SEO tutorial for WordPress (updated for 2023)

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Written By Tony Lopes

Marketing specialist driven by data and passionate about technology 

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I’ve got to say, after more than 20 years doing digital marketing, I still love SEO. Yes, it’s been challenging – Google has oftentimes changed the goalposts and made it difficult for websites to rank – but I still love the process of building websites and creating great content that naturally attracts visitors and links. With that in mind, I’ve put together the ultimate SEO tutorial for WordPress to help you.

HOT TIP: Ultimately, if you make your audience happy and give them value, Google will reward you with good rankings

So what you’re getting below is basically a brain dump of what I’ve learned and experienced by doing SEO in the gaming industry (online casinos, poker and sports betting), insurance (life insurance, short term insurance) and education (secondary and tertiary).

NOTE: about 30% of the below was written by the ChatGPT AI tool as part of an experiment and I am HUGELY impressed by the content it delivers.

Table of Contents

What is SEO?

Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO, is the art and science of becoming more visible in the search engines (ranking better) so that your site gets free traffic from people searching for solutions to their problems. This free traffic is called organic traffic. Who doesn’t want free traffic from Google, right?

Paid traffic is when you pay for the traffic by buying advertising – and if you’re a small business or an entrepreneur just starting out this is a scary prospect. The risk is that you spend money on advertising but don’t see an increase in revenue or profit. Remember, advertising, in an accounting sense, is an expense – although it’s a necessary expense.

Does this mean SEO doesn’t cost you anything? Sadly, SEO can have significant cost associated with it – especially from creating great content.

SEO is the practice of doing SEO. An SEO is someone who does SEO. Confused? Don’t worry Neo, the answers are coming.

What are the costs associated with SEO?

SEO costs
  • Time: SEO requires a great deal of time. Either you spend your time doing SEO or you pay someone else (or an agency) to do SEO on your behalf
  • Content: great content doesn’t come cheap, and Google certainly loves great content. Whether you’re creating 2,000 word blog posts, infographics, videos, podcasts or Facebook Live sessions as part of your content marketing, it all takes time and requires budget
  • Links: link building is a vital part of SEO. I’m not advocating buying links but the practice of link building through more legitimate means does require time and money
  • Technical expertise: the technical changes that need to be made to your website for SEO requires the involvement of your web development team (or you if you’re building your own website) and a technical SEO expert. This requires time and money.

Why do SEO?

Now that I’ve told you about the costs of SEO, I’d like to sing its praises. I love SEO because it’s the only way to get:

  • Free traffic from Google
  • Targeted traffic from people who are actively looking for solutions to their problems

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE BEFORE I SEE RESULTS FROM SEO?

In my experience it takes 3 or 4 months of consistent SEO effort before you start seeing an increase in organic search from Google. This may be longer or shorter depending on your industry and competitors in your niche.

WHY DO SEO PEOPLE SAY “IT DEPENDS” SO OFTEN?

SEO it depends

There are more than 200 factors that can influence how well your site ranks in Google. Google is extremely secretive about how their algorithms work. Google doesn’t want this information to be available for a number of reasons:

  • If we knew how Google worked it would be easy to create a competitor to Google
  • If we knew how Google worked it would become easier to manipulate the search results
  • If SEO was easy people would spend less on advertising through Google Ads (Google’s advertising platform)

Google doesn’t like it when the search results are manipulated. Imagine you were searching for something and your search results showed a bunch of unrelated porn sites, gambling sites and sites who want to sell you viagra. Google needs its search results to be the most relevant to its users so that people keep on using Google.

In the past it was easy to manipulate the search results. In the dizzy heydays of SEO 10 years ago you simply had to buy a bunch of links from dodgy link brokers and your site would rank for whatever keyword you wanted. Google quickly picked up on this and have been rolling out an ongoing stream of updates to its algorithms making it difficult to do SEO. It’s hiding data from Google Analytics as well so you don’t know which keywords are bringing you organic traffic from your SEO efforts (thereby making SEO difficult to measure). Remember, Google is a BUSINESS and wants you to spend money on paid advertising.

So, why do people in SEO say “it depends”? SEO is super-complex and requires a bit of trial and error. Anyone who tells you they can guarantee you better rankings in Google is lying to you. Yes, SEO does work but it requires time, patience, experimentation and hard work.

BLACK HAT SEO VS WHITE HAT SEO

blackhat and whitehat seo

You may have heard people talking about black hat SEO and white hat SEO.

Very simply, white hat SEO follows Google’s guidelines and black hat SEO rejects these guidelines and tries to outplay Google.

Black hat SEO can include:

  • Buying links from link brokers
  • Hiding or clicking links
  • Loads of other dodginess Google doesn’t approve of

If you’re caught doing black hat SEO, Google will penalize the site you’re trying to do SEO on and you will lose rankings or even be removed from Google altogether. Once your site is penalised you can be sure it will take years before your reputation with Google improves.

NEGATIVE SEO

Black hat SEOs quickly realised they could build links to their competitor’s sites to make it look as if though their competitors were doing black hat SEO. The hope was that Google would penalise the competitor, so at one point negative SEO was even a strategy that black hat SEOs spent time and money on. Google released a tool called the disavow tool that allowed webmasters to “disavow” links that shouldn’t be pointing to their sites and report these to Google.

It’s important to keep track of the links pointing to your site so that you can quickly disavow any that might hurt your good reputation with Google.

You can find the disavow tool, and a whole bunch of other useful SEO tools, within Google’s Search Console platform – something everyone who owns a website should be familiar with and using regularly.

