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The 6-month guide to improving your SEO (Part 2)

Just a note: Because of the length of this post, we decided to publish it in two parts. You can find Part 1 of the series here.


Lead the way for your customers.

Lead the way for your customers.

In Part 1 of our SEO Improvement Guide, we reviewed how to run a technical audit, conduct keyword research, and verify that your site is mobile-friendly. Now that you’ve gotten those three things under your belt, it’s time to start curating high quality content and improving your links.

Continue your SEO improvement journey below — you can pace these steps out, or you can do them all at once if you’re looking to super charge your SEO strategy as soon as possible.

July: Curate a content calendar

Regularly producing SEO-optimized content is critical to your organic strategy. In Google’s own words, your content needs to be:

  • Useful and informative

  • More valuable and useful than other sites

  • Credible

  • High-quality

  • Engaging

When searchers type in their query, Google scours the web to find the most useful and relevant results. If you don’t have anything on your site that fits the bill, quite simply, you won’t rank. That means less visibility, missed traffic, and lost visitors. 

When we say content we don’t just mean the regular old blog post, either. Be creative. Test to see what works best with your audience. And don’t be afraid to experiment. Here are a few suggestions to get you going:

  • Articles

  • Guides

  • Videos

  • Webinars

  • Whitepapers

  • E-books

  • Case studies

  • Calculators

  • Infographics

  • Tutorials

  • News

How to create optimized content 

1. Keywords

Using the keywords you collected in April, brainstorm content topics that’ll be picked up in search engines. When putting this list together, try to focus on long-tail keywords, avoid highly competitive terms, and remember to match your topic to your keyword. 

It’s also important to take an audience-centric approach when spitballing your content titles. By this, we mean identifying your audience andthencreating the kind of content you know they wantto see. 

 

2. Put it in a calendar 

content calendar itself won’t aid your rankings, however, we’d recommend creating one to save you time and to help you get in a groove of posting regularly. It doesn’t needn’t be anything fancy, dumping it in a Word or Excel document will do.

 

3. Friendly formatting 

Make sure you lay your content out in a way that’s easy on the eye to ensure its readability and engagement. For example…

The 6-month guide to improving your SEO  |  Hue & Tone Creative

The good: This page is clearly divided with subheadings, the content is broken up with bullet points, and the paragraphs are short and digestible. It also has easy to see links. 

The 6-month guide to improving your SEO  |  Hue & Tone Creative

The bad: These paragraphs, on the other hand, are overwhelming long and the lines are very close together. Combined, it’s quite a strain on the reader’s eye.

4. The technical stuff

A few best practices for the technical side of content creation include:

  • Don’t go overboard on keyword insertion - it’ll look spammy

  • Remember to include meta titles and descriptions - they’ll help to improve the number of people who click through from search results

  • Make sure your URL’s reflective of the content’s title

  • Link to other useful and relevant internal pages to improve your site’s architecture and encourage visitors to keep exploring 


The 6-month guide to improving your SEO  |  Hue & Tone Creative

August: Implement a link-building plan

Link-building is arguably one of the most difficult aspects of SEO. But it can also be one of the most beneficial. It requires creativity, time, persistence and, more often than not, money.

There are several benefits that come hand-in-hand with link-building, like: 

  • Improve your domain and page authority

  • Earn extra referral traffic

  • Give your brand’s visibility and authority a boost

  • Increase your exposure to other industry leaders

  • Raise your trust and credibility profile

  • And, of course, aid your rankings

 

Link-building tactics 

If you’re new to the world of link-building and don’t know how to get your foot in the door, here are a few sample strategies to get you started: 

1. Ask your network: If you’ve got a pool of customers, partners or suppliers who have an online presence, start close to home and ask them to promote you on their site. Something as simple as a partnership badge linking back to your website would do.

2. Build your blog: Your content strategy is a gold mine for links. Once you’ve established yourself as a reliable, industry authority, it’ll become a link-bait hub, and naturally earn you evergreen links by itself.

3. Go viral: Easier said than done, we know, but creating a piece of shareable content (like a meme or funny video, for example) is a sure fire way to bank yourself a bunch of backlinks.

4. Be newsworthy: Whether it’s commenting on something in the headlines or creating your own news - like commissioning a study or sharing a company announcement, jumping on something time sensitive will point the press and bloggers in your direction, and boost your odds of coverage in their publication.


