You should never do anything to your site without first taking a backup. If this rule is not already firmly drilled into your head, make sure that it is before you proceed.
With the above said, I strongly recommend that you take a manual backup of any files that you will be editing or removing during this process. You may not know what those files are yet so this step is something to bear in mind throughout the process rather than put into action right now. Just remember: for each of the following steps make sure that you take a backup before making any changes.
You will need FTP access to take backups and carry out some of the following steps. If you’re not set up with an FTP client yet I recommend FileZilla (for both PC and Mac). You can get the FTP login details from your hosting provider.
Step 2: Remove Redundant Themes and Plugins
Let’s start with the basics. There are two things that you should know about deactivated themes and plugins on your WordPress dashboard:
They take up unnecessary space
They represent a security risk (your site can still be breached via deactivated themes and plugins)
That’s two good reasons to get rid of deactivated themes and plugins. I would also recommend that you take a close look at your activated plugins and ask yourself whether you really need all of them. It could well be that the functionality present in two plugins is actually covered by one (for instance, WordPress SEO by Yoast includes XML sitemap functionality, therefore negating the need for a separate XML sitemap plugin), or that you have a bloated plugin whose resource intensiveness is not worth the added functionality. Use the Plugin Performance Profiler Plugin to single out the main offenders.
Beyond mitigating the two issues above, removing plugins should also result in an increase in site speed, which is never a bad thing.
Step 3: Change Your Media Settings
The media files on your server probably account for the majority of your website’s bulk. This is to be expected, but WordPress is particularly notorious for creating various duplicates of the same file and making your media folder two or three times larger than it needs to be.
It comes down to image sizes, which you can define on your WordPress dashboard by navigating to Settings > Media:
With these three image sizes defined, WordPress creates three separate image files in addition to the version you upload. That’s four images for each file you upload of which you may only use one.
You probably don’t need more than one size of a particular image, and if you do, you’d probably be better off uploading them in their respective sizes (so that you have control over cropping etc). And that is precisely my recommendation — start uploading images in the correct size and dimensions so that you do not need to do any fiddling on the WordPress side.
But what about those pesky image files that WordPress creates? Simple — just change the Max Width and Max Height fields to zero in the Settings > Media screen and WordPress will no longer create them. This may have adverse effects depending on how your theme is set up so I would advise that you take a backup and experiment before committing.
A final tip is to use a lossless optimization plugin like WP Smush.it to reduce the size of your image files when they are uploaded. It’ll only take a minute to install and activate the plugin and from then on it in it will do its job without you having to lift a finger.
However, in this case you should make sure that only one backup is being kept and that duplicates aren’t piling up over time. The tool should be excluding that backup folder from being included in the regular backups (as ManageWP does), which negates the size issue.
Step 5: Remove Random Files
There are plenty of things that may appear on your site’s servers that simply don’t belong there. One personal example I have is “core” files (e.g. a file labelled “core.129483”) — an issue that can arise occasionally. These files (which are actually core dumps) can be upwards of 100mb each and appear in droves, yet they shouldn’t be there at all. You can safely delete them and should also inform your hosting provider of the issue so that they can resolve it.
As a rule of thumb, any file that is particularly large should be viewed with suspicion. As I said previously, there are few times when a website will utilize a large file. I am not however suggesting that you should start deleting large files willy nilly — it pays to be sure that what you are deleting isn’t conducive to the running of your website, even if you do have a backup ready should something awry happen. If you do find something suspicious then turn to Google or the WordPress support forums for help.
First and foremost, write your buyer personas so you know to whom you’re addressing your content. By creating quality educational content that resonates with your ideal buyers, you’ll naturally improve your SEO.
This means tapping into the main issues of your personas and the keywords they use in search queries. Optimising for search engines alone is useless; all you’ll have is keyword-riddled nonsense.
Please your buyer personas, and you’ll automatically please the search engines.
2. Blog regularly
Blogging is perhaps the most effective way to increase your organic site traffic. It lets you go into more depth than your website allows and creates a large catalogue of helpful, persona-optimised content centred on your market niche. However, poorly-written, spammy or cheap content can do more harm than good. Avoid it.
3. Plug into the blogosphere
The blogosphere is a reciprocal sort of place. Read, comment and link to other people’s sites and blogs, particularly those operating in your market, and they’ll hopefully read, comment and link to yours, attracting more prospects.
A good place to start is Quora. A neat tactic for getting your voice out there is to spend some time answering peoples’ questions on Quora and providing real, valuable and tangible insights for the specific area you are an expert in.
4. Use long-tail keywords
Don’t just go with the most popular keywords in your market. Use keywords that are more specific to your product or service. In time, Google and other search engines will identify your website or blog as a destination for that particular subject, which in turn will boost your content in search rankings and help your ideal customers find you.
Remember: Ranking on Google is about owning a sphere of influence for a specific niche topic. This blog post, for example, is targeted for those who want specific learnings on increasing organic traffic. We’re not targeting every SEO-related keyword.
