August 8, 2018

The 10 Commandments of SEO: Best Practices to Increase Your Search Traffic

August 8, 2018

The 10 Commandments of SEO: Best Practices to Increase Your Search Traffic

Every business today needs a good SEO strategy to differentiate themselves from everyone else. Those who manage to rank in top search results get up to 33% more clicks.

But even when you have done everything you could to boost your SEO efforts by creating great content or optimising your website to showcase who you are and what you’re offering, it’s easy to get lost in the fold with over 1.3 billion websites in existence as of January 2018. That’s a whole lot of content and links to sort out.

Everyone knows that out of all search engines, getting a higher page ranking on Google gets you the most business. In 2017, NetMarketShare reported that Google held 79% of all desktop traffic (Bing 7.27%, Baidu 6.55%, and Yahoo 5.06%.).

The key to a winning SEO strategy that drives positive numbers is understanding the SEO dos and don’ts and keeping updated with Google’s new algorithms. This way, you’ll know exactly what you need to become more relevant in web rankings today.

And because we’re not just your average digital marketing agency, we’ve rounded up 10 commandments of SEO to help you better optimise your site for search engines and improve your page ranking.

 

  1. Thou shalt not dabble in the dark side
  2. Thou shalt not stuff keywords
  3. Thou shalt not buy links
  4. Thou shalt not steal content
  5. Thou shalt not create content not fit for humans
  6. Thou shalt create interesting content
  7. Thou shalt use meta tags and schema.org markups
  8. Thou shalt wisely use robots.txt
  9. Thou shalt create a following
  10. Thou shalt provide an XML sitemap

 

Explore the right digital marketing strategy that gets you the most growth in  organic traffic with us.

 

1. Thou Shalt Not Dabble in the Dark Side

And when we say dark side, we specifically mean link schemes. Link schemes are links that are designed to manipulate your page or site ranking.

This includes using any sort of behaviour that manipulates links to your site or outgoing links from your site. This is a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

The following are examples of link schemes:

  • Making use of automated programs to build links to your site
  • Over-the-top cross-linking or link exchanges between partner pages  
  • Buying, selling, or exchanging money, goods, and services for links or posts for links
  • Guest-posting campaigns with large-scale article marketing

What You Should Do

Creating unique and high-quality content that is valuable to your audience online is still the best way to generate high-quality, relevant, and natural links to your site.

When you take the time to create highly relevant and useful content, the higher the chance your audience links to it or shares it to their own circles as well.

 

2. Thou Shalt Not Stuff Keywords

Keyword stuffing is old-school. Today, loading a web page with too many keywords in an attempt to manipulate your site’s ranking no longer works and may just get you flagged. Many have employed this tactic for years, hoping it can promote their content or page higher in search results.

But today, Google’s constant algorithm changes have gotten too smart and advance for this old hack to work. Rather, stuffing your pages with too many keywords can harm your site’s ranking.

The following are examples of keyword stuffing:

  • Repeating the same words or phrases in an unnatural way
  • Using blocks of text that lists cities and states a webpage is aiming to rank for
  • Listing phone numbers without any added value

What You Should Do

Instead of stuffing your page with keywords, spend more time creating valuable and useful content that uses long-tail keywords appropriately.

Aiming to rank for the right keyword is crucial to your website, and it all boils down to knowing what your target customers are looking for.

Knowing a keyword’s demand and what your ideal buyers are looking for can help you plan the right terms and phrases to focus on when it comes to your SEO strategy. It also gives you the right insight into your customers and a better sense of what they want at a particular point in time.

 

3. Thou Shalt Not Buy Links

Link buying is the exact opposite of natural link building and entails the use of link builders to buy page backlinks to help promote a site’s popularity.

Although many continue to practice this, Google prohibits this approach and instead maintains the importance of natural link building through useful information and high-quality content.

Google’s algorithms continue to evolve and are getting smart enough to identify that the number of links to your site from link buying does not vouch for the quality of your website. This is often noted with unnatural links that do not in any way contribute to any significant topic relevance to the website. Google’s policy penalises link buying through loss of rank and being excluded from Google’s organic index.

What You Should Do

Spend time planning your content strategy to ensure you always create relevant content that your audience would find meaningful. Use the right amount of keywords.

