Finding actionable SEO tips is difficult! There’s a lot of SEO theory online, but not much actionable content.
But often it’s not easy to follow or digest. Today we aim to change that.
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So, you’ve built an amazing website. Now what?
If you want traffic to come to your website, you have to understand the basics of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) – it’s just that simple.
While there are many SEO tips, tricks, and promises out there, we thought we’d narrow our list down to 16 actionable SEO Tips and Tricks that you can actually use – and that seriously work.
Don’t be bogged down by all the promise-makers (aka – the shady SEO firms!) that guarantee top ranking in Google! We promise you that nobody can make that promise!
Instead, what we believe is that you can use SEO strategies that work, build traffic, and get your content ahead of your competition. Just a few key tweaks here and there and you’ll be off to the races!
I promise you, SEO doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing thing either. So, let’s dive into this topic again.
A Little About the Benefits of SEO
SEO, when done well, can give you great results.
The cost? If you do it yourself, the cost is time. It does wonders for both your brand’s credibility and traffic.
You also get to benefit from user intent. This means that if someone wants to buy something, and your site ranks for buyer keywords, there are high chances they’ll buy from you (or using your affiliate link) because their primary intent was to buy.
That’s quality traffic, especially if you have an e-commerce site, or affiliate marketing site both of which depend on this kind of “user intent” traffic to drive numbers.
Remember, it’s not just about the number of people who visit your site, it’s about the number of people who convert – or buy something! That’s the kind of traffic we all want, right?
However, it is not easy to rank a website.
In fact, search engines, such as Google, Yahoo! and Bing only have 10 slots each on the first search engine result page (SERP). Not everyone can fit into one of those coveted top 10 spaces.
There are also so many myths and outdated SEO tips all over the internet. Some SEO myths include the fact that SEO is dead, link building is dead or that hiring an SEO agency can make you rank top instantly.
Outdated tips include keyword stuffing, content spamming, exact match domains and use of SEO directories.
So, what are the legitimate and actionable SEO tips that will shoot up your rankings?
1. Learn How to Use Keywords the Right Way
Yes – this still matters.
This is one of the basics of SEO. You need to ensure each page is properly keyword optimized.
Make sure you have your keywords in your:
- Title tag: This shows search engines the topic of your page. If you have an SEO plugin, such as Yoast SEO for WordPress, it’s easy to optimize your SEO title to increase ranking and click-through rates (CTRs).
- Meta Description: This is important for CTR. It does not impact your search ranking but may help a searcher decide whether or not to click on your page.
- URL: Your URL should be short, readable and contain your target keyword.
- Headings: This will affect your search ranking. Make sure you have a keyword in at least one of your headings.
- Image title and ALT text: Including keywords here will show search engines and screen readers what your image is about.
- Your content: Your website visitors are more likely to stay on a page that has their search terms used a couple of times. This is also a ranking factor, but only if you don’t overdo it.
To find out which keywords you should use, you can use Google’s Keyword Planner or my personal favourite, Keyword Tool.
Both of these tools will give you a great list of keywords and information that will help form your decisions.
2. Create Dedicated Long-Form Content
Yes, sometimes bigger can be better.
Google does not disclose how exactly it determines which pages go to page 1 for specific search terms. But experts usually test and experiment to gain credible insights on what tends to rank better.
Moz conducted a ranking factor study back in 2015, but lots of the information is still relevant. You can check that out here.
SerpIQ once conducted a study that showed that the average length for the first result in SERPs had 2,416 words.
Google’s take on this was that they were rolling out features to make it easier to find in-depth and relevant articles.
In this article, Neil Patel features six different studies that prove that long-form content gets better search rankings.
Here are some clear SEO benefits of long-form content:
- They get more backlinks
- It’s easier to naturally use more keywords, LSIs and image ALT tags
- They get more social shares
And that’s just three benefits of writing longer blog content. Writing blog filler just isn’t worth it. You need to provide value to your website’s visitors every time.
3. Change Your URL Structure
Most blog posts display the date they were published. Users love this since they can easily get more updated info.
Sadly, even if you update a 5-year old blog today, it will still show as if the post was published 5 years ago.
Yes, you can do a content relaunch and edit the date of your post. But if you’ve edited so many posts in a day, it may look spammy if you relaunch them all.
The better option is to change your URL date structure to show last updated date instead of the published date. This will get picked up by Google really quick and will improve your organic search traffic.
Google (and web visitors) love updated content. So, make sure you update your old posts at least once a year.
One issue with this is that if people have linked to your blog posts, when you update them, the URL will change, causing the link to break.
You have two options:
- Use a redirect plugin to redirect your old post URL to the new one
- Use a link structure that doesn’t include the date at all
At Canny, we use the second option. That way we’re free to update our blog posts whenever we like, without breaking links to our website!