September: Enhance your appearance in SERPS

There are a number of ways you can improve how you display in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), but here are just a handful:

 

Optimize your meta data

Make sure your page titles and meta descriptions are a) relevant, b) include keywords, and c) written in a way that entice searchers to click through. Remember to stick to the recommended character counts too, so that your text doesn’t get chopped off sooner than it should:

  • Page titles should be within 50 to 60 characters, and

  • Meta descriptions should sit between 150 and 170 characters

The 6-month guide to improving your SEO  |  Hue & Tone Creative

Add schema markup

In its simplest form, schema markup is micro data that can be added to your site’s HTML to enhance how search engines read and subsequently display your page in their results.

Correctly applying schema data can give you a competitive edge in SERPS by giving searchers more, useful information about your company, which can result in a greater number of click throughs. Some popular types of schema markup include:

Ratings and Reviews:

Image via    moz.com

Image via moz.com

Organization markup:

Site navigation:

Video and media:

Adding schema markup might sound complicated, but you don’t actually need any coding skills to do it yourself. For step-by-step instructions on how to get started using Google Tag Manager, head over to this guide

Alternatively, if you’re not entirely comfortable dabbling in schema markup yourself, employing the services of an SEO specialist or web developer is another option.


Hue & Tone Creative: Your Greensboro Marketing Solution  

To see how we can fit into your SEO strategy and support your organic efforts, get in touch with our team at (336) 365-8559 or hannah@hueandtonecreative.com today. 

The 6-month guide to improving your SEO (Part 1)

Just a note: Because of the length of this post, we decided to publish it in two parts, and Part 2 will be published next Wednesday, April 3.


Get your content in front of the right eyes.

Get your content in front of the right eyes.

There’s nothing more rewarding than seeing your site featured in one of Google’s hotspots. It’s a coveted place to be. It’s a financially fruitful place to be. But it’s also a very difficult place to get.

Stiff competition and Google’s constantly evolving algorithms make mastering your SEO strategy an ongoing uphill battle. There’s no denying that making the investment in high quality SEO is worth it though. Here’s a few stats to back that up: 

  • Three in four people never scroll past the first page of search results?

  • 93% of visitors begin their online experience with a search engine?

  • SEO leads have a 14.6% close rate, compared to 1.7% for outbound leads (like cold calling, email campaigns and radio ads)?

If you’re an SEO novice, we would suggest starting with a few of our articles geared to beginners (here and here).

But, if you have some experience with SEO and are familiar with basic terms, then this six-month guide is for you. From technical audits and content calendars to schema markup and link-building, this six-month plan will give you one simple objective to focus on each month. In no time at all, you’ll be armed with the information you need to give your organic rankings, traffic, and revenue a healthy boost.


The 6-month guide to improving your SEO  |  Hue & Tone Creative

April: Run a technical audit

Poor technical SEO practices can harm your rankings. It’s as simple as that. It can make your site uncrawlable, unindexable, and inaccessible, all of which affect how search engines view and place your website.

While there’s no such thing as a perfect website, there isa whole host of errors you can look to correct, all of which will help give your SEO metrics a boost. 

Crawl reports: Carrying out a crawl report will help to identify things like: 

  • Broken links 

  • Faulty redirects

  • Meta descriptions and page titles that are either too long or short

  • Meta descriptions and page titles that are missing or duplicate

  • Matching URLs and on-page content

Hint: if you’re new to the world of crawl reports, Screaming Frog is a reputable tool and offers a comprehensive free version.

HTTPS status codes: Studies have shown that HTTPS is now a very strong ranking factor which, suffice to say, makes it a must. So, if you haven’t already made the switch, there’s no time like the present - here’s a checklist to help you through the stages.

Page speed: The time it takes for your pages to load is another important SEO metric. As well as harming your rankings, slow load times can lead to a poor user experience and increase your site’s overall bounce rate, too.

Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool can be used to analyze your URLs. Within this, you’ll get a score (fast, average or slow), along with a list of issues that are dragging your page speed down. It’s worth noting some of these problems might be quite technical (like deferring unused CSS and eliminating render-blocking resources, for example) and may require input from a web developer or SEO specialist. 