 

4. Thou Shalt Not Steal Content

With so much content available online, it often gets confusing as to who owns what and which websites have priority in terms of ownership and authority.

But if you are creating content with the specific intention to rank, it is crucial to never plagiarise or use any form of content without linking back to your sources. This is basic netiquette and ensures you never get flagged or have your content taken down.

What You Should Do

Always link back or cite your sources. External linking to authority and trusted sites helps build your credibility and allows Google’s web crawlers to identify what your content is about.

 

5. Thou Shalt Not Create Content Not Fit for Humans

To create great content, it’s always best to think about your purpose and the message you want to drive through to your audience. Don’t wait until after you’ve created content to optimise it for SEO.

What You Should Do

A far more effective strategy for content marketing is to start with a keyword and user intent research. When you know what keywords your audience is using and what content they’re after, it is easier to create the right kind of content that is relevant and answers their questions.

Put yourself in the shoes of your readers and write for them. Find ways to make your content more readable: employ white spaces, minimise the use of jargons, mix short and long, complex sentences. Remember that the purpose of writing is to drive your core message and convince your readers. So be readable and write for people.

 

6. Thou Shalt Create Interesting Content

The truth is, your readers don’t have time to read content they won’t enjoy. With so much content to consume online, you need to find a way to stand out and be relevant to your audience.

What You Should Do

The best way to do this is to write about what people are searching for using your unique point of view and catering to micro-moments where they may turn to their mobile device to learn and discover more about something, find, or buy something.  

Google searches on mobile have surpassed desktop searches. This means more and more people are turning to their phones to discover or look for something.

Marketers are seeing the power of micromoments in getting their content seen right where their customers are, when they want it, and where they need it. These moments matter because this is when decisions are made and audiences act at the spur of the moment.

To win in your content strategy and in SEO, you need to find a way to understand what your prospects are doing online and present an offer during these micromoments where they are most likely to convert.

 

7. Thou Shalt Use Meta Tags and Schema.org Markups

Meta tags matter because search engines read them to know what your content is about and if it matches the keywords and description of your content.

If you want your page to rank higher, using meta tags nudge search engine crawlers to the direction of your content to validate its relevance to a keyword typed or your website’s niche.

You can also add schema.org markups to your HTML to improve how search engines read and represent your page in SERPs. Schema.org markups enhance the snippets that are shown beneath your page title, which gives a search engine the information it needs to understand your content so they can add it to relevant search results as necessary.

 

8. Thou Shalt Wisely Use Robots.txt

Search engine crawlers or spiders usually crawl through your website content in search for text and links to update their search indexes. You can improve how search engines crawl through your website by adding a robots.txt file, which gives instructions that crawlers need to follow.

Additionally, you can also make use of no follow and no index meta tags to specify what pages you’d like web crawlers to not include in Google’s index and not be listed in search results. These tags help you make sure some of your site’s pages such as the thank you and contact us page are not included in Google’s index so you can track your lead submissions and campaign efforts accurately.

 

9. Thou Shalt Create a Following

The best way to drive traffic and engagement for your website or content is to have an audience to share it with in the first place. People are spending more time on their mobile phones and on social media; this is an opportunity for you to meet them where they are.

What You Should Do

Create an email or subscriber list by which you can share your latest content to. Many marketers would say that you don’t necessarily need to have a million followers. All you really need is a thousand true fans, followers, or subscribers who devour the content you put out and whom you can fully engage with.

With a solid strategy, you can leverage the power of your truest fans and establish your online presence. Decide on a platform to share your content to, create brand awareness, engage with your followers, and ultimately, gain more.

 

10. Thou Shalt Provide an XML Sitemap

An XML sitemap is a document that provides a list of URLs on your website that helps Google and other search engines to understand it better when crawling it.It ensures search engines find your web pages and prevents any misses when indexing. Through a sitemap, you can specify when the site was last updated, how often it changes, and how important a page is in your website

What You Should Do

To create an XML sitemap, you can quickly go to this page. Upload the sitemap to the server and submit the full URL to your sitemap to search engines like Google, Bing, or Yahoo, and they’ll know how your website works the next time they’ll need to crawl through it.

 

Next Step

Are you still struggling with how to best optimise your site that drives results for your business? Let us know, and we’ll get in touch. We can help you explore the right digital marketing strategy to get you the most growth in organic traffic while driving your business to scale.  

 

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