On-site and off-page SEO improvements, guaranteed to get you on Google’s good side
Whether you’re just getting into SEO or need to make high-level refinements to your website, a few tips can go a long way. We’ve compiled 50 of the very best, to help you get the results you want from your efforts. Below you’ll find tips for general SEO improvements, as well as technical enhancements, content marketing improvements, link-building strategies and much more. Implement as many of these important SEO tips as you can and watch the results build!
Tips for Improving Your General SEO
Literally anyone can benefit from a general focus on SEO. You don’t need to be an SEO agency or have advanced technical knowledge to make these improvements to your site. All it takes to capitalize is a willingness to pay attention to the details. Always consider SEO’s impact on changes you’re making to your site, and think ahead to plan for optimizations beyond your current focus. Getting into the mindset with these general SEO tips will set you up for success beyond competitors who don’t give it any thought at all.
Building a new site? Take SEO considerations into account right away. The more you get right in the beginning, the less you’ll need to go back and fix. In particular, consider important aspects like schema, evergreen content, strategy for content buildout and more. SEO is part of building a new website—not something you go back and do after.
Everyone wants to rank for the big-time, high-competition search terms. While your optimization efforts should definitely include these keywords and phrases, new websites and those with low authority generally fare better with low competition keywords in the beginning. Rank for these smaller searches, then roll that momentum into bigger goals.
The first words of any page are the most important—including the meta description. Provide clear, concise, easy-to-understand descriptions of pages to make sure people get to where they want to go. You’ll be rewarded with higher on-page times, lower bounce rate and better traffic to critical areas of your site.
Believe it or not, your meta description doesn’t inherently improve your ranking in SERPs. What it does do, is improve the performance of the page by attracting people who care about what’s on that specific page. More meaningful traffic leads to better SERP rankings by design. Look to the intent of the clicker when crafting meta descriptions.
How often are you auditing your SEO? If it’s not weekly, you’re not auditing frequently enough. Fix on-page SEO issues through a weekly technical audit and you’ll see immediate and sustained improvements. Technical issues like broken redirects, page speed issues and indexing errors are easy to fix as part of weekly maintenance.
As of July of 2019, Google Chrome and other browsers implemented “Not Secure” measures. If you don’t have a valid security certificate on your website domain, get one! You should also migrate your site to HTTPS for added security. Failure to make your website secure will mean losing domain authority and the traffic that comes with it.
404 errors disrupt the traffic to and from your website, and they’ll decrease your domain in the eyes of Google. Crawl your site for 404s routinely and fix any broken links with 301 redirects—either to moved content or a new destination that’s worthy of the original traffic through your broken link.
Your URLs shouldn’t have long character strings or nested category after nested category! URLs need to be as concise and descriptive as possible. Make sure they’re descriptive and complementary to the page title, meta description and on-page content visitors are looking for.
Don’t rely on Google’s bots to create a meta description for you using the first 160 characters of your page! Take the time to write clear, concise, meaningful meta descriptions that tell people exactly what the link they’re about to click on has to offer. You’ll bring in meaningful traffic if you address searcher intent upfront.
Social media isn’t included in Google’s SEO, but on-page search signals are still important. Make it easy to share your content directly from the page! It should take one or two clicks max to share a relevant piece of content from your site on social channels, and your shared content needs to get direct traffic from those shares.
Tips to Establish Your Technical SEO
The technical aspects of your site are the most important ones to get right. They’ll not only have a profound effect on user interaction, technical SEO enables broader benefits from other types of SEO. Focus on site elements like load speed, crawlability, page indexing, page hierarchy, content delivery and more. These baseline improvements take a good understanding of the nuts and bolts of a website, but once they’re done right, they’ll open the door for scalable SEO efforts through content, link building and more.
Out-of-the-box website builders like Squarespace and Wix are easy to set up and customize, but they’re not built for SEO. They don’t allow nearly the level of optimization of a custom-built site or even a WordPress-hosted site. Avoid them if you can or use them as a springboard to migrate your site to a more SEO-friendly platform.
Bringing page hierarchy to your site through a schema markup is one of the most important site-wide improvements you can make. Schema tells Google’s bots how to treat your page—how often to crawl, what type of content it offers and what value you place on it. Implement and update your schema ASAP.
A/B testing is a great way to test landing pages and the effect of content changes on your audience. When testing on live URLs, use the canonical tag (rel=”canonical”) so you don't confuse search engines with duplicate content. Forgetting to tag an A/B test appropriately could mean SEO penalties.
Lead capture is important, but your landing pages and sales funnels need to offer value. A page that’s just gated content or a lead capture form won’t rank. Build out these pages to not only pump up the value of whatever you’re offering visitors, but to tell Google and other search engines what the focus of the content is.
Any difference in URL (even slight) counts as a different page in the eyes of a search engine. That includes www and non-www pages. If you have both types of pages with identical content, make sure you’ve also got permanent 301 redirects set up to send traffic to the right place—either all www or all non-www pages.
