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8 White Hat SEO Techniques To Double Your Search Traffic

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Stuck in a cycle of optimizations that don’t move the needle?

This post reveals white hat techniques that can potentially double, triple, or even 10x your traffic from organic search.

The Google system for ranking websites incorporates a series of algorithms designed to give the “best” results.

These algorithms take into consideration many factors, including the words in a query, relevance, page usability, source expertise, geo-location, and settings.

Furthermore, the weighting of these factors is dependent on the nature of a query.

For current topics, freshness carries a lot of weight.

For a dictionary type definition, the page trust and authority play a larger role.

To ensure the algorithms are functioning as intended, Google employs an army of Quality Raters.

They follow strict guidelines developed by Google to ensure the algorithm output matches the standards established for Page Quality and Needs Met. These guidelines are a must-read for anyone serious about building a top-performing website.

According to Google, their search algorithm looks at five key factors in determining which results appear at the top of their search results:

  • Meaning of your query.
  • Relevance of webpages.
  • Quality of content.
  • Usability of webpages.
  • Context and settings.

By addressing these five factors, you will be putting yourself in a position to outperform the competition. Here are some specific tips on how to do it:

1. Mobile First

I first began promoting a “mobile-first” approach to SEO back in March of 2015, after dubbing Google’s pending mobile update “mobilegeddon.”

The name caught on, but on April 21, 2015, the update didn’t create as big an upheaval as expected at the time.

It did, however, put everyone on notice, that mobile was here and no longer “the future.” Those who did not heed the warning to go mobile later paid the price.

Today, Google is all-in on mobile.

If you aren’t certain as to whether your website meets the criteria for being mobile-friendly, log in to your Search Console account and view the Mobile Usability Report.

Google will report mobile issues there, so you can take the appropriate actions to come into compliance.

2. Claim Your Business Listing

Google Business Profile, formerly known as Google My Business, is a free business listing.

Business Profiles show up in Google Search, Google Maps, and Google Shopping. If your business has a physical location or travels to customers, you can create a Business Profile on Google.

Top 5 Google Business Profile Benefits

  1. It’s FREE advertising – cheaper than paid search and faster than SEO.
  2. Google Maps/3-Pack favors geographically relevant businesses.
  3. An optimized profile makes a good first impression.
  4. A good star rating builds trust and provides social proof.
  5. The ability to check profile performance & gain insights.

As Google continues to improve its ability to deliver hyper-local results, it is critically important to have complete and accurate data in one’s Google Business Profile.

This continues to be an easy win, as many businesses have yet to even claim their listing.

3. Improve Your Page Experience

Google’s page experience is defined by a set of signals which are designed to measure how users react to a webpage. This measurement goes beyond basic information value.

It utilizes  Core Web Vitals, a set of metrics that measure page loading performance, interactivity, and visual stability, as well as mobile-friendliness, HTTPS, and intrusive interstitial guidelines.

How Does Page Experience Affect Rankings?

In cases where several pages may satisfy the search criteria for relevance, page experience carries more weight.

A page that delivers sought-after information still trumps a page with less relevance, but a better page experience.

In short, page experience can be the SERP tiebreaker.

4. Focus On User Experience (UX)

Google has always encouraged webmasters to make their primary focus one of providing a good user experience.

As the algorithm gets “smarter,” websites that do so are positioned to benefit the most. A good user experience goes much deeper than writing clean code.

According to this study from the Oxford Journal, “The goal of UX design in business is to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty through the utility, ease of use, and pleasure provided in the interaction with a product.”

For our purposes, your website is the product. The objective is to first determine a user’s intent, then develop a methodology for smooth navigation – a methodology that evokes a positive emotion and leads to an overall good experience.

Incorporating UX best practices is easy. The web is filled with templates and advice.

What separates the pros from the amateurs is A/B testing.

Each one of us has our own biases that will influence how a webpage is constructed.

By running a series of experiments, you will be able to quantify what is working, and what isn’t, and continue testing until you get it right.

