Your site has great ideas to share with your customers. If only your SEO ranking was high enough to actually show those ideas to the world.
By Ben Shepardson
The good news is that SEO doesn’t need to be complicated. In fact, there are a couple of things you can do to boost your site’s ranking fairly easily.
Here are three tried-and-true ways to bolster your SEO performance.
Backlinks are like the El Dorado of the SEO world: mythical, valuable, and notoriously difficult to get.
They’re SEO gold. One of the biggest ways that a search engine can assess whether your site is top of the pack or buried on page 20 of the SERPs.
What They Are
Backlinks, also called inbound links, are the links created when one website links to another on a given page.
Let’s say you’re looking at a listicle of recipes. This listicle has links to the blog each recipe was sourced from. For each of the blogs with a linked recipe, this link contained within the listicle is a backlink.
Search engines rely heavily on backlinks to for rankings because they help establish domain authority. Basically, backlinks establish domain authority because it shows search engines that other sites view your content as useful enough to cite as a source.
They’re also difficult to get because, well, they rely on other sites. You can’t buy them and you can’t force them. Backlinks have to occur naturally to have a lasting impact on your SEO ranking.
Disclaimer: technically you can purchase backlinks, but that qualifies as black hat SEO and will get you penalized.
How to Use Them
There are two halves to backlinks: the linking side (them) and the recipient side (you). Both sides get benefits, which is why it behooves you to be at both ends of the equation.
From the linking side, you get the benefit of a strong linking structure, which is built on a combination of quality, relevant internal and external links. From the recipient side, you get the benefit of domain authority.
Which begs the question: how do you get backlinks?
By writing great content that provides information that’s genuinely useful and worth linking to.
2. Schema Markup
The whole point of SEO is getting a search engine to read your site the right way. The trouble is, a search engine isn’t a person. It’s a program. And it reads your site as a computer program would.
So, if you want your site to rank well, you need to make sure a search engine can actually read it.
This is where schema markup comes in handy.
What It Is
If words are the language of humans, schema markup is the language of search engines.
Also called structured data, schema markup is a global standardized vocabulary that search engines use to understand web content. Which is great news for web entrepreneurs–if search engines have a standardized language, all you have to do is learn how to speak it.
Basically, schema markup uses semantic vocabulary inserted directly into the coding of your website. Remember: search engines don’t look at a web page, they look at the code.
So, if you put an answer in the code that explicitly explains what’s on a page, it’s far easier for a search engine to index it properly. In fact, a web crawler will reward you for making its life easier.
That’s exactly what schema markup does.
How to Use It
The good news for non-coders is that schema markup doesn’t require a degree in computer science. You just need to copy and paste.
It’s tedious, sure, especially if you have thousands of pages. But you don’t need to be a tech wizard to figure it out.
Go to Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper.
Select the data you’d like to markup (you’ll have a list of options).
Paste the URL of the page you want to markup. This will provide you with the tagging items needed for the page (your page on the left, data items on the right). Data items include things like author, date published, URL, the aggregate rating, and other items.
Highlight the item you want tagged on the left, then click the relevant tag on the right. So if you want to tag the title, highlight it and then click “Name”.
Then, keep adding markup items until you’re satisfied. At that point, you’ll click “Create HTML” to get HTML text. This text can be dropped as-is into your CMS or source code.
3. Mobile Friendliness
Since Google’s Mobile First rollout, there’s no getting around it: mobile friendliness is akin to godliness (at least, in the eyes of the almighty Google).
These days, most people search on their phones. And if you don’t create a site that serves their needs, you aren’t going to rank well.
What It Is
A question pops into your head. You decide you can’t wait to have an answer. So, you break out your phone and type in your question. You get a list of results on Google and click one of them.
Then, it happens.
The site has the answer you want. At least, you think it might. It’s hard to tell since you have to zoom in and out to read the text, the text shifts every time you turn your phone, and it takes forever and a day to load.
This is a classic example of a site that isn’t mobile friendly–a site leftover from the days when most users searched the web on an actual computer.
A mobile-friendly site is designed for your phone from the get-go. It adapts to the size of your viewing screen, doesn’t have buttons that get in the way when you’re scrolling with your fingers, and loads fast enough for someone on the go.
Not sure whether your site is mobile-friendly? This test can help.
How to Use It
One of the easiest ways to make your site mobile-friendly is to use responsive web design.
Responsive web design responds to a user’s viewing environment, platform, and screen orientation. It doesn’t do this by creating multiple versions of the same site, but rather by creating one website with flexible grids and intelligent CSS to shift the layout depending on the viewer.
You can do this one of two ways: by hiring a professional website designer or by finding a site builder that includes mobile-friendly templates. Responsive design is no small undertaking, and it’s better to do it right.
Your SEO Ranking Turns into ROI
SEO can sometimes feel like an impossible undertaking. There’s always something new to learn and some new modification to the rules.
But when you’re not sure where to go next, remember this: your SEO translates into ROI. It may take a while to get there, but if you build a strong foundation, SEO will reward your site for years to come.
And while there are many fancy tricks you can try, you don’t want a site that surfs the ebbs and flows of search engine updates. You want a site that’s Google-proof. The best way to do this? Stick to SEO ranking techniques that are always effective and build your strategy from there.
Ben Shepardson has been working the SEO field for over 10 years and lives on a tropical island located off the tip of Florida USA. You can read more of his thoughts at his homepage ben-seo.com