4. Use Modifiers. Google and Everyone Else Loves Them!
Which one sounds better between these two?
- Running shoes
- Best running shoes
The second one, right?
The word “best” there acts as a modifier to the keyword “running shoes”. If used in a title tag, it will increase your chances of getting ranked for the long tail search term, “best running shoes”.
Some common modifiers that you can use include:
- Current year
Using modifiers gives you a better chance of ranking for your chosen keywords. Essentially you’re taking short tail keywords and making them long tail.
And it’s always easier to rank for the long tail!
5. Create Amazing Infographics
Infographics make it easier for people to visually process data.
When done well, they can help you get lots of backlinks and social shares. This is great for SEO. Brian Dean from Backlinko has a great infographic and backlink strategy.
However, Google can’t read infographics. Therefore, make sure you also add text before and/or after the infographics as well to increase your chances of getting ranked.
If you’re not a designer, how can you create an infographic?
If you’re working with a tiny budget, you could always try using Canva or Design Pickle. But people want to see something exciting that they’ve never seen before.
But the best option is to choose a graphic design agency or freelance designer to help you!
6. Vary Your Anchor Text
Google zoomed in on anchor texts in the Penguin algorithm update.
Too many inbound links containing the same anchor text are considered spammy and will hurt your rankings. Vary your anchor text to avoid this.
Since you don’t have much control over how other people link to you, this is very important to the way you link to other posts within your own website.
Below are the forms of anchor text variations that you can use:
- Exact match: This matches the keyword of the page being linked to. For example, “tennis shoes” linking to a tennis shoes page.
- Partial match: This is a variation of the keyword e.g. “best tennis shoes”.
- Branded: Use of your brand name e.g. “Apple” or “Canny Creative”.
- Naked link: Here a URL is used e.g. example.com – these don’t look great and I’ve rarely seen them used well!
- Generic: A generic word or phrase such as “click here”, “study”, “blog post” etc.
- Author: The name of the author who wrote the blog post.
- Page title: This matches the exact page or post title as anchor text.
- Image links: Here the alt text is viewed by search engines as the anchor text.
7. Reduce Site Load Time
Site load speed affects your rankings, according to Google.
Slow pages will not only hurt your SEO, they’ll also hurt your time on page, bounce rate and conversions.
Essentially if your website’s visitors find your site to be slow, they’ll leave in a heartbeat.
Analyze your site load speed and if you find that it’s too slow, take measures to increase it.
Of course, we’ve already given you our top tips in our blog post How to Speed Up Your Website. Yes, there are things you can do to get a faster load speed and that will most certainly help your SEO.
8. Write Awesome and Actionable Content That People Love
You should first write for people before you write for search engines.
Great content solves the needs of your target audience – whether they came to learn or just to be entertained. If you are giving them tips, they should be useful, relevant, timely and actionable.
This will help you in SEO in many ways since great content is easier to promote, get backlinks and social shares. It will also remain evergreen, meaning it stays relevant, and be less likely to get hurt by search engine algorithm updates.
No matter what connections you have, you can’t really go far with boring, old, rehashed, and regurgitated content. To rank number 1 for your keyword, create content that deserves that spot.
Creating great content takes time and effort, but it’s worth every bit of time that you invest into it!
At Canny, the only active marketing that we do is content creation. And it’s been the constant driving force behind the growth of our business.
9. Reclaim Brand Name Mentions with No Links
As your brand grows, you’re likely to get multiple mentions all over the internet. But some people will just mention your brand without linking to you.
You can reclaim these mentions by reaching out and asking for a link.
Most will agree to do it since they had already mentioned you anyway. This can be a time-consuming task, much like reaching out to get backlinks (see below) but it can payoff.
10. Reach out For Backlinks via Email
This is how many great relationships are made online. This simply involves emailing people who can help you in your online marketing and SEO campaigns.
It is a skill that when well understood can help you boost your SEO efforts.
You can use email outreach to:
- Get link building opportunities by asking other bloggers to link to your content
- Build relationships with other bloggers so that you can co-create content such as infographics and case studies
- Ask influencers to share your post on social media
There are many more things that you can do with email outreach, so invest some time to learn how to do it effectively.
Neil Patel has a great guide called The Advanced Guide to Link Building. But it’s not for advanced users only! Check it out, it’s great for beginners and link building wizards alike.
11. Internal Linking Amongst Your Own Content
On the subject of link building, it’s important to build links within your own website.
Search engines crawl the web to find content. They then use different factors to rank the best pages on specific topics.
For these bots to properly crawl your website, you need to link each post to another post on your blog. This will make the process faster.
So remember to link old blog posts to new blog posts, and vice versa.
If you’ve not done internal linking on some posts, this may negatively affect your SEO. Go back and look for old posts and pages, update them and link them to other relevant posts on your blog.
