SEO is constantly changing, so much so that even processes carried out a few years ago are now outdated and can even harm your SEO. The days when search engines ranked spammy websites with a high quantity of bad, irrelevant backlinks and unnatural content have passed. If you want to be successful in the modern SEO world then you have to take a strategic, content based approach.

Below we have highlighted 8 key areas to help get your SEO back on track!

1. Develop a keyword strategy

Keyword research should be the staple of any SEO campaign, this should be the foundation and basis to work on for any SEO campaign. Failure to carry out proper keyword research will almost certainly end in failure. This research is vital to help understand what your customers are searching for, allowing you to integrate this into your site.

Depending on the size of your business and the industry it is operating within, keyword targeting will vary considerably. It is best to avoid keywords that have too much competition, while it may have a high amount of searches, you need to ascertain who the competitors are. If competition is too high then you may never get to the position you want to be in. A lower searched, more specific keyword will bring you far more traffic.

Choosing a keyword that is too broad is also a common mistake. Let’s say for example your website sells BBQ equipment, having the term ‘BBQ’ would be considered too broad. This is because this term could receive searches for a variety of different reasons, you want to target a keyword that matches the user intent as often as possible. So while ‘BBQ’ may have a high amount of searches, how many of those will actually be for BBQ equipment? You are better off targeting a keyword you know will be relevant for what your website is offering.

Long tail keywords have emerged as a very popular option to help overcome these problems, as it allows you to be more specific and targeted with your search. Long-tail keywords are a much better way to connect with your site visitors, and these are terms that will typically be searched when consumers are closer to a purchasing decision, helping your conversion rates! However, these must be used in the correct way. You have to ensure that you are not targeting a phrase that doesn’t direct enough traffic, or a keyword that doesn’t convert.

2. Be original!

Duplicating content from another site or page may seem like a quick fix or easy way to increase word count, but it is something that should ALWAYS be avoided. Search engine algorithms are designed to pick up on duplicate content, which could have devastating effects on your search rankings. Unique and original content is now one of the most important on page factors in SEO.

3. Have a perfectly optimised page

Title tags are one of the most important on page optimisation factors, it is important that you create an accurate and compelling description of the page, whilst integrating your targeted keywords.

This can be a tricky process, but we a bit of thought and tinkering you will get there. While title tags are very important Meta descriptions have lost their influence on SEO rankings. However, we still feel these are important, as it is an opportunity to sell your page to the user and attract as many clicks for the search engines as possible.

Title tags and Meta descriptions must be integrated on all of your sites pages. The recommended size for a title tag is around 55 characters, while a Meta is between 150-160, if you go over this then the search engine may not be able to take all of it into account, and it could have a negative effect on your efforts.

H1 tags and image alt text are another two on-page ranking factors. It is best practice to make these keyword targeted, but written in a natural, compelling way, that will entice the user to read on and stay on your site.

Other on-page elements that are taken into consideration are; the internal and external link structure, ads, bullet points and the length and quality of content. More about content later!

4. Earn links

Googles webmaster guidelines suggest that buying and selling links are wrong and will be penalised. Google takes a quality over quantity approach over links, and having poor, irrelevant links could have a negative impact on your SEO efforts.

Creating quality, shareable content should be the focus of your link building efforts. Creating blogging opportunities and content that other sites want to share. This is a very natural approach to link building and one the Google looks at very fondly. The algorithms are very sophisticated and are now able to detect manipulative link building campaigns, so don’t put your site at risk. Build naturally.

Read more about our link building process.

5. Write for the user – not the search engines!

Keyword density is something of the past – you are no longer required to fit your chosen keyword in a certain amount of times, in fact if your content does look a little spammy this could have a negative effect. Trying to cram keywords into sentences can make it sound very unnatural and makes it difficult for the user to read or enjoy.

You should be focusing on content that your visitors will find informative and valuable. When you are writing content, ask yourself, what do my visitors want to know? What will they find helpful? These two basic questions can help create a host of different ideas for you to build content on. Search engines will recognise that your users are finding your content useful, by looking at stats such as the bounce rate. If visitors are spending more time on your site then this will have a positive impact on your rankings.

Learn more about how to write great content for any topic.

6. Improve bounce rate

Having good, informative content is only one of the factors behind improving your bounce rate. Page load speed is an important factor in search rankings, one that is underestimating considerably by many. Research shows that if a site takes longer than 3 minutes to load, then 40% of visitors will abandon and look elsewhere. This is why load speed shouldn’t be ignored, if your site is losing out on 40% of the potential visitors then this is going to significantly reduce the amount of visitors your site has while increasing your bounce rate. Not a great signal to send out to Google, at all!

The look and design of the site can also have a big influence on users staying or leaving your site. This covers anything from ad placement and text layout to site design and navigation. If a user comes on a site and it isn’t attractive and looks a mess, then they are likely to click straight off. You need create a sharp, attractive site that is easy for the user to navigate and interpret. You need to avoid confusion and make everything as simple and easy to find as possible.

7. Responsive design websites

As more people continue to use their smart phones and tablets to surf the internet, it is becoming more important to make your site responsive to all devices. Google is becoming more aware of this and if it isn’t already then this is something that will almost certainly be a ranking factor in the near future.

Check out the latest blog post responsive designs vs mobile versions.

8. Integrate social media to drive traffic

Social media is often overlooked when focusing on SEO, however this is a big mistake, the two work together perfectly. As the number of links a site has gradually continues to reduce in importance, Google are now taking social mentions into consideration. While these are no follow links and sometimes they may not even be links, but simply just a mention of your brand name, Google seems to be taking these into consideration.

To gain social mentions it is important that you go further than just simply creating a page and building up likes and followers. You need to actively engage with your audience and create useful and interesting content that they want to read. Posting this content with a link back to your site is a great tactic to help boost the traffic of your site. If the content is that good then users may even feel compelled to share it, helping you gain those social mentions and no follow links.