Important SEO Tips To Succeed Online
Learning SEO and trying to figure out which strategies are actually safe to implement on your website can be hard, especially for any SEO beginner. In the complicated world of search engine optimisation, there are too many “it depends” and mixed signals for there to be a single solution to increase your traffic or rankings. Afterall, there are an estimated 200+ different ranking factors used by Google to determine your final website ranking on the search results page.
In this blog, I will aim to keep it simple and list just some of the most important tips SEO beginners should use to start their successful journey to increasing organic traffic.
Website speed is an important area of your website to optimise for – regardless of how it impacts your search rankings. Google has been trying to incentivise webmasters to improve their page speed load time for the last few years now, with the latest being the Page Experience update in 2021. In this update, Google announced that webpages with good core web vitals metrics will receive a tiny boost in the rankings.
The fact is, this tiny boost alone is not worth optimising for. If your website loads in a timely manner (at least under 3 seconds) and you’re only increasing speed because you want to rank higher, don’t bother.
If however you are looking to improve your user experience for your already existing website traffic, then definitely go ahead and improve that speed! A faster load speed will mean the traffic you are already attracting will be less likely to bounce, more likely to spend time on your website and more likely to convert. In the end, SEO is all about the conversions. Even if you’re running a passive income website where you make your money from displaying ads, speed is still vital here. If a visitor finds your page too slow to load, they will probably bounce before even loading the landing page. If they do wait for the landing page to load and you get a chance to display an ad or two, this user is highly unlikely to then navigate to another page on your website – why would they want to encounter another slow webpage? So they leave your website and you can no longer display any more adverts to them. So yes, speed is important even for these passive income websites as you can increase the value of your users since they will be more likely to navigate your website and view more of your ads, so you can make more money per user.
So yes, even if your rankings don’t increase because of your speed optimisations doesn’t mean you shouldn’t cater to your users. Besides, who’s to say that Google won’t tweak the page experience weights in the future and begin to boost pages with fast loading times by a considerable amount? No one wants to play catch up – get your website speed optimised already!
“Content is king” still holds up in 2021. I’ve written and explained this so many times in my own blogs so to go with the overall flow of keeping it simple I’ll just say this: KEYWORD DENSITY IS DEAD.
The amazing idea of shoving the same keyword into your content 5-10 times or ensuring your exact keyword makes up 2% of your article etc is an archaic tactic and does not work at all. In fact, it hasn’t worked for a long time. Many SEO beginners unfortunately do not understand this because even some of the industry’s most used and trusted tools remarkably still promote this idea of thinking (I’m looking at you, Yoast.)
Optimising your content for SEO is still about making your content relevant to the search term, but it is no longer about the density of exact match keywords. Here is an example of what optimising content for SEO was in 2005 and what it is in 2021:
- 2005: “We sell cheap rolex watches online. Our cheap rolex watches are the real thing, we do not sell any broken or fake cheap rolex watches. If you’re thinking of buying cheap rolex watches, make sure to visit our website at cheap-rolex-watches.com for the best cheap rolex watches on the market.”
- 2021: “We sell premium rolex watches at cheap prices on our website. We don’t stock any fake or broken watches, we only sell the real deal! If you’re thinking of buying a cheap rolex, make sure to visit our website at a-real-brand.com for the lowest prices on the market.”
As you can see, there are major differences in these two pieces of content. The first one is very clearly optimised for [cheap rolex watches] – it is mentioned 5 times and the website is an exact match domain. Because the writer is so focused on including the keyword in the hopes of ranking higher, the content becomes hard to read and provides no real value to the user.
On the other hand, since we are familiar with SEO we can still see the second piece of content is indeed SEO optimised, but we can not pick out a specific keyword – we can only gather a range of different phrases and keywords. In fact, the exact match keyword [cheap rolex watches] isn’t mentioned at all in this piece, the closest thing is “buy a cheap rolex” or maybe “rolex watches at cheap prices” – both of which are more suited to the content, whereas [cheap rolex watches] is more suited to the search bar.
