For professionals who have been in the field of SEO for a while now, reading has been central to their survival. Hours are spent perusing through blogs, forums, guidelines, search engine patents, etc... While all of this has certainly enhanced the knowledge of people on various aspects, seldom has it helped much in coming to a consensus on how to rank higher in search engines like Google.
For a newbie in the world of SEO, the entire process may seem convoluted and a bit daunting. That's why we create an "SEO blueprint" or a framework on which those new to SEO may be able to build their research and work. For those venturing into SEO for the first time, this guide by CinchLocal.com assumes you know a few basics. If not, then you might want to read Beginners Guide to SEO or the Learn SEO Section.
Before you actually get into the details of this blueprint, there are a few things you will need to understand about it:
This blueprint is ideally for those of you who have a basic understanding of SEO and how it works. There are 25 concepts of SEO that we will go through in this document. These concepts may be broadly classified into 5 categories:
Avoid common keyword research mistakes: As with most things, there are two ways of doing things – the smart way or the hard way. The smart way is often the easiest way too. Take a look at some of the common mistakes newcomers to SEO commit:
This last point is by far the most common of mistakes and it is also when SEO efforts become difficult. A simpler approach would be to rank anywhere from 100 or 1000 or their multiples of long tail keywords in a single piece of content. The idea is to select a keyword theme and use it instead of promoting a single keyword.
Narrow down on a keyword theme: Get a keyword theme to implement across the entire structure of your content. This way, rather than focusing on just one keyword, you have the idea reiterated in multiple ways, and the result can be great. In order to narrow down on a theme, you will need to know about your client base, the kind of traffic they can generate for you and the possibility of conversion. Once you know this, you will be able to get specific on what will act as a trigger to initiate a response from them. Your keyword theme will stem for this.
Take for example the topic of baseball – getting a ranking for Major League Baseball may be difficult. But working ff of Chicago Cub v/s Philadelphia Phillies 1992 and the like will give you a better ranking. Narrow down on your topic in general, and then work on finding specific keyword qualifiers.
Understanding keyword qualifiers: Qualifiers is a reference to those words that add a level of specificity to a keyword. These may be of different kinds such as:
You will have to work on finding every possible qualifier that works with your keyword and which will resonate with your audience. There are free keyword tools such as Wordstream, Keyword Spy and SpyFu among others that you will find online that you may work with.
Finding the ones that work on Google: After this effort of finding qualifiers and adding them to your keyword theme, the next step is to introduce it into Google’s Adwords Keywords Planner. This will narrow it down to approximately 15 to 20. These phrases will not be so competitive, yet carry the possibility of ranking. Google’s keyword planner does offer the ability of running 100s of phrases at one go, but you get better variety if you limit your search to 5 to 10 at a given time. Always opt for exact search types to get the best keyword phrases that do not have too much competition.
One tip you must keep in mind at this point is to view the competition column with caution. Because it will often show you figures for paid search items and not those obtained from an organic search.
Working on ranking your chosen keywords: With a basic keyword set in hand, your next step will be to see how well your phrases will actually rank when used. There are two ways of ranking out the competition:
o Where is the keyword? Title tag, URL or on the page
o What is the page and domain authority for that particular URL
o How authoritative are the first few results
o What is the anchor test for links
o What quality resource will you be able to provide for this keyword
Being able to break through the top 5 search results for your keyword phrase will be considered a successive campaign. Using long tail keyword will improve your chances of ranking. This is where we step into the other aspects of SEO management.
Content, if not handled the right way, will simply become a collection of words that is mass produced and will not provide any value at all.
How to make content and not spam: You could choose to write dozens of articles on a topic and hope that they will be ranked on Google. Instead, what you must do is begin writing with a view on how to create content that offers much value for the reader. It is difficult to produce something that has value, but when you succeed in doing so, you become a valuable resource to webmasters online. With the value you provide, you will find rankings and algorithms working in your favor and links building up on their own. More importantly, you will have loyalty and readers who will come back for more. Value addition can take on several forms such as:
It is not necessary to have all these qualities included in your content, but emphasizing on at least one of them would be great.
Creating a structure for your content: The aim of this blueprint is to give you at least one means of building links, and that is where structure of your content will factor in. There are many ways in which you can present your content so that it adds value to your theme:
In some cases, you may even consider combining them all together. It is important that you find multiple ways in which to deliver your content. It is not necessary that everything you put online goes viral. However, what is essential is that at least one part of your content becomes so highly authoritative that it will drive traffic to the other parts of your site.
Pay attention to your title: You need to spend a good amount of time writing out the title of your piece. For those of us new to the world of SEO, coming up with a title that is catchy, conveys a message and encourages the reading of an entire piece is not always easy to come up with. Write out as many titles as you can and then after a day or so of leaving it alone, come back and choose one out of them.