Let’s go! Step by step guide for doing WordPress SEO

A QUICK TOP 10 WORDPRESS SEO CHECKLIST

seo checklist
  1. Use a fast WordPress hosting company e.g. Siteground, Bluehost and WPEngine for WordPress hosting
  2. Learn basic HTML at https://www.w3schools.com/ – it’s not essential but highly recommended and will earn you a gold star and much love
  3. Join the Let’s Get Digital Facebook Group and ask questions about SEO (or all things digital)
  4. Install the Yoast SEO plugin (the free version is fine) or the RankMath plugin
  5. Make sure your website isn’t blocking search engines (duh)
    1. Log in to your WordPress site admin
    2. Go to Settings -> Reading
    3. Make sure the box next to “Discourage search engines from indexing this site” is NOT TICKED
  6. Make sure your Permalinks are SEO friendly
    1. Log in to your WordPress site admin
    2. Go to Settings -> Permalinks
    3. Select the Post name option and hit the Save Changes button to make sure your URL structure is nice and SEO friendly
  7. Remember that all content must be 100% unique! Don’t copy and paste content from other websites. Don’t use content scrapers. Don’t use content spinners that rewrite other people’s content. Your content must be 100% organic, home-grown, Farmer Brown approved useful awesomeness
  8. For the love of all things holy, please optimise your images for web. Too often people use 2MB images on their home page and wonder why the site is so slow. Image optimisation is a topic unto its own which I will cover in more depth, but please remember this principle – smaller file size means faster load time which means happy Google = more traffic for you
  9. Page titles and meta descriptions must be written for humans, must be unique per page, must exist (i.e. don’t leave them out) and must include the primary keyword you want that page to rank for
  10. Attract links with MARVELLOUS content that will make your momma proud. Buying links is for blackhat SEOs and you can find plenty of places that still recommend this ancient practice. Don’t buy links.

BONUS TIP!!

Set up an account with Google Search Console, validate your WordPress site and then submit your XML sitemap/s to Google Search Console so that Google will be more acutely aware of when you publish new content to your site. (Old timers, Google Search Console used to be called Google Webmaster Tools. Change is the only constant). You can get your XML sitemap from the Yoast SEO plugin as follows:

  1. Log in to your WordPress admin
  2. Go to Yoast -> General -> Features tab
  3. Click on the question mark next to XML sitemaps to reveal the links to the XML sitemap you should submit to Google Search Console

Next, log in to Google Search Console and go to Sitemaps in the left hand navigation.

Copy the link to your XML sitemap/s, paste it into the Add a new sitemap section and hit Submit. Boomtastico!

That’s it, kiddo! You’re now set up with the absolute basics of WordPress SEO.

HERE’S A CHEAT SHEET FOR DOING SEO

seo cheat sheet

HIGH LEVEL SEO ACTIONS

  1. Initial SEO audit
  2. Keyword strategy
  3. Technical SEO
  4. On-page optimization
  5. Content growth strategy
  6. Fresh content strategy
  7. Link development strategy
  8. Blogging and social media
  9. Mobile SEO
  10. Measurement, analysis and reporting

INITIAL SEO AUDIT

  1. Establish the current situation – what has been done in the past?
  2. Highlight critical factors and quick-win fixes
  3. Technical SEO audit
  4. Content audit
  5. Link profile audit
  6. Interlinking audit

KEYWORD STRATEGY

  1. Identify 5-10 primary keywords per site
  2. Identify related secondary keywords
  3. Build keywords into content strategies and linking strategies

TECHNICAL SEO

  1. Broken links monitoring
  2. Page load speeds:  page compression and caching
  3. Canonicalization
  4. URL structure
  5. Use of 301 redirects
  6. Robots.txt file usage
  7. Handling of banner tags/affiliate IDs
  8. Custom 404 page implementation
  9. Use of nofollow meta tags
  10. Redirecting to www. or without www
  11. Use of favicon
  12. Verification in Google Webmaster Tools and Bing and Yahoo webmaster tools
  13. Sitemap submission (XML sitemap)
  14. Use of RSS feeds if relevant
  15. Search function added to sites
  16. Avoiding use of frames
  17. W3C compliancy

ON-PAGE OPTIMIZATION

  1. Use of H1/H2/H3 headings
  2. Use of keywords within headings and paragraphs
  3. RELEVANT user-focused content – writing for people and not for search engines (no keyword stuffing)
  4. Call to action within HTML text AND graphically (buttons or banners)
  5. Links to related pages with relevant anchor text using primary keyword of target page
  6. Use of embedded multimedia (video and imagery)
  7. Easy navigation and usability
  8. Enough index-able HTML text (guideline is 250 – 300 words per page)
  9. Content is 100% unique
  10. Correct and unique meta titles and meta descriptions

CONTENT GROWTH STRATEGY

  1. Google likes to see websites that grow with new pages every month
  2. Needs to add value to customer experience and be RELEVANT
  3. Could be implemented as a BLOG or articles section if part of main site e.g. sub folder for the blog
  4. Use of copywriter-friendly content management system  (CMS) e.g. WordPress
  5. Add quality, relevant content to optimize for long-tail keywords (without becoming a content farm and getting slapped by the Google Panda update)
  6. Fresh content strategy
  7. Update existing content on core pages
  8. Not entire page but about 25% e.g. a testimonial that changes every 2 weeks

LINK DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY

  1. Integration with overall keyword strategy for each brand
  2. Important to use VARIED anchor text for inbound links and to also deep link (link to secondary pages and not only home page)
  3. Get clean links from affiliates
  4. Links on banners served by media planners (alt text on images) and text links
  5. Relationship links (links from sites as a result of having a good business relationship with partners)
  6. Electronic press releases
  7. Links from blogosphere
  8. Directory submissions
  9. Submitting content with links to article sites

BLOGGING AND SOCIAL MEDIA

  1. Blogging increases online profile visibility (especially WordPress with built in SEO plugins and feed submissions)
  2. Interaction with customers and potential customers increases visibility in search engines

MOBILE SEO

  1. Compliance with best practices for mobile recommended by Google
  2. Development and promotion of mobile apps
  3. Tie in with overall mobile strategy

MEASUREMENT, ANALYSIS AND REPORTING

  1. How do we measure ROI on the above actions?
  2. What are the key metrics to monitor (click through rates, conversion rates, funnel analysis etc)
  3. What allocation of budget (time, resources and money) for the above?
  4. What are the targets for growth?
  5. What reporting tools are in place or need to be developed?

