Whether you own a blog or a website, you would definitely have been surrounded by people talking about SEO and optimization techniques all day long. Mastering SEO is a holy grail in blogging terms but is it as relevant today as it was 2 years ago?
This blogpost will help you understand what all these terms mean, what the relevant techniques are and which factors you as a blogger should focus on to get more traffic on your blog. First of all, it is very important to understand What SEO is all about.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It consists of ways by which a website gets free and organic traffic by search results in major search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing etc. SEO does not include paid traffic. When I say that I want to improve the website’s SEO, it means that i want to improve the website’s ranking in global search results.
There are many factors which contribute to a website’s SEO and we will understand those factors in details once we establish the importance of SEO in driving traffic to a website.
Is SEO losing the importance it had 2 years ago?
With unending Google updates and other search engines giving less importance to page rank, it is becoming more and more difficult to get your website’s page rank up by using SEO techniques. The search engines are focussing more on unique and useful content on pages rather than the quantity of links pointing to your website.
The latest updates tell us that the search engines are still using SEO to determine the importance of a website but they are focussing more on the on-site SEO factors rather than off-site SEO factors which they used to consider in the past.
SEO is always going to be an important factor for promoting your website but it is getting more and more difficult as there are so many websites cropping up on the net and the engines have to follow more stringent guidelines to select the best for the search results.
Types of SEO
Now that we know that SEO is still very relevant in today’s blogging world, it is time to understand more about which factors contribute to your website’s SEO and what each of these factors means.
There are two basic types of SEO techniques which contribute to the overall SEO of your website. These are the on-site and the off-site SEO techniques. They are also referred to as On-page and off-page SEO by some people. Both these techniques are vital for a website’s success in terms of SEO.
ON-site SEO techniques
On-site SEO refers to your website’s content and the manner in which it is presented to the search engines. This type of SEO involves use of the correct keywords, phrases, article format etc and is in direct control of the site owner. You can experiment with any of these factors and see what is best for your website. Some of the on-site SEO techniques include:
Content is the king when it comes to blogging. Adding the right content regularly to your website goes a long way in improving the traffic on your blog. It can further be divided into:
- Quality & fresh content – This refers to the content on your blog and if it is written well with a good structure. The content should be written on hot topics with a good command over the language.
- Keywords Research – Keywords are the single most important factor that can drive traffic your way if you choose them correctly. Structure your blog posts around the most-searched keywords and place your words correctly. Check the spelling twice to make sure that you use the right words which are being searched by users all over the world.
- Vertical information – Images and videos along with other pieces of information form the vertical content of the posts. Make sure that you use the right images which are relevant to your content as image search is a favorite tool of users.
- Answers to search engine queries – Most users ask a question on search engines and your content should be a direct answer to such questions. This will make your website show on the top when a user asks a particular question.
The layout of your posts and the website is the next important thing after the content. The website should be structured in such a way that it is easy to navigate for the search engines as well as users. Architecture can be further divided into the following factors:
- Easy crawl – Your site navigation should be such that search engine bots find it easier to crawl the pages.
- Duplicate content issues – Make sure that you have a mechanism to manage duplicate content on your website as search engines penalize duplicate content.
- Mobile responsive site – A large share of users are accessing websites through mobiles these days and that is why having a mobile-responsive site is a must which uses app indexing.
- Page loading speed – The loading speed of your website should be fast and the site should load completely within seconds to retain the users.
- Meaningful URLs – The URLs of the posts should contain useful words which guide the users to the correct page on the site.
- HTTPS secure connection – Provide a secure connection to your users to make their experience safe and secure.
- Title tags – The HTML title tags should contain the relevant keywords which are related to the topic of the post.
- Meta Description – Meta description is a short summary of the post and it should describe the page concisely using the right words as the search engines take Meta description very seriously.
- Header tags – All the headings and sub-headings on the page should use the header tags with the right keywords.
- Thin content – Do not post shallow content which is of little value to your readers as this can affect your rankings.
- Cloaking pages – Do not differentiate between search engines and users by showing them different pages to enhance the rank.
- Keyword Stuffing –Stuffing the content with keywords can do more harm than good for your website. The keyword density should be around 2-3%.
