SEO

11 SEO Tips and Tricks to Beat Your Competitors

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Outsmarting the competition and ranking at the top of search engine result pages remains the number one objective for any e-commerce business.

But here’s something you need to know:

If you’re serious about driving torrents of traffic to your e-commerce site, increasing your click-through rates, and generating sales-ready leads, you need to go over and beyond. You need to use SEO tips and tricks that almost guarantee better rankings.

Here, I’m going to reveal 11 actionable and ethical SEO strategies to help you stay ahead of your competition in 2018 and beyond.

 

Sound good? Let’s dive right in.

1. Build High-Quality Links

You probably already know that links remain the topmost ranking factor that dominates Google’s search results. In fact, Google’s Senior Search Quality Strategist, Andrey Lipattsev, recently confirmed that content and links remain the top two ranking signals.

As it turns out, backlinks have a huge impact on your SERP rankings. In fact, Moz found that there is a very strong correlation between number of linking domains to a website and its SERP rankings.

[Image Source: Moz.com]

Now you know the importance of links to outsmart your competition and rank higher in the SERPs.

But here’s the cracker:

You don’t want just any site linking to your website; you need link juice from credible, trustworthy sites.

In fact, Google and other search engines carefully analyze the link quality based on different parameters before ranking sites in their SERPs.

Here’s what you need to do:

Reach out to credible, trustworthy, high domain authority websites, and pitch them guest posts. Remember, domain authority carries more weight than other Google search ranking factors.

But before you jump into action and start reaching out to different high-authority websites for guest post opportunities, don’t forget to run a comprehensive backlink analysis of your intended sites to see if getting a link would actually help or not.

2. Optimize Your Content

Content is one of the top 2 ranking factors. And high-quality, relevant, topical content can hugely impact your website’s SERP rankings.

In fact, Google introduced the Panda algorithm update in 2011 to weed out websites with poor content to ensure that such websites do not rank high in the SERPs.

This means that if you’re looking to rank higher in the SERPs, you’ll need to constantly create high-quality, meaningful, topical content.  

Here’s what you need to do:

Create high-quality, long-form content. You’ll be surprised how the length of content has a very strong correlation with SERP rankings.

In fact, in a Backlinko study, Brian Dean found that websites with long-form content, (with more than 1800 words), ranks better than pages with shorter content.

[Image Source: Backlinko.com]

Don’t forget to make sure that your content is topically relevant. You can make your content topically relevant by providing in-depth insights into the subject. Topical relevance has a very strong correlation with SERP rankings.

[Image Source: Backlinko.com]

Also, make sure your content is easy to read and comprehend. And don’t forget to make your content visually appealing by adding relevant images and videos.

Brian Dean found that adding at least one image can improve a website’s SERP ranking.

[Image Source: Backlinko.com]

3. Optimize for RankBrain

Now that you know that links and content are the top 2 ranking factors, you must be wondering:

What’s the third most important ranking factor?

It’s RankBrain.

What’s RankBrain?

RankBrain is the Artificial Intelligence (AI) system (self-learning algorithm) used by Google to return meaningful and relevant results for search queries from more than 65,000 search queries run per second on Google.

How does it work?

RankBrain embeds vast amounts of text into vectors (mathematical entities) to return meaningful and relevant search results.  

RankBrain focuses on the entire search long-tail phrase related to a particular topic instead of shorter keywords.

Here’s the big question:

How can you optimize for RankBrain?

For that, you need to create high-quality, long-form content. Make your content engaging enough to ensure that visitors stick to your page like super glue.

This will help you increase the dwell time on your pages. For RankBrain, dwell time remains the most important ranking signal.

This means that the higher your page dwell time; the higher your search rankings.  

Next, focus on creating fresh content. Freshness remains a vital component that RankBrain considers when returning results for a search query.

Lastly, boost your CTR with appealing snippets. CTR has a very strong correlation with SERP rankings. RankBrain ranks sites with a better CTR higher than those with a lower CTR.  

