Do you ever wonder how Google arranges the web pages you get whenever you conduct searches?
Are the results added at random?
Are they based on dates, perhaps?
Or, is the answer something else, entirely?
The answer lies in how optimized your pages are for the search engines. As of this time of writing, Google uses over 200 factors to determine a web page’s ranking.
That means, Google will peg the sites that they “crawl” against each other to figure out which among the sites are more optimized for the keyword that the user entered in the search box.
When you think about the plethora of ranking factors that Google uses AND how cutthroat the competition is on the internet, it gives you perspective on why you need to think about how to learn SEO strategically.
What Exactly is SEO?
SEO or Search Engine Optimization is a collection of practices that improve the rank of web pages in search engine results.
Unlike other disciplines like paid advertising and cold emailing, SEO is designed to build organic traffic. It means you don’t have to pay each time someone visits your site.
But there’s a catch: You need to commit every fiber of your being if you want to get significant results with SEO.
Everything you do (or something close to it) must be spot-on and not based on any guesswork. And whatever your competitor does, you must strive to do better.
On average, the top three results on Google get around 67% of all the clicks.
To put things in perspective, the top result has a 37.9% click-through rate, according to the latest data from Advanced Web Ranking. This tapers off to only 7.4% from the fourth result, which is a huge disadvantage.
In other words, if you want to do SEO, there’s no room for compromise. You either aim for the top or direct your online marketing efforts elsewhere.
If you’re up to the challenge, then congratulations — that’s the kind of resilience you need for SEO.
Currently, the internet has an ocean of pages teaching marketers how to learn SEO step-by-step.
We’ll leave it to you to discover those advanced tactics yourself, but that doesn’t mean we won’t help you get the fundamentals right.
Without further ado, allow me to share with you the top SEO strategies that you can use this year, even if you are a total beginner.
1. Start with Keyword Research
Before you jump into more elaborate SEO activities like link building, it’s imperative that you conduct extensive keyword research first.
Remember, search engines use keywords to determine the contextual relevance of any page.
They can be associated with search terms, anchor texts, or anything that can help users find what they need.
If you target the wrong keywords, you’ll end up wasting thousands of dollars on SEO while attracting the wrong crowd.
To start looking for keyword ideas, one of the best free platforms you can use is the Google Keyword Planner.
It can provide you with potential keywords based on a phrase, category, or a web URL:
You can also play around with the available research parameters to refine your search. For instance, if you want to perform in local SEO, click on “All locations” under the “Targeting” section and specify your area.
Once you click “Get ideas,” the tool will automatically pull in a list of potential keywords:
If you want to go more in-depth with your keyword research and access the competition to see how difficult or easy it would be to rank for a particular keyword, use Long Tail Pro to come up with new renditions of the keyword that are easier to rank and a more exact search volume.
In this example, you can get more keyword ideas like “pro carpet cleaning”, “affordable carpet cleaning”, and “eco carpet cleaning” and you’ll know exactly how competitive the term is to rank for.
In LongTailPro, a KC (Keyword Competitiveness) score is used to let you know how competitive a keyword is to rank for. KCs under 30 are the least competitive.
In most instances, long tail keywords are going to be the easiest to rank for.
You can also head over to your competitor’s website to check out the keywords they’re ranking for.
Here are a few additional tips when performing keyword research:
- Try to be local. Doing so takes advantage of the purchase behavior of your local searchers.
- Use more words. Targeting short and broad keywords will put you at a disadvantage against bigger brands. Go for longer ones — no less than four would be a good start. These are the low hanging keywords that don’t get you THAT MUCH traffic, but the traffic they bring have a high likelihood of buying your products. These keywords are easier to rank for compared to broad keywords.
- Look at keyword variations. Create secondary keywords that are either related or derived from your main keyword.
- Consider voice searchers. Explore the possibilities of “question” keywords, which are more commonly used in voice search.
2. Create Skyscraper Content
In addition to anchor texts, search engines also factor in a linking domain’s authority and trust rating when ranking websites.
However, reputable websites that can improve your rank worthiness are quite picky when it comes to backlinks.
To maintain their authoritative figure, they’re only interested in top-of-the-line content — something that’s a clear cut above the rest.
The Skyscraper Technique is perhaps the easiest way to give these websites what they want.
To use the Skyscraper technique, you just need to follow three very simple steps:
- Search for Popular Content
- Create Something Better
- Promote it to the Right Influencers
A content research tool like BuzzSumo can help you discover popular content for the Skyscraper Technique. Simply type in a keyword that’s relevant to your niche and watch the magic happen:
To improve your existing content, update old information or spice things up with visual content. Whatever you choose to do, make sure your content is obviously better than the old.
Finally, you can head back to BuzzSumo and view the backlinks of the original post. This allows you to find potential influencers who could be interested in linking to your content.
3. 4-Step Strategy to Building Backlinks
Building backlinks don’t have to be rocket science. Others make it seem complicated when it really isn’t.
There are three crucial things that you need to remember when building backlinks to your site:
- Show the webmasters your sincerity. Personalize your outreach templates; if you don’t do this, you’ll come off as insincere, or worse, a spammer.
- Add tons of value. The more value you offer to your prospects, the more likely they will accept whatever you’re offering them — whether it be free content or straight up adding your link to their existing pages.