5. Get your meta down
The meta title, URL and description are the three key ingredients for an optimised web page or blog post. It’s simple but effective. In fact, all on-page SEO factors are important to get right, but meta descriptions and meta data means you can tell Google exactly what you’re talking about.
We use a plethora of tools, including Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress, HubSpot’s SEO tools and Ahrefs to help us optimise our pages. But it’s not enough to just ‘install a plugin’, you have to work on each page in turn.
6. Consistently create quality content
Try to write and publish as often as possible, but not at the cost of quality! The more quality content – including thought leadership articles and blog posts – you have on your website or blog, the more opportunities you create for organic traffic to come your way.
7. Use internal links
Once you’ve built up a decent back catalogue of content, you can link to it in blogs and on your website, guiding visitors to more relevant content. This can keep visitors on your website for longer, which helps boost your search rankings.
HubSpot call this process Topic Clustering; we thoroughly recommend you watch this short video about topic clustering here:
Don’t, however, overuse internal links; too many and it starts to look like spam.
8. Encourage incoming links
Google prioritises sites that have a lot of incoming links, especially from other trustworthy sites. Encourage clients, friends, family members, partners, suppliers, industry mavens and friendly fellow bloggers to link to your site.
The more incoming links you have, the higher your site will rank because, quite simply, the more authoritative it becomes in the eyes of search engines.
But beware: SEO snake oil salesmen try to trick Google with spammy links from low-reputation sites. Some links can actually damage your SEO.
9. Blow your own trumpet
You can also link to your content yourself, on your own personal blog, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon etc – no spamming, mind. If people come in from social media and spend time with your content, it is a strong signal to Google that the content is relevant, useful and interesting.
10. Use social media
Build a presence on social media networks like LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook etc. All of these activities help to get your name and website address out on the internet.
Read about how we doubled our social media audience in a week. Add share buttons to your site to make it easy for people to share your content. And write content worthy of sharing.
11. Use data and metrics to optimise results
Use something like Google Analytics to track visitors to your site and blog. Being able to see where they come from and what keywords they searched for allows you to fine-tune your content.
Ultimately, to increase organic site traffic, you need to give your customers what they want – quality advice, information and insight.
Video content can be fantastic for increasing conversions on just about any website. In fact, more brands than ever are using videos on landing pages and on various other pages of their websites to keep visitors engaged and, eventually, convince them to make a purchase.
There are two main ways to increase conversions with video – by embedding a video on a landing page and by making use of rich snippets.
Video on a Landing Page
When a visitor lands on your site, you’ve literally got seconds to impress them and get them engaged with what you have to offer. This is the whole point of a landing page. But these days, people are so used to seeing rich media content on the internet that, quite frankly, text content often doesn’t keep them engaged.
Accordingly, I’m sure it comes as no surprise to you that embedding a video on your website not only will increase the length of time that visitors stick around, but, also, the number of conversions to paying customers, which, ultimately, is what SEO is all about.
Product videos are perhaps the most common way that retailers increase the conversion rate of their website using video content. Hundreds and thousands of retailers are making use of product videos these days, and it’s easy to see why.
According to Invodo, 52% of consumers say that watching product videos makes them feel more confident about going ahead and making a purchase.
Then, under the heading ‘Content Type’ (left sidebar) check the ‘Infographic’ box:
Then go to the ‘Backlinks’ part of BuzzSumo and type in the URL of each of the Infographics that came up in your search.
This will tell you who shared those Infographics. Now you just need to contact those people.
But don’t ask them to link to your Infographic (that will backfire). Instead, tell them you value their opinion and ask them for their feedback.
If your Infographic is good, there’s a good chance they’ll link to it.
After all, you know from your search on BuzzSumo they this person has linked to a similar Infographic. And because of your research in Step 1, your Infographic is orders of magnitude better any other Infographic on the same topic!
Those experts have large followings and most of them will share your infographic.
Pro Tip: One way to give your infographic built-in shareability is to use the infographic to display the results of a survey of experts in your niche.
2.3 Mention Other Bloggers
An often overlooked way of getting high authority backlinks is to simply write blog posts that mention prominent bloggers within your niche.
Step 1: Link Out to 4 or 5 Bloggers in Each Blog Post
With every new blog post you write, try to mention – and link to – a handful of websites that are relevant to your topic.
Because linking out is going to improve your website’s overall SEO profile, as SEO expert Rand Fishkin points out:
Links From Your Site Encourage Links To Your Site. By definition, the Internet is a network of links between different sites. By linking out to relevant resources on other websites you’re participating in an activity that’s fundamental to the Internet. The people you link to will notice it and there’s a good chance they, in turn, will link to you.
Linking Out Rarely Goes Unnoticed. Most websites have someone tracking their referral traffic – if you link to them, at the very least they will be curious to know who you are. They’ll visit your website and may even link back to you.
Step 2: Reach Out And Let Them Know
But don’t just hope that they notice – take it a step further and let them know. Send them a quick email along these lines:
I just wanted to let you know that I mentioned you in my latest blog post: [URL]. Thanks for the great article!
If you can’t find their email address, send them a tweet instead.