Some negative on-site factors which can adversely affect your SEO are:
OFF-Site SEO techniques:
Off-site SEO techniques are difficult to master but they are also as important as the on-site techniques. They build your website’s authority in the web and improve its online reputation. These techniques take some time to show the results but are working at the backend continuously to make the search engines bring your website up the order in search results. Some of the off-site SEO techniques include:
Building the trust of your readers and the search engines will give your website a reputable name in the web world. Use the following factors to make your site a widely recognized domain in that particular area:
- Authority – The authority of your website increases when it receives likes, comments, and shares by respectable domains or accounts.
- Bounce Rate – The amount of time spent by a user or reader on a particular page of your website is what constitutes the bounce rate. A lower bounce rate is indicative of the fact that the readers are spending more time reading your content.
- Domain History – Old domains which are working efficiently and are updated regularly are considered more trusted by search engines than new sites which do not have much content.
- Identity Verification – Make sure that you use some means to verify the identity of your users or filtering spam bots which can harm the ranking of the website.
Quality back links to your website form the backbone of our website’s off-site SEO. More the number of back links your site receives from reputable sources, the better your search engine ranking is. The three main sub-factors which are included in this category include:
- Quality back links – Work on increasing the number of quality links back to your website from sources which have a high authority on the web.
- Link text – The links pointing back at your website should include the words which you are hoping they are indexed for by search engines.
- Number of links – The higher the number of back links to your website, the better your authority is going to be.
The next off-site factor which affects your rankings is the personal information of the visitors to your site. This includes:
- Visitor’s country & locality – The origin of your visitor is an important factor as visitors from some countries hold more importance than other countries.
- Visitor’s history – The fact that a particular visitor is a new visitor to your site or returning again is another factor which determines the likeability of your site.
- Social likeability – The number of social shares your website has received and if someone has socially favored your website contributes to your website’s off-site SEO.
Social media marketing is the driving factor these days and the number of shares, likes, and comments your site receives from respectable sources affects your page rank. Structure your content around topics which are more favored to be discussed on the social media. (Recommended Read: 16 Tips to get targeted traffic from social media)
Some negative off-site factors which damage your blog’s reputation include:
- Pirated content – websites which are flagged for posting pirated content have a lower ranking than websites which post original content.
- Above-the-fold ads – Stuffing your content with ads especially above the fold can distract your readers and affect your rankings adversely.
- Spamming other blogs – Do not create back links by spamming other blogs or forums. Comment only if you genuinely have to share something.
- Paid links – Buying paid links can also deter your rankings as search engines are more focussed on organic links.
What is the right mix?
Selecting the right combination of effective on-site and off-site SEO techniques is a bit difficult but once you get the hang of it, SEO is not something very difficult.
Adding more pages to your website is an effective on-site SEO strategy which gives the search engines a new searchable page to add to your rankings.
Guest blogging and releasing press releases about your website are some of the good off-site SEO techniques which are effective today.
Make sure that you have the right tools or plugins which help in improving your website’ social presence on the web.
Work on the on-site techniques which are under your control and the off-site SEO will improve automatically since the two are directly linked.
Quality back links are going to become the next important thing for search engines so try building your link base by getting organic references from other reputed websites.
Other techniques to drive traffic to your blog:
There are some tried and tested techniques apart from the above SEO strategies which are a sure shot way to drive more traffic to your website. These techniques include the following methods:
- Add more photos to your content – Visually appealing articles attract more readers than boring content stuffed with just words. Use videos and images to add richness to your content.
- Add social media buttons to your post – Your readers are much more likely to share your content with their friends when they have the sharing buttons in front of them. Floating buttons are a great option.
- Giveaways– Giveaways work as an incentive to attract more new readers to your site. Investing in your website will reap rewards in the long run.
- Share your content – Sharing your content regularly by a tweet or a Facebook post help your website to reach a wider audience from many social media groups. Use the right hash tags to promote your post.
So these are some of the most effective on-site and off-site SEO techniques which are essential for improving the ranking of your website in search engine results. Using these methods regularly will not only drive more traffic to your blog but also enhance your website’s authority which in turn increases its visibility to brands and readers.