XML sitemap: A Sitemap is an XML file that lists the URLs for a site. Your XML sitemap is how Google and other search engines get around your website, discover your pages and subsequently rank them - if you don’t have one, you need one. 

Your XML sitemap must be properly formatted in an XML document, follow XML sitemap protocol, include all your website’s pages, and be submitted to your Google Search Console (GSC). 

To help you visualize the end product, here’s a snippet from one. And don’t be put off if you think it looks scary, in reality, it’s just a list of your page’s URLs along with the date they were last modified. Like this:

Image via    wordpress.org

Image via wordpress.org

Most popular CMS’ have plugins that’ll create your XML sitemap for you. If yours doesn't, you may have to build it manually - check out this guide to find out how, and this one for a step-by-step look at uploading your sitemap to GSC.

For example, you know we’re always recommending Squarespace – and your sitemap is something else they help with. “Your Squarespace site comes with a site map using the .xml format, so you don't need to create one manually. It includes the URLs for all pages on your site and image metadata for SEO-friendly indexing. We automatically update it with any pages you add or remove.” (via Squarespace) 


May: Conduct keyword research

Find the right keywords… they’re out there!

Find the right keywords… they’re out there!

There’s no denying keyword research can be laborious at times, but the more you invest in this stage at the beginning, the greater return you’ll likely get in the long run - so don’t rush it.

Your keyword research lays the foundation for your future content strategy. It’ll help you optimize existing pages, identify opportunities for new pages, and construct a well thought-out content calendar.

 In addition, having a comprehensive list of long and short tail keywords - along with their monthly search volumes, ideally - will enable you to set-up your ranking reports, which play a pivotal part in monitoring your organic efforts. 

What’s a long-tail keyword? A phrase containing at least three words that’s used to target specific demographics opposed to mass audiences. Long-tail keywords are more niche, have a lower search volume, and are less competitive.

What’s a short-tail keyword? A phrase including one or two words that’s used to capture large volumes of search traffic. For example, “social media” is a short-tail keyword, and “improve social media engagement” is a long-tail one.

How to conduct keyword research

There are lots of different ways you can go about gathering keywords relevant to your business, but the most complete approach is amalgamating several different methods.  

Step #1: Brainstorm a handful or two of key topics related to your product or service. Using ourselves as an example, this might be phrases like ‘digital marketing’, ‘web design’, ‘social media management’, ‘email campaigns’ and ‘personal branding’.

Step #2: Get a few heads around a table and start to fill in some of the blanks based on what you think/know your customers are searching for. Using ‘web design’ as an example, this might be:

  • What is web design?

  • How does web design improve revenue?

  • Web design agencies in Greensboro, NC

  • How to find a quality graphic designer

  • Web design cost

  • How to do web design myself


Step #3
: For more inspiration, drop the phrases you’ve accumulated from steps one and two into Google and see what comes up in their related search terms section:

The 6-month guide to improving your SEO  |  Hue & Tone Creative

Step #4: Scour your competitors’ sites and see what terms are trending throughout their pages. If they’re tapping into words you’re not and they’re relevant, you could be missing out and so they might be worth throwing into the mix. 


Step #5:
Make the most of free tools. For starters, you can see which phrases are already leading visitors to your site in Google Analytics, and then there are resources like SEMrush, Moz Keyword Explorer, Google AdWords Keyword Planner Tool, Google Trends, Microsoft Bing Ads Intelligence or Wordtracker’s Free Basic Keyword Demand.


June: Make sure you're mobile friendly 

It’s perhaps no surprise that mobile’s now the predominant platform used for searches. In 2018, the split sat at: mobile (49.06%), desktop (47.2%) and tablet (3.74%).

All’s not lost if your site isn’t mobile friendly- your desktop version can and will still be indexed. That said, if you’re providing a less user friendly experience to visitors, it couldnegatively impact your mobile rankings. Equally, organizations with streamlined mobile sites could potentially see an uplift in their rankings - and that includes desktop searches, too.

If you’re not sure whether your site’s mobile friendly, you can easily find out by using this tool. And if the outcome’s that you’re not already on the mobile-friendly bandwagon, here are 10 steps to help you make the move


Hue & Tone Creative: Your Greensboro Marketing Solution  

To see how we can fit into your SEO strategy and support your organic efforts, get in touch with our team at (336) 365-8559 or hannah@hueandtonecreative.com today.