Guys, its 2021 finally. If you made it out unscathed, kudos to you.
Overall, we had a rough 2020 with Covid taking a toll on most of our plans (which it still is). But it’s a new year and hopefully we can get a fresh start.
In terms of search, there’s a lot that happened last year, and there’s a whole lot more to happen with SEO trends for 2021.
In this blog, we’ll quickly recap SEO in 2020 and see how Covid impacted everything (including search). But, more importantly, we’ll share some of the most decisive factors that we think will shape how search will perform in 2021, and what you need to do to dominate the SERPs.
So, first up, let’s take quick glance at some of the key search developments in 2020.
A (quick) look back at search in 2020
If you ask anyone, what’s the one thing that’s had the most impact to SEO in 2020, they’re most like going to say Covid. That is true when we look at the search trends too. Covid was on everyone’s mind when the lockdowns started to happen all across the US and worldwide. In March alone, Covid-related searches were the most popular on Google.
When we talk about conversion rates, they took a hit big time with an average decrease of 21%. The demand for non-essential items like high-fashion products and travel and tourism had a serious dip as people focused more towards essential items.
But all was not too gloomy. There were some industries that saw record search volumes. To the surprise of many, toilet paper was the most sought-after item in the early stages of the lockdown. Queries like “toilet paper near me”, “hand sanitizers near me” were on an all-time high.
With lots of uncertainty on how to avoid the virus, searches for home remedies, telemedicine and telehealth all grew tremendously.
Then, as people continued to stay in quarantine, topics like “learn a new skill”, “start a side hustle” “e-learning” “home gyms” “online conferencing” were surging across the search all through April and May.
From June onwards, people started accepting the new normal and transitioned towards gradual reopening. Queries like “remote tourism”, “private beach vacations”, “car camping” started popping up big time. Interest in “curbside pick-up” was going all the way up.
Special announcement schemas were also used by businesses to announce details like revised hours, shopping restrictions, closure notices etc.
One trend in particular which SEOs observed was an uptick in interest for long form content. This is something which is considered to be a best practice generally. But Covid made it a bit more evident. With people having more time on their hands, chances of them reading through comprehensive content on a single topic increased and so such content ranked better.
In terms of the Google core updates in 2020, we had 3 of them, with the first one being rolled out in January, second one in May and the last one in early December. Google’s advice throughout these updates was to keep focusing on quality content, make use of structured data, and simply fix any overarching SEO issues that affect user experience.
Factors that will influence SEO trends in 2021
When we talk about 2021, we know, things can seem a bit dicey. Questions like “Will it be any different for search than 2020”, “What’s Google up to?”, “How do I sustain my rankings or even grow them” all start to pop in everyone’s mind at the start of the year.
And the simple answer to all these, as always, is sticking to the process and adapting to what works best for you. That’s how it has worked all those previous years and that’s how it will this year too. With that said, let’s look at some factors that you need to give special attention to. This is based on our assessment of what’s most important for Google to rank websites in 2021.
Page Experience ranking factor
First up, is the all-important Page Experience ranking factor that’s about to come in May of this year. Google officially announced it in November 2020 but there was chatter going around it even before that.
This update will essentially take expected user experience into consideration for ranking in search results. This ranking signal will itself have multiple sub-factors associated with it including, mobile-friendliness, safe browsing, HTTPS, intrusive interstitials and the core web vitals. Among all these, the core web vitals will take up most of this score. And the 3 factors that you need to focus on are:
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP). This measures the time it takes for a main page’s content to load. Ideally, it should be less than 2.5 seconds
First Input Delay (FLD). This measures the time a page takes to be interactive for the user. This should be less than 100 milliseconds.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS). This measures visual stability and it should ideally be less than 0.1.
The bottom line is that websites that will not evolve with this update, will do so at the cost of hurting their rankings. Google has made it pretty clear that it wants to give users the best possible search experience and so it’s high time that you do too.
With plenty of new content rolled out on the web every day, it is important for Google to show the searchers something which is truly valuable for them. And that is why it uses EAT as a metric to gauge the quality of the content. With EAT (short for Expertise, Authority and Trust), websites that try to just spin the content without adding much value of their own struggle a lot.
There are different ways you can incorporate EAT in your content like getting certified professionals in your niche to write for you, gather lots of backlinks, having positive organic reviews and so on. If you’re interested in knowing more about it, check out our blog here.
Something that goes along with EAT is semantics SEO and we think that’ll be a big part too in terms of influencing which content will show up more in the SERPs. Contrary to what used to happen a few years ago when all the focus was to hammer down primary keywords every few sentences in a content, Google now rewards websites that have a natural content flow with lots of secondary keywords to provide better context to the reader.
It’s a pretty simple process: the more you understand your target audience and figure the intent behind their search, the higher you’ll rank in the SERPs. Keyword research tools like SEMrush and Ahrefs will do almost a perfect job for you in finding semantic keywords and topics.
Voice search has been touted for some time as the next big thing that’ll disrupt the way search works. With 20% of all mobile queries being done through voice search and almost 60 million Americans owning a smart speaker, we believe, 2021 will be the year when things begin to pick some pace.
The mechanics to optimize for voice search remains primarily the same as optimizing for standard queries. The only difference is voice search queries are more conversational in nature. So when you type in “weather today” on Google, for voice search you might say “What’s the weather forecast for today”.
And semantic SEO will also play a big part in voice searches simply because having related keywords in your content will help Google to understand the context better and hence show results accordingly.
The importance of local SEO has got a further boost due to the pandemic. As people hunker down, the demand for online shopping has shot up drastically. Businesses which had optimized for local SEO have seen great results. This shows that search engines are and will continue to be used to find localized products and services. And this trend will continue to grow.
What makes it even more crucial for businesses to focus on local SEO is the fact that searchers no longer have to visit specific pages; all the information they seek is displayed on the SERP itself. So featuring in the local pack or the knowledge panel for related keywords is like hitting a goldmine.
The final factor which you need to definitely focus more on in 2021 is video content. Everybody loves a good video. It’s more engaging, fun to watch and relatable. That’s why we feel the websites that will repurpose their existing content and have a solid video content strategy will have a better shot at a higher ranking. The best part is, videos help you to gather authority for you.
So it’ll be a smart move if you chalk an entire video content calendar and identify platforms that you can use for publishing. We’re pretty sure, this will pay off big time in 2021.
We encourage you to have a proper SEO strategy in place keeping all the factors discussed above in mind. Always remember that no matter what niche you’re in and no matter how big or small you are, for your SEO strategy to be successful, you need to do a lot of experimenting and adapting to what works best for you.
The rise of digital marketing has opened up plenty of doors of opportunity for the modern-day marketer. And while it has proven its effectiveness in almost all areas, the potential of digital marketing in the education sector is still relatively unexplored.
Here are some stats to get started:
There are over 5,000 colleges and universities in the U.S.
The number of college students is projected to reach 11 million by 2029.
Most importantly, 9 out of 10 students are unsure about which school to attend – which puts them in the “research phase”.
As students become more tech-savvy and have exposure to a lot of information on the web, they can make more informed decisions about their academic future. That’s why educational institutions must have a strong digital presence.
Without the use of digital marketing, increasing awareness about your institute and achieving business objectives can become an uphill battle in this day and age.
But even in digital marketing, things aren’t as simple as they seem. You have to prioritize your efforts. With plenty of digital channels available, it can seem a daunting task to decide the right course of action.
In this blog, we will go through 3 of the most effective digital marketing areas your educational institute can explore to have better exposure and increase the chances for a high enrolment rate. They include:
Search Engine Optimization
Social Media Marketing
Let’s get started with SEO for education!
Use SEO to Increase Organic Traffic
If you ask any student about their number one source to get information on different colleges and universities, they will probably say online search. This is also reflected in a survey of 726 high school students conducted by the National Research Center for College and University Admissions (NRCCUA).
It showed that online searching was the top method used by prospective applicants to explore different academic programs, and the second most popular method used both during and after the admissions process.
Also, as per a trends report in 2019, college websites were the most influential and reliable source for parents and students when it came to selecting a university.
That tells a lot about the importance of appearing in those search results. And not only that, once a student lands on a college’s website, the content, the user experience, the aesthetics, they all need to be spot on.
That is where search engine optimization, better known as SEO, can help a ton. And the best part is, if you do it right, it can be one of the most cost-effective and long-lasting ways to generate leads and eventually convert those leads into students.
So let’s discuss the 3 pillars of a strong SEO strategy, starting with keyword research.
