Have a new website or looking to increase your existing websites rankings? Well, you’re in the right place. Continue reading below as I break down the beginner’s guide to SEO in 2020 in seven easy to follow steps.
Step #1 Set Up Essential SEO Tools and Plugins.
Your first step is to make sure that you have three important SEO tools set up and ready to go.
The first tool that every site needs to have is the Google Search Console. This tool makes it super easy to track your site's performance in Google. It can also help you find technical SEO problems that are holding you back. The Search Console also shows you the exact keywords that you currently rank for and where you rank for them. Unlike third party tools, this data comes straight from Google, so you know it's legit.
The next tool you want to set up is Google Analytics. Google Analytics is the best way to see how people find and use your website, but that's really just scratching the surface. With Google Analytics, you can do all sorts of cool stuff like finding pages on your site that bring you traffic, identify the exact websites that send you referral traffic, your site's Bounce Rate, Paid Views, and Time on Site, and lots more.
Finally, if your site runs on WordPress, you need to install the Yoast SEO Plugin. Yoast is by far the most popular SEO plugin on the planet, and for good reason. Yoast makes it super easy to make your WordPress site SEO friendly right out of the box.
Step #2 Find Keywords That Customers Search For
It's no secret that keyword research is super important. The question is, how do you find keywords that your customers search for? Here are three simple techniques.
First, find long tail keywords with Google Suggest. To use this technique, type the keyword into Google, but don't press enter or the search button. Instead, take a look at the keywords that Google shows you. Google only suggests keywords that people are actually searching for, so when you see a Google Search suggestion, you know that lots of people are searching for that term.
Next, find keywords with the Google Keyword Planner. The Google Keyword Planner is Google's official keyword research tool. This tool is technically designed for Google ads, but it's still super useful for SEO keyword research. To use it, just enter a main keyword, and check out the suggestions that the tool spits out. That's all there is to it. Easy Peasy.
Finally, spy on online communities. Fortunately, this isn't as creepy as it sounds. I'm talking about reading threads on sites like reddit, Quora, and online forums. All you need to do is head over to the community and find questions that crop up again and again. With that, let's jump into
Step #3 Keyword-Optimize Your Content
So, you've installed all of the important SEO tools, and you've found a handful of keywords. Now it's time to actually optimize your site. Here's how, first, use your keyword in the first 100 words of your page. Google puts more weight on terms that show up at the top of your page, so make sure you use your keyword once here.
Next, use your keyword in the beginning of your title tag. Just like with your page's content, Google puts a little bit of extra weight on terms that show up early in your title tag.
Third, use short URLs that include your target keyword. Why is this important? Well, a recent SEO industry study found a correlation between short URLs and higher Google rankings, so you'll want to keep your URLs short and sweet.
Last up, you want to use your keyword in a H1, H2, or H3 tag. Honestly, H-tags aren't really that important, but every little bit helps, especially if you're trying to target competitive keywords. Moving right along, let's quickly blast through the fourth step in this SEO checklist.
Step #4 Find and Fix Technical SEO Issues and Errors
The truth is, technical SEO problems can tank your rankings, so if your site has technical SEO problems, you'll want to find and fix them right away, here's how.
First, make sure that your site is mobile-friendly. As you might've heard, Google now runs on a mobile-first index, which means if your site isn't optimized for mobile devices, it won't rank. Fortunately, you can easily see your site's mobile-friendliness with the Google Mobile-Friendly Test. Just pop in a page from your site, and Google will tell you whether or not your page is mobile-friendly.
Next, ID crawl errors. A crawl error just means that Google is having trouble indexing all the content on your site, and if they can't index your page, it's not going to rank. You can easily find crawl errors in the Google Search Console using the Coverage Report.
Finally, improve your site's page speed. Your site's loading speed is a confirmed ranking factor. Now, to be clear, in my experience, page loading speed isn't going to make or break your rankings, but in general, the faster your site loads, the better.
To evaluate your site's loading speed, check out Google's Page Speed Insights and WebPageTest.org. Both tools give you a benchmark for how quickly your site loads. They also hook you up with recommendations to help you speed things up. And now it's time for our next step.
Step #5 Create Content Designed to Rank in Google
There's no denying it, if you want to rank in Google, you need to publish great content, but what is great content, exactly? Uh, it's content that's great. In my mind, great content is content that actually ranks in Google.
Now I'm going to tell you exactly how to create the type of content that ranks on the first page of Google.
