Hello again there my fellow sea changers. I am going to start today with a joke…
Q: Have you heard the one about how the best place to hide a dead body?
A: On page 2 of Google.
Whilst it is probably not quite as dire as that, it is true that one of the most critical elements of any website is to try and get its posts to rank on the first page of a search engine results page (SERP). Why? Well simply put, the higher you rank, the more traffic you attract and the more people visit your site. This then obviously leads to more chance that some will make a purchase from your affiliate links. With all of this in mind then, today I am going to run through the tips and tricks on how to do SEO for a website step by step.
Note: This post will discuss the means and methods by which you can get your site and posts to rank number 1 – or at the very least on page 1 – via organic web searches. This does not include advertising, sponsored posts or any other paid ranking methods.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation which is the process that you undertake to give your website the highest possible chance of attracting organic, or unpaid, traffic to it. In most cases when we discuss SEO, we use the term ‘rank' which is how we describe where your site is viewed on the SERP in relation to others. For example, let's say that I wanted to find information about microphones for recording YouTube videos. If I enter that search into my search engine (I am using Google), I get the following:
This page shows you the Google SERP for the web search that I entered. You can see that I have numbered the top three pages on this results list. That, in a nutshell is what SEO is all about. It is about getting your own post into those positions as according to MOZ, a post on page 1 of Google captures between 71% and 92% of search traffic clicks.
Note: the page capture above was not actually the very top of the page of my search results. Ads and sponsored posts will display at the top along with some videos (which is a whole other story). For the purpose if this post I scrolled to the top organically ranked post.
What can I do to get to number 1?
Search engines work with extremely complex algorithms that determine rankings within their results pages – Google alone works with over 200 criteria so getting your post ranked number 1 is not a simple task but it is definitely not an impossible one. The list below outlines the steps and processes to be aware of to give yourself the best possible chance of getting to that coveted top spot.
Content is king
Like anything in this world, there are a number of different opinions out there on what is good for SEO and what is not. I have read many different claims around how many posts you need on your affiliate marketing site before search engines really start to take notice – 30, 50, 100 and so on. Personally, I think rather than worrying about some magic number I would be looking at the one thing that everybody does agree on which is if you want some search engine love then you need to fill your site with high quality content that provides value to the reader. I tend to try and make sure that every post I write meets two criteria:
1. It solves a problem – Think about the searches you do on the internet. In most cases I would bet that you are searching to solve a particular problem i.e. Who sang that song? How do planes fly? What is the best baseball bat for your 10 year old? How do I renew my drivers license? and so on. Even if the problem is simply to find out some information, it is still a problem. Every post you write has to be solving a problem for your reader in regards to your niche. After all, isn't that why we buy anything? To solve a problem?
2. You must provide a solution or value even if the reader doesn't purchase. This is a critical one and one that will assist you in your climb up the rankings. One of the main ranking criteria that search engines use is a measurement of how long a person stays on your page. So if you are providing good quality assistance that makes them stay and read, then that will improve ranking which will help others find your page in the long run.
For example, If you are providing information on the best type of baseball bat for the son or daughter of the reader, then you will want to explain everything you can about the bat you are reviewing. The reader may click on your link and purchase from you, or they may not. If not, then at least they have the information to buy elsewhere. In the long run, they may remember you and return to your site but at the very least the time they have spent will help your rankings. I can guarantee you one thing however, if you just have a couple of lines about how great the bat is with affiliate links everywhere, the reader is likely to bounce off quickly and not purchase anyway. At the end of the day, write for the reader and not for the purchase. Trust me, in time your rankings and sales with soar.
How many words should a blog post be?
There is another number that we should concern ourselves with when it comes to writing blog posts for our site which is the number of words our posts should contain. Again, some will say the longer the better, others will tell you that if it is too long, then people will not hang and read to the end. In short, try for at least 1000 words. I have read some research that the optimum level for a reader is about 1500 – 1700 words – or roughly seven minutes of reading. Longer posts of about 3000 – 4000 words however will give you the opportunity to rank for a greater number of keywords.
If I asked you to do an online search looking for the best baseball bats for your son or daughter, what would you type into the search engine? “Baseball Bats for Children” or “Bats for little league”? In the simplest of terms, those words you have keyed in are what is known as keywords. These are the words that you can use to build your post around as they are the words that allow you to solve problems and provide information as we have discussed above.