This is what I usually do, because it’s quicker and because their Twitter ID is much easier to find:
@username Hi [Name], just to let you know that I mentioned you in my latest blog post [shortened URL]. Keep up the good work!
Make it a practice to do this with every new blog post.
At the very least you’ll be developing connections with people in your niche. And you’ll most likely also get some high authority backlinks.
2.4 Look for Link Roundups
‘Link Roundups’ were almost made for getting high authority backlinks to your best content!
Journalists are forever looking for facts and statistics. And when they use them they have to cite their sources.
So if you can write articles that contain well-researched statistics, there’s a good chance you’ll get linked to from a high domain authority.
Here’s how to do it:
Step 1: Create an Account and a Profile
Sign up for a free account at HARO (Help A Reporter Out).
Next, create a profile that showcases your accomplishments and your expertise, and if possible, some social proof (e.g. unique visitors per day, number of subscribers, followers etc).
You’ll get three emails a day from HARO requesting information from experts on a whole range of different topics.
Step 2: Respond to Enquiries
The 3 emails that HARO sends out each day are sent at 5:35am, 12:35pm, and 5:35pm (EST) Monday through Friday.
The journalists who submit these queries are working to very tight timeframes – often their article has to go live within a few hours. This means they’ll grab the first response that answers their query.
Let’s say there’s a query in the 12:35 pm email that’s right up your alley, but you don’t see the email until 1:00 pm, it will already be too late.
So you need to respond to the HARO queries literally within minutes.
Pro Tip: Here’s a tip about using HARO that I got from blogging guru Brandon Gaille. To make sure you’re never late responding to a query, set up an alarm on your smartphone for 5:35am, 12:35pm, and 5:35pm (EST), Monday through Friday.
Here’s an example of a HARO query I received:
If you were able to successfully answer that query you would get a link from Ontraport which has a Domain Authority of 64:
Not bad for a few minutes work!
2.8 Write Statistics Articles
Bloggers and journalists are always looking for hard facts that they can cite in their articles. It lends credibility to what they are saying. And they nearly always link back to the source of those facts.
So this is a good way to earn backlinks. And it’s more powerful than nearly all the other techniques I’ve reviewed in this article.
Because the other techniques will earn you just one backlink (broken link building gets you one backlink, HARO gets you one backlink, resource page link building gets you one backlink).
But there’s no limit to the number of backlinks a statistics article will earn.
There are basically two ways of writing statistics articles:
Go out and do original research and compile your own statistics
Aggregate already published statistics
Method #2 is obviously much quicker than Method #1: all you do is search the web for facts and figures on a particular topic and put them all together.
Here are some ways you can add value and make the article uniquely yours:
1. Organize the facts and figures into categories of information (instead of presenting them as an unordered list of statistics) with headings for each category.
2. Create infographics that display in visual form the facts and figures you present in written form.
Tips for creating infographics:
1) Tall ‘skyscraper’ infographics are impressive to look at but they are hard for bloggers to insert into their articles. Create much smaller infographics that illustrate just one point, and your infographics will get used more often (resulting in more backlinks).
2) Always include the URL of your website at the foot of the infographic. With some online infographic makers (e.g. Venngage and Canva) you can make the URL a clickable hyperlink.
2.9 Write Testimonials
This is one of the easiest ways to get high authority backlinks. Businesses are constantly looking for testimonials.
And because they want to show that the testimonial is genuine, they’ll almost always link back to you, sometimes with a DoFollow link.
But there’s a catch: they want real testimonials from genuine customers. So make a list of all the plugins you use on your site.
You could also make a list of all the SaaS (Software as a Service) products you use. Here are some popular ones:
Backlinks are links pointing to your website, from other websites. Think of it like an upvote.
Not only is this one of the top three ranking factors in the eyes of Google, but they also tend to be the number one bottleneck for the majority of website owners. Not only are they hard to get, a lot of people think they are no longer important – which couldn’t be further away from the truth.
Not having enough backlinks to rank can happen in two main ways on your site.
The more common issue is that your website as a whole isn’t authoritative enough to stand up against your competitors. In other words, their entire domain (not the page that is ranking) has so many links that they’re simply more trusted than you.
To check if this is the case for you, use a backlink checker tool such as Ahrefs and compare the “Domain Rating” metric of your competitors’ sites to your own. If there’s a major gap, that’s likely the culprit.
P.S. Other backlink checkers usually have a similar metric if you don’t want an Ahrefs subscription for some odd reason.
Just as important site-wide authority are backlinks to the individual page you’re trying to rank with.
If all of your competitors had a similar authority to your site, it would boil down to how good everyone’s on-page SEO is and… Whether anyone has backlinks to their target pages.
Unless you’ve been working with an SEO agency for a long time or have a really good technical search engine optimization expert on your team – you probably won’t want to compete on the on-page side of things.
How many backlinks should you have to your target pages? This is largely going to depend on the competition – how many links they have to their pages, what the quality of those is like, and so on.
As a general rule, you’re going to need more links to your target pages when going after informational or service keywords. E-commerce is a little easier because not many websites naturally link to category pages.
2. Start with keyword research
The internet is far too large for Google to manually decide what each page is about, what queries it should rank for, and in what position.