Keyword research is the first step for any education SEO strategy. And it starts with initially understanding who your target market is. Here is a quick rundown for you on how prospective students may look for suitable educational institutes.
First up, they will use certain keywords like “universities for media sciences”. Based on their location, search history, and the relevance of potential matching results, Google will show results accordingly. That is why it is so crucial that you spend a lot of time in this first step. Get into your prospective students’ shoes and see what words they are most likely to use to get to your website.
Ask yourself questions like “what programs are my institute offering” “what courses are included in these programs” “are these courses available online”, “do I have a well-known faculty that I can highlight in the searches”
Brainstorm for both long-tail keywords which have a bit broader search intent and less competition as well as short-tail keywords which are narrower in their intent and therefore have more competition to get ranked for.
We did some digging on our end and found a few keywords with a good volume. Again, there are various techniques you can use to get a keywords list that works for you. Here are a few examples of templates that we used to get the relevant keywords:
1 . “Institute type” + “location”:
Dental universities in LA
Medical schools in California
2 . “Top universities” + “program”:
Top universities for aeronautical engineering
Top universities for physics programs
3 . Popular Questions:
Jobs you can get with an mba
Colleges that accept dual enrollment credits
Law school requirements
4 . “Best online colleges” + “program”:
Best online colleges for computer science
Best online colleges for business
Think Location Specific Keywords
Then, based on the information being displayed on the search results page (SERPs), students will click on the link which they think will satisfy their query the most. So, it won’t be a bad idea if you also target location-specific keywords.
For example, if you have a college in Michigan, you can add location modifiers and transform the above search query into something like “universities for media sciences in Michigan”. This will help you to not only target local but also international students who want to pursue higher education overseas.
To back your initial list with numbers or even expand it, you can use a free tool from Google called Google Keywords Planner. And if you want to further up your game, a paid tool like Ahrefs will make your keywords research a breeze. The entire idea behind keyword research is to identify relevant keyword clusters and connect them with your value proposition to increase the number of qualified leads.
Have a Powerful Blog For Your Website
One of the best places to test out your keywords list is the blog section of your education website. It is unequivocally the most effective ways to supercharge your rankings. That’s because you’re able to connect with your students better and explore various topics related to the student life in general all the while optimizing for important keywords.
For example this blog from University of Vermont discusses the story of an alumni and how UVM’s digital marketing program helped her succeed in a new job. So popular keywords like “job as an SEO” “digital marketing certificate program” “digital marketing students” were all in play here.
There are plenty of other evergreen topics like “how to find internship opportunities” as well as trending topics like “online education” on which your blog can revolve around.
On-Page SEO Factors
The next piece in building a strong SEO foundation for your college’s website is a group of factors known as on-page SEO.
Essentially, on-page SEO refers to the process of optimizing your college’s website. This includes everything from your page speed, title tags, URLs to your images, and more. Notice how all these factors are on your page, hence the name on-page SEO.
It’s a pretty bad sign when a student clicks on your website only to find that the site is taking too much time to load or worse yet, crashes completely.
By conducting regular audits of your website for on-page factors, you ensure that you don’t face such issues. Otherwise, your fate won’t be different than UMBC when its website famously crashed after their men’s basketball team won an upset victory over the favorites, University of Virginia, in the 2018 March Madness. Imagine the number of prospective leads they could have converted if only their server hadn’t given up.
So here are the most important on-page SEO factors you need to keep an eye on:
The meta title is the HTML header that you see on top of the tab when you open a new page on a website. It gives you an idea of the type of content you’re about to view on the page. For instance, the webpage of an educational institute will display the name of the institute in the title tag.
To put simply, a Meta description is a summary of a page. When you search a topic on the search engine, you often see the result displayed with a title and description. That description is actually called meta-description and has an equally important role to play in the SEO of your website.
So make sure to make it as enticing as possible as it can be the difference between a student clicking on your link or just scroll past it. If you have been rated by an accredited body, do highlight it in the SERPs.
Adding images to your website can help make it look more pleasing and user-friendly. However, they are also the most common cause of slowing down your site speed, thus hurting your chances to rank it. This can be solved by optimizing your images and adding alt text, that helps describe the contents of the image in the text.
So for example, if you have a media section on your website showing your college’s library, make sure that the images there have a set size dimension, are fully optimized, and have alt text like “Library of the XYZ College”. This way, you can also appear in search results for the same query.
You need to strike the right balance when it comes to your URLs. As a best practice, they need to be descriptive yet concise. And if there is a relatively long one, you can use hyphens in between for better readability.
Contrary to on-page SEO, off-page SEO, like the name suggests, comprises of all the tricks and tactics that you can use outside your website to help it gain a higher ranking on the search engine.
The biggest factor that dictates the success of your off-page SEO is link building. For Google, it is one of the most important ranking factors.
What it means is, for your website to be credible and authoritative for certain keywords, it needs to be linked to by other authoritative websites. So virtually, a link acts as a vote of endorsement.
Following are some tips to help you with the link-building of your website:
An anchor text is that blue text that appears as a hyperlink on websites linking to yours. Having a keyword in your anchor text helps a lot. So for example, an anchor text like, click here or see this can be put as one of the top colleges in Kansas with “colleges in Kansas” being your keyword . However, always chop and change your anchor texts to avoid any penalties from Google.
Citations on Portals and Blogs
Since prospective students spend most of their time reading blogs and checking portals to search for suitable colleges or universities, if you’re able to feature on such platforms, you will not only be able to have higher traffic but also gather lots of authority too. Some websites which you can reach out to in this regard are niche.com, collegemagazine.com, timeshighereducation.com, etc.
Content Rich Infographics
One great way of earning high-quality links is by creating content-rich infographics. If you have a research study, you can make it a source of link-building for your website. Ask your existing students and faculty members to share it on different websites and social media platforms. Make sure to embed your website’s link so that all the shares can translate into higher traffic and authority for you.
Landing Page Optimization
Once prospective students visit your website, the experience they have in terms of the content, the design and the speed of the page must all fall in place for them to be converted as a lead. Here are a few tips for you to build an optimized landing page:
Keep the main content of your page above the fold (meaning the content that a user first sees when the site loads).
Keep your Call to Action buttons visible and easy to understand.
Always add your contact information and share the next steps.
Use testimonials of existing students and faculty members on what sets your institute apart.
Keep the page responsive for mobile users.
Paid Campaigns for Conversions
Moving on from SEO, another way to complement your digital marketing efforts is to use paid advertising. Compared to the traditional means of advertising, paid advertising on online platforms presents a compelling case. That is because you’re able to track exactly what’s working and what’s not and scale accordingly.
Moreover, the amount of data and insights you get about your prospective student’s behaviors can be used to inform your SEO campaigns too. So, here are some top tips for you to run your paid campaigns:
1 . Like everything else, the starting point for your paid campaign should be deciding upon your objective. Which stage of the marketing funnel does your audience belong to? Here are a few scenarios for you and the respective objectives you can choose:
If you have a new website or have revamped the old one, run website traffic ads to see what your audience thinks.
If you have an open day, a seminar, or any event which you think will help in making up the mind of your prospective students, you can use conversion campaigns to have a bulk load of sign-ups.
If you’re trying to promote your institute to an audience in a relatively new region where you’re not that popular, use brand awareness ads with compelling copies.
If you’re looking to push a certain degree program, you can run lead ads and get a representative to call and convert those leads.
2 . One thing which really supplements the benefits of paid advertising is re-targeting. With 44% of prospective students converting between 60 and 120 days after first looking on a higher education website, retargeting ads are just the push needed to convert such leads. Even though the process is slow but it is worth the effort. The idea is to reach out to students, who at some point showed interest in getting information about your institute.
It could be that they clicked on your paid or organic link and visited your website or your close competitor’s website. With retargeting you are also able to expand the size of your audience.
The most common approach is to start with an engagement or brand awareness campaign. Among the students who visited your website but did not convert into a lead from those campaigns, you can continue showing them different regarding ads about your institute and highlight your unique value proposition.
Social Media Content Strategy
Let’s now turn our attention to social media marketing for education. There’s no doubt that the trend of social media is booming day by day. And since most of the prospective students are in the age bracket of 18-35, there’s a high probability that they look at social media profiles of the colleges or universities which interest them.
Hence educational institutes can avail of this opportunity by developing a strong social media strategy.
Always remember to include the link of your institute’s website on all the popular platforms where you’re present to have higher traffic and authority for your website. Here are some content strategies on which your social media content can revolve around:
Promote Your Values
First up, your content needs to establish your institute’s values. Let your audience know what you believe in and stand for. Create a short video highlighting the legacy of your institute.