In the second piece, the readability of the content is not harmed and the everyday user would not think it is optimised for SEO. If you were to say both of those paragraphs out loud, which paragraph would sound the most natural? (That’s rhetorical, we both already know the answer.)
(This section ended up being quite long, skip to the last paragraph for the part you actually need to know.)
Linkbuilding is the big bad wolf of SEO, because so many companies do it wrong. The fact is, whether its an SEO service or a new phone, everyone wants the best quality but pay the smallest price. The phone is easy though, you either pay the price or you don’t get it. With SEO it’s not that simple, and unfortunately there are companies out there who will say and do whatever they can to sign up a client. SEO is long term and it is, generally, expensive. It is far too common for business owners or marketers who do not do SEO to enquire with a proper agency, see the price and don’t proceed – that’s fine, I’m not here to tell you how to spend your money!
But then these same people will continue to enquire for a cheaper option and eventually fall down the rabbit hole of SEO agencies – before you know it you’re emailing John Wayne Sr, a genuine guy who definitely works for an SEO company based in a New York (virtual) office. In reality, you’re speaking to Pradeep who’s sat in his New Delhi home whilst he’s walks you through the latest $99 per month SEO package which will guarantee you first page rankings for ALL 935 of your keywords, which he came up with himself! 250 backlinks every month, on-page SEO completed, page speed optimised – this is an absolute bargain compared to that expensive SEO agency in Manchester and they do a lot more work too! So this client signs up with Pradeep John Wayne Sr.
Three months in and the website has generated 750 spammy links made up of file sharing websites, forum posts, blog comments and PBNs. The titles on every page do not make sense because they were re-written on Google Translate and your website loads fast (but it no longer works.) To top it all off you’ve been hit with a manual penalty and your website is thrown out of Google’s index entirely.
Now let’s look at another issue with the reputation of backlinks – acquiring them. The fact is Google’s official guidelines state that you should not purchase backlinks or exchange/trade anything else for a backlink. A link should be earned naturally, the most you can do is ask nicely. This is the same advice repeated by every SEO guru out there.
The fact is, this isn’t how the real world works unfortunately. It’s definitely not impossible – there are many agencies out there who specialise in PR link building and they will know all about getting high quality backlinks for “free.” You won’t be paying the editor to include the link, but you’ll be paying A LOT of money to the agency to do all the work which leads up to the link such as content creation, research, reaching out to journalists etc. So no matter how you look at it, you’re paying money for a backlink regardless of who’s pocket it ends up in.
Even then, those same PR companies will be able to tell you how many journalists will ask for money in order to place a link, no matter how relevant or interesting the content is. Whether the journalist gets paid is a different matter though and would be up to your SEO company.
The fact is, content creators, digital marketers, editors etc all know the value of a backlink and are willing to put the highly coveted <a> tag behind a paywall. Rel tags aside, Google has no idea if you paid for a backlink. If the backlink looks natural, and the website is natural (no PBNs or link farms allowed!) then the link will be counted to your website backlink profile – regardless of whether you didn’t pay, paid an agency or paid the editor.
To conclude this mini section/rant: backlinks do work and they can have a huge impact on your website traffic. (my own personal case study: one page went from 40 visitors per month to over 1,000 visitors per month from one single backlink.) Additionally, don’t worry about having to pay money to earn a backlink – this is all too common in the industry regardless of what Google says.
To optimise your URLs for SEO, just keep them readable. The URL should be like a mini-snippet to your content, just like the title in a way. A URL like “/articles/blog/2025251/” doesn’t help anyone understand what the blog is going to be about. The easy way to think about it is, does your link look trust worthy? Would a paranoid user click on your link if they can’t see, by the URL, what the page is going to be about? Simple.
There are two main things to remember when it comes to URLs for SEO:
- URLs are case sensitive, it’s best practice to keep all of your URLs lowercase. This has been the standard practice for a LONG time, and users come to expect it.
- URLs can not use spaces, to separate words in a URL you should use hyphens. Hyphens specifically are actually recommended by Google instead of underscores or another character.
You can read more about optimising URLs for Google here.