Search Engine Optimisation

Why Experienced Search Optimizers Need To Refresh Their Strategies

Why Experienced Search Optimizers Need To Refresh Their Strategies

Why Experienced Search Optimizers Need to Refresh Their Strategies

Why Experienced Search Optimizers Need to Refresh Their StrategiesPEXELS.COM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How long have you been in the search engine optimization (SEO) game? A few months? A few years?

If you’re entering the search world for the first time, you may be worried about the sheer number of strategies and tactics you have to learn. But despite the increased knowledge that experience provides, search optimizers with years of practice under their belts have an even more dangerous threat to their results—stagnation.

After a few years of experience, most search optimizers find themselves using the same techniques for themselves and for their clients, on an endlessly repeating cycle. If you want to be successful, it’s better to periodically refresh your strategy, updating it with new approaches and experimental tactics.

The Veil of Experience

It may seem like the most experienced search marketers have the least to worry about, but there are a few problems that experience provides:

  • Habits. Over time, even the best optimizers fall into certain habits. As long as something isn’t “broken,” it won’t generate much attention, and the optimizers behind these tactics will keep repeating them.
  • Overconfidence. The more experience you gain, the more confident you become in your abilities. During the early stages of development, this is a benefit, but over time, it can lead to arrogance, and an overvaluation of your own skills.
  • Environmental shifts. Circumstances—including your competition and tools—evolve over time, so gradually, it may fall beneath your notice. Because experienced optimizers aren’t focused on learning new information, they rarely adapt swiftly.

So let’s take a look at some of the key ways a stagnant strategy can harm you—and how a refresh can help.

New Developments

Part of the reason old strategies need refreshing is the fact that new developments are always emerging in the field of SEO. Google updates its search algorithm periodically with new ranking factors and new user interfaces, and consumer search habits are constantly shifting, adding or subtracting value from various keyword terms.

The fundamentals of SEO will always remain—even the famed Panda update of 2011 affected less than half of all queries—but that doesn’t mean your strategy can be repeated endlessly and still see the same value. You should at least be aware of the new considerations rolling out.

Confirmation Bias and Echo Chambers

The more time you spend following the same practices and engaging in the same communities, the deeper your assumptions and beliefs are going to become. If you believe a tactic is working, you may be prone to overvaluing data points that prove that assumption correct (and undervaluing conflicting data).

If you keep reading news and engaging with other users in the same communities, you’ll get exposed to the same beliefs and values, over and over, with no new voices or opinions.

Ruts and Plateaus

Consistency is the key to success in most fields, and it’s the default mode of practice for human beings. The more we engage in a system of tactics, the more likely we are to continue following those tactics. It’s easy to fall into a rut over time, but those ruts can lead to plateaus of results, which can cripple your long-term potential.

Complacency

I also see complacency among experienced optimizers, especially if they’ve seen decent results in their careers. When you see respectable levels of traffic and conversions, you aren’t incentivized to try new things. You get comfortable with “good” results, and aren’t willing to try new things for the possibility of “great” results.

The Promise of Experimentation

SEO is a field that rewards experimentation. The idea is to try something new, see if it improves your standings, and if it does, you keep it integrated in your campaign. If it doesn’t, you toss it. This simple application of the scientific method may seem intuitive, but the micro-experiments needed to earn its benefits are often neglected by optimizers—especially if there isn’t much competition to threaten your current positions.

Simple Tips for Improvement

We know that a strategic change is important, but how can you make that change effectively, and in a way that moves you closest to your ultimate goals?

  • Find new sources of information. Don’t rely on the same communities to get your information. Keep them around, but look for new sources you don’t typically consult. These can be different news sites, online communities, or even different people who occupy the same industry.
  • Closely audit your tactics and results. Look closely at your results, and don’t assume that things are working. Look at individual tactics to determine their value, and don’t be afraid to cut what isn’t working.
  • Try new techniques. Take some risks! Even if you aren’t convinced of a strategy’s value, give it a try by incorporating it into your campaign. Even if only 1 out of 10 techniques adds value to your strategy, those incremental shifts will yield far better results than if you picked a basic strategy and stuck to it.

With enough experimentation, and an unbiased look at your own techniques, you should be able to improve and refine your strategy enough to see incrementally better results—even after experiencing a plateau. Stay on your toes if you want to remain competitive, and never shy away from an occasional risk.