Length or depth of matter: Never look at just the word count. How deep your content is also matters in helping you get a good rank online. In-depth content brings with it a level of uniqueness and also an assurance that it is probably not duplication. You will also be able to get deep into your content, rather than make vague suggestions. When you have good quality long content, it increases the perception that there are more links involved and there are better rankings.
How to add depth to your content: If word count is not a priority, then how will you be able to work on quality and depth? This is a natural question that arises. There is a lot of information that is written on how Google defines quality. While a large part of it is speculation, a lot of it is actually what Google follows to separate good content from bad. Here are some questions that you may ask about your content. These came from Google soon after their first Panda update:
Fitting into Google’s Models: Though Google’s bots are far from being able to perceive information like we can, it is slowly getting there. Algorithms are so intricate these days that they are designed to pick sentences, paragraphs, blocks as well as content and analyze them for an understanding on keywords, topic and expertise presented. So how do you know whether your content makes the cut for Google?
Answer the questions above for starters –holiday season recipes as a keyword phrase will need to include words like roast, grill, Christmas, turkey, stuffing and pudding in order to move up the ranking ladder. The kind of words you use will matter.
Research has shown that using specific words for a particular topic directly work on getting higher rankings. There are standalone tools available to analyze the kind of words that should be used for a topic.
Topic modelling: Now, all of the above would make more sense if you had access to one of the computers Google uses to analyze content. Since you don’t, there are other means of structuring content and coming up with a topic. One of the simplest ways of doing so is with the keyword themes that you made at the beginning of this blueprint. Using these keyword phrases to come up with topics will ensure a good amount of relevancy to your topic.
Great design is key: While content is definitely important, great design is also just as important. Make a provision in your budget for a good website designer. Some of the benefits of good design are:
An important aspect of this SEO blueprint is the architecture of your site, and getting this right means that you make not just one page, but several pages of your site rank well. Here are some aspects you will need to look into:
Create a hub: There are only a handful of sites that are successful with only a single page of content. The way Google works is that it examines the content you have as well as its relevancy based on links coming in and out of it. What will get you a good ranking is multiple hubs each of which look at a range of topics in-depth.
Cross link your hubs: Ensure that each of your hubs has links going into other hubs as well as coming out of them. You can anchor these links of keywords that overlap. Often this is done to provide additional insight into a particular topic. It also helps to give your hubs more attention from search engines.
Create a central hub: All of the multiple hubs are best connected to a single central hub from which all others originate. You could look at it as your home page, which then branches out into multiple other pages.
This is the next section of your blueprint and one which is quite extensive once you get into it. Take a look at the various aspects you need to pay attention to.
Getting the basics right: There are reams of information about on-page optimization available. It is best to go through some well-known sources of information. Once you have read through the basics though, here are a few more tactics that you should be well aware of:
Internal linking:While we have suggested earlier on that it is important to interlink the content on your hubs, there are a few things you need to keep in mind regarding them.
When creating your links, always make them prominent and eye-catching.
Create links naturally: Don’t think too hard about your anchor text. It should be worked into the natural flow of content and should not be too contrived. When you go easy on the flow of language, you naturally have diverse anchor text and this enhances the quality of your content. This especially holds good when you are linking internally.
When working on your anchor text, don’t create text to fit keywords, instead work your anchor text around the content for a more natural flow.
Tips for good anchor text:
Creating Title tags: Writing a good title tag is directly responsible for getting you high on-page ranking. But Google is also strict when it comes to over-optimization of tags and has been recently cracking down on content that is irresponsibly keyword heavy. Two things to avoid would be:
Do not over-optimize: Whether you are dealing with titles, URLs or links, do not over-optimize. Today, getting a good ranking is all about writing for humans and not for computers. Google is structured in such a way that it easily recognizes over-optimization and instantly demotes your site.
The importance of structured data: Including information that is short and simple on every webpage is essential. Though it does not really have a proven track record for improving ranking, it does show a good potential for the future. Especially in verticals like recipe sharing, they are quite important. There is no hard and fast rule about what should be included in structured data, but some musts are:
The last part of this blueprint is related to building links, and this is essentially the last 10% of your strategy. The first 90% is all about creating the best type of content. Keep in mind that there are multiple ways of building links – free and paid. As you work in the field of SEO, you will be exposed to each one of them. Link building is an on-going task. With time and patience, you will learn the ropes and will soon elevate yourself to the next level.
The founder of CinchLocal, is a seasoned entrepreneur that has over 18 years of experience in search engine optimization and online marketing.