If you have any events coming up, try promoting them by uploading their posters on social media. Use Facebook’s event’s feature to see how many people have signed up. This way, your visitors will get to know more about your institute and the kind of activities it holds.
Conduct Live Sessions
Try to hold some live webinars with your prospective students. Answer the most common questions of prospective students or highlight a student’s journey. This can be done on both Facebook and Instagram.
Hold multiple podcasts about the issues, you feel will help the students connect with your institute. Get some alumni of your institute on-board to discuss how your institute helped shaped their future.
Show around the campus life by uploading a video. Better yet, if you have a lip dub in your university, publish that on your social media profiles.
Set Up a ChatBot
Social media platforms are often lauded for interacting with different brands to get queries answered. However, sometimes the volume can be a little too much to handle. In such cases, you can set up a chatbot to address the general concerns of the students and guide them with basic information about all the programs that your institute has to offer.
With the evolution of digital marketing, the job of marketers has been made rather simplified. However, it is still crucial to have a proper strategy and stick to what works best. A one-hit wonder approach doesn’t work with digital marketing. So while SEO should be a key component of your digital marketing efforts, it shouldn’t be the only tool at your disposal.
The important thing is to get all the stakeholders involved, decide upon the KPIs, devise marketing strategies with digital marketing being the focal point, and adapt as the results come along.
As search engines become ever more sophisticated programs, it’s always a good idea for SEO newbies – and professionals, too – to brush up their understanding of how search engines work. After all, trying to execute high-level campaigns without knowing the basics is like trying to shoot a three-pointer blindfolded. You may give it a try, sure, but you’re handicapping yourself from the get-go.
But that’s where this blog comes into play. I’d suggest you read it twice. Skim through it the first time to get a big-picture idea, and carefully go through the finer details the second time. This way, by the end of this blog, you will know what exactly is crawling, indexing, and ranking – the 3 things search engines do to return the most relevant results to the users’ search queries. It will also help you optimize your websites in a way that complies with the best practices of search engines like Google and increases your chances of ranking higher in the SERPs.
Crawling, Indexing and Ranking
Let’s start with quickly understanding what each of these three terms mean and see how they’re all connected. Basically, to deliver relevant results to its users, search engines need to:
Find the information/pages that are out there on the web. That discovery is called crawling.
Store that information in their database, or index. That’s called indexing.
Depending on what you search for, show you the results in a certain order. That order is called ranking.
That’s not that hard to understand, right? Well on the face it, the process does seem simple but each of these 3 factors has its own nuances and complexities. So let’s discuss them in more depth, starting with crawling.
Google has little programs called GoogleBots. We also call them crawlers or spiders. GoogleBots initially fetch only a few web pages, but then follow the links on those webpages to find new pages. That’s why backlinks are so important for a website – it’s how crawlers discover new pages. By moving from one page to another, discovering new links, and crawling those, GoogleBots can discover billions of webpages on the internet to add them to Google’s database.
As a webmaster or a website owner, you should add a Robots.txt file in the root directory of your website. A Robots.txt file gives directives to crawlers about which parts of your site they should and shouldn’t crawl or index. You probably don’t want Google to crawl and index your staging or test pages, for example, so it’s a good idea to have them no-followed.
To see how many pages have been crawled by Google, you can check the Crawl Stats report in your Google Search Console; it gives you stats about Googlebot’s activity on your site for the last 90 days. You can also make use of Google Search Console’s Index Coverage report to know if crawlers are encountering any errors while crawling your website.
You should also keep Google’s Crawl Budget in mind. The Crawl Budget refers to the average number of URLs Googlebot will crawl on your site before leaving, so if you have tens of thousands of URLs, then you should optimize your robots.txt to ensure Google isn’t crawling unimportant or junk pages. Having a sitemap also helps GoogleBots make sense of your site architecture and understand which pages you think are more important.
Now let’s move onto indexing. While crawling is the discovery of pages, indexing handles the storing of the discovered pages in Google’s database or index. Think of it as a huge digital library with all the pages that GoogleBots have discovered.
If you want to see how many of your webpages have currently been indexed, just use this search operator:
For example, if you type “site:https://www.linkbuildinghq.com/” in the search bar, you’ll see the following results.
However, if the results return with nothing to show for, there may be a few reasons for that. These can include:
A code in your website blocking the search engine to crawl,
Problematic site navigation,
A penalty by Google for non-compliance
Or your site could be relatively new and still undiscovered or has no external links.
Now, if you want, you can tell Google to crawl, but not index, certain pages, using specific instructions in your Robot.txt file.
For example, if you don’t want to index certain pages, use a NoIndex tag.
For e-commerce sites, a NoArchive tag is handy to remove ages with outdated pricing.
You can also make use of X-Robots-Tag to exclude specific folders or file types from being indexed.
Done with getting your website crawled and indexed? Let’s move onto ranking!
Google uses hundreds of mini-algorithms, or ranking factors, to assess where and when to show your pages in its search results.
These mini-algorithms add up to form what we call Google’s ranking algorithm. Now, there have been several updates in Google’s algorithms over the years. Some minor, some major, but all aimed at making the user experience as smooth and convenient as possible.
How does Google figure out how to rank results? Well, the first thing it does is it tries to understand the search intent. Now, broadly speaking, there are 3 search types:
Navigational queries, where the searcher is looking for a particular website or webpage. Eg: Apple or Apple.com
Informational queries, where the searcher wants the answer to a question or learn how to do something. Eg: iPhone SE review
Transactional queries, where the searcher is considering making a purchase. Eg: Buy iPhone SE
Depending on your query, your location, search history, and other metrics, Google displays what it thinks are the most relevant results for you. That’s where the ranking factors come into play. While there are hundreds of ranking factors, you need to know at least the following to make sure you’re putting your best foot forward when it comes to ranking:
The first one’s the “Relevance of your content”. This ties into the relevance of your keywords. Is your content relevant to the searcher’s query? What keywords will they be using if you want them to click on your page? If you want to know more about how to find and use the right keywords for your website, here’s a useful blog to get you started.
Webpage content length and quality also make a big difference. Quality content helps you stand out from your competition. Make sure you’re providing original or well-researched content that helps satisfy the user’s search query.
Backlinks are one of the most important ranking factors in Google’s algorithm. They act like “votes” from one site to another. You should try to earn links from high authority websites as that signals to Google that your content is trusted by websites that are, in turn, trusted by Google and seen as authoritative.
If you’re generating a buzz for your brand, website, or content on social media, that’s a good sign. If your article’s being shared on Facebook or Linkedin, or if you’re being mentioned on Twitter and Instagram, or other platforms, you’re earning citations and links for your brand, which, again, sends positive signals to Google.
Google is moving towards mobile-first indexing, which means your website’s mobile version is now even more important than the desktop version. We wrote a blog on mobile-first indexing, which can help improve your understanding of it.
Technical on-page SEO is as important as anything else. It includes having the right meta tags and headings, making sure your page can be crawled and indexed if you want it to rank, making it easier for search crawlers to understand your page, having a fast load time, using alt text for images, internal linking, having a secure site, deploying schema markup, and more.
Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list of all of Google’s ranking factors. But it’s a good jumping-off point; it gives you an idea of what Google is looking for when it’s ranking different websites.
So with that, we wrap up this blog. Knowing exactly how search engines operate and what practices they consider essential in rewarding the complying websites can make it easier for you to just follow suit. Make sure to always keep tabs on all the updates happening in the SEO world and make improvements accordingly.
Keeping up with the ever-evolving world of SEO can sometimes feel overwhelming. Especially, when it comes to on-page SEO, there are so many things to keep track of. You wouldn’t be the first person if you felt like just kicking back in your chair and let things take their course of action on their own.
Lucky for you, with this blog we’re bringing you a checklist of the most important on-page SEO tactics that you need to care about. But before we dive in, let’s briefly go through what is on-page SEO.
What is On-page SEO?
On-page SEO, like the name suggests, is everything you do on your page or website to rank it higher on Google. This can be anything from optimizing your meta tags to improving your page speed and more. On-page SEO can be considered as different from your off-page SEO, which are actions taken outside your website.
Any experienced SEOs will tell you just how much you need to prioritize your on-page SEO over everything else. This is because, without a solid foundation (which is your on-page SEO), anything that you would do will not yield the desired results.
The Top On-page SEO Tactics That Work
The tactics discussed here have worked great for us here at Link Building HQ. It all comes down to how well you execute them. Here are the top on-page SEO tactics that you need to know in 2020 and beyond.
