You’re probably thinking:
How do I rank better than my competitors in the search engines?
Well, let’s kick things off with some juicy SEO techniques that you can implement right now. Nothing beats a well-designed strategy that has worked for all kinds of companies.
The truth is that you need to use the right SEO techniques if you want to see better results.
It’ll make the difference between ranking high on Google for your desired keywords or getting lost in oblivion (on page 53).
That said, what are some techniques the pros use that you can start using today to get better search rankings? You’ll get all the answers on this page.
In this guide, you’ll learn techniques you can use “on” your website (on-page SEO) and techniques you can use “outside” your website (off-page SEO).
Let’s dive in.
1. Publish Quality content
You might have heard this before, but this will continue to be the foundation of building a successful SEO strategy. Without quality content, there’s no way you can rank high for your target keyword.
And it’s no surprise that Google Search Analyst Andrey Lipattsev named content as one of the 3 most important ranking factors.
But the concept of quality content is vague at best. What does quality content even mean?
It depends on many factors and it also depends on what your customers want. What problem does your reader want to solve when they consume your content?
Basically, if you’re able to provide a solution to your visitor’s problem or the right information, you’ve produced quality content.
As a matter of fact, Google has provided guidelines you can follow through the Google Search Quality Guidelines.
So how does Google define quality page content?
Google says a high-quality page should have a beneficial purpose and achieve that purpose well.
By writing quality content about Quadcopter, Michael Karp got his page ranked for many quadcopter-related keywords and this led to 20,314 organic pageviews in 6 months.
2. Update Content on Your website
Things change fast on the internet. Businesses and marketers produce a vast amount of information every day.
Fine, you produced a piece of content 2 years ago and it was the best thing ever.
Well, I’ll tell you this: your content will not continue to be the best forever. Let’s say it rose to the top of the organic ranking for your target keywords 2 years ago, it won’t continue to maintain that rank. Unless you update your content.
New studies are conducted regularly and facts come up. Some parts of your content that were accurate and helpful some months or years ago might be wrong now due to new trends and developments.
For you to provide the best content possible for your audience, you need to ensure that every part of your content is beneficial today.
By updating old posts, HubSpot increased the monthly organic views of those posts by an average of 106%.
3. Interlink Your Internal Pages With the Right Anchor Texts
Your website has many pages and you put a lot of effort into creating great posts. If your website is like most websites, you operate in a particular niche.
Another fact you must always have at the back of your mind is that your website is a giant resource for your niche. Internal linking is the process of making reference to another page on your website that tackles a relevant topic.
The reference is usually accompanied by a link. A visitor can click-through that link to read more about the topic on another page. You want to make sure your internal pages are interconnected for easy navigation.
So what are the benefits of internal linking that can help your SEO?
i). It aids search engines to crawl your website effectively: When search engines such as Google crawl your website, they follow links between different pages to learn what your website content is all about.
With internal links connecting your pages, it’s easier for the search engine bot to crawl more of your pages. Consequently, this increases your chances of ranking high for keywords in your niche.
ii). Provide more value to users: Internal links help your audience to get more information related to the topic of your website page they’re currently reading. This provides more value which is a plus in Google’s sight.
iii). Reduce the bounce rate and increase time on site: When people click through to more pages on your website, it reduces bounce rates on your website and also increases the time they spend on your website.
Google sees this as a positive sign that you’re providing value for your visitor. In return, Google pushes your page up the rankings.
An important point to note with your internal linking is that you should use the right anchor text in your original page. This helps crawlers to understand what the page is all about.
By using internal links, Trophy Central ranked in Google first page results for 9 search terms.
4. Link Out to Authoritative Websites
As prolific as you may be at publishing content, you can’t cover everything in your market. Often, there are pieces of content that you can make reference to on your website.
These are links to external websites that your audience can click to get more details on a topic. We always link out to authoritative websites in our posts. Here’s an example:
Some reasons to provide outbound links on your pages are:
- Providing a piece of content to your audience that you’re yet to cover on your website.
- Making reference to research or study.
- Mentioning a brand relevant to your content.
There are other reasons you may need to link out to other websites. But whatever your reason, it’s vital to link to authoritative websites.
When you do this, you provide a better user experience for your audience and improve your search rankings.
5. Optimize Your Titles and Headings
Titles and headings are important parts of your content. For starters, your title attracts users on the search results page. Added to that, your headings make it easy for readers to read your content.
Let’s be honest, most of your readers are not ready to read your full post. For instance, a study by Nielsen Norman Group found that visitors to your page will read about 20 to 28% of the page on average.
So it’s practical that you make it easy for readers to skim through and then focus on the parts they’re interested in.
How do you optimize your titles and headings?
i). Use your target keywords: To give yourself the best chance of ranking for a keyword, you need to include your target keywords in your title.