SEO 101: Building An SEO Strategy (Part 1 Of 5)

SEO 101: Building An SEO Strategy (Part 1 Of 5)

SEO Strategy

Pexels.com

There are many of you who have never heard of search engine optimization (SEO), and many of you who have that don’t have an accurate conception of what it entails or how it works. Accordingly, I’ve decided to create a 5-part series that introduces the strategy, and walks you through the best practices for building and managing a long-term campaign.

This is part one in the series, focused on helping you build an SEO strategy from scratch.

The SEO Overview

First, let’s examine SEO from a high-level perspective. SEO is a series of tactics used to help your site rank higher in Google (and other search engine) search results, thereby increasing your organic search visibility. This, in turn, will bring your site more traffic and sales. It’s a long-term strategy that requires consistent dedication to user experience and quality material. (This is a highly simplified definition, but it will serve our purposes).

SEO comprises many factors; there’s no one strategy or one pattern of action that can lead you to success. Instead, you’ll need to spend time planning and strategizing your campaign (the subject of this part of the series), and executing your strategy across four main areas (the future parts of this series):

1. On-site Optimization.

On-site optimization involves changing the technical structure and content of your website to make it accessible to search engines and optimized for your target keywords and phrases.

2. Ongoing Content Marketing.

This is an ongoing strategy to produce on-site content, which will help you rank for more keywords, build domain authority, and attract inbound links (which increase your domain and page authority even further).

3. Link Building and Off-site Optimization.

This is a strategy involving your off-site work, which includes manually building links that point back to your site, developing your reputation through off-site guest posts, and engaging in social media.

4. Measurement and Analysis.

Finally, you need to constantly measure your impact, evaluate your success, and adjust your strategy to get even better results.

There are two main things Google takes into consideration when ranking sites: a page’s authority and relevance. Its authority is a measure of how trustworthy the site is, which can be improved by acquiring more inbound links from external sources. Its relevance is determined by how appropriate the page is for a given user’s search query.

Most of your strategic development will be focused on the “relevance” side of things: figuring out who you’re targeting, how to target them, and how you’re going to achieve your goals (though authority will come into play as well).

Understanding Your Demographics

First, you need to understand your demographics. Who are the searchers you’re going to target? What kinds of things are they going to be searching for? On some level, this requires market research, so you understand the mentalities and behavioral patterns of the people you’re trying to reach. On another level, this requires an understanding of your buying cycle; are the people who find your website ready to buy immediately, or is your average visitor in the preliminary research phase? All this information will help you choose the right keywords for your campaign and start developing content topics that carry the most potential impact.

Learning From the Competition

Next, you’ll want to take a look at the competition. Make a list of your most significant online competitors. What are they currently doing in terms of SEO? What keywords are they currently ranking for? What are they optimizing for? How much are they investing in their on-site content marketing strategy? These questions will help you determine your competitive edge; you’ll want to outdo your competitors, either by doing what they do (but better), or by finding a tangential angle that differentiates your brand. SEMRushMoz, and Market Samurai are three helpful tools for SEO competitor analysis.

Doing Keyword Research

Next, you’ll need to perform keyword research, which is a complex topic that deserves its own post. First, note that simply using keywords in your headlines and throughout your text copy isn’t a magical gateway to higher rankings for those specific keywords; in fact, thanks to Google’s Hummingbird, keywords no longer have a one-to-one relationship with user queries. Instead, Google looks for semantically related topics when it hunts for relevant results, while trying to understand user intent.

Still, keyword research can help you find those topics, provide a focal point for your campaign, and give you another metric to track for your success (keyword rankings). There are many tools to help you with keyword research, including Moz’s new Keyword Explorer tool, but ultimately you’ll look at three factors in your selection criteria:

  • Relevance. How relevant are these keywords to your brand?
  • Competition. How hard will it be to rank for these? The less competition, the better.
  • Volume. How many people are searching for these keywords? The more, the better.

It’s hard to find keywords that satisfy all three criteria, but they’re out there.

Establishing a Budget and Setting Goals

Next, you’ll need to determine how much you’re willing to spend on a campaign. You can’t cheap out on SEO if you’re going to do it properly (whether you spend a ton of time, a ton of money, or a mix of both), and it takes a long time to start seeing results. Your level of competition and the urgency with which you need to see results should dictate how much you’re going to spend. Set goals for yourself, as specific as possible, such as developing X number of new on-site posts per week, or building X links per month, or increasing inbound traffic by X percent (though this is difficult to estimate at first). Depending on your business, you may focus on one area more than the others.

