17 Smart Search Engine Optimization Tips

smart search engine optimization strategy google SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) is always a top concern for digital marketers and business owners, as it should be. Your website's search engine optimization can be the difference between success and failure. SEO is constantly changing with ranking factors and website rankings always evolving. Your strategy needs to adapt as well. Here are seventeen smart search engine optimization tips for modern SEO specialists:

1. Avoid Private Blog Networks (PBN)

There is an old proverb that says “A wise man will learn from his mistakes but an even wiser man will learn from someone else’s”. Back in 2011 & 2012 hundreds of websites dramatically lost their rankings after Google started rolling out their anti-SEO black hat updates. Anyone who dabbled in link exchanges, comment linking, content spinning and many other grey / black hat tactics were either penalized or suddenly lost their rankings. What did we learn from this? Google doesn’t like fast, cheap, spammy SEO, and PBN’s reek of these qualities. 

Sure, Private Blog Network (PBN) owners have gotten smarter in the way they host and manage these sites, but we’re talking about Google here - Google’s going to catch on eventually. It might not even hurt your site rankings, but your energy and marketing budget would be better spent elsewhere than trying to game the SEO system. 

2. Don’t Ignore Your On Page SEO

On Page SEO is still one of the most fundamental elements of SEO. Ever since Google first launched, its sole purpose was to index, categorize and prioritize data as accurately as possible. At its core, you could say that Google is just a souped-up card catalog system, like the ones librarian's use to find books on archaic computers. Remember libraries?? Anyways, this means Google needs from your website some very basic information (like a card catalog needs the title of a book... remember books??) just to perform its primary function - a search query. A website's meta data, like page titles and meta descriptions, tell Google what you’re website is all about, and where you belong in search. On Page SEO does not guarantee #1 rankings, but without it, you may not rank at all.

On Page SEO considers dozens, if not hundreds, of factors including keywords, meta descriptions, navigation, site security, internal links, external links, site speed, ads, word count, mobile friendly pages, images, and video content. Do what you can to keep your page quick, user friendly, and easy to navigate.

3. Longer Content Leads The Way

We’ve been talking about content in the SEO world for countless years now. SEO professionals have touted “Content is King” ever since I can remember. Even though some people still believe that backlinks are far more important, I do believe that content is still very important, but probably not in a way that you are use to hearing about. When I say “add content” I mean to tell you that research is showing that pages with more content (1,000 - 2,000+ words) and not necessarily more frequency of publishing tend to rank higher than pages with less content. So you might be better off publishing a lengthy blog post or article once a week rather than quick blurbs daily. 

4. Optimize For Voice Search

People are buying millions of Amazon Echo and Google Home units and a variety of similar devices. Your website, content, and keywords, and overall SEO tactics need to start reflecting that and optimizing for voice. Keywords will often times be long-tail and conversational instead of a few words. Your writing should reflect how people actually speak, especially how they ask questions and expect answers. This will continue to be a growing trend as these devices become more popular and more advanced. Automobile manufacturers are now starting to include them as built-in features in new cars, so people can do voice searches while they're driving.

5. Keep Your Website Fast & Secure

I'm predicting that Google will take 2 factors even further when it comes to search rankings. First off, websites without an SSL Certificate (not secure / displaying https) will continue to drop in search rank. I finally added a free SSL certificate to this site (and my other websites) relatively recently and my rank improved significantly within a couple months! Secondly, websites that load too slowly (especially due to heavy ads or external content) will also see their pagerank fall significantly. Website visitors these days have no patience so if your website takes more than a few seconds to load they're going to bounce off your site immediately. So overall I'd make it a  major priority to keep your websites fast and secure in the new digital age!

6. (High Quality) Content Is King

The reality is that people are sick of reading ‘fluff’ content. One of the reasons is that we all have read roughly the same article about 5 times without really noticing it, until now. In the early days of content marketing, the focus was on creating as much content that was possible. Even websites that worked with a digital marketing agency would have similar fluff content because it got the clicks. 

However, in the last few years, we have started to see more ‘epic’ content. Epic content means long articles, which cover the topic comprehensively. Many people are not a fan of this style, so we are seeing a shift to ‘dense’ content. Dense content covers the whole topic in a way that keeps the article as short as possible. Google has been moving in this direction for the past year or two.

7. Machine Learning Is Changing SEO Algorithms 

When Google released RankBrain, they did not inform the public about it until after it was released and being used. Google’s RankBrain and Hummingbird are some of the first programs on the market that have the ability to learn about the users, so they can update their programming to better serve the user. While there have been little updates to these programs, there is still the possibility of them changing the way that the SEO algorithms work within the near future. 

8. User Experience Optimization (UEO) Is Part Of SEO 

The user experience has been part of SEO for a long time, to some degree. Google has started to favor sites that are optimized for most devices, load within a short time, and have users that stay on the website for a long time. 

However, in the age of modern marketing it is possible that we will see UEO become a major part of SEO. This could be due to the higher number of users on mobile devices. There are many testing tools offered by Google, which have stats that were not a major part of ranking in the past. This could mean that you need to optimize now or face lower search rankings. 

Google and other search engines are secretive when it comes to SEO and exactly what is used to rank a web page. Determining exactly the way Google ranks websites has been something digital marketing companies have been trying to figure out for years. It is too early to overhaul every SEO strategy that is working today, but you should watch to see how SEO trends affect your website’s numbers. Working with a SEO agency can help your business stay on top of the latest trends in SEO and to keep their website high up the ranks.