- Don’t hassle your prospects. Expect your prospect webmaster to be busy. After all, they’re running a high-quality site. That being said, try to keep them from doing something that will eat up their time.
If you consider these points, I promise you that you’ll find it easier to build your links.
Now that we have that squared away, let’s get to the 4-step link building strategy.
Step 1: Do an expert roundup post.
Inviting others to an expert roundup is a great way to build a relationship with them. After all, they are bound to gain a lot out of the endeavor.
When doing expert roundups, however, just ask for a one to two-liner tip. That way, they won’t have to spend hours just to write their tip.
Step 2: Create a picture quote.
Once you’ve published the expert roundup (and shared the link with the webmaster), reach out to them a few days after and send them a beautifully crafted picture quote of their tip, which they can post on their social media profiles.
Grant Cardone’s picture quotes are a classic example of how your picture quote should look.
In addition to the picture quote, send them a copy that they can use to accompany the quote as well. Of course, the copy needs to have a link to your expert roundup.
Here’s an example copy that you can use.
“Learning SEO doesn’t have to be rocket science. You just need to learn the right strategies to have a successful campaign. Here’s an article where I’ve contributed a crucial SEO tip together with other industry experts. >>> (your roundup’s URL here)”
I cannot tell you how the webmaster will gladly accept the picture quote.
I’ve had several webmasters thanking me for the picture quote, even asking me if there’s anything they can do for me in return.
At this point, your relationship would have already “warmed up” a bit more.
Step 3: Interview them.
Establish your relationship with the webmaster even more by inviting them for an interview.
The process doesn’t have to be a complicated one. It’s just a matter of you sending a list of questions — 8 to 10 questions, to be more specific — which they will then answer and return to you.
Once you’ve published the interview on your website, send them a message sharing the live link and…
Step 4: Pitch a guest post.
Yup. Offer to publish a guest post on their site on the same email where you share with them the live link to their interview.
Here’s an example of how you can craft your email.
With all the value that you’ve added — you including them in the expert roundup, the picture quote, and the special interview — the chances are they’ll most likely reciprocate your goodness by accepting your guest post pitch.
Not only that, if there are other projects that you’d like to collaborate with them in the future, you’d also be able to reach out to them since you’ve managed to establish a meaningful relationship with the webmaster.
Compared to straight up pitching a guest post from the get-go, this strategy works since:
- You can establish deeper relationships with influencers in your niche, which you can leverage on later.
- Your brand can get more exposure since they’ll share your picture quote, the link to your roundup, and also the link to your guest post.
- The chances of them accepting your guest post pitch drastically increases since you’re no longer a stranger to the webmasters. Your relationship with them is now rock-solid.
Bonus Strategy: Grow Your Social Media Followers
Social signals such as shares, likes, and comments may not affect your search engine rankings directly. However, they have a lasting impact on the success of your SEO campaign.
For example, when using the Skyscraper Technique, building a social presence makes you more attractive to potential influencers.
Consistently pushing and extending your content’s reach through social media will also help it earn more backlinks over time, especially if you have a knack for creating linkable content, such as:
- Case studies
Of course, sharing your content through your social channels can get the ball rolling. But you can also get the help of your existing readers by integrating social sharing buttons.
Sumo Share is a plug-and-play tool that will get this step over and done with. It works by adding a floating sidebar on your website that contains all the sharing buttons you need, be it on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or any other major network.
After logging in to your free account, click the “Add New Site” button and paste your website’s URL.
The tool will then automatically generate the embed code, which you need to paste into the <head> section of your HTML file.
Benefits of SEO
It’s worth mentioning that if you play your cards right, then SEO just might be the best thing you can ever do for your online business. Here’s why.
- It can expose your brand to millions of online users. According to Internet Live Stats, Google alone processes over 64,000 searches per second.
- Local SEO increases foot traffic. A Google study revealed that 50% of consumers who searched for a local store on mobile would visit within 24 hours.
- Roughly half of the mobile users start with search engines. While 33% of consumers on their mobile devices head straight to a branded website, up to 48% uses search engines instead.
- It helps you attract potential buyers. In SEO, there’s an opportunity to target “buyer keywords,” which are indicative of high purchase intent.
- SEO maximizes brand authority and trust. By ranking informative content, you can establish your credibility as an information provider in your niche.
- More marketers are seeing better results with SEO. In a study by Marketing Dive, 82% of marketers are seeing improvements, while 42% are getting huge results.
SEO’s pretty awesome, isn’t?
If the statistics above didn’t get you excited for SEO, then nothing else will.
Are you excited to launch your very first SEO campaign? Always remember that SEO is about precision — not speed.
Triple-check your keyword targeting and make sure you’ve given every nook and cranny of your keyword research a closer look. After all, your keyword research can spell the difference between the success and failure of your campaign.
Target the wrong keywords, and you will most likely spend thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) to rank your pages. The sad part is, IF you manage to rank, you’ll realize that the traffic you’re attracting is the wrong audience. You’ll know this to be the case since most of them will not buy anything on your site.
If you’re curious on how to learn about SEO, check out this post for more information on conducting effective keyword research.
I’m still learning how to use Keyword Planner and the other tools out there. It seems like many of them aren’t sharing the whole picture, especially Google.