Your URLs need to be concise enough to appear fully on the search results and should always contain a keyword. It’s a good idea to keep your keyword close to the root domain and to be economical with the character count.
Meta Titles and Description
Writing Meta titles and descriptions in a rush isn’t the smartest thing to do. This is because they can affect your Click-through Rate (CTR). After reading your meta descriptions and your titles, the searchers make up their minds whether to click on the link or not. If they click, that’s a signal to Google that your page is relevant, which can improve your rankings.
But the opposite is true, too. So always try to put some thought in your meta titles and description. Try to keep the keyword in the start and use relevant modifiers like “best” or “newly updated” to provide some sort of an incentive for the searcher to click.
With a responsive web design, your site adapts to whichever screen size it’s being displayed on. This not only helps you to get in the good books of the users, but it also helps you a ton with your rankings. In fact, since 2018, Google has introduced mobile-first indexing which means that the crawling and indexing of your website would be based on your mobile version.
Google has categorically stated that it uses page speed as a ranking factor. And usually, the main culprits for a high load time are your images. So spend some time optimizing them. If you’re on WordPress, that can be made super simple through plugins. While you’re at it, add Alt text on images using a keyword for better SEO. Also, see what improvements you can make using a free tool from Google called Page Speed Insights.
Just like how other sites linking to yours helps a lot in your ranking, you linking to other high authority websites sends signals to Google regarding what your content is about. And it is a good practice to always link up rather than link to those sites which are relatively unknown. Use descriptive keywords in anchor text (the text through which you’re linking) to reflect that the topic of your content is similar to that of the targeting page.
If you’re smart with your internal linking strategy, you can give a helping hand to some of your pages that are struggling in the rankings.
Suppose you have written a blog and its ranking on page 1 of Google for the related keywords. This means this page has gathered a lot of authority for you. But it’s time to leverage it further by adding links to your other related pages which are relatively unknown and need a bit of a boost.
An effective internal linking strategy will allow the link juice to flow from authoritative pages to other relevant pages that are struggling to rank. Tools like Ahrefs can also tell you which pages on your website have high authority so you can get going with that as well.
Apart from that, make sure that the URL structure of your website is flat rather than hierarchical. Flat structures allow all of your pages to get a fair chance to get some of that link juice flowing towards them. Whereas, with a hierarchical structure, some of your pages may be pushed way too further in the site structure for the link juice or even the crawler to reach.
Content that scores high on readability helps to retain readers for a longer period and have them coming back for more. The following are the characteristics of content with good readability:
Legible text size and color
Headers and paragraph breaks
Optimized for skim readers – add bullet points wherever possible
Use of Images, videos, GIFs, Snapshots
Check out our blog on the top 5 copywriting tips if you’re looking to know more about how to write optimized and engaging content.
Optimize for Featured Snippet
One on-page factor which is somewhat linked with readability is how well your content is optimized for featured snippets. Featured snippets can make a huge difference in improving the CTR of your content.
They appear at the top of the search results, making it easier for the searchers to find their answers.
Another way to be uniquely positioned in the SERPs is by using schema markups. They let you tell search engines how you want to be represented in the SERPs. For example, you can display reviews from happy customers to get a higher CTR from other potential customers. Another example is using FAQ schema. With that, you’re providing an answer to a specific customer question. There’s a whole library of schemas that you can look at schema.org.
Google in 2014 came out with a statement saying how it uses HTTPS as a ranking signal. So it’s high time that you get an SSL certificate for your website and upgrade to HTTPS.
A Final Word
On-page SEO is a core part of any digital marketer’s to-do list. If you’re not putting in the time and effort to improve your website’s on-page elements, then you’re doing yourself a great disservice. Even though this checklist isn’t exhaustive, the on-page SEO factors listed here have proved to bring in great results. Try them out and you’re very likely to see a significant bump in your organic rankings.
Robots.txt is a simple, but powerful, file that webmasters use in presenting a website to Google. However, even a small error in your Robots.txt file can wreak havoc with how your website is being crawled and indexed. In this article, we’ll discuss what is a Robots.txt file, why it’s so important, and how you can create and optimize a Robots.txt file for your website.
What is a Robots.txt File?
Robots.txt file, also called robots exclusion protocol (REP) is a text file that webmasters use to tell robots which pages on their site can be crawled and which can’t be.
The first thing a crawler does when it visits a site is to check its Robots.txt for instructions on how to crawl it.
Robots.txt files have different types. The most common command on a Robots.txt file looks like this:
The asterisk after user-agent signifies that this instruction is for all web robots that will visit the site. The forward slash after disallow represents that none of the pages on the website can be visited.
Why is a Robots.txt File Important?
Now you may look at the directives above and wonder, “Why aren’t we allowing a crawler to visit our website? Doesn’t everybody want their website to be crawled and indexed?”
Well, to use the favorite words of SEOs: it depends.
In most cases, you don’t want Googlebots to crawl and index certain pages of your website. That’s why a Robots.txt file, and its Disallow and Noindex directives are so important.
One reason could be that your website may have lots of pages. And a crawler’s job is to crawl every single one of them. Having lots of pages makes it longer for the crawler to go through your entire website. This trickles down negatively on your ranking because there is a crawl budget that a crawler needs to adhere to. And there are two key considerations to it: crawl limit and crawl demand.
According to Google, crawl limit is “the number of simultaneous parallel connections GoogleBot may use to crawl the site, as well as the time it has to wait between the fetches”. The crawl limit can change based on crawl health which is how quickly a site responds to the crawler and the limit set in the search console.
Crawl demand on the other hand refers to the demand from indexing. This means popular URLs will be crawled more often to maintain freshness in the index.
To this end, we can define crawl budget as the number of URLs a crawler can and wants to crawl. With an optimized Robots.txt file, you tell the crawler which pages are most important for your website and can therefore be included in the crawl budget. That’s why Robots.txt files are super important.
Where to Find the Robots.txt File?
Here’s how you can check if you have a Robots.txt file for your website (and you can do this exercise to check for any website for that matter). Open up your browser and in the address bar type in your website’s domain and add “/robots.txt” at the end. So for example “domain.com” will look like “domain.com/robots.txt”.
If you see something like this, that means you have a Robots.txt file:
If it returns with nothing to show for that means your file is empty and if the results show a 404 error, you’d want to have that look into and get it fixed right away.
With this exercise, you’d know if your website has a Robots.txt file or not. You will have to create one from scratch if it doesn’t exist. For that, make sure you’re using a plain text editor like a Notepad for Windows or a TextEdit for Mac.
To look for your Robots.txt file, you need to go to your website’s root directory. The root directory can be found in your hosting website’s account and then going to the file management or FTP section. You will find something like this:
Look for the Robots.txt file and open it up to start editing. If there is any text, delete it and keep the file.
For WordPress users, the Robots.txt file may appear at yourwebsite.com/robots.txt but it may not show in the files. This can be attributed to the fact that WordPress makes virtual Robots.txt file if there are none in your root directory. If this happens with you, you’d need to create one from scratch. You will learn this in our next section.
How to Create a Robots.txt File?
Before you get going with creating the Robots.txt file, try to get yourself familiarized with the syntax used in it. Here is a link from Google with all the basic terminologies.
Then open up your plain text editor and the first thing you’d want to do is set up your user-agent term. Since we want it to apply to all web robots, we’ll use an asterisk like this:
Then type disallow but don’t write anything after that. We want all of our pages on the website to be visited by the crawler. Here’s how it would look:
This is how a basic Robots.txt file looks like. But it’s time to give it a spin in terms of optimizing it.
As mentioned earlier, the more smartly your crawl budget is used, the better it is for your SEO. So for example, there is no use of including a page in the crawl budget which is used to login to the backend of a website. Hence you can go ahead and remove it from the crawl budget like this:
A similar directive can be used to tell the crawler not to crawl specific pages. For example, if you don’t want the page “www.domain.com/abc/” to be included in the crawl budget, you can take the part “/abc”, add a slash at the end and write it after Disallow like this:
You can also use this directive when you have a print-friendly version of a page or when you are doing AB testing and include any one version in the Disallow directive. And since your Thank You pages should only be shown to qualified leads, you can use this directive for them as well.
Whereas the Disallow directive blocks the crawler from visiting the page, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the page won’t be indexed. So to prevent indexing, you can use the Noindex directive in unison with the Disallow directive.
Testing Everything Out!