Next, we get into the real nitty gritty.

The Real Nitty Gritty of WordPress SEO

SEO nitty gritty

Here’s what we’re going to cover:

Getting Started

  • Domain registration
  • Domain hosting
  • www. vs non-www
  • WordPress SEO plugins
  • Installing an SEO friendly WordPress theme
  • Permalinks and SEO-friendly URLs
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Robots.txt and search engine visibility

Yoast SEO plugin configuration

  • Useless junk you don’t need in Yoast
  • General settings
  • Search Appearance
  • Search Console
  • Social
  • Tools
  • Free or Premium?

Building your SEO-optimised WordPress site

  • SEO objectives and key performance indicators
  • Keyword research
    • Why keyword research is the cornerstone of SEO
    • Short and long-tail keywords
    • Research vs buyer keywords
    • Google Keyword Planner
    • SEMRush and Ahrefs
    • Google autocomplete
  • Content architecture and sitemaps
  • Types of content:
    • Basic content
    • Blogs and articles
    • Link bait articles
  • Optimising content
    • The Ideal SEO-optimised Web Page
    • Rich snippets and featured snippets
    • Headlines that sell
    • SEO titles
    • Meta descriptions
    • Keyword use in body content
    • Body content formatting
  • Image optimisation
    • Image file size
    • Image names
    • Image formats
    • Image titles and alt tag
  • Interlinking
    • Types of page interlinking
    • Anchor text
    • Number of links

WordPress site speed optimisation

  • Measuring site speed: PageSpeed Insights, Pingdom and GTmetrix
  • Hosting as a site speed factor
  • Using a lightweight WordPress theme
  • Using lightweight WordPress plugins
  • Speed optimisation plugins
  • Plugins to avoid

YouTube SEO

  • Ranking factors
  • YouTube keyword research
  • YouTube clickthrough rate and custom thumbnails
  • Video duration
  • Video file name
  • Video title and description
  • Audience retention: how much of your video people watch
  • Subscribes after watching
  • Video shares
  • Playlists
  • Promoting your video
  • Embedding your video in blog posts
  • Optimising your channel page

Voice Search

  • How voice search works
  • Characteristics of voice search
  • How to optimise for voice search

Link Building

  • What is link building?
  • Types of links and those that make a difference
    • Article links
    • Directory links
    • Blog comments
    • Spintax and link tiers
    • Forum links
    • Guest post links
    • Video links
    • Social media links
    • Broken link
  • How to build links
  • Quality and relevance
  • Anchor text diversity
  • Link neighbourhood
  • Link building tools

Local SEO

  • What is local SEO?
  • Local search ranking signals
  • Keyword resarch
  • Geotargeting pages
  • Creating local listings
  • NAP and Local citations
  • Moz Local
  • Whitespark
  • Local link building
  • Why business reviews are important
  • Optimising your Google My Business listing
  • Social Media and Local Business
  • Local rank tracker

What’s next?

  • SEO training and further resources
  • SEO consulting
  • Final thoughts

DOMAIN REGISTRATION

Like a garage band, it all starts with a name. Having your target keyword in your domain name used to matter. It doesn’t anymore.

Here’s an example:

“car insurance” is the most lucrative keyword in the world of short term insurance. Digital marketers at the world’s big insurance companies yearn for pole position rankings because this keyword brings great traffic volumes and converts well.

So what happens if you search for “car insurance”? Does www.carinsurance.com appear in the first position? What about www.carinsurance.co.za?

Neither of these do.

I finally found www.carinsurance.co.za all the way on page 5 in position 51. Ouch.

So what the hell is going on here? All the official insurance companies are ranking for “car insurance” but none of the “affiliate sites” are ranking anymore. Many affiliates went out of business when Google messed with the rankings, so don’t believe that just having a domain with the right keywords is going to bring you ranking and therefore organic search traffic.

DOES DOMAIN NAME AFFECT SEO?

The reality is that Google values a good user experience and brand authority over keywords.

Eric Schmidt, Google Chairman said:

Brands are the solution, not the problem. Brands are how you sort out the cesspool. Brand affinity is clearly hard-wired. It is so fundamental to human existence that it’s not going away.

The best thing to do is not stress about having your primary keyword in the domain name but rather focus on the following:

  1. Is the domain name memorable?
  2. Is the domain name relevant, descriptive or useful to your audience?
  3. Is your domain name specific to your industry?
  4. Go for a .com if available and if you want to target a specific country go for the country domain e.g. .co.za for South Africa

Google looks at reputation, relevance and quality of content as much more important than keywords in a domain, so focus on that.

DOMAIN HOSTING

When you’re looking for a host for your WordPress site, you should look at the following important factors:

  1. Load speed: important SEO ranking factor. SiteGround, WPEngine and BlueHost are considered good in terms of hosting speed
  2. Managed WP hosting features i.e. SSL and HTTPS, Cloudflare CDN, WP autoupdates, Daily and on-demand backup, Dev/Staging/Production environments, Cpanel
  3. Guaranteed uptime: this is critical and you want at least a 99.9% uptime guarantee from your web host
  4. Server location: your server should be as close as possible to your target audience so that your site loads faster for them – the further away your web server is located, the long it will take for your site to load
  5. Content Delivery Network (CDN): your host should support a CDN which further boosts site performance
  6. Responsive support team: your hosting company should give excellent support to help you get set up, keep your site up and running and answer any questions you may have

WWW. VS NON-WWW

It really doesn’t matter whether you have www or not in front of your domain name – it doesn’t affect your WordPress SEO. It’s a legacy thing: people are used to using www (well, at least the first generation to use the Internet are).