5. Do Your Keyword Research

That’s right – keyword research is still important.

With Google providing less keyword data, third parties like Ahrefs and Semrush have developed their own keyword tools to fill the void.

However, the way that one goes about performing and using the results from keyword research has changed, thanks to RankBrain and BERT.

At its core, RankBrain is machine learning. This allows Google to put things in context rather than rely solely on strings of metadata. Google now understands language nuances like stemming, synonyms, and answers.

BERT is an acronym for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers.

The primary goal is to deliver better search results for longer and more conversational searches where prepositions like “for” and “to” affect the context of a query.

At the time of launch in October 2019, Google projected that BERT would impact 10% of all searches in the United States.

The new generation of keyword tools takes this into consideration by generating relevant data like Parent Topics, Keyword Groups, and Search Intent.

Armed with this information, users can develop contextually relevant content.

6. Have A Well-Rounded Content Marketing Plan

According to the Content Marketing Institute, 51% of all respondents report that it’s more difficult to capture the audience’s attention today than it was just a year ago.

Since content is one of the top Google ranking factors, it’s important to get it right. Once again, this presents a huge opportunity for those willing to invest the time to make that happen.

Everyone talks about creating “great content,” but what does that even mean?

It really comes down to having useful content, finding the right audience, and then reaching that audience.

This doesn’t have to be a difficult exercise. It boils down to having empathy with your prospects and customers. Ann Handley created the following formula to sum it up:

Useful x Enjoyable x Inspired = Innovative Content

Great content comes in many different forms. A well-rounded content marketing plan will include a combination of the following:

  • Blogs.
  • Data-driven visuals (Original Research).
  • Images.
  • Infographics.
  • SlideShare presentations.
  • Videos.

7. Pay Attention To On-Page Optimization

Did you know that Google publishes its own Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide? You do now.

Despite its name, this guide is a great resource for everyone looking to maximize their chances of appearing in Google search results.

The guide covers key on-page basics, including the best practices for optimizing:

  1. Page Titles.
  2. Headers.
  3. Meta Descriptions.
  4. Image Alt-text.
  5. Structured Markup.
  6. Page URLs.
  7. Internal Linking.

Additional resources for improving on-page optimization:

8. Link Building Supercharges All Other Efforts

The day may come when links are less important to rankings, but that day hasn’t arrived yet. The key is to get the right kinds of links.

Links that have relevance to your site. Links that require a human editorial review. The kinds of links that are earned.

My favorite approach to earning relevant links is to build a resource center. A resource center can work on just about any kind of website. In addition to attracting links, a good resource center helps to build trust and authority.

Learn about this approach and more by downloading  Link Building for SEO: A Complete Guide.

The Bottom Line

Organic search is a game of inches. There is no single best way to dominate the SERPs. But it doesn’t need to be overwhelming.

If you just focus on the eight areas presented above, you can double, triple, or even 10x your traffic.

More Resources:


Featured Image: goodbishop/Shutterstock

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Five things you need to know about content optimization in 2023

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5 Things You Need To Know About Optimizing Content in 2023

30-second summary:

  • As the content battleground goes through tremendous upheaval, SEO insights will continue to grow in importance
  • ChatGPT can help content marketers get an edge over their competition by efficiently creating and editing high-quality content
  • Making sure your content rank high enough to engage the target audience requires strategic planning and implementation

Google is constantly testing and updating its algorithms in pursuit of the best possible searcher experience. As the search giant explains in its ‘How Search Works’ documentation, that means understanding the intent behind the query and bringing back results that are relevant, high-quality, and accessible for consumers.

As if the constantly shifting search landscape weren’t difficult enough to navigate, content marketers are also contending with an increasingly technology-charged environment. Competitors are upping the stakes with tools and platforms that generate smarter, real-time insights and even make content optimization and personalization on the fly based on audience behavior, location, and data points.