Keywords are an important aspect of SEO as they assist search engines to understand what your post is about and measure the ‘appetite' for those types of posts. The key here is to find the right keywords to give yourself the best chance of matching your post to the searches undertaken by your readers. This is because the more people that do a search for a particular set of keywords, the more important that topic appears in the eyes of the search engines. If your post has those keywords included within it, the search engine is going to rank you higher as your post is covering a topic that is “so hot right now”…
How do we find keywords? Well the simplest way is to let the search engines tell you. Let's look at “best bats for little league”
We can see here that this is a popular search so we are on the right track. Now let's get some stats for our page using a keyword checker tool:
So our search here tells us that there are 64 searches undertaken per month for these keywords and only 13 other sites that use them. To me, I think these are some good keywords to include in your post to boost rankings. Why? Because the search is fairly popular and there is not much competition meaning that you will rank higher in the SERPS for these keywords. This is mainly because you are providing value in a popular area that not many others are.
How do you use these keywords within your post?
As you write your post, you will add the keywords into the title – For example, “What are the 5 best bats for little league”. You will then also include them within your first paragraph such as “… so today I will run you through what I think are the 5 best bats for little league…”.
Some things to remember with Keywords:
- Do not pack your post with them – spend the rest of the post writing for your reader – Too many of the same keywords will make it awkward and clunky.
- Make sure you can add them naturally to your post – search engines love this as you are writing naturally for your reader and not just to get the keyword rankings.
Meta Title and Description
Most website editors such as WordPress and Wix contain SEO plugins that allow you add a Meta title and description to your post. These areas are critical for two reasons:
- They form the wording that displays on the SERP pages.
- They provide another option to add keywords into your post.
An example below is the meta title and description I have used for this page (entered via the All-in-one SEO plugin):
With this completed, by post with be viewed within the SERP as follows:
There is obviously a lot more to the use of keywords than I have explained here. If you are interested in more details in regards to keyword use and Jaaxy, you can see my Jaaxy review here.
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Linking is a fundamental part of SEO practices and involves the insertion of internal – to other pages within your own site – and external – to relevant external sites – links within your posts.
Internal links – where you place links in your posts to other pages within your own website – are used by search engines to gain an understanding of the structure and content of your site. This helps rankings as the search engines can get a complete understanding of your site rather than on a page by page basis. The insertion of relevant internal links (they must be relevant to the post) shows the search engine that you are providing a lot of information on your site that provides value to the reader.
From the reader's perspective, the addition of internal links also gives them the opportunity to find out more information that they may need. For you, it provides opportunity to expose the reader to more product links and keeps them on your site longer which, as we have discussed, search engines use as a ranking criterion – especially if more than one page is accessed in a single visit.
External links – where you place links within your posts to other websites – are an absolute must for your site when it comes to SEO. External links not only help google learn more about what your site is about but also adds to the ‘value' that your site provides. We have already talked about how much search engines love sites that provide good quality and valuable assistance to their readers and the inclusion of external links give them another example of how you are doing this.
There are some schools of thought that all you are doing here is driving people away from your site however in terms of SEO, again, this is a must – remember, write to provide value regardless of whether you make a sale. However, just adding external site links for the sake of it will not provide the advantage you are looking for so when adding external links, please ensure that the site that you are linking to is:
- A trusted and popular site – If search engines already like it then they will look fondly on your link to it
- Relevant to your post – this is a massive one – if you are writing about fishing rods do not link to a site on American Football just because it is about sport.
How do we link these?
The most common and best way to link to internal and external sites is via anchor text links. For example:
Internal: “If you are looking at becoming and affiliate marketer, here are some things to consider…”.
External: ” Affiliate marketing is an effective way to earn an income online…”.
In terms of SEO and increased rankings, there are a number of advantages to the inclusion of media within your website and posts. Let's run through them:
- Reader attention – We have discussed the importance of keeping the attention of readers when it comes to SEO – i.e. the longer they stay on your page, the better it will rank. The effective placement of pictures, graphics and videos throughout your post will provide an extra level of information and appeal keeping visitors on your page for much longer.
- Video is critical – Many internet and affiliate marketing experts see the consumption of video as the way of the future – and with the dramatic growth of YouTube it is hard to disagree. Search engines love video within websites and blog posts so if you are not shooting videos to assist with your site, then you really need to start.
- Additional keyword opportunities – Yeah yeah, pictures are cool and videos are nice to watch but in terms of SEO. But if nothing else, the use of media provides a gold mine of opportunities to increase your exposure via those all important keywords. This is done via the following methods – I will use our “best bats for little league” keywords from earlier:
Keywords are entered via the Image Title and Alt Tags
In most cases, Videos are added to a post via YouTube where keywords are included in:
- Title – this is usually the title of your post but if not, your keywords must be in the title.
- Description – as with the Meta description we looked at earlier, ensure that your keywords are included within the video description.
- File name – Add the video title to the file name section within YouTube.
- Discussion – add your keyword title and post link to the discussion section of your YouTube channel.