NB: make sure that your site redirects to the preferred version e.g. if you visit deepthoughtmarketing.com it should redirect to www.deepthoughtmarketing.com.

And, praise be, if you’re using the Yoast SEO plugin (as you should) the plugin adds canonical tags to tell Google which version of your site it should index. No sweat.

WORDPRESS SEO PLUGINS

Historically, this has been a two-dog race: Yoast SEO and All-In-One SEO Pack are the plugins that have been most popular over the years. My personal preference (and that of many, many other SEOs) is Yoast.

Adding Yoast to your WordPress site is super-easy:

  1. Log in to your WordPress admin
  2. Go to Plugins -> Add New
  3. Click on Popular
  4. Click on Install Now
  5. Click on Activate

You now have a new section in your WordPress admin called SEO.

Further into this guide I’ll show you how to set up and configure Yoast for your WordPress site.

INSTALLING AN SEO FRIENDLY WORDPRESS THEME

The internet is run on WordPress (for the majority) and there are LOADS of places to get WordPress themes from. My preference is ThemeForest and StudioPress but I always look for features in a theme that make it SEO friendly:

  1. Is it built with valid coding? Your WordPress theme should be built with code that is up to date with the latest coding standards. You can check to see if your theme’s code is valid by using the following tools to check the HTML and CSS of the code:
    • W3C Markup Validator
    • https://datayze.com/site-validator.php
  2. Is the theme mobile responsive? Your site must render beautifully on all devices. Use these tools to check:
    • https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly
    • https://responsivedesignchecker.com/
  3. Schema Markup support: Schema Markup is a way to present your website code so that it’s understandable to Google – it gives Google more clues as to what your site is about. You can check to see if your WordPress theme has schema markup included by going to your WordPress site, right click, go to “View Source Code” and search the code for “itemscope” or “schema.org”. If you find this in your source code then your theme has Schema Markup
  4. Does my theme load fast? This is probably the most important SEO factor so make sure your site loads fast by checking it at https://tools.pingdom.com/

PERMALINKS AND SEO-FRIENDLY URLS

An SEO-friendly URL structure in WordPress is characterised by the following:

  • It’s user-friendly i.e. it tells your reader what the page is about
  • It contains the keywords that you want to rank for
  • It’s short and to the point
  • It’s in an SEO friendly format i.e.

NOT SEO-FRIENDLY: https://www.deepthoughtmarketing.com/?p=123

SEO-FRIENDLY: https://www.deepthoughtmarketing.com/sample-post/

As explained in the quickstart guide above, setting up SEO-friendly permalinks is easy but HEADS UP! If you have an established site that’s been running for 6 months or more, don’t change your permalink structure because you will lose all the social media share count and you could drop your SEO rankings. The only exception is if you’re using the plain permalink structure (not SEO-friendly) structure shown above. You should definitely move away from this permalink structure no matter what.

BREADCRUMBS AND WORDPRESS SEO

Breadcrumbs are navigational elements on your site that show people where they are. Similar to the bread crumbs Hansel and Gretel used for navigating into the deep, dark forest…

Your WordPress theme may have the option to enable breadcrumbs and if you’re using the Yoast SEO plugin there’s a section that let’s you enable breadcrumbs.

You should.

  • Breadcrumbs help with site navigation
  • Breadcrumbs may appear in the search results page
  • Breadcrumbs help the Googlebot understand your site structure and content hierarchy

You can enable breadcrumbs in Yoast by going to Search Appearance and then clicking on the Breadcrumbs tab:

OPTIMISING ROBOTS.TXT FOR WORDPRESS SEO

So you want to optimise your robots.txt file to help improve your SEO and rank better in Google? Let’s go!

WHAT ON EARTH IS A ROBOTS.TXT FILE?

You use a robots.txt file to tell Google how to crawl and index your site. It’s a set of instructions telling Google to go here, go there, ignore this, focus on that.

Your robots.txt file lives in the root directory (main folder) of your website and if you have access you can edit it using File Explorer in Cpanel or even with an FTP client such as Filezilla.

These rules do the following:

  1. Google should indext all WordPress images and files
  2. Google should NOT index WordPress plugin files, the admin area, readme files and affiliate links

HOW TO CREATE A ROBOTS.TXT FILE WITH YOAST

Yoast automatically creates a robots.txt file with the following rules:

User-agent: *

Disallow: /wp-admin/

Allow: /wp-admin/admin-ajax.php

You can edit these rules by going to Tools -> File Editor in the Yoast settings.

REMEMBER:

Use this with caution – adding the wrong rules can severely mess with your rankings. If you’re not sure, just leave the default Yoast robots.txt settings as is and walk away.

Yoast SEO plugin configuration

Now let’s dig deep into how to set up the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress.

Yoast is an extremely popular plugin but not many people know how to set it up and use it properly.

What you need to do:

  1. Set Yoast up correctly
  2. Verify the different webmaster tools in Yoast
  3. Focus on the right long-tail keywords
  4. Use Yoast to optimise your content

NOTE: you don’t need to use the Premium version of Yoast – the free version is just fine.

USELESS JUNK YOU DON’T NEED IN YOAST

For starters, log in to your WordPress site admin and head to the Yoast settings area: SEO -> General -> Features.