Site speed matters much more than you think it does. Your pages should load in two seconds or less, or you’ll lose traffic. The simplest way to check and improve page speed is through the Google PageSpeed tool. Make sure your pages are lightning-fast on both desktop and mobile, and that you’re constantly re-checking page speed.
Internal links are the simplest way to build out a link network within your site, funneling traffic seamlessly through various content pillars. Connect pages with a similar content focus to increase SERP rankings as visitors to your site jump from page-to-page following the trail of content.
Indexing issues can be a killer for your site—especially if you’ve been putting in hard work to structure your site better. Identify indexing issues by running a “site:mydomain.com” search and make sure URLs and pages show up appropriately. Compare any errors or abnormalities with your search console dashboard.
Implement cross device capabilities in Google Analytics. This is the simplest way to see who’s returning to your website and from what device. You’ll be able to gauge user interactions over smartphones, tablets and computers to see where meaningful interaction comes from and how people prefer to visit your site.
Google places huge priority on Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). These lightweight versions of regular HTML load faster on mobile devices, and having them available shows your willingness to accommodate mobile users. AMP pages frequently show up in a callout carousel in SERPs, giving you a leg-up in ranking—especially for timely info.
Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) are a must-have for growing ecommerce platforms and your gateway to growth. Flipkart—an Indian ecommerce site recently acquired by Walmart—tripled it’s time-on-site statistics using a PWA. Oh yeah, it also raised conversions by 70%! If you’re selling something, a PWA makes it easier to buy it.
Tips for Optimizing Content Marketing
Content is king. But what you think you know about content might not be right! Crafting and deploying optimized content comes down to understanding your audience and best practices for connecting with them. Whether it’s blog posts, videos or images, there’s a lot to consider when it comes to content. A core understanding of keyword optimization and visitor behavior can take your content from good to great—and your SEO along with it. Consider where and how you’re creating content, as well as its purpose. Don’t create just to create—create to engage.
Before you create content, do your keyword research. Your content doesn’t necessarily need to revolve around your keywords, but your keywords should dictate your content. Identify not only high-value, high-traffic keywords, but also key phrases, long-tail keywords, semantic equivalents and niche terms.
Hire a content writer or a copywriter who knows your industry! You get what you pay for when it comes to content. Farm out your content to a low-cost freelancer and it’s liable to come back unpolished and under-optimized. A writer that’s familiar with your industry and SEO best practices will create highly-effective content that wins. A site like Outdoor Game Store has obtained a lot of traffic from a solid content strategy from great writers.
Content isn’t exclusive to the written word. Pictures, video and audio should all be part of your content marketing plan. Decide what medium works best for your message and build from there. Is your concept best spelled-out in a blog? A shareable social video? An infographic? Make it easy for someone to receive and share the message.
Did you know YouTube is the second biggest search platform behind Google search? If you’re not making videos, you’re missing out on an entire search audience. Make your videos focused, informative and entertaining, and make sure you’re iterating them for social media, as well.
Perform a traffic audit of your site’s pages every six months or so. If you have pages with no traffic, very few visitors or a sharp decline in traffic, it’s time to refresh the content. Evaluate the page focus and the keywords, and take the time to edit, expand and incorporate new information. If they’re beyond saving, delete them.
Longer content doesn’t equate to better content. Lots of SEO gurus will tell you that content needs to exceed a certain word count to rank well. Not necessarily. What matters far more is the caliber of the content and how insightful it is. Would you rather read 300 words about how to tie your shoes, or 3000 words?
Anchor text for link building is extremely important. Anchor text not only tells the reader what to expect when they click that link, it’s how Google’s bot determine if what you’re linking has real relevance to the original content. In practice, designate keywords consistent with the linked page as the anchor text.
Add content when there’s demand for it, and to fill out your content strategy—don’t just focus on one target keyword or add content for the sake of adding content. Your content should fill a need. Answer a question. Solve a problem. Educate someone. Writing the same thing over and over again does little to improve your readership.
Start writing for voice search. That means writing in a way that’s conducive to speaking and using semantic verbiage to grasp on to voice-triggered queries. 1 in 4 shoppers used voice assistants in their holiday shopping during the 2017 season. That figure is only growing, and could reach 50% of online shoppers by 2022.
Which would you rather engage with: a 100-word article or a 1-minute video? Chances are, the latter. Video is easier to digest, which comes with many SEO benefits. It won’t take people more than a minute to read 100 words, but they’ll likely stay on the page for a full minute-long video and beyond.
Find the happy medium between creating listicle-type content and content with featured snippets. Featured snippets are incredibly valuable and appear at the top of SERPs—usually in answer to a question. Google pulls out query-specific FAQs and puts them front and center, so make sure your content is answering relevant questions concisely.
Tips for Building Links and Off-Site Authority
Link building is by far the most difficult part of SEO—largely because it’s out of your control. Getting reputable domains to link back to you means working hard for a link and putting in the effort to secure it the right way. The same goes for off-site authority, such as SEM campaigns. You need to use the little power you have to affect big impacts. It takes time. It takes effort. It takes patience. If you follow the right approach and take steps to do things right, you’ll reap the benefits of a well-earned link building and off-site SEO campaign.