That’s where the Google search algorithm comes into play – it does all of that automatically.
As you might have guessed, it’s not going to be as good as we are at understanding the English language, the intent behind certain words, and how various topics overlap.
We need to figure out what people are typing into Google, compare the data, and then optimize our pages based on that.
Just look at the image below to see how much search demand can vary from keyword to keyword:
Even after 12 years of looking at keywords daily and helping business owners with SEO, I would’ve assumed that “how to get number one on Google” would have more searches than “how to improve search engine optimization.”
Based on my experience, we can group these keyword-research-sinners into four categories:
The oblivious– These are the folks that have no idea what keyword research is or have simply never done it. They believe in sayings like “build it and they will come” and generally get zero search traffic.
The rushers– These site owners have heard of the concept and it makes sense to them but they’re not using any tools for it. They try to remember to stuff in a few keywords here and there and occasionally it might even work.
The reachers– My least favorite category. They’ve looked at the search volumes, chosen the highest volume ones, and they will never be able to compete for them (more on this later.)
The enlightened– Hey, that’s you! You’ve read the post, you’ve seen some data, and you know you’ve got to make a keyword plan before optimizing for anything. Check out the rest of these tips and you’ll know exactly what to do.
3. Optimize Your Pages With Keywords
With keyword research out of the way, it’s time to start putting all of it to use.
I see so many website owners who have done their keyword research – you’ll see it stuffed in the content in almost every paragraph and often bolded or italicized…
But then you look at the title of the page (and other key areas) and you’ll start to wonder what the page is supposed to be about.
The most important places you could place your keywords in are:
The page title
The H1 tag and sub-headings
Those are the first places Google is going to look to get a feel for what your page is about.
Yet when you name your page “services”, it could be about anything.
For your page title, the permalink, and all of the headings on the page – you can play the blank piece of paper game.
If you would see any of them on a blank piece of paper (e.g. your site’s URL or a specific heading), could you guess what the general topic is?
If not, you’re likely not specific enough. Put those keywords in there.
Disclaimer: This doesn’t mean that you can never write a piece of content unless you’re targeting a keyword. You totally can and I encourage thought leadership. But if that’s the road you’re taking, you need to make sure to have a content promotion strategy other than organic search.
4. Write Longer Content
Just because you put your keywords in the title, permalink, headings, and meta description does not mean that Google is going to take your word for it and say “oh, that’s what they should rank for…”
Their goal is to give users the best possible result that can solve their problem/query and most of the time, longer, high-quality content does that better.
Think about when you were in school – what was more helpful, a Wikipedia article with some formulas or an actual textbook with illustrations, examples, and a quiz?
Google is also great at understanding related words and phrases.
They know you cannot talk about building a website without mentioning design. That emailmarketing also entails the word “newsletter”. And that the phrases “best pizza” and “pineapple” do not belong on the same page.
With longer content, you’re not only more likely to mention these phrases and prove your expertise to Google… You might also start ranking for those terms.
The majority of successful pages don’t rank for any one keyword. They rank for hundreds if not thousands of variations.
How long should your content be?
If you were already arguing in your head that longer content doesn’t always win, you’re right.
But it applies to 95% of website owners.
To figure out the ideal word count, you need to look at each topic individually and assess what Google already likes.
Search for your main keyword and look for sites that are of similar authority to yours. This means excluding huge sites like Entrepreneur.com, Wikipedia, etc (they can get away with mediocre content.)
Now look at the word count of the actual articles (exclude comments, sidebars, menus, etc) and analyze the results and look for a theme:
Is longer or shorter content ranking better?
Does it look like there’s a cut-off point for content length helping?
Is there someone ranking well despite low domain authority? How long is their content?
Is there someone ranking poorly with similar content length and high authority? Can you find a reason why?
5. Go after less competitive keywords
I know it’s tempting to go after the high search volume keywords but the truth is…
Search volume isn’t the most important metric out there. We’ve already covered two reasons why that is:
No page only ranks for one keyword– and you have no idea how many searches a month the other ones might have (or how many there are in total)
The search volumes are estimates and wildly inaccurate
However, the most important aspect to consider is that the only way you’re getting a piece of that action is by ranking in the top 3 positions. A keyword could have a million searches a month, but if you’re in position #16 you shouldn’t be expecting any traffic from it.
Even the first position (on average) gets around 30-35% of the traffic.
You’re going to be much better off going after lower search volume keywords that you’re confident you can get to the top for.
This results in a more likely return on investment, much quicker results, and hopefully the confidence and skills to eventually go after the bigger stuff.
Fun fact: Some of the best money-making keywords I’ve ever stumbled upon have been super low search volume in theory (e.g. 200 searches a month or less)
6. Optimize for Search Engines
This is probably the best-kept SEO “secret” out there and it’s quite obvious when you think about it.
If you want to know what to do to get on the first page for a keyword… Look at what the pages that are already there have done.
Here are a few angles you can take to analyze search intent and give your pages the highest chance for ranking.
Type of search intent
The first angle is going to be the search intent itself – what is the user trying to accomplish by Googling this term?