You should also ensure that the keyword is as close to the beginning of the title as possible.
Keywords at the beginning of your title carry more weight and you should consider that.
Check out this example for the search term “SEO.” You’ll notice that the keyword appears close to the beginning of the title.
Likewise, your keywords should appear in your headings. However, you don’t need to stuff your headings with your keyword. Google is smart enough to understand the purpose of your page.
ii). Make them attractive and interesting: People rarely click on boring headlines. To improve your click-through rate, you need to make your headlines attractive to your potential visitors.
Copyblogger’s Brian Clark says that the aim of your headline is to attract a reader to read your post’s first line. And the aim of your first line is to get your reader to read the second line. And on and on.
If your headline fails at achieving that aim, then obviously, you fail to gain a higher rank.
6. Publish Long-form Content
Let’s get this out of the way: long-form content doesn’t always mean quality content. But you’d be plain dishonest to say there’s no correlation between quality content and length.
Long-form content generates more leads than Infographics, SlideShare presentations, and short-form content, according to Curata.
Whatever topic you’re writing about, Google expects you to provide all the details your visitor needs to get a solution to their problems.
What does Google search quality guidelines say about the length of a piece of content?
“The amount of content necessary for the page to be satisfying depends on the topic and purpose of the page.”
This means a wide topic will usually require more words to explain in details than a narrow topic.
Having said that, long-form content outranks short content in most cases on Google and other search engines. There are numerous studies to support this. Apart from this, long-form content even performs better based on other metrics.
For instance, in a study by Moz and BuzzSumo, they found that long-form content attracts more shares and backlinks than short content. When you look at it, these are also metrics that boost your search rankings.
By increasing the length of its articles and adding relevant subtitles, WallStreetOasis.com was able to increase their organic traffic by 14%.
7. Optimize Your Website for Google RankBrain
If you’re looking for a prime impact of artificial intelligence and machine learning in SEO, then look no further. RankBrain is Google’s machine learning algorithm that is used to rank search results.
First announced in 2015, it has gained an important impact as a search ranking factor. In fact, it’s the third most important ranking factor after content and backlinks.
One of the main functions of RankBrain is to understand users’ queries and present the best results possible.
Google gets many new searches daily. Up to 15% of Google’s 2 billion daily searches have never been searched before.
But what you’ll find is that many of these new search terms are related to terms that have been used in the past. Based on past searches, RankBrain aims to understand the user’s intent and then provide results.
Another way RankBrain organize search results is to watch users’ signals. The most popular of this is dwell time. Do people always bounce off a page and spend little time on it? Then RankBrain will rank it lower.
So how do you optimize your website for RankBrain?
The simple answer is to obey all the SEO rules. To be more specific, you must understand users’ intent for a piece of content.
What do people want to see when they search for your target keyword? You should be able to provide this information. When people search for “best TV set,” are they looking for a single TV set?
Of course not. They want to see a list of TV sets where they can pick one suitable for their needs.
What does Google’s webmaster trends analyst, Gary Illyes have to say about optimizing your content for RankBrain?
If it sounds conversational, if it sounds like natural language that we would use in your day to day life, then sure, you are optimized for RankBrain.”
8. Use Google Ads to Get Valuable Keyword Ideas
Google Ads provide keyword ideas to marketers who want to advertise on the platform. Two major details you can find about keywords on Google Ads are the search volume and cost per click (CPC).
But how does pay per click (PPC) ads help your SEO? It helps you to find valuable keywords.
In most cases, keywords with high CPC are usually valuable. That’s why marketers are willing to pay a high rate for them in the first place.
When you target these keywords for your SEO strategy, then your page can appear among the organic results for these keywords.
If you also run PPC ads for these keywords, then it can be beneficial to dominate the search results page with a PPC and organic result.
9. Target Keywords Vital for Voice Search
With the increase in voice transcription accuracy, more people are now using voice search to find answers to their queries. Companies like Google and Microsoft have improved voice transcription to be as accurate as human beings.
And as far back as 2016, voice accounted for 20% of Google searches on Android devices. When you consider that smart speakers such as Amazon Echo, Google Home, and Apple HomePod have even become more popular since then, then voice search is on an upward trajectory.
According to NPR and Edison Research, 16% of American adults now have smart speakers. That’s about 39 million Americans.
Voice search is especially important if you run a local business. Many people use voice search when they’re ready to patronize a local business. OC&C Strategy Consultants found that voice search will account for the retail business of $40 billion in the United States by 2022.
What are the traits of the keywords people use for voice search?
i). Long-tail keywords: In most cases, voice search terms are usually longer than typed search terms as it’s easier to speak a search term than to type it.
ii). Conversational: When people use voice search, they usually phrase their search term like they’re talking to a person. It’s common to see many voice search terms in form of a question.
10. Find Keyword Ideas on Forums
In some cases, people ask questions on forums before they ask those questions on search engines.