Here’s how your settings should be configured:

SEO analysis should be ON: this enables the content optimisation checklist on posts and plugsin

Readability analysis should be OFF: if you write well, using well-constructed, concise and customer-friendly sentences you’re good to go.

Cornerstone content should be ON: this lets Yoast categorise your most valuable content.

Text link counter should be OFF: this counts the number of internal links on each post. You don’t need this.

XML sitemaps should be ON: this cerates a sitemap you can submit to the search engines.

Ryte integration should be OFF: this detects whether the site is indexed by search engines. There are better ways of doing this.

Admin bar menu should be OFF: This adds a Yoast dropdown menu in the WordPress dashboard. Not necessary.

Security: no advanced settings for authors should be ON: this prevents authors from removing posts and changing canonical URLs and only lets editors and admins do this.

GENERAL SETTINGS

VERIFY THE DIFFERENT WEBMASTER TOOLS IN YOAST

You should create webmaster accounts for Google, Bing and Yandex (Russia’s largest search engine) and get the verification code for each. If you can do Baidu as well, go for it (good luck, unless you have a Chinese phone number…)

Connect Yoast to Google Search Console:

  1. Create an account and log in at Google Search Console
  2. Verify your site by following the steps in Google Search Console
  3. Log in to your WordPress site admin and go to Yoast -> Search Console -> Settings
  4. Click the Get Google Authorisation Code button
  5. Copy and paste the Google Authorisation Code into Yoast and click Save Profile

SEARCH APPEARANCE

GENERAL

Leave your Title Separator as default. For your Knowledge Graph and Schema.org setting, select if your website represents a person or an organisation. If an organisation, enter the name of the organisation and upload a clear, web-optimised logo.

HOWEVER,

When it comes to editing the SEO titles on individual pages, don’t use the snippet variable option. These act as templates for when you are too lazy to write out the title and meta description for a site BUT you shouldn’t be lazy – just write out proper titles and meta descriptions and don’t use snippet variables. The End.

CONTENT TYPES

This section lets you specify what the default search appearance should be for any particular type of content on your site. Leave the settings to the default settings.

MEDIA

Leave the setting on this page on Yes i.e. you do want to redirect attachment URLs to the attachment itself.

In plain English, this means that when you upload an image or video file to WordPress, WordPress doesn’t just save the file but also creates an attachment URL for the file. Since you don’t ever use these URLs, it’s better to simply redirect the attachment URLs to the media file itself.

TAXONOMIES, ARCHIVES, BREADCRUMBS AND RSS

Leave everything as it comes out the box on default settings.

BUT you do want to disable Author archives from being indexed. You want to make sure that Google indexes the pages and posts of your WordPress site but not things like author archives, date archives, tags, sliders, affiliate URLs and other nonsense that shouldn’t appear in Google.

SOCIAL

In the Accounts section of Yoast, enter all the relevant social media profile info for your WordPress site’s brand or organisation.

On the Facebook tab, enable Open Graph meta data and then upload an image you want to appear when your site is shared to Facebook. This image should be 1,200 x 630 pixels in dimension.

On the Twitter tab, enable Twitter card meta data and then select the default card type to use.

Remember to click on the Pinterest tab and confirm your site with Pinterest. You should have a Pinterest social media strategy since this is a good source of traffic.

TOOLS

The most useful tool Yoast offers is the Bulk Editor which allows you to easily and quickly update the SEO titles and meta descriptions for your posts and pages. You can use this tool to easily spot any issues at a glance – like missing or duplicate meta data.

YOAST FREE OR YOAST PREMIUM?

In my experience you don’t need to use Yoast Premium – it has some additional bells and whistles but not anything you can’t live without.

Building your SEO-optimised WordPress site

SEO OBJECTIVES AND KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS

Before you even start with an SEO plan, you need to set SEO objectives and develop a framework for how you’re going to measure your performance.

SEO objectives could include:

  • Get more qualified leads from organic search
  • Increase traffic from organic search
  • Increase rankings for high volume keywords

Key performance indicators related to these objectives are:

  • Lead to qualified lead ratio from organic search
  • Number of unique visitors from organic search over a certain period of time
  • Search engine results page (SERP) position for a specific keyword

Many lead-driven businesses need customers to have at least one personal contact with a salesperson in your company, especially if the product is highly priced or requires a bunch of decision making. This is where Conversion Rate Optimisation is super important! If your conversion rate is good, your lead generation SEO campaign will perform well.

When you set out a comprehensive measurement framework and set performance benchmarks, you will be able to show yourself and all your stakeholders how your SEO efforts are paying off.

The bottom line (Return on Investment) is key: how much revenue did we make from the SEO investment we made?

Remember that SEO is a long-term strategy and results don’t come overnight. You should put in a good 3 or 4 months of SEO effort before you even start seeing the needle shifting.

Keyword research

WHY KEYWORD RESEARCH IS THE CORNERSTONE OF SEO

You’re going to have to identify the keywords you want to target and rank for. What will people type into Google in order to find your website?

Which of these search phrases (keywords) will result in the type of traffic that converts into leads and sales on your site to meet your business objectives?

The very first step in doing SEO is answering this question.

Keyword research involves:

  • Using keyword search tools such as the Google Keyword Tool and Keyword Explorer in AHREFS (among many others)
  • Brainstorming keywords related to your industry, products and services
  • Understanding how difficult it will be to rank for each specific keyword
  • Understanding which keywords your competitors are ranking for
  • Understanding the search demand for each keyword
  • Choosing the keywords with high demand but low competition

Once you’ve got a keyword master list you can use that as a foundation for your SEO efforts and track how well you’re doing in Google for those keywords.