Search intent is generally broken down into four categories:
Navigational –People searching for Amazon probably just want to go to Amazon.com
Informational –By far the most common category is people looking for answers. Queries like “what is search engine optimization?”, “how long to boil eggs” or “reciprocal link meaning.”
Commercial or buyer intent keywords –Users looking to buy something – generally anything generic such as standing desk, Bluetooth earphones or red leather jacket.
Commercial research/investigation– Even higher buyer intent, people have decided they’re going to buy something and are doing final research. Keywords like best email marketing tool, Convertkit vs Mailchimpor Leadpages review.
Identifying and matching the search intent should be your number one priority when planning to create a page for that keyword.
If everyone in the top ten search results has category pages for selling standing desks, you will not rank for that term with an article explaining what they are or why they’re good for you.
The same goes for the other intent types – if you only see round-up reviews of the best Bluetooth headphones (top 10 etc), you will not see success with a single product page claiming that you are the best.
Angle and contents
While the majority of the time, matching the main search intent itself will be enough, you can also take it a step further by looking at the angle of the page as well as the content itself.
Let’s say you’re googling for how to build backlinks? There’s a lot of different ways you could approach this topic:
How to Build Backlinks the Smart Way
27 Highly Effective Link Building Strategies
The 4 Pillars of Link Building
You’ll want to (yet again) replicate what you’re seeing in the top ten results. If the majority of articles are long listicles, you’ll need to take that route as well. If you’re seeing mixed intent (a variety of angles), feel free to go with whatever you think would be most useful for the reader.
To give things a final polish, I want you to read through the top-ranking articles and look for common themes. The odds are high if everyone covers the same topics and you’re missing them, you won’t rank.
For example, if everyone talks about guest posting in their link building guides and you don’t mention it even once – that may be a red flag to Google that you don’t know what you’re talking about.
While I already mentioned this under one of the previous tips, you must take a look at the content length of your (successful) competitors and try to at least match that.
Google has historical data on how users react to different pages they’ve displayed in the top 10 results for this keyword. If they’ve seen that most users prefer 2,500-3,000 word guides not short stories nor online e-books… You’re not going to convince them otherwise no matter how good your writing is.
Identify the pages that are ranking thanks to their content and on-page SEO (instead of a high number of links) and try to identify a pattern in content length.
In this day and age, having a slow website is unacceptable and Google is going to agree with us here.
In fact, they confirmed this nearly ten years ago and have made a myriad of moves since then that indicates the importance of site speed.
And it makes sense…
They want their users to have the best experience possible so they’d be inclined to use Google again. Waiting for a blank page to load generally does not fall under the“best experience” category.
Here’s a random keyword I looked up along with the average loading times of the top results.
See a trend?
All else equal – pages that load faster will rank better.
So what can you do to improve your site speed?
The number one thing slowing down websites is bad hosting companies. If you’re on some sort of promo-deal from one of the popular shared hosting companies, this is likely holding back your website speed.
The best way to see if this is the case is to use a tool such as ByteCheck to measure your time-to-first-byte (TTFB), which indicates how long it takes for your server to respond to a request.
If it’s above 400-500 ms, it’s probably time to switch hosting companies.
Here are a few fast hosting companies we’ve used in the past:
Once you make sure your hosting company can serve stuff at a decent speed, it’s time to look at your website itself.
Two key things slow down websites:
Excessive use of plugins and apps –most site owners, especially on WordPress, use way too many plugins for additional functionality. Some of the more common ones, such as Sumo, can slow down your website by over a second. This is more common with free plugins. Go through your list of extensions, disable (and delete) the ones that you don’t need, and try to find faster alternatives to the ones that are holding you back (use GTMetrix for a breakdown).
Lots of big images– the word count on your pages doesn’t impact loading time but images do and in a massive way. A photo taken by your camera could be anywhere between 3-50 MB, depending on the resolution. By properly compressing these images and uploading them in the resolution they will be displayed in, you can cut this down to a few hundred kilobytes.
Lastly, you may want to consider using a plugin such as WPRocket which can take care of the majority of your site speed issues in a few clicks.
That takes care of:
Content delivery networks
Minifying and compressing various resources
A lot more
Ideally, you’ll want every page on your site to load in less than two seconds, but three seconds as an absolute maximum for more media-heavy pages.
8. Optimize Your Content
When you’re reading something and the author keeps mentioning the same phrase, it becomes quite apparent that it might be an important term, right?
That’s exactly what Google does.
In this day and age, it’s not as easy as saying that your keyword density needs to be at a certain percentage.
So how do you figure out how often you should be using your target keywords?
You might notice a theme in this post regarding “reverse engineering” what is working for your competitors and that’s the same thing you’re going to do here.
Look at the top competitors for your keyword and map out the lowest keyword density out of them, as well as the highest one, and aim for the higher end.
Keyword density means you’ll also need to take into account the content length.
Pro SEO Tips: Use Surfer SEO
Surfer SEO is a correlational analysis tool that allows you to type in a keyword and pull in data from all of the main on-page search engine optimizations factors, ranging from the use of keywords and related phrases to page speed.
