- Make sure your text sizes are easy to read, and double-check this across multiple device platforms (see more about website responsivity in Part Two of this guide).
- Buttons should be easy to identify and contain just a few words as a general guide. Anything more complicates the final step of your Call To Action.
- Use white space to create a clean, uncomplicated website layout – this helps the user feel like they’ve come to an oasis in the middle of the information overload, and they’re more likely to take a beat and explore your site for a bit longer.
Great! Here’s a checklist of ideas and guides to continue working towards as you generate your content strategy:
- It’s always worth doing an audit of your current website to take a fresh look at how your pages look overall. Is there a flow, or is the information hard to follow visually? Do the images and graphics complement the written content, or do they confuse the subject? And most importantly, does the layout of the page help the user to find what they’re looking for? Think about positioning of buttons, size of text and images, and using white space to help the page feel fresh and uncomplicated. Refer to the points above and generate a list of things to address.
- Branch out from the usual images or graphics and try a video tutorial. You can then transcribe it to cover your bases and repurpose the content another way, plus your engagement level just increased with video.
- Consider repurposing old content – you’re not reinventing the wheel, just presenting what is still relevant information in a new and engaging way. You could consider an eBook, a Slideshare presentation, a checklist or downloadable template, or a form where users can spend time interacting on the site.
12. Gaining backlinks for SEO
Backlinks are links from other sites to yours. And they are gold for improving your SEO. Google figures that if someone else thinks your content is good enough to refer to, then it’s good enough to rank a bit higher. So good quality backlinks will boost your SERP rankings over time.
Do you know that feeling when you find a corner piece in a 1000-piece jigsaw? That’s like a good backlink – it’s essential to a high SEO ranking, and it starts to bring the whole puzzle together. Just like 1000 pieces though, gaining quality backlinks to your site is definitely a project that takes some time. You can ascertain the current status of your site’s backlinks using Ahrefs free backlink checker here.
Are you actively working towards gaining backlinks?
Here’s how you can start or continue building quality backlinks to your site:
- Approach other sites directly to let them know about your content. Perhaps they have some broken links or content gaps, and your content would be a perfect fit. Not only is there a chance that they will link to your site, but it may also lead to opportunities for social media featuring, guest posting, and influencer opportunities, all of which can help generate traffic through to your site.
- Look for guest posting When you provide a guest post, always ask for a link back to your own page.
- If you don’t already have a regular electronic newsletter / direct mailout (eDM), then get one! These boost traffic from various sources, especially if you also take the opportunity to post the newsletter link on social media. Check out our handy MailChimp guide right here.
- Share the love – write a review or two for tools, sites, or resources that you use. Then contact the relevant sites to let them know about the content. Everyone loves some good social proof, so the chances of them linking to your content are good.
- It all comes back to having great content. If you want others to link to you, you need to have something worth linking to – things like lists, quizzes, resources, video posts, tutorials – and then promote your content to other sites within your niche.
13. Regular valuable content for SEO
There’s content and there’s content. Content that’s simply there to fill a space and hold some keywords won’t rate with readers, and the search bots will soon work that out as well. So it’s important to keep working towards a well-curated content collection.
Just like a completed jigsaw puzzle is generally the result of consistent effort over time, it’s integral to contribute to your site content regularly, ensuring that this content adds value to your client group. Search bots are looking for sites that are well-maintained and regularly updated. Not only this, but having a regular plan or content map will help ease the pressure to continually generate ideas, and also help you to have a strategic approach with your content over time.
Do you have a regular content map or plan?
Check your content strategy for the following:
- Content length: longer content tends to rank better, but don’t make more words for the sake of it. Quality always trumps quantity. HubSpot recommends blog posts between 1,000 – 2,000 words in length, but they also recommend experimenting to see what your audience engages with.
- Answer questions with your content. Keep referring back to the list we made in Part One – what keywords and questions are your target audience searching for? Keep honing your topics so that you’re answering their questions or solving their problems. Check out more of our hints for copywriting right here.
- Content frequency: whatever frequency you choose to post, just make it regular. Every month or few weeks works well in general. Search bots crawl every website at different intervals, but fresh and regularly updated content gives the bots a hint that it’s time to look through your site and review its ranking again. Check out these hints on how to get Google to crawl your site more frequently.
Here’s how to create your first content map:
- Think about the goals you have as a business and plan to create content accordingly. Want to position your business as an authority? Create tutorials, training resources, or profile a recent job. Want to be known for a certain topic? Create a map or web of topics based around one central theme and unpack them one by one. Want to build trust? Create content around testimonials or client stories.
- Strategically map out your content over the course of a week, a month, or a year. If you’ve never had a content strategy before, start slow and work towards more frequent updates. You don’t want it to become unmanageable… remember, we’re in SEO for the long game!
- Populate your content map with post ideas and generate full length posts ahead of time so you don’t miss your posting dates. Check out some of HubSpot’s content generator ideas here to get you started.
14. Improving page loading speed for SEO
Not to get too technical, but page loading speed is an important factor to be aware of when working towards great SEO. Most of us can relate – if we don’t see the puzzle pieces coming together fast enough, we’ll lose interest.
If so, here are some tips for better page loading speed that will help your SEO:
- Make sure image sizes are optimised. This means making sure your image file sizes are as small as possible, without reducing their quality too much. There are a variety of tools and plug-ins to help you do this and you can check out a great list of them right here.
- Make sure your site is responsive on all platforms (mobile and other devices) – if it is, it will generally load faster. More about website responsivity here.
15. Ads… in moderation
One of the simple pleasures of a good old jigsaw puzzle is the lack of visual interruption that we’ve all become accustomed to on our screens. Users don’t appreciate it. So, if you feel turned off by unexpected pop-ups, or busy page margins filled with thumbnail ads, have some mercy on your viewers! Ads have their place, but always in moderation.
Check your site ads using this guide for a better user experience and to guide your ad decisions moving forward:
- Keep ad density below 30% – this means that ads shouldn’t take up more than 30% of the total height of your page. Work it out here with this ad density tool.
- Use pop-up ads wisely, as these can be a big turnoff for your guests and this may affect your bounce rate and overall SERP ranking.
- Keep away from ads that autoplay sound with video – these tend to disrupt the viewer experience and cause the person to shut the window in order to stop the sound. Again, this affects bounce rate and since the search bots follow the user experience, this will soon have a negative impact on your ranking.
- Don’t be too ‘flashy’ – ads that flash or are highly animated have been shown to be highly disruptive for viewers, and cause the same bounce effect. Keep it tasteful and not too flashy!
- Sticky ads can also be annoying for viewers, especially when they take up more than 30% of the screen. These are the ones that remain in place, regardless of how far down you scroll. We all know they’re annoying… in this case it’s better to ‘stick’ to the Golden Rule: if you wouldn’t like it done to you, stop doing it to the guests on your site!
And so we come to the end of our SEO adventure! It’s clear that SEO can be challenging, but if there’s one thing this training guide confirms, it is that putting in a little maintenance regularly can bring a lot of rewards later.
And when it all comes down to it, quality SEO goes hand-in-hand with quality content… you just don’t get one without the other. Which is where we can help. Quality content will not only tick boxes for the search bots, but it will tick boxes for your audience, and is a surefire way to make sure that your online presence has the impact and the ROI you deserve. We’re here to guide you through, so if you’d like to speak with us about how we can help with your content and digital marketing needs, give us a call today. We’d love to partner with you.