Apart from this, you can understand the possible terms that people will use in search engines when searching on that topic.
This is a major step to understand user intent. In some forums, when users ask questions, they also give a brief explanation of their questions.
Paying attention to this will help you understand the problems people are looking to solve when they search for a particular keyword.
To find more ideas, visit a forum and search for a particular keyword or your niche. You’ll find different ideas you can use. An example of a forum you can use is Quora where many people answer questions.
11. Use Link Reclamation to Gain New Backlinks
It’s already difficult to gain backlinks. And you want to protect all your backlinks. But what happens when you might be losing a backlink? Or it might be giving no link juice to your website?
Then you have to sit up and pay attention. Link reclamation is the process of regaining a link on your website or claiming a new link opportunity.
As I’ve said, there are 2 major activities to carry out for link reclamation. They are:
- Reclaiming backlinks that have lost their value for your website.
- Claiming new backlinks opportunities.
The major avenue to reclaim backlinks occur when a backlink points to an unavailable page on your website.
This is usually an error 404. When this occurs, users who visit your website through those backlinks end up seeing an empty page and gain nothing on your website.
Furthermore, they bounce off your website and that’s a poor signal. In some cases, this broken link could show up in search results. This would lead to a high bounce rate and you’d lose the rank.
To regain these backlinks and their link juice, you can use any of these 2 ways:
- Permanent redirect 301 to redirect traffic to a broken page to a similar functional page.
- Contact the webmaster of the external website and give them a new link to replace the broken one.
Through any of these methods, you can gain the power of links you might have lost.
However, a major part of this is to find broken links on your website. There are many tools you can use to do this. Some of these tools are Moz Site Explorer, Ahrefs, SEMrush, etc. This is an example of Moz Open Site Explorer:
Once you identify broken links with a high number of backlinks, then you can regain those links.
Another link reclamation activity is to look for your brand mentions. If you’ve been running a business for a while, it’s normal for other websites to mention your brand name in their content.
When this happens, these websites don’t always link to your website. You can contact the website to add a link to your brand name.
But to take this opportunity, you have to find brand mentions. You can use tools like Mention, BuzzSumo, Google Alerts, etc. to find mentions.
12. Find Broken Links on Wikipedia
On the biggest online encyclopedia, it’s only normal to find broken links on some pages. You can take advantage of these broken links.
But how? Wikipedia has made it easy as the website labels dead links in its reference section. To use this technique, use a site search combined with your topic and the term “dead link.”
You’ll get many results of related pages on the search page. Click on any of those results.
When you get to the page, search for the term “dead link.”
This will show you the dead links on the page.
You can then replace this dead link with a similar page on your website.
13. Get More Social Shares for Your Content
Even though there’s no direct link between social shares and search rank of a piece of content, more social shares help you to gain other metrics that can lead to better rankings.
For instance, more social shares will lead to more traffic and some of your visitors might decide to link to it on their website. The reality is that some type of content gets more social shares than others.
To get more details about the type of content that gain more social shares, you can head to BuzzSumo and enter your topic. You’ll find content on that topic with high a number of shares.
You can study these posts to see what made them get a huge number of shares and go viral.
14. Carry out Competitive Research
While looking for SEO techniques to boost your search rankings, you can find valuable insights from your competitors.
The reality is that some of your competitors have more pages ranking high and get more organic traffic from search engines.
What are they doing right?
You can analyze different aspects of your competitor’s website and SEO strategy to see what they’re doing right. Furthermore, you can see their weak points and improve on them.
There are many tools you can use to carry out competitive research. Some of them are SEMrush, Ahrefs, Majestic SEO, Cognitive SEO, Ubersuggest.
What are some aspects of their strategy you should check?
i). Keywords: You should find keywords your competitors are ranking for. Through this, you can get some keyword ideas to target for your website.
ii). Backlinks: When you analyze where your competitors get backlinks, then there’s an opportunity you can get backlinks from those websites too.
It can also give you more details of where your competitors have published guest posts in the past.
This can help your identify guest post opportunities.
iii). Content: If your competitors are ranking high for important keywords, it’s usually because they publish better content than you do.
Visit your competitor’s website and see what they’re doing right. Some aspects of their content you can check are:
- Topics they write about.
- Length of their posts.
- How often they publish content.
Studying your competitors could give you insights you might never gain on your own.
15. Publish Quality Guest Posts to Gain More Backlinks
Guest posting is one of the most effective ways of gaining backlinks to your website.
In the words of Sean Si:
It’s the most effective link building strategy.”
But approaching guest posting just for the aim of building backlinks could backfire. Guest posting is also an opportunity to build your brand by gaining access to a bigger audience.
To get the best out of your guest blogs, you need to have a strategy. Who is your target audience?