Once you’ve created your Robots.txt file or customized it, you then need to make sure that everything is working smoothly, especially your Robots.txt file. Using the Google Search Console, you can validate your crawl directives. You can also sign in to your webmasters’ account and make use of Google’s free Robots.txt tester tool.
Once in the dashboard, select your website, and in the sidebar on the left, click “crawl”. Then click on the Robots.txt tester in the drop-down and replace any old code with your new one. Hit the “Test” button and if it turns to “Allowed”, congratulations, your Robots.txt is all good to go.
While optimizing your Robots.txt is often overlooked in the SEO process, a little effort on that front can’t do any harm. So go ahead and implement your learnings from this blog on your website. We hope you will be pleasantly surprised with the results.
Search engine optimization is simultaneously one of the most powerful, yet underused, tools in a law firm’s digital marketing kit. As advancements in search continue, it has completely disrupted the way people look for legal services. In this blog, we’ll walk you through exactly what is law firm SEO, why it’s important for your legal practice, and how you can rank your website on Google Page 1 for your preferred keywords. Whether you have your own legal practice or are an agency catering to law firm clients, this guide will teach you how legal SEO can help boost your business.
What is Law firm SEO?
Law firm SEO refers to a set of techniques and best practices that can help your law website rank high and obtain a first page position on Google SERPs for people who are looking to hire legal services. There’s a whole host of strategies and tactics which websites employ, so let’s talk about them!
SEO: The Basics
SEO stands for search engine optimization and it’s the process of optimizing your website in a way that search engines like Google show your content right there on the top for a particular search query.
So, there are 3 characters at play here: the searchers, using some words to describe what they are looking for, the search engine getting that query and based on its algorithms showing links which it thinks best answers the query and finally, you, a business who wants the search engine to show your content to the searcher.
As a law firm, you should know that the way people look for legal services has changed drastically as compared to previous years. This is pretty clear when we see that 97% of people use a search engine when looking to hire for local services like law. And 74% of people tend to visit a law firms’ website before making the final call.
All this presents a huge opportunity for you. With a solid SEO strategy in place, you can get more visibility and conversions – all in a cost-effective manner.
How is SEO Done?
Now that we’ve covered what SEO is and how it can essentially help you get more clients, let’s get down to the brass tacks. In this section, we’ll be taking you through all the steps needed to implement an effective SEO strategy and reap the rewards from it.
We’ll start off with the basis of a good SEO strategy i.e keyword research followed up with content creation. Next, we’ll share some tips regarding content writing and how to optimize it for SEO. Then we’ll dive deep into some technical factors you need to consider related to SEO. Further on, we’ll discuss what local SEO is and why is it super important for your law firm. Then we’ll get to one of the most important factors of SEO i.e link building. And finally, we’ll talk about how you can measure your SEO performance, see what’s working and what’s not. There’s plenty to cover so buckle up and let’s get right to it.
Keyword Research and Content Creation
As we mentioned earlier, the foundation of your SEO strategy starts with a thorough keyword research. Without knowing what words searchers use to look for your services, you will be shooting in the dark. After all, 75% of searchers never get to the second search page on Google. So if you’re ranking on those pages for an important keyword, you’re missing out.
Here, asking yourself 4 simple questions will help you a lot when doing keyword research.
1. What type of keywords do people use?
Long tail keywords are generally more focused in their intent and have a relatively lower volume because of that. For example “Best attorneys for car accidents in Wisconsin” is an example of a long tail keyword.
Short tail keywords are generally broader in nature and therefore have more competition. For example, with the keyword“legal services” you’re not sure if the search intent is toward hiring legal services, or studying about it or something else. It’s always a good idea to have a mix of both long tail and short tail keywords to target.
2. What is the search volume of the keywords?
You don’t want to target words that people rarely use to get to your service. See how many times a particular keyword has been searched for using tools like Keywords Planner. More on useful tools to use for keyword research later.
3. What is the intent?
As mentioned above, knowing the intent of the searchers will help you to know whether they are looking to hire or just need information.
4. How competitive is the keyword?
This will help you in understanding how hard it will be for you to rank for a particular keyword. If you’re just starting out, you’d ideally want to target keywords with medium to low competition and work your way up from there.
Tools for Keyword Research
If you’re looking for some tools that can do the heavy lifting for you during the keyword research, tools like Ahrefs, SEMrush and Google’s Keyword Planner can go a long way to help you find the relevant keywords for you to rank for.
Once you’re done with the keyword research, it’s then time to use them around your website. Keywords can be specifically used in 2 key areas of your law website:
1. Blogs or knowledge center: This is where you can focus on gaining trust and awareness of the audience by writing on various topics related to law and get lots of backlinks targeted towards your website. If you’re not sure what backlinks are, don’t worry, we have a whole section on it later. So stick around.
2. Services section: Each of the services that you provide needs to have a separate tab and separate content. For example, if your expertise includes Employment Law, Immigration Law, Divorce Law, and so on, each of these needs to have an exclusive page describing what you’re offering highlighted with calls to action. These pages are virtually where all the conversions will happen so be sure to be as detailed and convincing as possible.
Content Writing Tips
Wondering how do you come up with quality content that ranks higher on Google? In this section, we’ll discuss exactly that.
The first pro-tip is focusing on EAT. Regardless of the type of content you’re putting up, if you’re looking to score a top position in the search rankings, it needs to have 3 qualities. And they are conveniently termed as EAT.
EAT stands for Expertise Authority and Trust. This is a framework used by Google quality reviewers to gauge how helpful a particular piece of content is to answer a customer’s query. Some ways to incorporate EAT in your content is to:
get credible people to write for you and add their author information,
contribute to industry publications,
get an SSL certificate for your website,
add multiple perspectives on the same topics and
link to credible sources.
The next content writing tip which will help you to attract and retain more potential customers is readability. If you have to read two articles on the same topic but one of them does not have headings, is full of clutter, has long paragraphs, and does not contain any images while the other one has all that, which one would you read? It’s pretty clear which one you would choose. Although it is indirectly related to rankings, readability does have a big impact on your SEO.
Include LSI Keywords:
The last tip we’d like to share is adding lots of LSI keywords to your content. LSI stands for Latent Semantic Indexing and these are super critical to let Google know that you’re not just stuffing keywords into your content. These keywords are conceptually related to your targeted keywords and it allows you to have a natural flow in your content.
That’s a wrap for this section. If you’re looking to know more about creating content, do check out our latest blog on 5 copywriting tips.
Setting Up Your Website for Technical SEO Factors
A big part of the attorney SEO process revolves around how different functions of your website are optimized. This is an important consideration before you get going with creating content based on your keyword research. In this section, we’ll discuss how you can make your website optimized for search engines starting with your URL … all the way to the images you use on the website.
Among the many best practices which Google shares with webmasters, optimizing the URLs is one of the key ones. URLs are among the first things a search engine and probably your customers see, so it’s important to give due attention. Some useful tips to optimize your URL include:
Include keywords close to the root domain. For instance, abclaw.com/immigration-lawyer is a good example of having the keyword “immigration lawyer” close to the root domain, “abclaw.com”
Your URL structure shouldn’t send confusing signals to Google about how you categorize your services. The reason why having a defined URL structure is important is that it allows you to pass equity, or in simple words, votes of trust your domain link has to other internal links. Use a flat structure as that allows all your URL to be on the same level of the site architecture. Multiple sub-folders may push certain pages down hence getting less equity.
Use hyphens to connect different words and ditch underscores.
Use as few characters in your URL as possible.
Optimizing for Meta tags:
It is also super important to optimize your title tags and Meta description. What this means is for all the content on your website, you need to have titles tags having the keyword you’re targeting and a Meta description describing what the link is about. Some key considerations to have when writing titles are:
Use your target keywords within the meta tags
Use a maximum of 60 characters; no one likes to read long headings
Have your keyword as early in the title as possible
If you want to attract local customers, include the name of the state or city
Don’t mix different practices or locations; have separate pages for each
Just like the title, meta descriptions provide you with the opportunity to pitch to prospective customers how useful your link could be in answering a particular search query. Include your primary keyword, the name of the region you’re targeting and the service you’re offering. Don’t include all the details in the description to allow the searcher to click through the link.
Check Your Website’s Speed:
Your website speed has a strong correlation with the bounce rate. It all boils down to 3 seconds. That’s how much your website has to retain a customer who has viewed your link on mobile.
So start off by knowing where you currently stand. Use the diagnostic scan of PageSpeed Insights. If your load time is quite high, chances are it’s probably because of high resolution images. Tools like JPEG optimizer can prove to be quite handy here.