The First 9 Things You Should Learn In SEO

The First 9 Things You Should Learn In SEO

The First 9 Things You Should Learn In SEO

The First 9 Things You Should Learn In SEOPEXELS.COM

When you first enter the world of search engine optimization (SEO), you may feel intimidated at the sheer volume of things to learn. You know that many professional optimizers have been in the game for over a decade, constantly learning new things as Google comes out with new updates.

Obviously, there’s a learning curve to get started, and when you’re beyond that, you’ll need to play catch-up on all the new tactics and strategies coming out.

But before you feel too overwhelmed, you should understand that while SEO involves many components, each component by itself isn’t especially complicated; if you break SEO down to its core fundamentals, it’s actually pretty learnable.

So which SEO fundamentals should you learn first?

1. The big picture. Before you get started with individual tricks and tactics, take a step back and learn about the “big picture” of SEO. The goal of SEO is to optimize your site so that it ranks higher in searches relevant to your industry; there are many ways to do this, but almost everything boils down to improving your relevance and authority. Your relevance is a measure of how appropriate your content is for an incoming query (and can be tweaked with keyword selection and content creation), and your authority is a measure of how trustworthy Google views your site to be (which can be improved with inbound links, brand mentions, high-quality content, and solid UI metrics).

2. Domain authority and page authority. Next, you should learn about domain authority and page authority, and how they predict your site’s search rankings. Here’s the basic idea; your site’s domain authority is a proprietary score, provided by Moz, of how “trustworthy” your domain is. It’s calculated based on the quantity and quality of inbound links to your website. The higher it is, the higher all your pages across your domain are likely to rank in organic search results. Page authority is very similar, but page-specific, and you can use it to engineer a link architecture that strategically favors some of your pages over others. Authority depends on the authority and volume of inbound links.

3. General on-site optimization. On-site optimization is a collection of tactics, most of which are simple to implement, geared toward making your website more visible and indexable to search engines. These tactics include things like optimizing your titles and meta descriptions to include some of your target keywords, ensuring your site’s code is clean and minimal, and providing ample, relevant content on every page. I’ve got a huge list of on-site SEO tactics you can check out here.

4. The facets of content marketing. Though content marketing can be treated as a distinct strategy, I see it as a necessary element of the SEO process. Only by developing high-quality content over time will you be able to optimize for your target keywords, build your site’s authority, and curate a loyal recurring audience. You should know the basics, at the very least, before proceeding with other components of SEO.

5. Link building. In some respects, guest posting – one popular tactic to build links, among many other benefits – is just content marketing applied to external publishers. The goal is to create content on external websites, building your personal brand and company brand at the same time, and creating opportunities to link back to your site. There are only a handful of strategies to build quality links, which you should learn and understand as well.

6. Measurement and analysis. You won’t get far in SEO unless you know how to measure your results, interpret those results, and use your analysis to make meaningful changes to your approach. The best tool for the job is still Google Analytics, especially if you’re new to the game. Spend some time experimenting with different metrics and reports, and read up on Analytics knowledge base articles. There’s a deep world to dive into.

7. Keyword research. Specific target keywords aren’t as important for SEO success as they used to be, now that Google search is fueled by semantic and contextual understanding, but you should still be able to identify both head keyword (short, high-volume keywords) and long-tail keyword (longer, conversational, low-volume keywords) targets to guide the direction of your campaign.

8. Technical SEO. Technical SEO is one of the most intimidating portions of the SEO knowledge base, but it’s an essential one. Don’t let the name scare you; the most technical elements of SEO can be learned even if you don’t have any programming or website development experience. For example, you can easily learn how to update and replace your site’s robots.txt file, and with the help of an online template, you should be able to put together your sitemap efficiently.

9. Troubleshooting and adjustment. In your first few years as a search optimizer, you’ll almost certainly run into the same problems and challenges everyone else does; your rankings will plateau, you’ll find duplicate content on your site, and you’ll probably see significant ranking volatility. You’ll need to know how to diagnose and address these problems if you don’t want them to bring down the effectiveness of your campaign.

You don’t necessarily have to learn these nine SEO fundamentals in order, but they should represent the first nine things you learn in SEO. Once you have them under your belt, breathe a sigh of relief; SEO will suddenly seem far more approachable, and you’ll be well on your way to mastery of the basics.

Just remember; SEO theory is perfectly fine, but if you want to hone your skills and learn more about the execution of SEO, you’ll need to put those theories to work.