As a rule of thumb, we try to incorporate one or two links per 1000 words we write. Give it a try.
12. Use ‘H’ Tags
H tags (heading tags) show search engines your important headings. It’s advisable to use a keyword in your heading tags – especially in your H1 tag and at least once or twice in your H2 tags.
Remember headlines are great ways for you to show Google and readers exactly what this content is about. I happen to love a good headline, or two, or three in a blog. It helps users navigate through your content quickly so they can decide if you are covering all the bases on any particular topic. This is also where smart, useful keyword research comes into play.
13. Use LSI Keywords
In case you feel like your page is over-optimized, use LSI keywords (latent semantic indexing). So, if your keyword is “link building strategies”, you can use “how to build backlinks” as one of your H tags.
LSI keywords are easy to find because Google does most of the work for you.
If you’re targeting the keyword “Car Finance” – then you’re in a difficult space to win at SEO. However, you can utilise LSI keywords to open up gaps.
First of all type “Car Finance” into Google, and then scroll to the bottom of the browser.
This is what you’ll find:
From this image alone, you can identify several new keywords and opportunities.
If you’re writing high-quality content, try and sprinkle some of your LSI keywords into it. It’ll help Google identify what your content is about and give you a better chance of finding success in the search engines.
14. Make Sure Your Site is Mobile Friendly
Google rolled out its mobile friendly boost in May 2016. This was an expected change since mobile had already overtaken desktop as the device used most to access websites.
Google was also getting more searches from mobile than any other type of device.
Use this tool to confirm whether Google considers your site mobile friendly. If it’s not, make the necessary changes and you’ll see a significant increase in rankings.
We’ve talked about this already here at the Canny blog, but we’ll keep mentioning it. If you haven’t made your site mobile friendly – or responsive, now is the time to do so!
15. Build Your Social Signals and Online Brand
Case studies show that social signals actually impact search engine rankings in the short and long-term. For example, a Google+ from a reputable account can bring about a significant SEO boost. Facebook likes/shares and retweets can help boost rankings for low competition keywords too.
Social signals also give your site an indirect SEO boost as follows:
- You may get more organic links as people get to know and love your brand
- It may improve some important on-site metrics such as lower bounce rate and increased time on site.
If you are not sure how much clout or social signals you have online, you can always evaluate your Klout score here: Check My Klout Score. Klout is an online app that evaluates your use of social media, your influence, etc. This can be a great starting point.
Building your brand online using social media may not directly help your SEO, but it can help your business.
You should ideally be building both things – SEO and Social Media – at the same time. It really shouldn’t be one or the other.
16. Follow Updates on Those Tricky Google Algorithms
Generally, a site with brilliant and engaging content should be awesome in Google’s eyes, right? That’s not always the case.
As we’ve seen above, you may have an incredible site but if it’s not mobile optimized, your rankings will go down. There are many things that can change where you rank in the SERPs.
To maintain and increase your rankings, you need to constantly know what Google wants and optimize for it. Always make sure you don’t over-optimize or do anything spammy.
Some of the famous Google updates include:
Learn more about these updates before you start your SEO campaign so that you don’t build something that you or Google will have to destroy.
17. Optimize for RankBrain
RankBrain is Google’s machine learning program that was announced in 2015. It brought about the aspect of artificial intelligence (AI) in SEO. Google stated that it is their third most important ranking factor, next to content and links.
RankBrain interprets search queries to find relevant pages that may still be useful, but not containing the exact query entered. It is, therefore, more focused on giving people results based on search intent.
We’ve already mentioned here how you can optimize for content and links. But how do you optimize for RankBrain?
- Think of the user who’s getting to your content and try to answer all the questions they may have. This will make you focus on tackling a specific topic instead of just ranking for a keyword.
- Create in-depth content whose purpose or intent can be easily interpreted by search engines.
- Update your existing content to ensure that all your pages are properly optimized for RankBrain.
- Optimize for CTR (Clickthrough rate). If your page ranks number one but doesn’t get as many clicks as the other nine posts on the same page, it may indicate that your page doesn’t deserve the number one ranking.
- Use multimedia in your pages to increase time on page
- Reduce the focus on trying to game Google’s system, but rather focus more on what’s important for your site’s visitors.
- Increase engagement on your site.
- Keep updating and posting fresh content.
- Check out websites that rank and see what you can learn from them.
Search engines are getting smarter every day.
They want to ensure that they only display top-notch, relevant results. They also want to push out spammy content that adds no value to users.
Therefore, you should only follow SEO tips that work, and avoid wasting time with outdated myths.
Implement the tips above and you’ll be glad to see the SEO boost that you very well deserve. If you’ve been using our tips, on SEO, Branding, website creation – we’d love to hear from you! What’s working? What isn’t? Let us know!