If search engine optimization (SEO) were to be an animal, it would be a cheetah. And that’s because a word like “rapidly” is the best descriptor of its pace.
SEO has been rapidly evolving within the past decade, and it’s not about to slow down, because Google isn’t slowing down either.
Google has done all but thrown the kitchen sink at content creators. In its quest to organize the world’s information, the search engine giant keeps making tweaks to its search algorithm.
And for every update on Google’s algorithm, some content creators lose out on their top SERP spot. To cope with this change, SEO techniques have to constantly adapt to Google’s frequent changes.
While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, there are practices that can help you build and increase organic traffic to your site.
Let’s get the train in motion with these 8 SEO practices guaranteed to attract higher organic traffic to your site.
1 – Good Understanding of Your Target Audience
The world is filled with 7 billion people having 7 billion problems, and yes 7 billion perspectives.
How can one possibly produce content that will appeal to everyone in the world? I’ll say it’s impossible, but I’m a believer in possibility.
As a content creator, your first port of call is to discover your target audience. And to do this effectively, you will need to define this set of people.
You will have to create a user persona that clearly defines your target audience. Find out which geographic locality they reside in, their age, interests, hopes, fears, aspirations, etc.
You see, when you really get to know who you’re writing for, you will be able to address them the way they like to be addressed. You will be able to speak their language, connect with and engage them.
And when you have all these sorted out, you will know what keywords to use for your content.
There are lots of resources online to help you build a good user persona for your audience. Some of these resources are free, while a number of tools may cost you some money.
When building a user persona, you are free to give them human names if it’s going to help you relate better with them. I’ll say names like “John” for the male, and “Mary” for the females.
As I’m putting this together, I am speaking to content creators, and that affects the terms that I use here.
That’s the same thing with those who have a good understanding of their target audience.
2 – Produce Long-Form Posts
A study of top-ranking websites by Backlinko showed a correlation between long-form content and higher search ranking.
Actually, I would have thought that fewer posts would be more attractive. But since long-form gets you to top 3, page 1, I would say you start creating long-form content.
Another reason for better SEO ranking for long-form content would be related to search intent. Search intents are basically the reasons people search for a particular piece of information online.
For example, someone searching for “iPhone 7 price” obviously wants to buy or compare prices. So what Google does is to deliver search results with mainly only stores selling the product.
When someone types in “how to trade forex” on Google search, such a person is looking for more information. So Google presents content with detailed information about trading forex.
And guess what kind of content appears at the top of the search results? You’ve got it right; the top results are usually long-form articles.
So what constitutes a long-form article or post? For one, the word count shouldn’t be less than 2,000 words. Also, it must present detailed information about the subject of the post.
Of course, it has to provide unique value to the readers. Long-form content can be pretty long, so you’ve got to break the content into headings and subheadings so your readers don’t get bored.
Use a good number of images; say 1 image for every 250 to 300 words. And most importantly, stick to the original topic no matter how tempting it is to digress.
3 – Video SEO
Whenever SEO content is mentioned, videos don’t get much attention, probably because most content creators are focused on optimizing their blog posts, pages, or websites.
But the reality is that videos play a big role in SEO.
Let’s take a look at how publishing your videos on YouTube will actually help you.
And for the records, YouTube is the largest video sharing platform, the second largest search engine, and the second largest social media platform.
That said, videos published on YouTube easily turn up on Google search results. They both have the same parent, so I guess you could call them siblings.
But not only that, you can optimize your videos on YouTube to get more viewership and possibly CTR to your website.
By making your videos SEO-friendly, the YouTube algorithm will better understand your video and rank it properly.
Your video title should be compelling enough, the same way you craft compelling topics for your posts. Your target audience should see the video titles and be attracted to them. Ensure to include your keyword in the title of the videos to help you rank for it.
Your video description should do a good job of explaining what the video is all about. This will help YouTube spiders understand the video content and position it for the right audience.
And while at it, make sure you create custom thumbnails for all your videos.
4 – Mobile First
Isn’t it amazing how mobile users have come to dominate the internet?
A whopping 77% of Americans own a Smartphone with at least 79% of them making an online purchase within 6 months.
That’s to tell you how prevalent mobile internet has become, and why you should put more focus there.
Google has always voiced its support for the mobile internet and has gone ahead to put some action into it.
Google announced that from March 2020 its Smartphone user-agent would be the first to crawl websites. Your mobile website will be crawled first before the desktop version is crawled.
