A No-Nonsense Guide to SEO

Here is a quick reference guide for ranking in search engine result pages:

A No-Nonsense Guide to SEO
A No-Nonsense Guide to SEO

Be meticulous with your keywords strategy

Being meticulous with choosing your keywords is knowing precisely what you want to rank for, in specific geographical locations, and how much effort is required to rank. After establishing your keywords, track your rankings with SEO software like Ahrefs, Moz, SEMrush. Daily keyword searches from your browser will show you squewed results; this is because you’d be training Google’s algorithm where you want to go, not where your website ranks.

Create a Category & Tag plan based on your keywords

Creating a Category strategy based on your Keywords, this will establish a benchmark for new content and keep you focused on your goal.

Google Bots

Google bots are like little internet Roombas; they bounce around your website looking for new content. As humans, we take getting from point A-to-B for granted, but if you’ve ever watched a Roomba try to navigate around your home, you know it’s painful to watch. Setting up a fool-proof path for crawlers is essential; you accomplish this with sitemaps, a fast server, and valid code.

XML & HTML sitemaps are the roadmap for bots, a fast server is important because slow servers can create time-out errors, errors cause bots to bounce to the next website, or sets you at a lower crawl budget, and the error-free code creates an environment where bots can run wild without interruptions or snags.

Crawlers have two primary objectives:

  1. To find what content is on pages, this includes titles, meta tags, headers, copy, and backlinks.
  2. When new content is uploaded and updated.

From this crawled data, Google will categorize your website. To assist in this, ensure your Title, Meta Tags, Headers + Copy have your keyword in them. Having the keyword first in the Title, Meta, Headers is desirable. 2-3 Keywords in the copy will be enough. Your goal should be to have a 3% keyword ratio on most pages. Anything more will keyword stuffing.

Outbound Links (OBL) signals to Google what your page is trying to rank for; Google needs all the help it can get when categorizing your search results. Inbound link scores expose internal page value, link score is calculated by the percentage of overall internal links going to a specific page.

Keys to the house

When you install the Google Analytics tracking script, it gives Google complete access to your website. I’ve spent years optimizing websites for bots when I missed the elephant in the room; Google knows how many people go to your site (page views), how they got there (referrers), how long they stayed (page time), where they went afterwards (bounce & exit rates) all from its tracking code.

More engagement indicates your website has something valuable. How do you measure engagement? Time-on-page is a key performance indicator.

For years I’ve read about the importance of word count, infographics, and video on websites. Which translates into the longer and more interactive pages and the longer it takes people to process them.

Google isn’t going to look at your webpage and say GREAT; I see a cool infographic, I’m going to rank you higher over your competition. Instead, it will see users spend on average 2 mins more on this page than anywhere else, so this page must be more valuable.

Competition Word Count
Competition Word Count

An excellent example of this is “SEO” as a search result. In the image above, Wikipedia has close to 4,000 words, Neil Patel has almost 10,000 words, whereas Moz + SEJ are under 500 words. That is a huge difference! But how can they both rank so high with drastically different word counts? The answer, Moz + SEJ doing an amazing job at engaging people with there content, they add thought-provoking material, harness conversation in their comments, all adding value for our “What’s in it for me generation.”

Conclusion

A strong SEO strategy consists of having clearly established keyword goals, your website needs to be easily crawlable by Google bots, and you need to create pages people want to read.