Set-it-and-forget-it content optimization is a thing of the past. Here’s what you need to know to help your content get found, engage your target audience, and convert searchers to customers in 2023.

AI automation going to be integral for content optimization

Technologies-B2B-organizations-use-to-optimize-content

As the content battleground heats up, SEO insights will continue to grow in importance as a key source of intelligence. We’re optimizing content for humans, not search engines, after all – we had better have a solid understanding of what those people need and want.

While I do not advocate automation for full content creation, I believe next year – as resources become stretched automation will have a bigger impact on helping with content optimization of existing content.

CHATGPT

ChatGPT, developed by OpenAI, is a powerful language generation model that leverages the Generative Pre-trained Transformer (GPT) architecture to produce realistic human-like text. With Chat GPT’s wide range of capabilities – from completing sentences and answering questions to generating content ideas or powering research initiatives – it can be an invaluable asset for any Natural Language Processing project.

ChatGPT-for-content

The introduction on ChatGPT has caused considerable debate and explosive amounts of content on the web. With ChatGPT, content marketers can achieve an extra edge over their competition by efficiently creating and editing high-quality content. It offers assistance with generating titles for blog posts, summaries of topics or articles, as well as comprehensive campaigns when targeting a specific audience.

However, it is important to remember that this technology should be used to enhance human creativity rather than completely replacing it.

For many years now AI-powered technology has been helping content marketers and SEOs automate repetitive tasks such as data analysis, scanning for technical issues, and reporting, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. AI also enables real-time analysis of a greater volume of consumer touchpoints and behavioral data points for smarter, more precise predictive analysis, opportunity forecasting, real-time content recommendations, and more.

With so much data in play and recession concerns already impacting 2023 budgets in many organizations, content marketers will have to do more with less this coming year. You’ll need to carefully balance human creative resources with AI assists where they make sense to stay flexible, agile, and ready to respond to the market.

It’s time to look at your body of content as a whole

Google’s Helpful Content update, which rolled out in August, is a sitewide signal targeting a high proportion of thin, unhelpful, low-quality content. That means the exceptional content on your site won’t rank to their greatest potential if they’re lost in a sea of mediocre, outdated assets.

It might be time for a content reboot – but don’t get carried away. Before you start unpublishing and redirecting blog posts, lean on technology for automated site auditing and see what you can fix up first. AI-assisted technology can help sniff out on-page elements, including page titles and H1 tags, and off-page factors like page speed, redirects, and 404 errors that can support your content refreshing strategy.

Focus on your highest trafficked and most visible pages first, i.e.: those linked from the homepage or main menu. Google’s John Mueller confirmed recently that if the important pages on your website are low quality, it’s bad news for the entire site. There’s no percentage by which this is measured, he said, urging content marketers and SEOs to instead think of what the average user would think when they visit your website.

Take advantage of location-based content optimization opportunities

Consumers crave personalized experiences, and location is your low-hanging fruit. Seasonal weather trends, local events, and holidays all impact your search traffic in various ways and present opportunities for location-based optimization.

AI-assisted technology can help you discover these opportunities and evaluate topical keywords at scale so you can plan content campaigns and promotions that tap into this increased demand when it’s happening.

Make the best possible use of content created for locally relevant campaigns by repurposing and promoting it across your website, local landing pages, social media profiles, and Google Business Profiles for each location. Google Posts, for example, are a fantastic and underutilized tool for enhancing your content’s visibility and interactivity right on the search results page.

Optimize content with conversational & high-volume keywords

Look for conversational and trending terms in your keyword research, too. Top-of-funnel keywords that help generate awareness of the topic and spur conversations in social channels offer great opportunities for promotion. Use hashtags organically and target them in paid content promotion campaigns to dramatically expand your audience.

Conversational keywords are a good opportunity for enhancing that content’s visibility in search, too. Check out the ‘People Also Ask’ results and other featured snippets available on the search results page (SERP) for your keyword terms. Incorporate questions and answers in your content to naturally optimize for these and voice search queries.