Their most powerful feature is called True Density and it does all of the above for you, automatically. Not only does it give you an overview of how often the main keyword is used in titles, headings, images, and content…
It also gives you all of the phrases and words that your competitors are using but you are not.
Here’s a screenshot with an example.
9. Improve Your Site Structure
Websites have a certain amount of authority in the eyes of Google, thanks to the backlinks they’ve acquired.
Just like links from other websites pass authority on to you, the internal links within your website disperse that authority to your inner pages.
This means that a poor site structure can leave some pages that are important to you completely neglected and vice-versa.
It’s not uncommon for us to see website owners wondering why their most important blog article is stuck on the second page… Only to discover that it would take Google 9 clicks to even find that post because no other links are going to it.
If a page on your site only has one link pointing to it, how important can it be?
The closer (in terms of clicks) a page is to your homepage, the better it is going to rank.
As your site grows in size, this can be tough to manage but ideally, every important page should be within 3-4 clicks from your homepage.
Tips for Improving Site Structure
The best way to think about site structure is in the number of clicks it takes to get to a page from your homepage. What are the different ways you can do this?
Generally, this is done by setting up your site in a hierarchy. Your homepage links to the most important pages and categories, which then link to sub-categories and sub-pages, and so on.
Now, what happens if you only have one category, such as the blog, but then have 300 posts under that? You’re probably not displaying 300 posts per page so some of these will be really far away.
You can get around this by:
Creating additional categories for the blog and linking to those from the navigation (e.g. on-page SEO, case studies, link building, technical SEO, content creation)
Increasing the number of posts displayed on a single page
Ensuring you page numbers at the bottom of your category. If you only have a“previous” and “next” button, it’ll take a lot more clicks to reach the posts on page six for example
Of course, another easy way to get more internal links to your important pages is contextually within other articles. If you mention a topic in one post and have a relevant blog post or services page, link to it!
You could even write a little ad at the end of the article, promoting something else:
“Tired of all of this SEO wizardry and want to try something different? Check out our guide to pay per click advertising!”
10. Check How Google Sees Your Website
Most web developers know very little about what Google wants and how it sees things.
There are very specific standards for creating websites that should be followed.
For example, you have the HTML heading tags that go from H1-H6 and indicate the importance of a heading on a page. Some developers wouldn’t like the heading font size so they would simply switch out the H1 and H3 or use CSS to increase the font size of a standard paragraph.
This would likely hinder your rankings, depending on how severe the problem is.
Beyond basic on-page SEO, web development is constantly evolving and new languages and frameworks are being developed.
While many of these are appealing to developers and may look good to the user, it doesn’t mean that Google may see them.
Here’s an example from an e-commerce store where we can see the category fine, but if we look at the website as “GoogleBot”, there is not a single product visible nor links to them.
By using Google Search Console or a tool like BrowSEO (free) you can see exactly how Google would see your page and make sure that everything that should be there, is there.
11. Optimize Your Category Pages
While this is not necessarily an issue, it’s a massive low-hanging fruit, especially for e-commerce stores.
Let’s say you have a local store selling iPhones. You’ve got the same products as everyone else, the same product descriptions, and probably even the same images.
If all factors are equal, how is Google going to decide who should be number one? The site with the most backlinks.
I’m betting in most cases, you’re not going to win that game.
Just like with any other page on your site, if you have more words on the page, Google will understand the page better and be able to separate it from the competition.
Most e-commerce category pages are also massively over-optimized due to product titles. By adding other related content to the page, you’ll also
Reduce the keyword densities for them and potentially increase your rankings
Increase your chances of ranking for additional long-tail keywords
12. Check For Duplicate Content Issues
Google doesn’t like duplicate content. That is when the same content appears on several different URLs.
This happens a lot with eCommerce stores for two reasons.
Let’s say we have a supplement store selling Magnesium. This could go both in the sleep improvement category as well as heart health.
That is fine as long as from both categories, the URL ends up being:
What is not okay is those categories creating two separate landing pages for Magnesium.
Another instance of this is when your products are using parameters in URLs but don’t utilize the canonical tag, which tells Google what the “main page” is.
Let’s say you have an option on your “standing desk” product page for white or black color.
If your URLs display as:
You need to make sure the versions with parameters have a rel=”canonical” element, telling Google that they should be ranking the /standing-desk-pro/ URL…
Now picture this issue when your t-shirts come in 6 sizes and 26 color options… And you sell 500 different shirts.
That’s a lot of duplicate content.
Most site audit tools let you scan for duplicate content by default or you can use a dedicated tool for it such as Siteliner
13. Check for Keyword Cannibalization
When you have several pages that are optimized for the same keywords, the odds are high that neither of them will rank very well.
Again, there are a few ways this can happen.
Some people write a lot of pointless content effectively targeting the same keyword:
SEO Services – What You Need to Know
Why Our SEO Services Are the Best
7 Reasons You Need SEO Services
3 Reasons Your Restaurant Needs SEO Services
In some cases, we see tons of tags added to every single post and these might start conflicting:
In other cases, they see a ton of different keywords and create pages for each of them:
Commercial ovens for bakeries
Commercial ovens for restaurants
Commercial ovens for grandma
Well, if you Google those keywords and see that others are only ranking with a generic “commercial ovens” page – this strategy is going to backfire.