9. Utilize Google My Business 

If you haven’t already done so you should create a Gmail account for yourself, so you can easily log into all of Google’s apps and products. Google My Business is one such tool available for free that gets your business pinned on Google Maps and if Google sees the right signals you’ll show up high in the local rank results too. The local rank results are those results you’ll see when Google has understood your search query to be location specific. 

Try typing ‘plumbers near me’ into Google and you’ll likely see a few ads and some localized listings before you see the organic search results. This could be 1 – 3 ads or 3 or 4 local listings depending on how competitive the market is. Those local listings are valuable to your business and by creating and verifying your business with Google you’ll have at least initiated the steps it takes to get listed in those local listings. Once you have the account, fill in everything you can. Provide photos and use your service and locality keywords in the description and anywhere else you see a sincere opportunity. 

10. Local Citations 

Local citations are when your business is listed in local directories. It's an old-school SEO tactic for sure, but depending on your business it can still be very useful. You’ll only need to do this once anyways and it’s pretty simple. Just look up your location with the word ‘directories’ after. There are some obvious ones like Yelp and Trip Advisor, but you may find some niche directories for your locality as well as your service too. Don’t ever pay for these since those paid directories might have already been flagged by Google. Paying for links or citations will almost always harm your ranking efforts in the end. 

11. Positive Business Reviews 

When it comes to local customers, online reviews are golden. They’re testimonials that other potential clients can trust. Requesting these from previous customers is totally fine; however, falsifying them is not. Don’t have them log into their Gmail account from your computer to leave a review or Google will see that your reviews all come from the same IP address and the reviews then won’t help your rank. 

12. Improve Page Speed 

User experience plays a significant role in determining conversion for business. According to a recent study, about 47% of customers expect a page to load within 2 seconds. Moreover, as per the same report, about 40% of people move to other web pages if the page that they are surfing does not load in 3 seconds. Now page speed only plays a role in desktop searches. However, Google has announced that from July 2018 onwards it will also be a determinant ranking factor in mobile searches

Hence, it is necessary that you get rid of issues which are hampering your page load timings. Some of the best methods to do so includes using better servers and content delivery network (CDN). You should also aim to limit your redirects as it can negatively impact your page speed. Besides, cleaning up the redirects and keeping only the useful ones can also help. 

SEO strategy also includes optimizing your images can also help to improve user-experience as well as quick loading significantly. You should pay attention and size and optimize each image carefully. Another strict no- no is blocking CSS and Java Scripts. Google has mentioned that voluntary blocking of CSS and JavaScript will lead to lower page ranking. Instead, it is better if you keep these files as small and concise as possible. Other useful methods include enabling browsing caching, compression and reducing the number of plugins. 

13. Guest Post On Other Websites 

Building a healthy collection of backlinks is essential to any SEO campaign, and with guest posting, one has all the opportunity to add relevant links. And with Google currently penalizing sites that it feels are only there for the links, it makes sense to ensure that your backlinks are of the very best quality and the only way to ensure this is to enlist the help of an established SEO company. The links would be placed in the guest blogs in such a way that Google would recognize them as being part of relevant, organic and high quality content. 

14. Allow Guest Posts On Your Site

Everyone wants to write guest blog posts for other high authority websites in their niche, but allowing high quality guest blog posts to be published on your website helps a great deal as well. Your guest bloggers will be more likely to share the published article on their social media, and maybe even link back to it on the websites they own. 

15. Increase Time On Site

You can increase average session duration time, a ranking factor that Google likes to take into consideration, by embedding media such as video, audio, slide deck, or even infographic files. It will also boost up your stats and SEO for those embedded YouTube videos or podcast episodes. Just make sure the embedded media doesn't slow down your site too much in the process. It will probably be a trade-off so determine what makes the most sense for your page. 

You can also provide additional internal links to other complimentary articles on your website to keep the visitor engaged. You can include these internal links throughout your post but definitely make sure to have at least one at the end of your article.

16. Grow Referral Traffic

Boosting referral traffic is always important for your SEO goals. Besides just guest posting as mentioned above, there are other effective ways to boost your referral traffic. Participating in interviews and expert roundups will expose your brand to new loyal audiences and bring new traffic to your website. Social media platforms also provide a significant amount of referral traffic (see more below).  

17. Social Media Marketing

Social media is often left off the list of SEO best practices, but it can be just as important as anything else. While social signals aren't considered much of a ranking factor directly, indirectly they can help a great deal. Google places a lot of emphasis on overall website traffic to a page and social media posts can drive a lot of that. They can also drive a lot of brand awareness and inquiries which results in more searches for your business on Google and more organic traffic. Over time both of these factors will improve your page rank. 


Final Words

Learn from the past! Don’t resort to cheap SEO tactics if you plan to stay in business for long. Don’t neglect the most fundamental elements of your search strategy. Think of your users and not just the search engine. Take it from an SEO pro, getting top ranked pages on Google isn’t a race - it’s a marathon! And how do you win a marathon? Work hard, patience, and determination.


I hope you enjoyed this article about smart search engine optimization strategies to rank well on Google and other search engines.

Interested in more articles about SEO strategy?

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