Optimizing Your Internal Links:
When we talk about optimizing your website, a major part of that includes optimizing your internal links. Internal links are used when you add a link of another page of your website to a particular page thus creating a bridge between the two. This helps to distribute link equity to the more important pages of your website and consequently get them ranked higher. Moreover, an effective internal linking strategy helps the searcher in navigating the website, which creates a better user experience.
Securing a top spot in the SERPs has become all the more competitive in recent years. It’s important to stand out from the competition and make it easier for the searcher to click on your link. That is where schema markups can play an important role. Put simply, schemas are a way for you to categorize certain parts of your content so that it can be uniquely shown in the search results. Say, for example, you have 5 star reviews from happy clients. Using rating schema, you can show that rating in the SERPs and ultimately have higher click through rates.
Adding alt text to your images is another great way to tell Google what the image is about and rank for the particular keyword accordingly. This way, you can optimize for keywords with less ranking difficulty while not adding them in your body text.
Local SEO for Law Firms
Among all the lawyer SEO tactics, optimizing for local searches has got to be right on the top of your priority list simply because it opens so many doors of opportunities for you. Say someone needs an insurance lawyer in the area where you operate. Wouldn’t you want your website to show up for that particular query? In this section, we’ll discuss how you can make sure your website appears every time someone is looking for your services in your vicinity.
Google My Business:
Just like the overall SEO process, Google uses different factors to provide ranking to websites for local searches as well. These ranking factors include:
1. Relevance: Once a searcher enters a local query Google looks for the most relevant answer in the Google My Business listing created. Therefore, it is super important for you to optimize your GMB profile accordingly. You can do that by:
Choosing the most accurate category for your services. Be as narrow as possible.
Being as detailed with your description as possible
Adding plenty of images. Like loads of them since they really help you to pop up for local searches.
Including all of your practice specialties being offered in a particular region
Sharing the same information on your GMB profile which you have everywhere else
And finally, adding a link to your website
2. Distance: Another factor that Google considers while showing local search results is how close your offering is to the searcher’s vicinity. In fact, this is the number 1 ranking factor since, even if your firm provides the services the searcher is looking for, if it’s in another state or city, it’s of no use.
3. Prominence: The third factor is prominence. This means how credible your website is to be ranked on the local search page. This is determined primarily by:
The number of other websites which are linking to yours thus creating authority for you
Your articles or publications on other websites
Whether or not you appear in local directories. This includes your Name, Address and Phone Number
The number of reviews and the ratings you have from previous clients
Some important sites where you need to claim your business and focus on getting reviews include Avvo, Lawyers.com, Findlaw, Yelp, BBB.org and of course, Yellow Pages. The idea is to be visible everywhere a potential customer could go to check for the services you offer. Here’s a quick intro to each:
Avvo is one of the most prominent legal directories on the web. It allows you to rank for the branded searches and you can even receive endorsements from peers. Customers can browse the attorneys by practice area, city, and state. If you claim your profile on the site, you will receive a rating based on your profile and information from state bar associations.
Lawyers.com is another important directory for lawyers. Their website mentions a network of 1 million lawyers in 1000+ practice areas with 25 million monthly visitors. It also shows your rating from peers, clients, your Avvo rating, and any awards that you may have.
Websites like Super lawyers, Lawinfo and abogado.com all come under FindLaw, which boasts 11 million monthly visitors. Law firms’ profiles include information like areas of law, office location, office hours, and payment options. Attorney profiles include the biography, education and training, and client recommendations of an attorney.
You should definitely consider putting in some efforts to gain reviews on Yelp. It integrates your reviews from different websites to provide a holistic view of your offerings. A word of caution though: you can get banned or struggle to get a good ranking if you’re found soliciting reviews so make sure to steer clear of that.
In terms of its content, BBB can be considered as an authority from Google. The reviews here are relatively anonymous with only the first name and initial of the last name shown. People come here to look for different categories of businesses and charities so the scope for client search is generally broader.
The good ’ol Yellow Pages does rank well in the SERPs as well. One 5-star review here will get your ratings displayed in its search results. It’s got a huge collection of indexed pages and still gets significant traffic in 2020.
As mentioned earlier, one of the most important ranking factors for your website is link building. We can’t put enough emphasis on the fact that link building will help you with your website with years to come.
So what is link building anyways you might ask. In simple words, for Google to rank websites, it sees how credible and authoritative a particular website is based on the search query. This is gauged by how many other sites with quality content have links to your website in their content.
Some great ways to generate backlinks for your law website includes:
1. Guest Posting
With guest posting, you’re reaching out to reputable publishers in your niche and providing them with great content. This increases your visibility and introduces you to an audience that may otherwise have not engaged with you before. Guest posting is a great way to earn backlinks, but you should check out the publisher’s authority and reputation to see whether they are a good fit for you.
2. Directory Specific Links
Getting links from law-specific directories with high authority is also another great source for links. Do check how active a certain directory is. Some popular directories include Avvo, FindLaw, Super Lawyers etc.
Reach out to popular journals or publications to find interview opportunities. Transcribe and publish the interview in your blog.
Infographics are also really useful to build links. Gather some data on any key topic, get a design made and publish it on your website.
5. Edu links
Many law firms roll out scholarships for law students in various colleges and universities. A partnership with an educational institution can help you earn a powerful .edu backlink.
Measure Performance and Adapt Accordingly
Once your SEO strategy is in place, you need to get into analysis mode to see what’s working and what’s not. Very rarely would you find any strategy which works smoothly all the time. You will always need to adapt as per any roadblocks that come your way.
So to measure how your website is performing on different levels, keep an eye on the following Key Performance Indicators:
1. Website traffic
To assess this and other KPIs, it is very important that you use Google Analytics. Once you’re in the dashboard, select a date range and see how much your organic traffic has increased since you started implementing SEO strategies. See page-wise traffic as well to know which page of your site your customers are most interested in.
2. Bounce rate
While you’re using Google Analytics, do check the bounce rate of your website. If it is anything more than 50% percent, it is a worrying sign and needs serious attention.
3. Page rankings
Get your hands on Google Search Console to see where your pages rank. This will give you a fair idea of how long you have come to show up in the SERPs and how much more effort is required for different keywords
It all comes down to leads, doesn’t it? See how many more leads did you get and whether they were through calls, web forms, live chat or any other contact option you may have on your website
5. Website audit
To assess how well your website is performing on different technical parameters, get your website audited. You can either hire a professional to do that for you or you can simply use Google Search Console’s crawl report to know if there is something seriously wrong with the back-end of your website.
So guys, there you have it. We’re so happy that you stuck around till the end. Our sincere hope is that this guide helped you to understand how SEO can help you with your law firm and get that phone ringing again. Remember, what makes any strategy successful is how committed you are to it.
I have a confession to make about the SEO industry. Most of the content you find online is boring. Capital-B, Boring. And if, somehow, it’s not boring, then it’s poorly optimized for SEO. To be honest, out of the dozens of articles I read every week, there are only a handful that are not only a joy to read, but also super-optimized for SEO.
And those are the kind of articles I want to talk about today. The ones that check all the boxes.
So, what do they get right?
Well, they often use these 5 copywriting techniques that help their blogs rank well, get more clicks, and engage readers for longer. And these techniques are not super-hard. Anyone with basic SEO and copywriting skills can use them to improve their blogs. Let’s check ‘em out.
1. They use the right keywords
Your starting off point for writing highly optimized content should be targeting a set of relevant keywords. Using just one keyword over and over again is considered keyword stuffing, which can negatively affect your rankings.
Here keyword tools and web analytics such as Google Keyword Planner, Ahrefs, or SEMRush can prove to be super useful. Start from primary keyword research and then dig deeper to choose the relevant terms having traffic potential.
High-level keywords, smaller subgroups, and then low-level groups give you a big picture of how to optimize your copy for search engines. Keyword grouping tools would help accelerate this activity.
Once keywords are finalized, strategically place them into key areas of your copy such as:
Include the most relevant keywords in the aforementioned areas and sprinkle the related terms throughout the body. Search engines view such pages as more detailed and closer to the user intent, and rank them higher.
2. They write well. And write for humans.
Getting to a top position in SERPs is the ultimate goal for all websites, but it is important to understand that you’re writing for humans. So it’s always a good idea to get into your consumers’ shoes and focus on readability.