What that tells you is that you’ve got to create a fully-optimized, mobile version of your website, especially for the new sites that are currently under development.
This mobile version doesn’t take the shine off the desktop websites. It just means that you’ve got to take it very seriously so you don’t miss out on the mobile benefits.
5 – Improve Your Website’s Load Speed
The speed of your site is one of the important factors that rate its performance.
Google has indicated its support for faster sites and has gone ahead to provide some tools for webmasters. That’s to show you the kind of negative impact a slow loading site makes on user experience.
Several times, I’ve found myself leaving a site because it took too long to load. Let me provide you with a simple illustration to show you its impact on your SEO, and search ranking.
Let’s say Melissa searches for “how to preserve bacon” on Google, and she clicks the link on the first spot, page 1 of Google’s search results.
Now, this page is long-form content, with say 2,000+ words.
I would approximate this piece of content to be a 10-minute read (takes a minute to read 200 to 250 words), but after a 3-second wait, the page is still yet to load on Melissa’s computer. She gets angry and decides to exit the page, so she can consider the post on spot 2, page 1.
Now according to Google, the visit to the first page only lasted for 3 seconds instead of 10 minutes. And this is recorded against the bounce rate for the website.
If you’re wondering what bounce rate is, it is the percentage of time that a visitor spends on a web page. The goal of any site owner is to reduce the bounce rate to as low as possible.
Imagine when 100 people visit the same page, and exit before it even loads! It tells Google that something isn’t right and that your page doesn’t deserve the number one shot.
Boosting the loading speed of your site has a great impact on your SEO. That’s why you’ve got to work on it to ensure that your site loading speed is top-notch.
If there are any issues that have to do with your server, you would have to contact your web hosting company. And if there is any need to change them, please do that as quickly as possible.
Faster speed will improve the user experience on your site, and help boost your search ranking.
6 – Make Your Content Readable
If you have any experience with creating web content, you would have noticed that it is quite different from writing for newspapers, magazines, or educational documents.
That’s why you’ve got to format your content for web standards. A poorly formatted content can as well affect your search ranking as a slow loading website.
They both reduce user experience.
So, to improve the readability of your content, work on the following:
- Write high-quality content that provides the right answers or solutions for your audience
- Be clear and concise with your words, sentences, and paragraphs. If you feel the need to take up a copywriting course, by no means go for it
- Divide your post into different sections using logical headings and subheadings
- Use lists, both numbered and bullet points, to highlight important points.
- These should help in improving the readability of your content.
7 – Monitor SEO Performance
Every now and then, you will need to know how your site is performing and find out how different elements of your SEO are faring.
You ought to find out the particular content that best appeals to your audience. Carry out a site audit to discover if your website has any issues that require attention.
The Analytics should also arm you with the best performing keywords, changes you can make to improve your SEO.
There are available tools like SEMRush and Ahrefs to help with monitoring your SEO performance, but they have their costs.
However, you can use Google Search Console to check out for any issues about your website.
And when you discover any, get it fixed as quickly as you can. We want to avoid any situation that will affect the improvement of your SEO.
8 – Research Keyword Ideas
I had to save this for the last, even though it is one of the first things to do before writing that post.
Keywords have deep relevance with SEO because your choice of keywords can determine how you rank.
A highly competitive keyword might be too tough for you to handle at the moment. That’s why you will need to research for suitable keywords you can use. There are SEO tools out there to help in getting keyword ideas that you can make use of.
You can use Moz Keyword Explorer to help build keyword lists and filter them based on your niche or industry.
SEMRush helps you identify and analyze the keywords you can use, and also check out the keywords your competitors are using for their SEO.
Ahrefs Keyword Explorer is also a good choice, letting you search over 7 billion keywords from 170 countries.
If you are low on budget, you can actually use Google Suggestions to generate keyword ideas.
If you want your website to constantly rank well, you need to apply best practices with your search engine optimization.
I have outlined 8 of those SEO practices that will enable you to attract organic traffic, and also boost your search engine ranking.
These SEO practices include having a good understanding of your target audience, producing long-form content, boosting your video SEO.
Others are setting up a mobile site first, improving your site’s load speed, and making your content readable.
While at it, make sure to monitor your SEO performance and research for great keyword ideas.
If you start applying these SEO practices, in no time you will witness an improvement in organic traffic.