Guess how many blog posts are published every single day.
Place your bets….
Get ready, because this will surprise you.
WordPress (WP) alone puts over 2 million blogs per day online. That breaks down to about 24 blog posts per second.
That means that approximately 216 blogs were posted while you were reading this.
Now why did I just share these numbers?
I’m trying to help you realize how difficult it is to get your blog or website high in Google rankings.
Definition: Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of growing the quality and quantity of website traffic by increasing the visibility of a website or a web page to users of a web search engine.
Advertising can be expensive, so a freshly new business is looking to get organic traffic to their websites. That’s why one of the first things that usually comes up is search engine optimization (SEO).
Today, I’m going to show some easy things you can do to start your website’s SEO on the right foot. In case you can’t hire a professional to do the heavy lifting for you.
1. On-Site SEO Basics
The term “On-site” means whatever happens on your own website, duh!
You probably hear a lot about link building (which I’ll discuss later in this blog), but link building without good on-site search optimization will be a waste of effort.
So let’s start with the on-site basics. In the beginning, we want to do the bare minimum requirements for on-site optimization for each page of your website, with some extra focus on the homepage.
The Golden Rule of On-Site Optimization
Before we dive into it, keep in mind one important thing of all the tips and tricks you’ll read below: “don’t overdo it”.
Similar to finding an exploit on a poker opponent, if you go 100% exploit the other side will notice your trick and adjust. Before you know it your exploit isn’t effective anymore and is actually losing you EV.
You will get tempted to stuff a lot of keywords onto your webpages. At least I used to be, but that’s not the end-goal. In fact, Google has unleashed an over-optimization penalty that targets websites that have too many keywords stuffed onto one page to catch bloggers who overuse this strategy.
So just keep it simple – think of up to five keywords or keyword phrases for each page on your website and optimize for those.
And if you’re not sure how to find what keywords to use, try firing some ideas on Ubersuggest to get suggestions.
The first thing to do is come up with a title tag. It tells search engines what the webpage is about. Make sure it’s 70 characters or less and includes keywords that you’re focussed on for that webpage.
This tag is placed between the <HEAD> </HEAD> (or <TITLE>) tags at the top of your HTML code.
The metadata or description on your pages gives Google a little better idea of what your blog is about. Amongst SEO specialists there is still a debate about whether meta descriptions are important for keyword rankings.
Nevertheless, you should aim your meta description for humans that includes the page’s main keywords, as they display bold when people enter their search queries.
The slug is the very end of the URL, in the case of this blog /proven-seo-strategies.
Make sure to add the main keyword you’re targeting in your slug. It will give you a few more SEO points. Keep it short and simple though, Google is not a fan of very long URLs.
And This is How it Looks in Search Results
It’s a shame I didn’t beat the New York Times for this keyword. Aah well, can’t win them all.
Are You Using WordPress?
Lucky you! Adding title tags and meta descriptions get’s easy by using plugins such as SEO by Yoast.
Additional On-Site SEO Elements
While the above are key on-site SEO elements, they are not the only ones. Make sure to check the following to improve your rankings.
- Internal Links – You’ve probably heard about link building. Well, it isn’t just reserved for external sites linking to your website. You help search engines learn more about your website by linking to your own content.
- Header Tags – This particular post uses four different levels of HTML header tags that help break the content into sections. On top of that it lets Google know more about what part of your page is about. The <H1></H1> tags surround the post title – there should only be one set of <H1></H1> tags per page. The <H2></H2> and <H3></H3> tags surround subheadings on the page, you can use multiple for both.
- Image Name & ALT Tags – The pictures on your website should have good keywords for both the image name and the alt tag. On the first image within the post, we use <img src=”on-site-search-optimization-SEO-title-tag.png” alt=” On-Site Search Optimization SEO Title Tag” /> as the goal is to optimize it for the keywords on-site search optimization. This helps search engines find good images for their image search based on the keywords specified.
- Bolded Text – Don’t overexploit this one, but bolding a selection of text to get a reader’s attention helps the important content stand out for Google.
Now You’re Ready for a Site Audit
If you want to check if you’ve done your work properly, have a look at audit sites like SEOptimer.
2. Here’s Why Content is King
Why are you reading my blog?
As I don’t advertise it anywhere, you must have found me through a friend or know me personally. But you’re reading it because you value the pieces I write. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have made it this far in this blog.
Content is great for both your website visitors and search engines. The more quality articles you have, the greater the chance is your visitors will stick around and explore your site more.
Plus, the quantity of content matters. It’s more likely that search engines will be to put more of your website’s blogs in the search index.
So it’s not quality or quantity, you need to do both!
Your goal is to please both Google and your readers. And to satisfy both of them you create a variety of things like the following:
- Blog Posts
- Industry Articles
- Tutorials & How-To Guides
Creating good content for your website is a huge investment, but it is worth it. Kind of like putting those lab hours into PIO solver to gain 0.01 bb/100. It’s a slow, and sometimes painful, process but it pays off in the long run.
Search engines crave it, and visitors will love it so much that they will share it on social media, which creates brand awareness and leads to even more visitors.
When I started my first business I had zero knowledge of content marketing, but within a year I managed to rank over 1000 keywords in my industry in the top 10 of Google, with 40% of them in top 3. The content game isn’t rocket science. If you’re good with words and transferring them on a piece of digital paper, you should be able to rank as well!