Some steps to take to get the best out of your guest blogs are:
i). Prospect the right website: It’s vital to find websites in your niche that accept guest posts. There are many ways to find them. You can use the Google search operators to find websites to target.
Another tool you can use is Ahrefs which can help you uncover authoritative websites on the topic you want to cover.
ii). Send a compelling pitch: If you pitch a website a topic that has already been covered extensively on the website, then you’ll end up getting a rejection.
It’s therefore important to send an interesting topic the website would like to cover but is absent on their website.
You can use Google site search operator to find the content a website has on a topic.
iii). Create valuable post: Guest blogging is an opportunity to show your expertise to a new audience. Great content increases your probability of acceptance and also improves your position as an expert.
By publishing guest posts on various websites, a blogger got a 342.35% increase in a site’s search traffic within a year.
16. Make Your Website Mobile-friendly
Over the years, mobile devices have overtaken desktop in the amount of traffic they account for. And the same thing applies to search. In fact, mobile devices account for about 60% of Google searches.
The increase in the number of mobile search users was one of the reasons that led to the mobile-first indexing. This simply means that the mobile version of your website will be indexed before the desktop version.
If you have a poor mobile website, it means you’ll have issues with your website showing up on search engines.
The first step to making your website mobile-friendly is to check your mobile-friendliness.
Enter your website address into the Google mobile-friendly test tool.
The results will show you whether your website is mobile-friendly or not. You can also get more recommendations on what to do to make your website more mobile-friendly.
The best practice is to use a mobile-responsive theme on your website that adapts to the size of any screen.
17. Increase Your Website Speed
Your website speed is one of the ranking signals Google use. Because a poor website speed leads to a negative user experience.
Visitors to your website expect your website to load fast. Research by Google found that 32% of your website visitors would have bounced by the time it loads for 3 seconds.
But to improve your website speed, you need to know your current speed. You can use a tool like Pingdom to find this.
Enter your website address into the Pingdom tool and select the server you want to test from. Click on “Start Test.”
This will show you details like load time, page size and other important details.
You’ll also get recommendations on actions to take to improve your website speed.
Some other actions you can take to improve your website speed are:
- Use a content delivery network.
- Compress images and videos.
- Use Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP).
- Use a fast website host.
18. Repurpose Your Content
The most popular form of content is written content. But that doesn’t mean there are no other forms of content. When you search for some queries, you get images and video results.
This shows you there are opportunities to gain more search traffic from other types of content apart from the written content.
All you have to do is translate your written content to other formats like:
There are visitors to your website who engage better with visual content than the written content.
When you repurpose your content to other formats, it means you can keep these people on your website.
19. Pay Attention to YouTube SEO
Think about it: YouTube is the second largest search engine. But most people actually ignore YouTube SEO. Some of your competitors don’t even have videos on YouTube.
Furthermore, YouTube videos appear on many Google searches. This is an opportunity for you to get ahead of your competitors. To get your videos to rank at the top of the rankings, some steps you need to take are:
- Post long videos
- Optimize your video description for your target keyword
20. Improve Your Local SEO
Even with the high number of eCommerce companies and businesses going on online, some businesses still have the majority of their customers in their locality.
This doesn’t mean you have to neglect SEO. As a matter of fact, you should embrace SEO.
Precisely, local SEO. Because people in your locality still use search engines even when they’re looking for your service.
And people take action fast after performing a local search. For instance, Google found that 50% of people who perform local searches on their smartphones and 34% of people on tablets/desktops visit a local store within a day.
Take these steps to appear in local searches:
i). Add your business details to local listings: To show your business’s credibility, one of the ways to do that is to appear on local business listings.
These include general business listings, listings in your locality, and professional listings for your business.
ii). Encourage customer reviews: For every potential customer, they want to know what past customers think about your service. What better way to achieve this than checking reviews?
People trust reviews and it can convince them to do business with you. For instance, a BrightLocal study found that 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Added to this, reviews also help your business to show up for local searches and the local map pack. It’s difficult to see a business without reviews showing at the top of the local map pack. Check out this example below:
Taking these steps will improve your local search traffic.
21. Track Your SEO Performance
Running SEO campaigns require that you track your results over time.
Even though it takes time to see big changes in your overall performance, you can still compare your performances and see if your techniques are having the required changes.
Some metrics to track for your SEO performance are:
- Click-through rates (CTR)
- The position of your pages for keywords
You can get these details on the Google Console.
You can also use other tools like SEMrush and Ahrefs to track changes in your search performance.
Showing up at the top of the rankings for your target keywords is vital to the number of new customers and revenue you can gain.
Don’t forget to produce content that offers solutions to your visitors’ problems and build relevant backlinks to your website.
You should also pay attention to other techniques like targeting voice search, YouTube SEO, improving user experience, local SEO, and other important techniques.
Employ these techniques and you’d see positive improvements in your search rankings and organic traffic.