Some useful tips for improving the overall readability for your content are as follows:
Using short sentences
Writing for skim readers
Break long paragraphs into shorter ones
Highlight any content that deserves more attention
Tools like Grammarly can help spot common grammatical errors as you’re writing, while Yoast SEO gives suggestions on better readability. These tools go a long way in improving your content.
Google ranking algorithms search for most logical and accurate answers to determine which pages to rank higher. So, instead of focusing on keyword density, strive to channel your efforts towards user-intent.
3. They use LSI keywords
Latent semantic indexing (LSI) keywords improve relevance signals and boost organic traffic. Let’s learn how to sprinkle semantically related terms in your copy.
Google ranking algorithm focuses on answering user-intent so you could add synonyms in your copy to sound natural instead of repeating the same keyword. For example, “running gears,” “gears for running,” or “running equipment” could be used interchangeably. Of course, they need to sound natural, and not forced, in the context of your article.
Relevance is one of the most critical factors for SEO ranking. You could link to a relevant authority website to increase the relevance of your own article for targeted keywords.
Check out how your competitors are talking about a particular topic. Their blogs may use different variations of your search query, which can guide your own research and first draft.
4. They optimize for featured snippets
Google is no more just a search engine. Instead, it is transforming into an answer engine, providing answers to queries right then and there. Now, users get accurate answers about most of their questions in featured snippets. And that is why a lot of the websites compete to get a spot over there.
Let’s see how to win the Google answer box:
Understand users’ pain points. Brainstorm what they are most likely to search for. Focus on “what,” “how,” and “listicle” queries. Analyze and answer a user’s immediate need related to your copy.
Google’s “People also ask” and “related searches” sections are an effective way to come up with amazing ideas.
Write a precise, straightforward answer aimed at answering the search query.
See if any website is ranking for your targeted search term. If yes, analyze their style and optimize it to enhance your chances of securing a spot.
When everyone is competing for keywords with higher difficulty, it’s not a bad idea to target keywords with lower difficulty.
Most importantly, make it easy to crawl for Google by stating questions in the form of heading.
5. They add unique elements to their content
Let’s face it! With a plethora of blogs writing about various topics, there is a content overload on the internet. You don’t want your writing to be boring because that will ruin your chances of converting the readership. What will help you outshine your competitors is your ability to provide quality content that is absorbing, thought-provoking and hooks the reader from the get-go. We’ve listed below some key tips which will help you to stand out and create a loyal audience:
Refrain from using technical jargon and speak their language. Resonate your tone with their style. In some fields, you could add a slice of humor while in others you may have to adopt a more formal writing style.
Include power words to trigger a psychological and emotional response.
References to trending topics related to your content.
Share stories to add a personal touch.
Sell without selling – Make your reader knowledgeable, ask them questions to make them think, and then offer suggestions.
Include CTAs throughout the copy. For example, if you are talking about making a schedule, then it would be helpful to add a downloadable timetable in return for email.
There you have it, folks. Following these copywriting will allow you to rank well on Google, get a better click-through rate, and ultimately engage the readers to actually convert.
Have you ever wondered why some websites whizz past others while some only play catch up? One major reason for this is that the whizzers always keep evolving with the ever-changing Google updates. Which brings us to Google’s mobile-first indexing. In this article, we’ll talk about what is mobile first indexing, when it’s going to be rolled out by Google, and how you can optimize your website to make the most out of it.
What is Mobile-First Indexing?
Whether you are a newbie or have loads of experience with SEO, you must have heard about this update, creating a significant shift in site rankings. And it isn’t something new; Google was always signaling that user browsing behavior is switching to mobile. This causes the search engine giant to roll out the “mobile-first indexing’: a new way to crawl and index websites to foster user experience. What this essentially means is that the crawlers will get all information about your website from the mobile version and then rank accordingly. So it all boils down to how much content and resources your mobile website has in order for you to rank better.
Initially, Google announced that in September 2020, it would port all the websites over to the mobile-first index. However, that decision has now been put on the backburner due to 2020’s greatest villain, Covid-19. The latest date declared by the search engine giant is March 2021.
But, what does this mean for your website ranking? Is it something to be worried for? What should you do?
There’s no need to panic. We’ve narrowed down everything that you need to do and make your site mobile-first indexing compliant.
Best Practices of Mobile-First Indexing
Now that you know what mobile indexing is, its purpose and function, let’s discuss the best practices regarding it. If you want to make your website mobile friendly and ensure that your website is optimized for Google’s ranking and mobile-first indexing methods, the following tips will definitely be useful for you:
1. Check if Google Bots Can Access and Render Your Mobile Website
You can do three things to make sure Googlebots have the accessibility to all the things they need on your website mobile version:
Keep Meta Robots Tags Same As On Desktop Website
Meta robots are your best buddies when it comes to Google’s ranking. If you don’t use the same meta robots tags as you do on the website’s desktop version, Google will less likely be able to crawl and index your site.
Allow Googlebot To Crawl Your Website’s Resources:
If the mobile version of your website has different URLs than the desktop one, make sure you do not block them with a disallow directive.
Make sure You Don’t Use Lazy Loading for Primary Content.
What this means is deferring the load time of non-critical or non-visible content on your website (especially image or video). This is more recommended and common for the desktop version. For mobile, be sure not to lazy-load content that needs user-interaction such as clicks, swipes, etc. since Google will not trigger these interactions.
2. Provide Same Experience on Mobile and Desktop
Does your website’s mobile version have less primary content than your desktop site? Some publishers do that very often. Little do they know that this affects their chances to get Google’s spiders to crawl and index their mobile site. Dang! Who wants that?
According to Google, if mobile is the future, why should your mobile visitors get any less website experience? To this end, Google encourages website publishers to provide the same experience on both desktop and mobile versions.
Wondering what does that mean exactly?
We made it super simple for you and narrowed down the key factors you need to consider.
Here are five essential factors that you should keep consistent across both versions of your site:
Website content, which includes H tags etc.
Structured website data
Image alt text
Error page status
Remember, once Google decides to prioritize your mobile site for indexing, it will not use the desktop site at all. If you have less content on the mobile version, don’t be surprised if you start seeing drop in traffic.
3. Listen to Google Recommendations
Google is super transparent when it comes to the major indexing tasks which every website needs to carry out. It has a great guideline published, which includes a list of mobile-first indexing best practices as well. Here they are for you below:
Use high-quality images on your mobile website.
There must not be any ad that creates a bad user experience.
Make sure Google can see your lazy-loaded content.
Use only supported formats for videos and images.
Avoid using the image and video URLs that change each time the page loads.
Make sure the videos are easy to spot and view on your mobile website.
Avoid using fragment URLs or subdomains on your mobile site.
Test your desktop and mobile websites in Search Console.
Ensure that your URL hreflang annotations point to the mobile variant of your country and language version.
Make your mobile site is able to handle an increased crawl rate.
If you are using separate URLs for the mobile site, ensure they are used consistently within your structured data.
4. Work on the Responsiveness of Your Website
Responsiveness is key when it comes to a great user experience. A responsive site is quick to adjust its elements according to users’ screen sizes. The user always gets to see a fully-optimized version of the site, whether they access it from a mobile phone, tablet, or laptop. Most importantly, webmasters don’t have to create different versions of their website to meet every device’s standards due to this feature.
If your site already has a responsive design, mobile-first indexing should not have a meaningful impact on its SERP performance. According to Google, websites with reasonable response rates and correct use of dynamic serving don’t have to make any changes to make their site mobile-first indexing compliant.
Thus, responsive web design is a handy and versatile option to kill the need to create different versions for both mobile and desktop sites.
5. Have Mobile-Friendly Content
Reading from a desktop screen is hard, and reading from a mobile screen is even harder. To attract and retain mobile surfers, you will need to have a mobile-friendly web copy. This means short sentences and paragraphs; fonts should be large and clear enough and use enough whitespaces.
A Mobile Future
Times have changed, and those who don’t keep up with it, usually lag behind. Now users are more likely than ever to browse the internet by tapping on their mobile. So Google’s decision to roll out mobile-first indexing is simply a quick response to this change of user behavior. If your website isn’t optimized for both desktop and mobile users, now is the right time to do it.
Is keyword research dead in 2020? The short, clear, and loud answer to this question is NO.
Keyword research is still the backbone of inbound marketing. It lets businesses know what their potential customers are searching for and assists marketers with creating an effective marketing funnel – spreading brand awareness, grabbing the attention of potential buyers, and enjoying higher conversion rates by addressing their audience’s needs.