Update old posts
Another thing that search engines love is websites that are evergreen and constantly up to date. As you grow your site and learn new tricks, you will find that your older posts may not be up to speed. The advantages here are that not only are you keeping your posts fresh, but you can also “re-SEO” them. When refreshing older posts you can:
- Add extra internal links – Just as you will link to previous posts when you are creating new ones, you can link older information to your newer posts giving them greater reach and ranking capabilities.
Hint: If you can – i.e. it has to be relevant – link your older posts that may not rank as highly to your most popular posts. This can help them rank better in the same manner as linking to popular external posts.
- Add a video – If you don't have a video in your original post – add one to boost rankings.
Hint: Say the title of your video (keywords) within the first few sentences of your video – search engines are picking that sort of stuff up now…
- Add new or updated content – Say you have written you post about the best baseball bats for little league and a new range is released. You can boost your rankings significantly by updating the post with the new products.
Hint: Find some good keywords around the new product and use them in the heading of your new section.
- Check image SEO – Make sure that your graphic title and alt text contain keywords as required.
- Spelling and Grammar – I haven't mentioned this as yet but a poorly spelled post will not rank well (as they are a common trait with spam) – why not take the time to run a quick spell check just to be sure.
Social media, as with an affiliate marketing website, can take time to build a solid following – remember we are talking about increasing organic traffic here – but it can assist with SEO in a number of ways including:
- Provision of back links to your site – We will discuss this in more detail next but the popularity of social media gives your site some good back link boostage.
- Extra traffic generation – Placing your post links on social media opens it up to more people finding it – especially with some well-placed hashtags. This extra traffic to your post will boost its popularity ratings within the search engines and ultimately your rankings.
- Engagement opportunities – Facebook interaction is a great way to boost your pages and increase visibility. This increased interactions can also then pass over to your web posts as people who have taken the time to comment on your social media site will also often do the same on your posts.
Backlinks are an interesting and tricky beast but if acquired properly they can be another SEO goldmine. We have already discussed the advantages of placing links to external websites on your posts in terms of SEO credo. In short, back links are any links that are placed on external sites that point back to your site. And again, as with those placed on your site, the bigger and more popular that site that links back to yours, the better. Oh, and if you can snag a back link from within a government site, then that is the holy grail of back links.
The reason I say that they are a tricky beast is that it is not a simple process to acquire back links and some methods can be quite technical. Here I have listed some of the simpler ways that they can be gathered:
- Join niche or mastermind groups, forums, mentoring or social media pages – many of these will allow you to post your website links.
- Write guest posts on other pages.
- Promote your content on social media.
- Add comments to the post on other sites within your niche.
- Interact and engage with other bloggers – the more they trust you, the more likely they are to add your links to their pages.
- Make donations – many of these sites will allow a website link.
- Write testimonials – these can be picked up by the recipient who can add your site links.
Note: There are plenty of sites out there that will offer to sell you back links – DO NOT do this! Search engines are quick to punish those that they think are trying to trick them and if they smell a rat with back links, you will definitely be worse off than you would have been if you had no back links at all.
Talk to the search engines
Finally, one of the best ways to get onto a SERP is to ask them to rank you. This is done via either the Google Search Console (adds to the Google search engine) and Bing Webmaster Tools (adds to the Bing and Yahoo search engines). The process is quite simple. Once you have completed and published your post, you can ask the search engines to crawl your site and rank the post. As your site grows, this process will become quicker and quicker – I have had some posts ranked in Google within 15 minutes of my request.
To add to the Google Search Console
You will need to register within the console with a Google account, enter your website URL and complete the relevant verification processes and submit your sitemap as directed by the platform.
Enter your new URL into the search field. Google will check if:
- The site is indexed.
- If the site can be indexed.
If Google comes back saying that the site is not indexed, select Request Indexing – This process will take a minute or two.
To add via Bing Webmaster Tools
Click here to access Bing Webmaster Tools
You will need to register with a Google account, enter your website URL and complete the relevant verification processes and submit your sitemap as directed by the platform.
Select the Submit URL option from the left had menu bar.
Enter your new URL into the Submit URLs section and press Submit.
Wow, a lot of information there I know so in an effort to give you something tangible to work from, keep this checklist in mind for any post that you write by making sure that you:
- Write at least 1000 words.
- Write naturally and SPELL CHECK.
- Use good keywords – generally at least 100 searches per month with under 100 sites also using those keywords.
- Include a Meta Title and Meta Description.
- Use your keywords in the title and alt text of all images.
- Include a video with relevant keywords in title and description.
- Promote your posts on social media.
- Request indexing via Google Search Console and Bing webmaster tools.
What are your experiences with SEO? Is there anything you have done that has worked well? Please comment below and let me know how you went.
Do you want to build your own website or need further assistance with your SEO processes?
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Until next time
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