Over the past three decades, instead of disappearing, SEO has become incredibly more complex. Today, actionable SEO techniques not only enable search engines to successfully crawl your site, but also respect the quality of user experience. There is no doubt it has come a long way since keyword stuffing.
Keyword research, link-building, online content, on-page and off-page SEO form part of the vocabulary of every smart SEO team. However, being aware of what should be done and knowing the best way to do it are two different things. Marketing teams and professionals can significantly simplify as well as improve their work taking advantage of practical tips and strategies in 2017.
Let’s have a look at the latest SEO techniques that provide marketing teams with simple, action-driven strategies in three main areas of search engine optimization:
- Keyword Research
- Link Building
- Audit (Reuse, Reduce, Recycle)
The expression ‘Keyword Research” borders with vagueness and does not provide marketers with many valuable pointers. For the less experienced, figuring out what steps to take can seem quite daunting.
Find Keywords via Facebook Ads
Brian Dean, the SEO brain behind Backlinko points out that Facebook ads offer an excellent (yet still widely overlooked) way to identify still untapped keywords. You can smartly leverage the information Facebook collects on its users to determine the keywords your audience tends to use when looking for solutions to their problems.
- Click “Create Advert”
- Select “Promote Your Page”
- Scroll down to “Interests” section
- Type in keyword that describes your product
Find Keywords via Facebook Ads
Facebook, like Google, will come up with a list of suggested keyword combinations.
Keyword Research with Reddit & Quora
Reddit & Quora are places where millions of people discuss billion of topics making them it organic keyword goldmines. Researching these platforms allows you to discover keywords (as well as relevant content topics) that you would never find using Keyword Planner:
- Go to Reddit or Quora
- Insert your keyword into the “Search” field
- Click on the appropriate sub-community or related thread
- Focus on threads that ask questions
- Watch out for words or phrases that show up repeatedly
- Take notes
- Check the relevance of the often-mentioned keywords against Google Keyword Planner & Google Trends
SeedKeywords: Your Secret Weapon
Any keyword tool you use is only as good as the keywords you insert into it. If you are using the same keywords as your competition, it is rather hard to differentiate yourself. Seed Keywords tool is a game changer allowing you to find related keywords based on keywords people use to look for what they need.
- Go to SeedKeywords.com
- Create a Scenario
- Send the unique URL created for your to your friends, family or a small sample of target audience
- Get a list of out-of-the-box creative keywords
Search & Implement LSI Keywords
Google crawling bots are getting smarter and smarter. Today, Google takes into account Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) when ranking your pages. The software applies a mathematical formula to recognize patterns within the text making it possible to rank pages based on intent, not just keywords.
Thus, Google can identify whether you are talking about Apple the company or apple the fruit. There are two main ways to identify relevant LSI keywords:
- Check LSI Keyword Generator for connected phrases and words
- Search your primary keywords on Google & scroll down to the bottom of page 1
Spy On Your Competitors
Researching your competitors is a must no matter what your industry is. It will help you identify which keywords and topics are extremely relevant in your niche but also which of them are overused or too competitive. Alternatively, marketers can use this knowledge to apply the same keywords to significantly stronger content pieces and beat their competitors to the punch.
How to do it?
- Go to SEMrush
- Insert the URL of your competitor into the “Search” box
- Select the country relevant to your business
- Click the “Search” button
- Access and analyze the main keywords your competitor is ranking for
To verify your results, type some of the keywords into Google to see if the page truly ranks among the top results.
Another pillar of effective SEO is link-building. Similarly to keyword research, it can be vague and unhelpful without practical guidance. The golden rule of successful link-building is linking your pages to high-quality and high-rank sites. How to you identify the right opportunities?
Tap into “Best of” Lists
This is one of the most useful off-page SEO techniques. Why spent hours of looking for high-quality websites when other professionals in your niche have done the work for you?
“Best of” blog posts focus on listing the most noteworthy blogs or blog posts in a particular niche and even specific period. Linking your content to sites on these lists means you can be sure you are connecting with the best of the best.
How to find them? Search for:
- “Best [keyword] blogs in [year]”
- “[keyword] blogs to follow in [year]”
- “top [keyword] blogs”
- “top [keyword] posts” + “[year]
Flippa: Niche-specific Link-building Made Easy
Another handy new SEO trick by Brian Dean is leveraging flippa.com to your advantage. Flippa is buzzing marketplace for websites. Why would you bother visiting it, if you are not interested in buying anything?