Your Google Ads campaign does nothing to improve your SEO. Realize the difference between SEO and SEM. Use them in conjunction with one another, but recognize that your paid ads have no impact on your domain authority or SEO efforts. None. Zilch. Google has confirmed this time and again.
Social links back to your site or landing pages have no impact on SEO. As of right now, Google doesn’t factor social into its SEO algorithm. That said, they can work hand-in-hand. For example, a YouTube video viewed heavily through social channels will still accumulate traction, boosting your relevance on the broader web.
Building out your Google My Business (GMB) profile? Your Name, Address and Phone (NAP) are the most important aspects to get correct. Listing these, along with hours of operation, website and other pertinent links will help you dominate local SERPs and enhance your presence for localized searches.
Your GMB profile should be immediately informative and contain 35-50% branded or generic anchor text. Think about it. Your core keywords should be largely representative of your business and tell people what you do. Use these keywords and phrases naturally, and don’t worry about over-stuffing.
The number of backlinks to your site is important, but not in the way most people think. The number of referring domains is more important than the number of links. It’s better to have 10 links from 10 reputable sites, as opposed to 10 links from one reputable site. Cast your net broad to build your web of referring domains.
Find questions and answer them! Sites like Quora are flooded with tens of thousands of questions. Scope out ones that apply to your site and answer them. Speak with authority and deliver an answer that increases your reputability. A link back to your site here can garner real, meaningful, consistent traffic.
A great way to get more visibility and backlinks for images is to optimize the ones on your site as much as possible—from titles to alt tags. Good images get shares, which means backlinks to your site where they’re presumably hosted. Image visibility in Google Images is as good as SERPs for visual content!
Take time to create “linkbait”—content that’s too good not to share! Linkbait is usually comprehensive and focused on a single topic, which may be timely, industry-specific or a completely original idea. The idea is that industry bloggers, journalists, influencers and thought leaders will have to share it because it’s so good.
Don’t stuff guest posts with tons of links and generic anchor text. Quality over quantity! One or two branded links are usually enough to get the job done. They’ll flow more naturally and preserve the readability of the post. Even if you have reason to link a dozen keywords or phrases, choose the most important to avoid spamming.
Tips on Useful Tools and Resources
Even the best SEO gurus need a little help. There are no shortage of programs, resources and tools out there to give it to them! From Google-provided tools to third-party apps and resources, all it takes is a few good apps to kick your SEO efforts up a notch. The following resources are tried, true and widely proven to enhance SEO by giving you actionable information about your efforts and insights about what you could be doing better. Some of them are free; some are paid tools; all are useful!
SEO is all about insights. You need to be able to benchmark your efforts to see improvements. The two most complete tools for measuring overall site performance over time are SEMRush and Ahrefs. If you’re serious about SEO, pay for either of these platforms. They’re your gateway to understanding all elements of site performance.
Need help getting content ideas? Type a question related to your primary keyword into Google and see what other queries come back! You can also use AnswerThePublic.com, which aggregates keyword-based search queries to tell you what types of questions people ask most frequently.
The best tool for crawling your site is Screaming Frog SEO. The best part is, it’s free! There’s also a paid version, but the free version of the tool will tell you everything you need to know about how a search engine crawls your site. It’s a great tool for finding 404 errors and figuring out where you need ‘noindex’ tags.
Use your Google Search Console! It’s completely free, provided by Google, and highly insightful for how your site’s performing. You’ll get information on penalties and errors, and how to fix them. You’ll also have access to your top performing pages and the queries associated with them.
Want a sneaky way of spying on your competitors’ best-performing pages? Do a site search for their primary domain and a keyword: “site:www.yourcompetitor.com keyword.” Google will rank the pages is roughly the order of authority and importance, showing you your competitor’s best pages for those terms.
Only use the Google Disavow Tool to remove a link for which you’ve received a manual penalty or when you know the link is toxic. It may be tempting to remove “spam” links, but realize that Google is smart enough to ignore these and will. Abusing the Disavow Tool is dangerous and should only be used by the pros, in rare cases.
Looking for an all-in-one CRM and client outreach tool? Buzzstream is the answer. It’s useful for everything from link building, to digital PR, to influencer research and more. This tool can be worth its weight in gold if you’re building our your backlinking campaign or trying to define your audience better.
Need a quick way to check your on-page SEO efforts? The Surfer tool will evaluate more than 500 ranking factors to provide you with an incredibly comprehensive report on how your on-page SEO looks. From keyword placement to image elements, you’ll get the scoop on everything affecting your SEO efforts in fine detail, so you can fix it right.
Follow these 50 steps to SEO dominance
These 50 tips will help you improve your SEO efforts and see better results. They cover the four main pillars of an effective SEO approach: technical, content, on-site and off-site SEO. Put as many of them into effect as you can and you’ll see the results proliferate across your site. A little attention to your SEO efforts today can mean SERP dominance tomorrow!