The best way I’ve been able to identify these issues is by looking at your top ranking keywords in the SEO tool Ahrefs. If you click on the SERP history button, you may find several pages competing for the same terms and dropping in and out of the results.
Here’s an example from a crypto website that instead of updating a single page and reaping the benefits of long-term rankings, competes for the same keyword with a different article every single week.
Not only is Google not going to know which page should be ranking, but if any of those previous posts had attracted backlinks, the new articles are not benefiting from them.
14. Clean up Google’s Index
Google doesn’t just judge your website based on the one page you’re focused on ranking – the overall quality of your site plays a large role in this.
You can have a few great pages, but if the rest of the site is low-quality or thin content, you’ll struggle.
Remember when I talked about the authority of your homepage being spread to your inner pages?
Well, the more pages you have, the less authority each page gets. Makes sense, right?
This is why index management is critical, plus you might find a ton of other on-page SEO issues.
Do a search in Google for “site:mydomain.com” and you’ll see every page that Google has in their archive from your site.
Ask yourself: is there anything anyone would ever want to Google for, to end up on this page?
If not, apply the noindex tag on those pages, telling Google to ignore these and not show them to users. They’ll still be accessible if someone ends up on the page but just excluded from search results.
Commonly you’ll see:
Staging sites (thousands of pages of duplicate content)
Category pages (for blogs – eCommerce should leave these indexed)
As you know by now, backlinks are critical to increasing your organic traffic. There’s a reason building more links was our #1 SEO tip.
But just like with everything else in life, not all links are created equal.
I see a lot of people complaining about getting hit by Google updates, losing the vast majority of their traffic, and wondering what they can do to recover.
More often than not this is caused by shady link building practices either done by the website owner or some sort of link building service they’ve used.
Here are a few things to look out for.
Cheap link building services –most commonly this means some kind of service off an SEO forum or a place like Fiverr.
High-quality backlinks are difficult to acquire because they would be placed on sites with high standards and often require an investment in either really good content or time building out a relationship with website owners.
If anyone is trying to sell you links at a “good price” (let’s say less than $20/link) or are emphasizing the number of links, you’ll probably want to steer away from them.
Outdated and shady link building schemes– while this massively overlaps with the cheap link building services, there are still SEO “professionals” who think they’re doing something good by using these strategies.
This includes things like:
Web 2.0 sites
“Private” blog networks
Scholarship link building
Any automated link building
Overly aggressive anchor text –Anchor text is the clickable part of a link. Having your keywords in there may help you rank a little bit faster, but it looks incredibly unnatural to Google and is something that can get you penalized.
Link building in itself is already highly effective at increasing traffic and rankings, you don’t need to over-do it.
We’d recommend going for partial match anchor text at most, err on the lengthier and safer side (3-6 words), and make them look natural.
When you check out the backlink profile of any legitimate site, you’ll see a lot of generic anchor texts such as:
Research by X company indicates
This guide from X company
Some sort of fact
Check it out
The URL itself
Building too many links, too fast –Having indexed billions of pages, Google has a pretty good idea of what a website’s natural growth curve looks like and when it’s being manipulated.
Even when you’re able to build super high-quality links and do it at a high-paced, it’s probably sensible to slow down a little and err on the safe side again.
So how fast is it okay to build links?
Well, ultimately it should be at a pace that is consistent and sustainable for you. This is going to depend on the number of resources you’ve got available.
Google is one of the biggest (if not the biggest) sources of online traffic and I cannot imagine a bigger red flag than seeing a website that was getting zero visitors from them attracting hundreds of links per month and then as rankings improve, link growth declining or stopping entirely.
Velocity and consistency are key.
16. Fix Everything That is Broken
Almost every sizable website is going to have things break and it’s generally not a huge deal, but they should still be addressed. User experience is crucial for search engines, so make sure you fix everything that is broken.
Broken pages can appear on your site for a bunch of reasons – perhaps you’ve changed the URL on something or the content was simply not relevant anymore and you had deleted it.
While you may have deleted the page, it’s likely still in Google’s index, other websites may be linking to it and you may even have an internal link going to the URL.
This will lead Google to an error page, stop their crawling process, waste resources, and it’s obviously not the best thing for your potential visitors.
You can find broken pages using Google Search Console, a site audit tool such as Ahrefs, or using the search engine tool Screaming Frog.
Here are the best solutions depending on why a page has disappeared:
URL changed– Set a 301 redirect from the broken page to the new permalink.
Page deleted-If a page has been deleted, the best alternative would be to 301 redirect it to an equivalent resource or something highly related (e.g. the main category where the page was)
Page deleted with no alternative– When you don’t have any kind of alternative page to redirect it to, you could display a 410 header which signals “content deleted”.
Just like broken pages, broken links disrupt Google’s web crawling process and provide a poor user experience. This applies to both links within your website as well as externally.
