In 2016, if your company is not adopting best SEO practices, you are doing something seriously wrong. These days, a low or high Google ranking can easily mean the death or success of a business. As SEO specialist, Joel Gross said, “SEO leads to increased search engine visibility, which leads to greater traffic, which leads to increased sales.” SEO techniques are always changing as Google’s algorithms receive new updates, so staying current is absolutely critical. Here are five SEO techniques that you should master this year.
- Gain Followers and Inbound Links with Guest Blogging
You should already have your own blog that you update daily. What you may not realize is that there is a world of opportunity writing for other blogs. Many well-known and respected blogs allow guest posting as long as you abide by the rules. This often means that direct promotion is not allowed, but you still have the opportunity to sneak an inbound link into the content.
If you plan on guest blogging, you must be discerning. There was a time when a link was a link was a link, but those days are long gone never to return. In 2016, a link from a spammy or irrelevant site can result in a penalty. Seek out authoritative expert blogs that are directly related to your niche. Not only does this lend credibility to your organization, but it also puts you directly in front of your target audience.
- Provide Replacement Content for Broken Links
This strategy is especially appealing because it is one of the whitest hats you can wear. Use an analytical tool like Screaming Frog to seek out relevant websites with dead links. Check the context, and either creates new content related to it, or find your own previously written content to suggest. Now all you need to do is let the webmaster know that the link is broken, and offer your high-quality, relevant link as a replacement. The beauty of this technique is that you are doing the webmaster a favor, so it’s only natural that they would return it by linking your site!
- Use Keywords and Keyphrases (Carefully)
Use Google Keyword Planner to find out the words and phrases that people use when they search for your niche. Select the phrases that have many searches and low competition, and use those phrases throughout your content. Avoid using them unnaturally or in high quantities, as keyword stuffing is an outdated SEO technique that can result in penalties from Google’s spam detectors.
You may also want to reduce competition even further by adding a word that makes your company stand out. For example, instead of “best Indian food,” you may have more success using a phrase like “Best Indian food in Boston.” If your business is strictly online, you could try “cheap website design” instead of just “website design.” It is better to rank on the first page for one keyword than it is to rank on the second page for multiple keywords, so focus your keyword and keyphrase usage, and localize it if applicable.
- Be Active in Your Community
Inbound links are critical to any online marketing campaign, and one of the most effective (and rewarding) ways to build links is to be active in your community. You can gain quality links by joining local organizations like your chamber of commerce, as well as by submitting your link to local directories. Donating to a nonprofit or sponsoring a charity or local sports team are also excellent ways to build brand recognition, gain inbound links, and also do some good in the world. The CEO of Coalition Technologies once described SEO as a “public relations campaign for the digital age.” Be consistently active in a positive way, and the links will come naturally.
- Recognize and Create High-Quality Content
Google’s Panda penalty, also known as the “quality algorithm” can detect poor writing, spam, fluff, and everything else that nobody wants to read. SEO specialists have been pushing quality for years now, but many do not realize what true quality entails. Here are some questions you should be asking yourself as you create content:
- Is the content accurate and trustworthy?
- Is the content written by an expert?
- Is each piece one-of-a-kind, or does the website offer multiple variations of the same theme?
- Is this piece free of spelling and grammar errors?
- Is there a clear motive for the piece, or does it provide balanced information?
- Does this content provide in-depth information that is not readily available via a quick Google search?
- Is this piece concise and to the point, or is it padded to fill a word count?
Know When to Hire an Expert
If you are not 100 percent confident in your SEO abilities, there is no shame in outsourcing. Today’s SEO experts have a great deal of experience and technical knowledge that may not be included in your skillset. If your page isn’t ranking as high as it could be, you are going to lose out on a substantial market that is only going to keep growing. Boosting your search engine ranking takes time, so don’t wait.
Carolyn Clarke is a freelance writer and SEO consultant from Philadelphia, PA. She is passionate about helping local businesses to boost their web traffic using the latest white hat SEO techniques. In her spare time, Carolyn spends her time reading in the park, doing yoga, and gardening.