[Image Source: Crazyegg.com]

  1. Conduct Keyword Research

Keywords remain the essential fuel for any SEO strategy. In fact, Google attributes 15% weight age to keywords in their search ecosystem.

[Image Source: theoffbeatstory.com]

As it turns out, careful keyword research can easily mean the difference between the success or failure of your SEO efforts.

Here’s what you need to do:

 

  • Pick keywords that your buyers will actually use.
  • Take keyword ideas from Google Analytics’ Keyword Planner tool.
  • Explore forums to see what type of keywords people use to search for products and services related to your industry.

Add LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) keywords to your list. LSI keywords are synonyms or related words for the search query your targeted buyers are using.

 

Use the free and easy-to-use LSI Graph tool (LSI keyword suggestion tool) to discover LSI keywords for your target keywords.

[Image Source: LSI Graph]

Don’t forget to add long-tail keywords to your list. Remember, long-tail keywords have a 70% higher conversion value.

[Image Source: Neilpatel.com]

5. Optimize Your Click-Through Rate

If you’re actually looking to stay ahead of your competition and rank better in the SERPs, you’ll need to optimize and improve your click-through rates.

Click-through rates have a very strong correlation with SERP rankings. Basically, websites that rank higher get more click-throughs.  

The bad news is that organic CTR is dropping. Wordstream found that organic CTR went down by as much as 37% between May 2015 and March 2017.

[Image Source: Wordstream.com]

Given that the organic CTR is declining, how can you optimize it?

By building a leak-proof sales funnel strategically mapped using a mix of short-tail and long-tail keywords.  

[Image Source: blog.amicicorp.net]

Once your sales funnel is ready, spend some time writing interesting and appealing meta descriptions.

Now that you’ve built a leak-proof sales funnel with appealing meta copy, it’s time to start optimizing your content for schema markup or answer box.  

Google prioritizes rich snippet, answer boxes, and schema markups over other organic results now. And optimizing your content for these will help you rank above other organic results; thereby, increasing your CTR.

6. Optimize for Mobile-First

Google officially announced the rollout of their Mobile First Index. As a result of mobile-first indexing, Google now uses the mobile version of a web page for ranking.

As it turns out, if you’re looking to rank higher in 2018 and beyond, you need to optimize your website for mobile. This means that you’ll need to ensure your website loads faster on mobile.

In the Backlinko study cited earlier, Brian Dean found a very strong correlation between page speed and SERP rankings.

 

[Image Source: Backlinko.com]

 

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Optimize caches and CSS script
  • Downsize JavaScript Parsing
  • Use an effective CDN
  • Don’t forget to optimize your images

Additionally, implement AMP to improve performance. But not every piece of content is compatible with AMP. So make sure your content is compatible with AMP.

7. Optimize Videos

Did you know that with 30 million visitors daily, YouTube remains the second largest search engine?

It doesn’t take rocket science to create a YouTube channel and upload videos. Almost everyone is doing it. But that’s exactly what makes it difficult to rank better. So how do you make your YouTube efforts count?

Here’s your answer:

When you get your videos to rank better on YouTube, chances are that they will start showing up in Google SERPs as well.

But how would can you make sure that your videos rank better on YouTube?

Start by building 5-minute long videos. Longer videos rank better than shorter ones on YouTube, according to Backlinko.

[Image Source: Backlinko.com]

Now add effective keywords to your YouTube video. Add keyword-optimized titles and video file names. Use keyword-rich tags for your videos. Brian Dean of Backlinko found a strong correlation between keyword-rich tags and YouTube rankings.

 

[Image Source: Backlinko.com]

Lastly, make sure your videos are high-quality because Backlinko found that 68.2% of videos on YouTube’s first page are of HD quality.

[Image Source: Backlinko.com]

8. Optimize for Visual Search

Images immediately attract us and grab our attention. They make us pause for a second to observe. This is why visuals play such an important role in digital marketing. But not only do they engage your audience, visuals can also indirectly impact your search rankings.