There is a myriad of SEO tools and plugins that can help you find these and the fix is really simple. Either remove the link or replace it with a functional one with the same context.
Broken images signal a poor user experience to Google and need to be fixed. Just like with links you only have two options here: either replace the image with what it was meant to be or just get rid of it entirely.
17. Set up HTTPS
Having a secure website has been a ranking factor since 2014 and Google is only putting more emphasis on it as the web advances. If you’re still not on HTTPS, there’s a high chance it’s also holding back your rankings.
Most web hosting companies give out HTTPS certificates for free nowadays so there is no reason to not switch over. Even if yours doesn’t, you’ll be able to pick one up for the same price as your yearly domain renewal.
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One of the best practices for gaining exposure for your business is having a marketing strategy that incorporates proven social media best practices. Obviously, the very best way is to do so without draining your budget.
The average person spends, on average, 3+ hours plus each day on social media. In fact, roughly 74% of online adults browse social media with Facebook seeing the most activity.
With so many social networking platforms out in the world, what is the best way to maximise your own efforts? There’s no need for it to be overly difficult either, you just need to keep these social media best practices in mind.
Set Measurable Goals for Your Social Media Best Practices Strategy
You should start by identifying just how you want your social media efforts you gain more traction and exposure for your business. Establishing measurable goals is going to help you in setting objectives that can be tracked. This in turn will help you identify what’s working, what needs to change and allows you to focus.
Common strategic social goals and objectives include:
Building Your Brand Awareness: This involves getting people to know your name and give the public a positive perception of you and your business.
Increase Your Customer Base: Drive traffic to your social media pages or your website if you have one.
Bolster Your Customer Service: Help existing customers with your services or products, engage with potential new customers or clients by answering questions.
Choose the Right Social Media Networks
It’s no big secret that online activities like engaging on social platforms is time consuming. Trying to manage all of them is not likely going to help and it’s just going to dilute your resources and take away from channels that you might have more success with.
Us e your target customer as a starting point and the networks they are more likely to be engaging with. The ability to narrow down your social media best practices strategy will give that extra time to cerate the content that your followers want to see.
Be Sure to Brand Your Social Media Profile Pages
Your company image needs to consistent across all channels, websites and emails. This not only builds you a stronger brand but always boosting brand awareness. Make it as easy as possible for people for customers to recognise your brand by maintaining your business image across the following areas:
Logo. You should always the same logotype for your brand. Your logo is a massive visual aid that is going to stick in the minds of your audience.
Images. Other images and photos can also be customised across your channels and also act a visual identifier, further strengthening your brand.
Business Description. A clear, easy to read and understand “about us” also needs to be consistent across your online presence. It’s important to get to the point using the fewest amount of words. The reader needs to be able to grasp who you are and what you do, quickly.
Each platform has size specifications when it comes to profile photographs and cover images. Read the requirements and find what fits for each.
Social media is one of the most effective, and popular, ways for charities to connect with people. Certain charities though find the whole social media ‘thing’ a little too daunting, causing them to shy away from. Social media for charities is an important tool though and shouldn’t be overlooked.
Charities of course rely on public support and social media is a vital tool to be used in finding new volunteers, supporters and, one would hope, those willing to donate either services, products or funds.
Social media is an essential marketing tool for charities in building a support base, sharing stories, raising donations, network with similar or otherwise like-minded organisations, encourage and increase sign-ups, volunteer recruitment etc.
Planning campaign on social media for charities
To properly plan out a campaign on social media for charities, or any other organisation for that matter, careful consideration needs to be taken into what the goal should be and the type of audience to be ‘targeted’. Once these are identified, it is then necessary for the best way to achieve these two things.
For instance, if you are working on behalf of a charity and you need to attract corporate investment then it could be more useful for you have a properly setup LinkedIn profile made and a group page, rather than having a Facebook, Instagram or even a Snapchat profile created for the charity.
Likewise, for general communication and / or press communications then video channels like YouTube could be more effective, and Twitter can be very useful here too, and more so than any other platforms.
Of course, when thinking of social media for charities, other platforms can be very effective but the above can be more useful when it comes to specific goals and audience types. The actual location of the charity and / or the audience can influence the platform used, too. For example, if the intended audience is Germany, then Xing is a likely contender for the best platform.
For Chinese audiences, where web platforms are more restricted or China focused, then WeChat or QQ are possibly the better options.
What can social media offer?
Social media for charities allows a two-way conversation and offers up an opportunity for the charity to engage with a large number of people, on a one to one basis. It also allows for the possibility of charity campaigns to go ‘viral’, inspiring followers to share your message and there-by reaching more people and widening the possibilities for further advocates and donations.
The age of the smartphone has meant that humorous video clips, a powerful or inspiring message could well be the catalyst for some amazing results.
The rewards of being social
Whichever way you use social media for charities, including which channels most spark interest, there are a lot of tips and tricks to make us of to make managing the associated less time consuming, more effective. Done correctly, social campaigns can be highly effective.
Careful preparation and integration into a larger campaign is important and they can, done right, be very cost effective – certainly less costly than a paid advertisement campaign.