3. Off-Site Optimization (aka Link Building)
I’ve mentioned this a few times above, so let’s dive a bit deeper into Link Building.
Arguably, it’s the most debated SEO aspect. At its basics, it’s another website linking to yours. Getting links with keyword anchor text improves your authority for that specific keyword.
For example, Adobe Reader ranks number one for the keywords click here because so many websites linked to it using the anchor text click here to download Adobe Reader. That sh*t cray!
But how do you get links?
Well there’s a few things you can try. Let’s start with the basics.
- Organic Links – These are links you don’t have to ask for, and they are the best kind. Especially if you can get them on sites with high authority such as major news outlets and other well-recognized name websites.
- Whitehat – This basically stands for good, quality link building (the kind you should strive for).
- Blackhat – This stands for spammy, low-quality link building (the kind you should avoid).
Most websites struggle with generating enough organic links to improve their SEO. This is why link building is such a popular service.
With my first business, I managed to generate over 300,000 backlinks in the first two years. Without using any blackhat methods. The majority of that was organic by creating the right content social media, and referral strategies.
Tips & Tricks
But as always, there are a few tricks to get started….
- Submitting guest blog posts to popular blogs in your industry. Generally, you will get a link back to your website in an author box at the top or bottom of your post’s content.
- Reaching out to related (but not competitive) websites to see if they will link to you. A good way to do this is to see if the businesses you work with have link pages on their site for partners, vendors, suppliers, etc.
- Jump on podcasts or other media gigs, which gives you a platform to talk about your business and usually comes with a backlink. Like I recently talked with Pokercity.nl
- Create social media profiles for your business. While the links do not always count towards search rankings, they can attract clicks which will generate more incoming traffic to your website.
- Submit your website to applicable industry directories or, alternatively, buy advertising. For example, in the blockchain space, you can easily get listed on AirdropAlert or ICObench. Bypass low-quality directories that have nothing to do with your industry or ones that link to shady websites in the adult, pharmaceutical, or online casino industries. These are red flags for Google.
- Create link-worthy content. Infographics are a great example – you create a beautiful image representing important information and allow others to use the infographic on their own website in exchange for linking back to yours as credit.
- Answer questions on Quora related to your industry. If you deliver quality replies to questions you will definitely receive clicks to your content.
- Share your link on industry-related forums. This works best if your content adds value to a question or discussion in a forum thread. For PokerCEO the forums TwoplusTwo and PokerNews are perfect places to share my links.
My Secret Sauce
Now there’s the last option I forgot to mention, which is called Greyhat. Whereas you find the edges of what Google will allow.
This is what I specialize in. It’s my passion to find new tricks that are beating a system. This allows me to crush the competitors who exclusively stick to Whitehat strategies.
Back in 2015, I created a Twitter bot, to follow and comment on all my competitor’s followers. This way I knew I targeted an audience, who was interested in my industry so I could grow my own channel. In today’s age, social media automation is fairly common and you can even find subscription tools to help you with it. However, because it’s more common it is now less effective. Which is usually the case with every growth hack you come up with.
4. Monitoring Your Results
As a poker player, you must be somewhat of a data geek.
Keep track of your SEO progress by monitoring your results. The three most important tools you can use to monitor these results are the following.
- AHrefs – Create a free trial account which you can use for 7 days.. Use this tool to track keyword rankings and backlinks to your domain.
- Google Analytics – Use Google Analytics to learn more about the visitors to your website. In particular, monitor your organic search traffic sources to see what keywords people are using to find your website in search results. By setting up goals, you can see which keywords lead to visits where visitors do what you want them to do on your website such as sign up for a mailing list or purchase a product. This will help you learn what keywords you should be targeting with your SEO campaign.
- DataForSEO – Use this tool to get raw SEO data straight to your custom application. You can use their rank tracker API to track keywords rankings, SERP results, keyword data, and more.
These are just a few of the tools available in the wonderful world of SEO.
5. Social Sharing
Google likes traffic coming from social media. It means that people find your content relevant to share and discuss on social platforms.
Now we’ve all seen those social icons at the side of many websites to induce sharing. But how often do you use these?
I never do.
After analyzing a few case studies within my ventures last year, I realized only 4% of readers shared my content on social media. Ever since I’ve been looking for a better way and I think I’ve found the right tool.
After working closely with a startup from Amsterdam who is actively solving this issue, I can now share a word of mouth marketing tool, by RocketFuel Collective, to increase social sharing of your users.
This tool allows you to customize several posts, so the user can select a personalized message to share your content. Making it easy and friendly to use already increased my social sharing to 38%.
You can start increasing your social shares with RocketFuel Collective, by signing up for the beta test phase that starts soon.
Beat Your Competitors With SEO!
Google never published specifics on the exact requirements of what influences their rankings.
So any article you read about this topic, including mine, is from an SEO specialist who tests things out to see what effects their rankings. And after optimizing thousands of pages for search engines, we paint a picture of what Google likes.
Last year I figured out how to get Google Snippets. These snippets display the summary or bullet points of a search query from users. They take up way more space on the search result pages and are always on top. So this means you’ll get the most clicks from that keyphrase.
And recently I got my first snippet for PokerCEO on Google, and I think it’s a search term poker players can appreciate (soft poker crypto games). You can find that article here.
Are you interested in learning more about SEO and Growth Hacking?
Have a look at my talk for Antler, a startup accelerator based in Amsterdam.