SHORT-TAIL AND LONG-TAIL KEYWORDS

Short tail keywords are keywords (search phrases) that have only one or two words. These keywords are usually not very high-converting: someone searching for “insurance” is probably in the research phase and not ready to buy.

Long-tail keywords are where you will find the GOLD – these are much longer phrases and usually indicate that people have completed their research and are ready to convert to a paying customer e.g. “outsurance boat insurance low excess”

RESEARCH VS BUYER KEYWORDS

Research keywords are the keywords people use when they are just starting out on their problem solving journey. Someone wanting to buy a second hand car may start off with “buy used cars” and land up on a bunch of car sites and blogs.

Once they’ve explored the different cars available they will keep on refining their searches to be more and more specific.

The more specific a search, the more likely someone is to buy!

The specific search keywords are longer and really hone in a topic. To go back to the used car example, if someone searches “2016 british racing green jaguar f type johannesburg” you can be pretty darn sure they know what they want and just need to find something with low mileage and a good price and the sale is in the bag.

GOOGLE KEYWORD PLANNER

You can start your keyword research and get some interesting info by using the Google Keyword Planner in Google Ads.

Here’s how to use it:

  1. Sign in to your Google Ads account
  2. Go to Tools -> Keyword Planner
  3. Select the Get search volume and forecasts tile
  4. Enter your keyword and hit submit
  5. Click on the Historical Metrics tab and view search volumes to see if there is any search demand for your keyword

You can also click on “Keyword ideas” in the left navigation and enter your primary keyword to get some related keywords.

NB note how expensive it is to bid on “car insurance” – don’t you wish your site ranked on page 1 for this lucrative keyword???

You can also use Google Trends and https://answerthepublic.com/ for some additional keyword ideas.

SEMRUSH AND AHREFS

My favourite keyword research tools (and SEO tools in general) are:

SEMRush

Ahrefs

Both are premium products i.e. not free, but the monthly subscription is well worth it if you’re planning on doing any type of SEO work in the next few months or years.

GOOGLE AUTOCOMPLETE

Google itself can give you some great keyword ideas.

Here’s how:

  1. Go to Google and start to type in the keyword you want to research
  2. Marvel at the ideas Google shows you
  3. You can keep going by using synonyms and changing up the word order

Did you notice the short-term keyword that you started with (highly competitive) and how Google suggested some nice long-tail, low competition keywords? You should focus on the long-tail keywords.

Content architecture and sitemaps

The web pages on your site are the gateways to your site. If you have only one page with little useful content your website won’t get a lot of traffic. You might only rank for your brand name but little else.

It’s better to have more pages so that you can rank for a variety of keywords in Google. This doesn’t mean you need to create 200 web pages if you want to rank for 200 different keywords. It simply means you need to spend time planning a site that is rich in content, easy to navigate and provides useful info to your visitors in a logical and user-friendly manner. If you build your site with the user in mind (optimised for mobile of course) you have a better chance that your site will get more organic traffic from Google.

Types of Content

I love content. It’s the juice that boosts your SEO rankings and gives much joy to your customers – assuming your content is great quality, written with love and attention and utter generosity. And content isn’t only writing of course: video and podcasts are the way of the future.

For now, let’s look at web content (the typed out stuff) and what forms this can and should take on your website.

BASIC CONTENT

This is the core, structural stuff you need on your website:

  • Home page content
  • About page
  • Product pages
  • Terms and conditions/privacy policy
  • Contact page

Your home page and your product pages are going to be the main pages you want to have ranking in Google since they are very specific to the products and services you offer. Your Ts and Cs page is of no SEO benefit so don’t optimise that for search – duh.

Without being a broken record about it, make sure your basic content pages have enough content for Google to index and figure out what your site is about – at least 500 words per page would be a good start. Remember that your content needs to be written to be useful to humans first, so focus on that.

BLOGS AND ARTICLES

Here’s where you start having some fun. Your blogs and articles must:

  • Be well-researched and well-written
  • Be in-depth
  • Deliver on the promise you make in your headline
  • Solve a problem, evoke emotion, persuade or inform, entertain i.e. the blog post or article must add value
  • Be so good that people will want to immediately share it
  • Be 1,500 to 2,000 words long (or more)
  • Include links to other useful places on the web

The art of writing a good blog post is a subject for an entire other tutorial but please keep the above basic principles in mind.

LINK BAIT ARTICLES

These are beyond merely articles but enter the realm of high-value assets. This type of content is:

  • 3,000+ words
  • Incredibly useful and well researched
  • So good that you just know a unicorn cried when it read the article
  • Magnetic: people just can’t help sharing and linking to it
  • Shared like crazy all over social media
  • The best article on the topic you will find anywhere on the web

Tough order, right. Well, the rewards are not immediate but if you invest in a great, really damn great piece of content you can be sure that you will attract links, traffic, rankings and even fame.

Have a look at this post by Steve Kamb over at Nerd Fitness:

It’s ridiculously well researched and a real treat to read as well. That’s why it’s STILL ranking for “paleo diet” years after it was written.

Optimising Content

THE IDEAL SEO-OPTIMISED WEB PAGE

Here’s what I request demand of my SEO copywriters when I brief in web content. You can use the same framework and be as demanding.