You’ll need to optimize for visual search results if you’re looking to rank higher in SERPs and outrun your competition. A 2017 report by Moz revealed that around 27 percent of all searches are for images.

[Image Source: Moz.com]

But how will you optimize for visual search results?

Start by adding descriptive descriptions for your images. Don’t forget to add alt attributes to your website’s images. Pay heed to the file sizes of your images, and choose the right file types. Be careful to optimize the thumbnails. Lastly, don’t forget to use image sitemaps.

9. Optimize for Voice Search

Google voice search is the newest hot ticket draw for marketers and consumers. In fact, 37% of people use Siri, 23% of people use Cortana, and 19% use Alexa monthly.

[Image Source: Theoffbeatstory.com]

And that’s not all. 20% of mobile searches on Google are made via voice search.

[Image Source: cognitiveseo.com]

Given this, it’s not hard to understand why you need to pay special heed to voice searches in 2018 to stay ahead of your competition.

Here’s how you can optimize for voice search:

  1. Start by optimizing your local business listings.
  2. Add exhaustive details about your e-commerce business.
  3. Choose a relevant category to list your website under.
  4. Use long-tail keywords when writing details about your business as long-tail keywords are more personal, descriptive, and specific.
  5. Optimize your content to make sure it is conversational. Better yet, build your content in the format of question-answers. This is because most voice searches are question-based.
  6. Optimize your site speed to rank better for voice search results. In fact, there is a very strong correlation between site speed and Google rankings for both text and voice search results.

 

[Image Source: Backlinko.com]

10. Comment on Blogs

Here’s something very few people know:

 

Blog comments can help you improve your SERP rankings almost instantly.

 

Comments are a great source of user-generated content and this content usually contains long-tail keywords. And you probably already know that long-tail keywords account for around 85% of all search engine traffic.

 

Blog commenting is the best way to quickly rank better and build authority and credibility in the eyes of Google.

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Encourage visitors to comment on your blog.
  • Make sure you reply to the users’ comments.
  • Find the best blogs in your industry and niche and make useful and meaningful comments on top blogs.

This will help you generate user-generated content and build links from top websites and blogs in your industry.

11. Optimize Your Structured Data

I’m sure you’ve already witnessed the rising popularity of structured data. In fact, web pages featuring schema markup typically rank over those without it. This increases the CTR of the web pages with schema markup, boosting their SERP rankings.  

You already know that better SERP CTR usually translates into higher SERP rankings. As discussed earlier, organic CTR and SERP rankings have a very strong correlation.

[Image Source: theoffbeststory.com]

Now given this fact, it’s no wonder why more than 40% of small businesses use schema markup to drive more organic CTR.

[Image Source: Schemaapp.com]

Quite expectedly, 38.7% of these businesses keep updating their schema markup (structured data) every month.

[Image Source: Schemaapp.com]

This means that if you’re looking to stay ahead of the curve in 2018 and beyond, you’ll need to embrace schema markup.

Here’s how you can do it:

Visit Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper and choose the data type for your markup.

[Image Source: Kissmetrics.com]

Copy the page URL you’re looking to markup and paste it into the tool. If you’re looking to markup HTML, paste the HTML in the tool. And then click on “Start Tagging.”

Select the type of elements to be marked up and tag each element. Now, create HTML and add the HTML to your web page.

Don’t forget to use the Structured Data Testing Tool to see how your page appears with schema markup.

Wrapping it Up

So there you have it – 11 insanely actionable SEO tips and tricks to stay ahead of your competition in 2018 (and beyond).

What are you going to try first? Is it the RankBrain optimization? Voice search optimization? Or something else? Let me know by leaving a comment below.

Will is the Executive Managing Editor at Feedster. Will and his team from Full Epic Lead Generation work with venture capital, marketing co-ops, and companies to attract and gain qualified leads.

His primary focus on developing a sales funnel for a company and finding out of the box / growth hacking style ways to convert and drive traffic.

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