Simply put, people who sell their websites usually provide every detail about how they built it, meaning supplying prospective buyers with information on keywords, content strategy and, naturally, backlinks.
- Go to flippa.com
- Click on “Websites”, then “All”
- Enter a keyword that describes your niche (broadly)
- Click “More Options” and indicate minimum 500 users
- Select any other specifications you deem appropriate
Many sellers will let you know not just what backlinks they acquired but also how, giving you pointers for your own strategy.
Wikipedia: The Land of Broken Link Building Opportunities
Leveraging broken links is a goldmine as it is incredibly powerful and scalable over time. However, many marketing teams still ignore its potential because looking for broken links often requires a lot of time and patience; that is unless you know how to masterfully use Wikipedia to search for broken links.
Step number one includes identifying Wikipedia pages that are relevant to you and contain dead pages. How? You can Google it:
- Insert “site:wikipedia.org [keyword] + “dead link”
- Click on the most relevant listing
- Use CTRL+F to search “dead link”
- Use “Wayback Machine” to retrieve the old content
- Create new improved version of the content on your site
- Search the link on cognitiveseo.com to see how many times was this link referenced to uncover more opportunities
Take Advantage of Authoritative Social Platforms
If your blog is just getting started, it is quite hard to attract attention in the vast pool of content available. Neil Patel recommends leveraging authoritative social platforms to get your content noticed. In this case, social platforms do not refer to Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter since their SEO value does not influence ranking but rather sites such as Blogger, Quora, Docstoc or Slideshare.
For example, a blogger Ana Hoffman shares here SlideShare case study where she managed to get over 200k views in 30 days.
She took advantage of SlideShare’s authority and got her content noticed. How to go about it?
- Get the right software if necessary (for presentation, infographics)
- Repurpose your content (use the blog post you already have)
- Condense the existing post into a short outline
- Optimize with keywords
- Finish off with Call To Action (Visit My Blog / Like Facebook Page / Subscribe to the Mailing List, etc.)
Review & Audit
Your business as anything else in life evolves, grows and adapts to its environment and so should its online presence. As you do not wear the same clothes today as you wore in high school, your site should not carry a few years old baggage that is no longer relevant. If your “house” is full of old irrelevant content, outdated information or broken links, avoiding “spring cleaning” can pull your site down no matter your efforts.
Auditing a website is the best way to discover what is the point of friction holding your website from getting enough search traffic and sales. It gives you an insight into the virtual spectrum, allows you to examine the site’s performance and set new goals accordingly.
Heather Lloyd-Martin, the founder of SuccessWorks, recommends choosing a reliable content auditing tool, such as SEMrush, Quick Sprout or Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider and keeping an up-to-date list of all your content.
The auditing tool will help your team identify pages with significant flaws (e.g. no Titles) and other problems like missing alt text or broken links. However, more effort is needed if the auditing process is to be fully integrated into the workflow. Efficient project management and planning is essential to keeping your site’s SEO up to date as well as maintaining all members of the team on the same page. Nonetheless, it is worth your time. A regular audit will ensure you are not carrying any excess baggage that is dragging you down and preventing Google bots from assessing your site.
Reuse, Reduce, Recycle
Another valuable SEO technique every marketing team should embrace includes extending the audit beyond fixing broken links. First of all, use Google Analytics to help you identify which of the older posts perform the best:
- Login to Google Analytics
- Click “Behavior” on the left
- Click “Site Content” and then “All Pages”
You can easily refresh the content and double the traffic by:
- Updating obsolete information
- Adding the most recent stats and studies to support your claims
- Transforming content into infographics
- Including case studies
Readers are much more likely believe claims if they are supported by relevant sources. Plus, updating old posts will prevent splitting the traffic between the old and the new, concentrating the views, clicks, and shares in one place.
Also, re-using and improving upon old content is a first step to creating a skyscraper post (a phrase coined by Brian Dean) which is a post based on a popular keyword that significantly surpasses any existing content in quality and detail of information.
Today, SEO is more complex, but your work does not have to be. Using smart ways to identify important keywords, find strong high-rank outbound links and consciously work to unclutter and improve your content are the key actionable SEO techniques to lead your website to the top.