Let’s face the facts. Search engine optimization is not what it used to be. Where you could once stuff keywords and pay for links, those days of simple SEO tactics are over.
But does that mean it’s still difficult? Certainly not.
All it takes is a fresh perspective. If you’re itching to rank high on search engines for industry keywords (and you should be, because it’s super effective for driving traffic), take a look at these five SEO techniques that still work like a charm today.
1. Link BuildingHear me out. While I did just say that paying for links is no longer a viable SEO strategy, there are still ways to build links without being penalized.
Old SEO strategies had you building links through directories, comments, email blasts, and even paid link building campaigns. Today, these strategies won’t fly, but links still count in the eyes of search engines. Admittedly, it’s going to take more work because search engines like Google want to see natural links—the kind when other people link to your website because you’re just that awesome.
You simply can’t automate the process. So how can you make your efforts count?
Here’s what does work:
- Write ridiculously awesome content. You’ve heard this tip before, but it’s worth repeating because it’s true. The more people like your content, the more they’re going to link back to it.
- Build relationships. Writers and bloggers link to products and articles they find useful, but how can they link to your blog if they don’t know about it? Network with other bloggers on a personal level, and they’ll start to recognize your brand and link to you when relevant in their own content.
- Launch an infographic. If your infographic is awesome and you share the embed code, other bloggers will share it. When that embed code includes a link back to your site as credit, you’re earning natural backlinks.
- Become a guest on a podcast. Oftentimes podcasters will share links back to your site or content, so it pays to strap on a mic—and it’s a great networking opportunity.
2. High-Quality Outbound LinksWhen we talk SEO and links, we’re generally looking at incoming links, but outbound links can have an impact on your search engine rankings, too. That’s because the pages you link to help search engines determine what your site is about. Linking out to quality resources can also be an indicator of higher quality content (opposed to just linking to your own content).
Is there any truth to this? Moz has actually shown that there’s a correlation between outbound links and higher rankings. Three relevant and high-quality links per blog post is a good place to start.
It’s also worth considering that this practice adds value to your content. Therefore, more people will link back to you. Plus, linking to other pages aids in networking and outreach, which can further promote your blog and increase backlinks.
3. Site Speed and PerformanceWhile site speed doesn’t have a ton of weight on your search engine rankings, it can definitely help. It’s also helpful because it provides a better user experience, which means more people are likely to link back to your site if they enjoy your content (see point #1).
Now, there’s no hard number that search engines are looking for, but Google has said that response times longer than two seconds could limit the number of URLs Google crawls on your site, which could impact your search engine rankings.
To avoid being penalized, aim to speed up your site. Sometimes this means moving from a shared server to a quicker server, but there are other tactics to try as well, such as minimizing requests by combining scripts.
Not sure how fast your website is? Quicksprout.com offers a fantastic analytics tool that not only tells you how quickly your page loads but also offers suggestions on how to make it faster.
4. Long-Tail KeywordsToday, 70 percent of search traffic comes from long-tail keywords, so when structuring your content, consider the long-tail keywords people will search. This can be effective because keywords like “size 10 tennis shoes for sale” have less competition than “tennis shoes.” While there are fewer queries, your link may show up in front of more eyeballs by targeting low-competition phrases.
Brian Dean of Backlinko shares a case study on one of his posts titled “White Hat SEO Case Study: 348% More Organic Traffic in 7 Days.” Originally, he had intended to target the term “white hat SEO,” but he realized that “SEO case study” also produced a decent amount of traffic to his site. So he included that long-tail keyword as well.
What he noticed was that he ranked well for the term “SEO case study” to begin with since the term had less competition. As traffic flowed in from that search term, more people were linking back to his content. Eventually, he ranked high for “white hat SEO” as well.
5. Active Social Media PresenceWhile we’ve heard time and time again that social shares don’t have an impact on search engine rankings, specific case studies and experiments beg to differ. (Check out the proof at Quicksprout.com.)
But even if you don’t believe that social indicators are used in rankings, an active social media presence can still help your overall SEO strategy. For one, it helps you reach more people, which means you have a better chance of earning backlinks. Social websites are also valuable networking tools—which helps you build connections that can impact your search engine rankings, such as by earning backlinks from influencers.
Furthermore, you can’t forget that your social profiles show up in search engines. So while these links aren’t pointing back to your blog, they do indicate a present brand and engaged community.
If you’re thinking SEO is dead, you couldn’t be more wrong. While it may seem like it will take a lot of work, it doesn’t have to be something to fret over. Eventually, you’ll find that these SEO tactics come naturally as you write for your audience and actively engage with them.
This is a guest contribution from Mike Wallagher of Startbloggingonline.