SEO-and-creating-content-in-2023

It’s important that you utilize SEO insights and real-time data correctly; you don’t want to be targeting what was trending last month and is already over. AI is a great assist here, as well, as an intelligent tool can be scanning and analyzing constantly, sending recommendations for new content opportunities as they arise.

Consider how you optimize content based on intent and experience

The best content comes from a deep, meaningful understanding of the searcher’s intent. What problem were they experiencing or what need did they have that caused them to seek out your content in the first place? And how does your blog post, ebook, or landing page copy enhance their experience?

Look at the search results page as a doorway to your “home”. How’s your curb appeal? What do potential customers see when they encounter one of your pages in search results? What kind of experience do you offer when they step over the threshold and click through to your website?

The best content meets visitors where they are at with relevant, high-quality information presented in a way that is accessible, fast loading, and easy to digest. This is the case for both short and long form SEO content. Ensure your content contains calls to action designed to give people options and help them discover the next step in their journey versus attempting to sell them on something they may not be ready for yet.

2023, the year of SEO: why brands are leaning in and how to prepare

Conclusion

The audience is king, queen, and the entire court as we head into 2023. SEO and content marketing give you countless opportunities to connect with these people but remember they are a means to an end. Keep searcher intent and audience needs at the heart of every piece of content you create and campaign you plan for the coming year.

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Headings With Hierarchical Structure An “Awesome Idea”

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Headings With Hierarchical Structure An "Awesome Idea"

Google’s John Mueller discussed heading elements with a member of the SEO community where he affirmed the usefulness of using hierarchical structure when using heading elements.

Background Context to What Mueller Said

Heading elements <H1> – <H6> are supposed to be used to indicate what a section of a webpage is about.

Furthermore the heading elements have a ranking order, with the <H1> being the highest rank of importance and the <H6> being the lowest level of importance.

The heading element purpose is to label what a section of content is about.

HTML specifications allow the use of multiple <H1> elements. So, technically, using more than one <H1> is perfectly valid.

Section 4.3.11 of the official HTML specifications states:

“h1–h6 elements have a heading level, which is given by the number in the element’s name.

If a document has one or more headings, at least a single heading within the outline should have a heading level of 1.”

Nevertheless, using more than on <H1> is not considered a best practice.

The Mozilla developer reference page about the use of headings recommends:

“The <h1> to <h6> HTML elements represent six levels of section headings. <h1> is the highest section level and <h6> is the lowest.

…Avoid using multiple <h1> elements on one page

While using multiple <h1> elements on one page is allowed by the HTML standard (as long as they are not nested), this is not considered a best practice. A page should generally have a single <h1> element that describes the content of the page (similar to the document’s <title> element).”

John Mueller has previously said that it doesn’t matter if a webpage uses one <H1> or five <H1> headings.

The point of his statement is that the level of the heading isn’t as important as how they are used, with the best practice being the use of  headings for indicating what a section of content is about.

What Mueller Said on Twitter

A member of the SEO community was joking around and gently ribbed Mueller about using more than one H1.

He tweeted:

The SEO followed up by sharing how he preferred using the best practices for heading elements by using only one <H1>, to denote what the page is about and then using the rest of the headings in order of rank, give a webpage a hierarchical structure.

A Hierarchical structure communicates sections of a webpage and any subsections within each section.

He tweeted:

“I’m too traditional with header elements. (HTML 4 for Life! lol)

I’d still recommend using just one H1 element on a page.

I patiently go back to pages to implement header hierarchy for fun.”

John Mueller tweeted his approval in response:

“I think that’s an awesome idea & a great practice.

Header hierarchy is not just useful to Google, it’s also important for accessibility.

(Google still has to deal with whatever weird things people throw up on the web, but being thoughtful in your work always makes sense.)”

Hierarchical Page Structure

In the early days of SEO, <H1> used to be counted as an important ranking factor, one that was more important than an <H2>.

