SEO optimization has come a long way in the past few decades. When Google first became a thing, a lot of digital marketers rose to prominence by “keyword stuffing,” which is essentially what it sounds like: Stuffing keywords you wanted your website to rank highly for into the website content as much as possible.
Today’s search engines are a lot smarter. In fact, there are over 200 parameters Google is believed to rank websites on the basis of, and the exact algorithm is so “hush-hush” even the top digital marketers in the world are, well, simply guessing. (More accurately, they are doing what we do, which is experienced guessing, testing, and iterating on the basis of the results… but you get the idea).
To properly SEO optimize a website, there are five major categories of steps, each which can be broken down into a myriad of smaller steps:
- Get a technical audit, and fix what is broken on your site.
2. Determine keywords that pertain to your audience, and properly have them within your on-page layout and structural website content.
3. Determine websites that should link to your website, and have them link to your site.
4. Create high-quality content your audience actually will want to read. Of all the steps, we find this to be the most important, at least at first.
5. Make sure your website users are having a high-quality experience. Things like load time, click through rates, and average time a user spends on your site all matter.
Step 1. Technical audit.
The best tools for a technical audit are:
- Google search console.
- Screaming frog analyzer. This site basically allows you to see your website through the eyes of a search bot. Screaming Frog allows you to upload your log files, verify search engine bots, identify crawled URLs and analyse search bot data.
- Hubspot website grader. In addition to providing a technical audit, the Hubspot Website Grader also measures the overall marketing effectiveness of a website. It provides an inbound marketing score (on a scale of zero to 100) that incorporates SEO, website traffic (more of a step 5 consideration), the blogosphere and social media (more of a step 4 consideration), and other inbound marketing factors. It also provides some basic advice on how the website can be improved from a marketing perspective and helps people understand how their site is faring against their competition.
Step 2. Determine keywords that are relevant to capturing your desired audience. Have these keywords written in your website title tag, meta description, header tag, and URL structure(s) as much as possible.
The best tools to help you craft your website layout/structure for optimized SEO are:
- Mozbar. Like Hubspot website grader, Mozbar also helps you with other steps. But Mozbar pertains to step #2 unlike many of the other tools because it can help you expose page elements, general attributes, markup, link metrics, and HTTP status that may need to be changed or updated in order to properly SEO optimize your website.
- Yoast SEO. While a tool for WordPress, Yoast SEO allows you to judge whether or not you are properly SEO optimizing a given page or post on your site as you type, in real-time, by offering “red, yellow, green” designations for your website title tag, meta description, header tag, and URL structure(s).
Step 3. Determine websites that should link to your website, and have them link to your site.
In the past, I would argue that step #4, high-quality content, was the most valuable asset of your website. As time progressed and social media (and the internet in general) became more about, well, the social interaction, arguably backlinks and buzz around your website mattered more. Much more. Which is why blogs and other personal websites rarely show up in the first few pages of Google search anymore, and well-visited and oft-linked-to sites like The New York Times and The Atlantic show up so often in searches now.
That said, don’t hate the player, hate the game. Or, better yet, don’t hate either and just do what needs to be done to win at SEO. In the case of backlinking, these are the best tools we’ve found:
- Ahrefs. Probably the best resource for checking backlinks, Ahrefs backlink checker allows you to see the number of referring domains and backlinks to your site. It also assigns a domain rating, URL rating, and Ahrefs Rank on the basis of the number and quality of backlinks to your site.
- SEM Rush. Digital marketers tend to love SEM Rush for backlinks because it helps you find opportunities for link-building outreach opportunities. Because what good is knowledge if you don’t apply it?
Step 4. Create high-quality content that is also SEO-optimized.
The best content doesn’t sound like it’s written to game the system. But the best SEO-optimized content is, ultimately, easy-to-read and valuable content that also happens to be perfectly SEO-optimized.
To help, we recommend the following tools:
- Market Muse. Market Muse is a software program with an AI Content Intelligence and Strategy Platform that changes how you research, plan, and craft your content.
- Keywords Everywhere. When determining which keywords you want to SEO optimize your website for, Keyword Everywhere can help you determine the viability of your strategy.
Step 5. UI/UX.
Your website won’t grow in today’s competitive world unless you have a website that people want to bookmark and/or link to and ultimately tell others about. And that’s not going to happen if your site has a really slow site speed, broken links, hard-to-follow navigation — really, anything that makes it frustrating or tedious to use.
That said, there are many tools that can help with this.
- Google Analytics. The gold standard, GA will tell you your site speed, average time on site, behavior flow, and more about your users. Sheer gold.
- Alexa site audit. Alexa, like GA, tells you about your user’s experience, but it also goes a step further and gives some insight into how your competitors are doing.
If you want top-notch social media strategy, or would like help implementing your social media strategy, reach out to us at AEK Solutions for a free, no-obligation Q&A session. AEK Solutions is dedicated to creating new sources of repeatable growth online by embracing a rapid-experimentation, funnel-based approach. We also utilize creative and technology, such as geotargeting, customer experience management, and moments of influence testing to develop solutions to specific digital marketing issues.