  1. One primary keyword per page: focus on the primary keyword as the main topic of the article or blog post
  2. Specify the page URL: this URL should be a couple of words max and should include the primary keyword in the URL
  3. Title: specify the title (SEO title that appears on the search engine results page) and make sure it’s about 66 characters long including spaces
  4. Meta description: write a compelling, inviting and informative description of what the page is about and make sure it contains the main keyword of the page and is about 166 characters long including spaces
  5. H1 heading: this page title is usually the H1 heading. There must only be one H1 heading per page
  6. Body content: start with an introduction that includes the primary keyword. Write a brilliant piece of informative/entertaining/persuasive content and divide it up into sections using H2 and H3 headings
  7. Sprinkle with bullet points, italics, bold and quotes to make the content feel light, easy to scan and digestible
  8. Link to related, useful content. If linking to a 3rd party website, open the link in a new tab
  9. Include relevant imagery or embedded video to make the content more interesting
  10. Spelling and grammar are essential!
  11. Make the content at least 500 words long but don’t waffle – the content should be exactly as long as it needs to be, no longer and no shorter
  12. Absolutely no plagiarism or duplicate content or I will have you killed badly like in Game of Thrones

If you can write or get someone to write all of your web pages with the above guidelines in place, you are off to a good start.

RICH SNIPPETS AND FEATURED SNIPPETS

These are the useful little bits and pieces Google adds to your search results to make them more relevant and informative. An example of rich snippets are reviews stars.

Google has specified the types of content that can earn rich and featured snippets and some of these include

  • Articles: top stories carousel
  • Local business listings
  • Recipes
  • Reviews

If you write the above type of content you may be able to get rich snippets on your search results.

How to get rich snippets:

  1. Write content types that will earn rich snippets
  2. Install a rich snippet plugin e.g. https://mythemeshop.com/plugins/wordpress-review/ for reviews or All in One Schema Rich Snippets
  3. Set up your rich snippet plugin
  4. Use your plugin to mark up your content
  5. Test your content using the Google Structured Data Testing Tool

Go for it and let me know in the comments below how your Rich Snippet experience worked out and which plugin you recommend.

HEADLINES THAT SELL

I assure you that entire words have been written about how to write headlines. You need to spend a ton of time crafting your headline since it’s the very first thing people see.

Your headline makes a promise that you better be damn sure your article or blog post delivers on.

For example, if I see a headline that says:

13 Potatoes that look like Channing Tatum

I sure as hell want to see 13 potatoes that look like Channing Tatum. Thankfully, the internet delivers.

Your headline should contain the main keyword you want to rank for but above all else it must be compelling and attract attention.

And that leads me straight into…

SEO TITLES

Your page title tag appears in the search result and should contain the main keyword you want to rank for so that people know the link is relevant to their search query.

For example, I searched for “canada is the best country in the world” and the titles in the Google search results leap out to me and show that they are RELEVANT:

Ideally your primary keyword should appear near the beginning of the page title. Your page title should be about 66 characters long so that it fits within the search results.

META DESCRIPTIONS

Your meta description acts like the salesperson to bring someone to your site from the Google search results page. If your title is the attraction, the meta description closes the deal.

Make sure each page of your site has a unique meta description and ensure that the primary keyword of the page is included in the first few words of the meta description.

Your meta description should be about 166 characters in length, including spaces. This ensures that the full meta description is shown in the search results, and not cut off.

KEYWORD USE IN BODY CONTENT

In the past SEOs would worry about how often to use the primary page keyword in the body content. This was known as keyword density. This tactic is now a thing of the past and you should avoid using the primary keyword too often as this doesn’t look natural. When you optimise a page for a keyword, write with the reader in mind and not a search engine.

You should use your primary keyword in the first sentence of the body copy and then a couple more times throughout the page – but do not overdo it. Use variations and synonyms and don’t obsess about it – rather write naturally.

BODY CONTENT FORMATTING

Nobody reads anymore. At the very best they skim through your content, looking for the highlights and the key takeaways. To this end, make sure your content is easy to scan.

Easy to scan content uses:

  • Subheadings
  • Paragraph breaks
  • Bullet points
  • Italics
  • Bold
  • Images and embedded videos
  • Quotes

Your content should feel light and enjoyable, not heavy and intimidating. Always write with the reader in mind (and remember the reader doesn’t read).

Image optimisation

There is nothing worse than a massive image that slows down your load speed. This is a sure-fire way to slow down your page and lose out on ranking. Let’s dive into image optimisation.

IMAGE FILE SIZE

The file size is the most critical aspect of image optimisation. Keep your image file size to as low as possible while maintaining quality of image. If you use Photoshop or Gimp or similar, save images for web.

Remember to optimise your images BEFORE you upload them – you don’t want to start off with a slow page and then speed it up later.

You can find unoptimised images by using a tool like https://gtmetrix.com/

Click on the PageSpeed and YSlow tabs to explore what you need to optimise.

Follow the recommendations and reupload the relevant images after you have optimised them.

You may also find more optimisation tips in the PageSpeed report referring to:

  • Serve scaled images: don’t use a plugin to rescale images. Rather manually resize images to the correct dimensions from the get go
  • Specify image dimensions: this happens automatically with the WordPress visual editor but some images in your code may still require that you specify dimensions in the HTML or CSS e.g. width=”135″ height=”250″
  • Optimise images using lossless compression: you can use an image compression service such as Imagify
  • Combining images using CSS sprites i.e. you can combine multiple images into 1 image. You can use https://css.spritegen.com/ to do this
  • Avoid URL redirects (by ensuring you don’t serve images from the wrong http/https version or www/non www version: you can fix these problems using the Better Search Replace plugin
  • Use a CDN (content delivery network) such as CloudFlare or StackPath.
    • Images will be served from a data centre close to the reader
    • The page will load faster for the reader
  • Cache images using your cache plugin – use a good cache plugin such as WP Rocket
  • Use a small and cacheable favicon of 16 x 16 pixels

IMAGE NAMES

When you create your image files, give them descriptive names e.g. bloggingtips.png instead of image_123_20190506.png.

This helps Google know what the image is about.

IMAGE FORMATS

I prefer PNG over JPEG and PNGs are generally better for images that don’t have a lot of colours. JPEGs are great for colour photographs with lots of detail.

Make sure your images are saved for web (compressed).