- First, create awesome content with the Skyscraper Technique. The Skyscraper Technique is a three-step formula for creating amazing content.
- First, find a piece of content in your industry that's popular. Next, create something even better, and finally, promote that content.
Second, break your content down into chunks because here's the truth. No one, and I mean no one likes reading giant walls of text like this. That's why I always break things down into chunks, because it makes my content super easy to read and skim, and because my content is easy to read, my Bounce Rate, a key Google ranking factor, is super low, more on that later.
Next, make sure to cover everything there is to know about your topic. When I recently analyzed over a million Google search results, one thing was clear. Content that covers an entire topic in depth ranks above content that only covers part of a topic.
Besides making your content in-depth, you also want to use lots of multimedia on your page. I'm talking' about stuff like images, polls, visual content, videos, charts, and infographics.
Finally, you want to double down on content formats that are working best right now. Well, there is some good news and some bad news. Let's get the bad news out of the way. The bad news is that most content is completely ignored. In fact, 94% of all published content gets zero external links. That's right, zero. Now, for the good news. There are certain content formats that attract more backlinks than others. We found that why-posts, what-posts, and infographics get significantly more backlinks than other content formats. Speaking of links, it's time for the second to last step in this checklist.
Step #6 Build Links to Your Website
So, are backlinks still important for SEO? Heck yeah, in fact, a recent internal study by our team of SEO Consultants found that backlinks are still one of Google's most important ranking factors. The bottom line, if you're serious about ranking in Google, you need backlinks.
Let’s walk through a handful of link-building strategies that are working great right now.
First up, build backlinks using link roundups. Link roundups are one of my all-time favorite ways to get backlinks, why? Because the entire point of a roundup is to link to amazing content.
So, if you publish something amazing on your site, there's a good chance that you could get a link from a roundup. What’s a link roundup? They link to the best content that’s fresh and came out over the last week or so. So if you create high quality content, chances are higher that you will end up in a link roundup!
Next, build links using strategic guest posting. So, why do I say strategic guest posting and not just, guest posting? It's not to sound smart. That's because guest posting can work, but you need to be strategic about it, and if you do guest posting the wrong way, your site can get slapped with a Google penalty.
So, how do you do guest posting the right way? The right way is to publish your guest post on a respected site in your niche. The wrong way is to publish guest posts on any website that has a Write For Us page, even if the site has nothing to do with yours.
A good rule of thumb that I follow is to only guest post on sites that are going to send me targeted traffic, and related to my site.
The next strategy I want to teach you is to go on podcasts as a guest. This is one of the most underrated link-building techniques on the planet. Just like with a guest post, you get a nice, contextual link from your podcast appearance, but unlike a guest post, there is much less legwork. You don't need to pitch topics, or work with an editor. Just schedule your interview, and show up and provide value, that's it.
Last up, we have the age-old strategy of mentioning influencers in your content. This process couldn't be any simpler. First, mention influential bloggers in your post. Then, let 'em know about it. Seriously, that's it. Now, before we close out this topic, it's time for the final step.
Step #7 Tap Into Advanced SEO Techniques and Strategies
At this point, you've got the basics down, so let me walk you through a handful of advanced SEO tips and strategies that are working really well right now.
My first advanced SEO tip is to delete what I call zombie pages. Zombie pages are pages on your site that don't bring in any traffic, and as it turns out, Google hates sites with lots of zombie pages. In fact, a Google employee recently stated that they prefer to rank sites that have a small number of high-quality pages over those that are bloated, with lots of pages that don't provide any value.
Our next advanced tip is to boost your organic click-through rate. As you might've heard, Google pays very close attention to how many people click on your site in the search results. If people skip over your site and click on the other results, your rankings can drop like a stone, but if lots of people click on your result, Google considers your page a great result for that keyword and you'll get a rankings boost.
In fact, a Google document states that "when you click on a link in Google Search, "Google considers your click "when ranking that search result." So, how do you improve your organic click-through rate? Scan the first page search results for your target keyword, and imagine what someone searching for that keyword would want to click on. Then, optimize your title tag and description to match what a searcher wants to see.
The last advanced SEO tip I have for you is to keep your content up-to-date. Keep your pages relevant to the times. So often content creators will post a blog & then simply look the other way. The information that may be in that blog may become outdated & can hinder your overall sites rankings.
So that's it for my SEO checklist. If you learned something new from this post, make sure to leave us a comment below. If your in need of SEO for your website, know that we are only a click or call away. Reach out today!