Every day there are billions of search queries typed into engines like Google, YouTube, and Amazon. Often times these search queries are from people who are looking to find answers to their questions or solutions to their problems. This provides an excellent opportunity to become a provider of those answers, and a trusted source of information and authority in your industry.
Google, for example, uses algorithms to rank articles and websites, and while they don’t publicly share exactly how their mechanisms work, through rigorous testing and experimentation, SEO experts have discovered a few simple techniques that can be used to get articles showing up at the very top of the search results.
1. Must add value
Your article must add value. The business model of a search engine is fairly straight forward. They need lots of users, so that they can charge lots of money to advertisers. In order to get lots of users, and to keep them coming back, they need to deliver the best, most relevant content to whoever is looking for it. If your article doesn’t provide value, it won’t be shown to people. Simple as that.
2. Correct use of keywords
It is important to know what your viewers are searching for, and to make sure that your article contains enough of the same “keywords” so that when Google crawls the internet for relevant content it will recognize exactly what your article is about and display it accordingly.
There are good keywords and bad keywords. Some keywords are too competitive and others do not have a high enough search volume. Striking the right balance is important. We want relevant, low competition, high search volume keywords to sprinkle throughout our article/website pages.
A great tool to help you find the best keywords to target is the Google Keyword Planner (formerly the Google Keyword Tool).
Here’s an example:
Let’s say that your article lists some of the best, most affordable entry level yoga mats.
Targeting the keyword “yoga mats” makes sense, but it’s super competitive and is extremely unlikely that you will reach even the first or second page, let alone a top position.
What about “yoga mats for people on a budget”? Much better!
You now have a keyword phrase that is much easier to rank for and will bring the right people to your website. Whenever possible, try to be specific and think more niche!
3. Crafting a proper title/headline
Putting your main keywords in the title helps a lot, and should not be over looked. Your title also needs to be catchy so that people actually want to click on it. Both the viewer and the search engine must be able to tell what your article is about.
Let’s stick with the yoga example for now.
What do you think would happen if your headline was “Yoga? Don’t break the bank!”. You guessed it… No one would really know what your article was about and they would skip right over it, and that’s if it even shows up in the search results at all.
Now, let’s say your headline was “Top 5 yoga mats for beginners on a budget”. Bingo! It’s catchy and tells both your viewers and Google exactly what your article is about!
4. Keywords must be in the URL
Just as we put our keywords in our title, we also need to put them in the url.
It tells both our potential viewers and search engines exactly what your article is about. Edit your url so that it matches your title.
YourWebsite.com/page123 is bad.
YourWebsite.com/top-5-yoga-mats-for-beginners-on-a-budget is good.
5. Images and other forms of multimedia
Take any opportunity you have to add images or videos to your article, and it will instantly make it appear more valuable. Google will recognize this and will attribute your article to being high quality, and will therefore rank it more favourably and show it to more people.
If you do decide to include images, make sure that you have them optimized properly with keyword rich descriptions and alt-tags.
An excellent website where you can find free stock photos to use in your articles and web pages (just like the image above) is pexels.com.
6. Link to relevant sources
Link building is a very large topic, so in an effort to keep things as simple as possible, I will just cover the basics (for now).
Google, and all other search engines, use web tools called “crawlers” (often referred to as “spiders”) to search the web looking for relevant pages and websites. They crawl by jumping from one link to another.
If the search engine sees that your article contains lots of links out to high-quality, reliable websites, it will conclude that you too are likely a high-quality, reliable source of information.
7. Get links from relevant sources
While linking out is important, having links from other websites pointing to your website (otherwise known as backlinking) is crucial too, and plays a huge role in determining whether your article is considered valuable or not.
When coming up with a back linking strategy, try to think quality, not quantity. One link from say “Yoga Journal” will be far more effective that 100 links from low-quality, spammy websites.
Whenever possible avoid cheap services promising thousands of backlinks and focus, instead, on building relationships within your industry, and have those relationships build your links.
SEO is a very large topic and is constantly evolving, but stick to these 7 simple strategies and your article will have a strong foundation for success!