SEO is one of the most important things in the online world – it always was, and it has been interesting to see it evolve from simply trying to rank in Google by getting as many links as possible to it covering a whole host of activities – managing social media, creating viral content that makes people do the work for you, images, video and even audio content rising in importance, and more.
These days, it is almost impossible to do proper SEO by yourself; the only way to make sure it’s done right is to hire an expert to do the work for you. It is pretty much a full time job at this point, so if you want your website to rank high on Google and Bing, as well as be liked by people on social media, definitely consider hiring an SEO expert.
But let’s review the things that make up SEO today – we all know the acronym stands for Search Engine Optimization, but the process encompasses so much more.
Ranking in Search Engines
Search engine rankings are still the most important part of SEO – organic search is by far the largest source of quality traffic, but things are not as easy as they once were. Google (and Bing, by extension, since they follow more or less the same path) pays less attention to backlinks, and more attention to other factors like the bounce rate (how many pages a user visits before exiting your site), on-page time (how long a visitor spends on your page), the site speed and quality (load speed, whether the underlying code is up to standards and more) and sure enough, the quality of your content.
It takes quite a bit of work to get all those things done, but you’re still not finished – Google also pays attention to what other websites and your activity on those websites say about your own blog.
Mobile is Key
More people than ever use mobile devices today, and if you’re just starting a blog, you may be surprised at just how many are using their smartphone or tablet to view your website. This brings along a whole new SEO branch – mobile optimization. In most regards, it is similar to desktop SEO, but mobile devices and browsers impose additional restrictions, such as display size, touch controls, page size and load speed, all of which needs to be carefully analyzed and optimized in order to get the highest score possible from Google and rank higher in the SERPs (which are also different between mobile and desktop – check, for example, “Austin SEO Expert” and see the differences).
There’s plenty of templates for WordPress, Drupal, Ghost or whatever platform you may be using, and often they’re optimized for mobile (“responsive”, as they’re called), but you’ll still need to customize them for your specific project, otherwise you’ll get little inconsistencies and problems here and there, which quickly add up – and for mobile users, they are aggravated tenfold, since an out of place CSS element can easily ruin the viewing experience on a small display, unlike a large laptop or desktop screen.
Marketing is a whole other can of worms – things that work on desktops don’t work on mobile, and you’ll need to rethink and do everything from scratch if you want to get returning readers, email subscribers or simply viewers who will stay on your pages instead of tapping “Back” right away.
Pictures, Pictures, Pictures
Image memes have taken off impressively fast in the past couple of years – who could’ve known that image sharing websites would be so popular? But they are – Pinterest, Instagram, Imgur, and others, are all flowing with user generated content that goes viral and often delivers a lot of traffic to lucky webmasters. Needless to say, Google took notice of this, and they are basic a part of their ranking system on these websites.
That’s why proper on-site image optimization is vital, and participating on these websites with your own accounts, getting backlinks from them and creating viral campaigns to get traffic is a very good idea. You will quickly find out that just creating an account and starting to post pictures with links will simply not work – you are participating in a community, after all, and people notice. The best way to go is to maintain active accounts, comment, vote, and only after a few months, start posting your own things – by then, your account will have aged, accumulated some points, become trusted and verified.
(Video) Content is King
YouTube searches have actually outnumbered Google searches quite a while ago, which by itself is very impressive. People consume more video than any other content (based on view numbers), and SEO experts have begun marketing on YouTube and optimizing their websites for it a long time ago.
Video content by itself is more engaging than text or even images, but having your video content on YouTube has another advantage – it lets you practically skip the normal ranking system and show up at the top of Google SERPs for a lot of competitive keywords (search again for “Austin SEO Expert” on a PC and see how a simple video dominates the front page).
You may have noticed that there are a lot of videos that simply transcribe an article into audio and some pictures, and they rank higher than the original content – that’s no accident, and not only does that bring YouTube views, it also brings in traffic from Google – both to the YouTube video itself, and to your website. To top it off, the backlinks are indexed by Google and are factored in when ranking your blog’s pages in the SERPs.
Maintaining an active account on YouTube and posting video content regularly is a smart thing to do, and you can always use it to quickly rank for keywords that would be almost impossible to reach the first page for otherwise.
Social Network Communities and Discussions
By now, everybody agrees that social media plays a big role in SEO. Social networks like Facebook, Quora, Reddit, Twitter, and others exist because people like communities. Of course, the best way to proceed would be to build a community of your own around your blog’s niche, but that’s a difficult and tedious task that requires an already existing base of good content, regular users, a lot of marketing and SEO. It is something to consider in the future, but the next best thing – getting accounts on all popular social networks – can and absolutely should be done right away.
Having active accounts that would grow old and trusted on social media will give you leverage when it comes to readers (direct traffic), subscribers, customers, as well as search engine rankings, because Google gives a lot of weight to links coming from these websites, even if they’re tagged with “nofollow” or even “noindex”.
As you can see, SEO is far from the simple things it used to be back in the day. There’s so much going on that even with automated tools (and those are a bad idea – Google hates robots) it’s hard to keep up. You’ll need to dedicate a tremendous amount of time to do everything right – which is why it’s a good idea to outsource all the work to specialists – SEO experts who know what to do and how to do it.
When starting a new site, be sure to get your on-site SEO right from the beginning, then work consistently on off-site SEO – the results will be slow to show, but they’ll be steady and worth the investment.