However, there is no doubt that keyword research strategies have evolved over the last decade. No longer can you get away with plain ol’ keyword stuffing. Now, Google focuses more on providing the best content for a given search query by looking at a range of factors, from the keywords to the search intent; user device & location to the YMYL-ness of your query (and more). Instead of merely sprinkling keywords, now you have to go the extra mile to create a page that best satisfies a user, and helps bring in better traffic and conversions.
For those wondering how would marketers know which topics can bring traffic and conversions to their website, the answer again lies with keyword research. Modern keyword research plays a vital role in finding such topics. It provides us stats, including search volume and competition against every searched term.
But, there’s a difference between just having the data and actually making sense of it. If you don’t know which keywords (topics) to choose for ranking higher, then these 4 keyword research tips will help you get the most out of your SEO keyword research.
If you have to take a fresh start, then start brainstorming. Think about the broad terms that are most relevant to your niche. For example, if you want to generate content about content marketing, then enter “content marketing” in the search bar of an SEO tool like Ahrefs.
Now, you have many ideas to write content. At the start, instead of competing for difficult keywords, search for those having low keyword difficulty, reasonable search volume, and commercial value. If a keyword has a huge search volume, broad informational intent, but low commercial value, then it means it can generate traffic but it’s not good from a revenue perspective. However, if you’re looking for top of the funnel (TOFU) topics, then it can be a great place to start.
2. Long-Tail Keywords
It’s a daunting challenge to compete for short-tail keywords as a beginner. These are the high volume, high competition keywords that everyone’s trying to rank for. However, you won’t rank on Page 1 for short-tail keywords if Google thinks you have low EAT for that niche or query.
In that case, long-tail keywords are your best friend. Long-tail keywords refer to those KWs that have a low search volume. Strictly speaking, they don’t refer to longer search queries – however long search queries tend to have lower search volumes. Check out this article by Search Engine Land to learn more about the difference between long-tail keywords and long search strings.
Here at Link Building HQ, we’ve found long-tail keywords really helpful in terms of traffic and brand visibility. We rank #1 for a number of long tail keywords, which help introduce our brand to hundreds of people who are new to the world of SEO. By providing useful information to them, and to you, we have become a trusted source of information in our industry.
By targeting long-tail keywords for your niche, you can also up your game and find new ranking opportunities.
3. The Marketing Funnel
A modern marketing funnel is a consumer-focused marketing strategy that starts with brand awareness and ends at brand advocacy.
Keyword research is most helpful for the top 3 phases. In the first phase, the potential buyers need information; at the consideration phase, they compare different options, and in the third phase, they want compelling points to make a purchase decision. Remember, it is not a linear process. At a time, your audience is residing at these different stages. So, you should reach out to every level through relative keywords.
In this stage, users need informative content. For example, “What is keyword difficulty?” Here, the user is only looking for information. However, it is relevant to companies selling SEO services. SEO agencies can write related blogs to answer their queries in-depth. Once they land on your website and know about your services, later on, they can convert into a buyer.
However, if you will merely focus on informative content, then you will get traffic but not get conversions. So, digging down is essential!
Users at this stage know about their problems and try to find solutions. In this phase, they are more likely to search, “how to rank higher for difficult keywords?” Maybe while researching, a user comes across a solution to hire an SEO agency for noteworthy results.
Users in this phase will be searching for an SEO agency fulfilling their requirements. Here, users are ready to buy a service. So, they will search for keyword phrases like “top SEO agencies near me.” So here you need to provide users the compelling points to choose your agency. Keywords having a highest-buying intent will work in this phase.
The bottom line is, as we go deeper, the focus will go from informative to money keywords.
4. Evaluate And Optimize
You can use tools like Ahrefs, Moz, SEMRush, Longtail Pro and others to get in-depth keyword reports. They show which keywords are performing well, highlight the fallen ones, and provide the potential keywords with traffic and conversion potential. This will help you with keyword research optimization.
Keyword research optimization is a must to maintain higher rankings. You have to continuously evaluate and optimize your keyword research. Moreover, you should keep updating your old content to keep it relevant and fresh. Otherwise, you will begin losing traffic to other pages that are more relevant, or better at fulfilling user intent.
Now that you have a better understanding of keyword research, it’s time to use our gameplan and start ranking higher! Build a keyword ranking strategy, stick to it, and keep optimizing. Nothing will give you a better ROI in the long run than a high-quality keyword research strategy.
It’s no secret that backlinks remain one of the most important SEO ranking factors and continue to play a vital role in SERP rankings. That’s why SEOs need to find the best ways to earn high-quality backlinks that can help improve rankings and traffic for their sites.
In this post, we will not only reveal the best link building strategies for 2020, but will also provide you with a roadmap to implement them effectively.
Let’s get started!
1. Guest Blogging
White-hat guest blogging can do wonders for your brand! By providing high-quality guest blogs to other sites in your niche, you are providing great value to the overall ecosystem. Other websites get another excellent article for their blog, your audience finds relevant and useful information, and you establish yourself as a thought leader.
Moreover, Google’s algorithm has evolved, and it gives great importance to the quality of backlinks as well. Getting a link from websites with a higher authority, a lot of email subscribers and a massive social following can do wonders for your website.
Some of the best sites to contribute to are the ones with high EAT. Make sure to reach out to high ranking blogs in your niche to get noteworthy results. Getting one backlink from a more authoritative website can bring in more visitors to your site than getting multiple backlinks from websites with minimal traffic.
Here are a few steps to find such blogs.
Research about the blog post you want to write about.
Make your list of the top 10 blogs that best cover that topic.
Analyze your top 10 blogs – audience interests, well-performing posts, and blog’s user experience. It will let you know how to write a killer guest blogging pitch by creating a win-win situation. Let the editors know how your guest blog post would be beneficial for their blog by relating it to the aforementioned aspects.
If you provide them exceptionally well content, chances are they will invite you themselves next time. So, give it your 100%!
2. Unlinked Brand Mentions
Find out how many websites have mentioned your brand or company name online. You may be surprised by how many just mention your brand name and not link to your site.
But take it as a compliment. These websites have already accepted your brand worth. Now, you only need to reach out to them and request them to link the brand mention to your website.
You could convert unlinked brand mentions into the linked ones by following these steps:
Instead of manually searching for unlinked brand mentions manually, use tools like Link Prospector by Citation Labs or Mentions Tracker by Ahrefs, for sorting out unlinked brand mentions.
Reach out them and ask them to link the brand mention to the relevant page on your site.
3. Leveraging Social Media
Social media is not limited to building personal connections. Organic mentions are now one of the strongest pillars of marketing and getting backlinks nowadays. If you are missing out on social media, then it means you are losing a considerable fan following, engagement, social traffic as well as backlinks to your website.
While social media backlinks may not be direct ranking factors, it can improve your visibility and help you earn organic backlinks from other websites. As AJ Kohn put it, “It’s not the actual social activity that matters, but what happens as a result of that activity.”
Figure out which social media platforms have the best traffic potential for your brand. You can use different analytics tools to get better data and make more informed decisions regarding which social media platforms to focus more on. Come up with catchy headlines and keep your content quality high to get massive social shares and backlinks. Otherwise, you may lose the audience’s interest quickly.
4. Content Repurposing
Coming up with detailed and up to date content is not a piece of cake. It demands time and in-depth research to reveal valuable insights. But once it’s done, content repurposing does not require that much effort. For example, a case study in the form of infographics may be transformed into a video or a podcast. This allows you to upload what is essentially the same content to different platforms, such as your podcast and YouTube channels.
For now, figure out your content pieces, which could be transformed into multiple file-formats to get an exponential increase in backlinks and website traffic. Keep exploring new ways to deliver content; more content transformation means you get more eyeballs.
5. Competitor Analysis
Competitive analysis can reveal valuable insights, especially if you’re a new player in your industry. Here are a few tips on how to get started with a comprehensive competitive analysis:
Identify your major competitors, based on your industry and target keywords. You can take advantage of advanced tools such as Ahrefs and SEMrush, here. Enter your desired keywords, and these tools will display the top pages ranking for them.
Now, analyze their backlinks sources. Observe from where they are getting a significant portion of these links. It could be news sites, relevant blogs, or corporate sites.
Within no time, you will discover “already working” strategies having the potential to gain backlinks. It could be guest-blogging, networking, or social media for your business. However, you have to know your strengths and weaknesses to understand which strategy will work best for you.
So, there you have it – my favorite tips for link building in 2020. While generating valuable content remains the backbone for getting organic backlinks from high authority sites, these top tips will give you an edge over your competitors and keep you ahead in the game. Try them out and see the results for yourself. Good luck!