So, back then, one always put their most important keywords in the <H1> in order to signal to Google that the page was relevant for that keyword.

H1 used to have more ranking power so it was essential to use the <H1> to help rankings.

Google’s algorithm was using keywords as a way to “guess” what a webpage was about.

Keywords in the anchor text, keywords in the title tag and keywords in the <H1> helped Google guess what a page was relevant for.

But nowadays, Google doesn’t have to guess.

It is able to understand what sections of a webpage are about, and consequently, what the entire webpage is about.

Despite those advances, many SEOs still believe that using an <H1> is some kind of magic ranking factor.

Headings are no longer about shouting what keyword you want to rank for.

The role of heading elements are now about telling search engines what a section of content is about.

Each section of a content is generally about something specific.

Heading tags make it easier for search engines to know what a page is about.

And that helps them rank the page for the topic.

And according to the official HTML specifications, that’s technically the proper way to use heading elements.

Lastly, Mueller mentioned a quality of the heading element as a way to better communicate for accessibility reasons, like for people who use screen readers.

The official HTML specifications say:

“Descriptive headings are especially helpful for users who have disabilities that make reading slow and for people with limited short-term memory.

These people benefit when section titles make it possible to predict what each section contains.”

So thank you John Mueller for calling attention to the benefits of using headings with a hierarchical structure, for calling attention to how hierarchical structure is useful for Google and for accessibility.

Featured image by Shutterstock/Asier Romero



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The Challenges & Opportunities For Marketers

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The Challenges & Opportunities For Marketers

Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc., reported its fourth straight quarter of declining profits.

It made $76 billion in sales over the past three months, but it wasn’t enough to meet Wall Street’s expectations.

Google’s revenue was down 9% compared to last year, and its biggest business, Google Search, saw a 1% drop in revenue. Even YouTube’s advertising sales fell by nearly 8%.

Alphabet has decided to cut its workforce by 12,000 and expects to spend between $1.9 billion and $2.3 billion on employee severance costs.

This latest earnings report shows tech giants like Google are facing challenges in the current digital advertising landscape.

But Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, believes that the company’s long-term investments in AI will be a key factor in its future success.

In a press release, Pichai says he expects major AI advancements to be soon revealed in Google search and other areas:

“Our long-term investments in deep computer science make us extremely well-positioned as AI reaches an inflection point, and I’m excited by the AI-driven leaps we’re about to unveil in Search and beyond. There’s also great momentum in Cloud, YouTube subscriptions, and our Pixel devices. We’re on an important journey to re-engineer our cost structure in a durable way and to build financially sustainable, vibrant, growing businesses across Alphabet.”

Alphabet’s CFO, Ruth Porat, reported that their Q4 consolidated revenues were $76 billion, a 1% increase from the previous year. The full year 2022 saw revenues of $283 billion, a 10% increase.

Going forward, Alphabet is changing how it reports on its AI activities.

DeepMind, which used to be reported under “Other Bets,” will now be reported as part of Alphabet’s corporate costs to reflect its increasing integration with Google Services and Google Cloud.

What Does This Mean For Marketing Professionals?

It’s important to stay updated on the latest developments in the tech industry and how they may affect advertising strategies.

Google’s declining profits and decreased revenue in their search and YouTube platforms are reminders that the digital advertising landscape is constantly evolving, and companies must adapt to keep up.

Marketers should consider diversifying their advertising efforts across multiple platforms to minimize the impact of market swings.

Additionally, Google’s focus on AI and its integration with Google Services and Cloud is something to keep an eye on.

As AI advances, it may offer new opportunities for marketers to target and engage with their audience effectively.

By staying informed on the latest tech advancements, marketers can stay ahead of the curve and make the most of these opportunities.

Despite Google’s recent financial setbacks, the tech giant is still a major player in the digital advertising landscape, and its investments in AI show its commitment to continued growth and innovation.


Featured Image: Sergio Photone/Shutterstock

Source: Alphabet



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