IMAGE TITLES AND ALT TAG

When you upload an image in WordPress, always complete the image title and alt tags:

Your alt tag and title should be similar or the same as your image file name and should describe what the image is about.

Interlinking

In the context of this WordPress SEO tutorial, interlinking refers to how the pages of your site link to each other. This is also referred to as internal links.

Internal links should be included to web copy to make it easy for people to find related info that will help them find out more about a specific topic.

Having links to a page from other pages on your site is also a good way to get sitelinks appearing in the Google search results – it shows Google which pages are important and should be highlighted.

Please note: never use an interlinking plugin to automatically link specific keywords to a specific page on your site – this is spammy and unnatural and will not help your SEO.

Also avoid using related posts plugins which can severely slow down your site – go for manual interlinking in places that make sense.

TYPES OF PAGE INTERLINKING

You can link to other pages on your site through:

  • Links in the text of the page
  • Linked images

ANCHOR TEXT

The anchor text of a link is the text that is clickable within a link – in html this would be <a hrefs=”https//www.yourwebpage.com”>ANCHOR TEXT</a>

You should vary the anchor text in links to a page. If you only used the same anchor text when linking to a page this would not be natural and could be seen as over-optimisation.

You should use short and descriptive anchor text that includes the primary keyword of the destination page – but not always. Keep things natural and varied.

NUMBER OF LINKS

Don’t overdo the links! Only add links to a page if you are helping the reader find out more info but don’t go nuts with it.

WordPress site speed optimisation

MEASURING SITE SPEED: PAGESPEED INSIGHTS, PINGDOM AND GTMETRIX

Do you know how fast your WordPress site is actually loading? There are loads of great tools out there that will tell you what your page load speed is. Let’s find out more!

Google’s PageSpeed Insights is a great but limited tool that measures how fast the first piece of information on your site loads i.e. Time To First Byte (TTFB). This is a measure of your server speed and ideally this should be less than 200 milliseconds – that’s 0,2 seconds.

Pingdom is super popular and for good reason – it has some great features and makes great recommendations for improving your site speed. The speed test tool is here.

GTMetrix is my favourite speed tool because of the in-depth reports and useful insights it gives. Be sure to click on all the tabs to dig into the info about your page speed.

Last but certainly not least: Gift of Speed go to great lengths and explain exactly what you need to fix.

HOSTING AS A SITE SPEED FACTOR

Your host server speed is super critical for fast load speed. I recommend doing your homework but personally recommend SiteGround which gets great reviews on Facebook polls.

Looking at hosting options:

Free and shared hosting:

  • Your website is hosted on a shared server with many (tens to hundreds) of other accounts
  • Your website can load slower especially at peak times
  • Don’t choose this option if you are serious about speed

VPS hosting:

  • Still shared but with far fewer accounts
  • Might include your own IP address
  • Also not recommended if you are serious about speed

Private cloud hosting:

  • Multiple servers share the load of hosting your site
  • If one server goes down, the others act as backup servers
  • Usually includes a unique IP address
  • Great for sites with low traffic and a small budget

Dedicated hosting:

  • Your site is hosted on its own server
  • Pricey monthly cost
  • Best option for speed if you have the money for it

USING A LIGHTWEIGHT WORDPRESS THEME

There is a tradeoff between visual appeal and performance.

A website can have all the bells and whistles: fancy animations, rich photo-quality images and embedded tools and calculators.

All these extras add bloat to the code of your site and slow it down.

On the other hand, a site that is text-only and loads super quickly is unlikely to be appealing and won’t serve your audience well.

The key is to find a balance between visual appeal and performance. A good web developer and UX designer will consider performance and create the best of both worlds. Experienced web developers are also able to develop a website without using too many plugins which also add bloat to the code.

This website is created using Genesis Framework and a fairly lightweight StudioPress WordPress theme.

I’ve also opted to limit the use of photo-realistic imagery and keep the visuals to minimal, illustration-style graphics.

When looking at WordPress themes, remember to consider load speed and performance – look for a theme that is optimised for speed!

USING LIGHTWEIGHT WORDPRESS PLUGINS

Few things can slow down your website like plugin bloat.

Plugins are super useful to add functionality to your WordPress website but can seriously mess with performance if you add the wrong plugins or too many plugins.

Again, this is all about balancing speed and functionality.

Choose WordPress plugins that are:

  • Critical for the functional aspects of your website
  • Well-supported
  • Professionally coded
  • Lightweight

Plugins can provide important functionality to your website, including:

  • Forms for contact or lead generation
  • Pop-ups
  • SEO functionality
  • Social media sharing
  • Cookie acceptance and GDPR/POPI privacy compliance
  • Security
  • Sliders
  • Performance optimisation
  • Tagging and tracking
  • And more!

Don’t be afraid of using necessary plugins – but do avoid plugins that you don’t really need and that slow down your website speed.

YouTube SEO

YOUTUBE RANKING FACTORS

YouTube uses a variety of factors to rank videos in its search results and recommended videos sections. These factors include:

  1. Relevance: YouTube uses the title, tags, and description of a video to determine its relevance to a search query.
  2. Watch time: Videos that keep viewers engaged for longer periods of time will be ranked higher than those with higher bounce rates.
  3. Audience Retention: YouTube uses audience retention metric to understand how engaging is a video and how much of it people are watching.
  4. Click-through rate (CTR): Videos with higher CTRs (the number of clicks on a video divided by the number of views) will be ranked higher than those with lower CTRs.
  5. Number of views: Videos with more views are generally ranked higher than those with fewer views.
  6. Number of likes and comments: Videos with more likes and comments will be ranked higher than those with fewer.
  7. Channel authority: Videos from channels with a higher authority will be ranked higher than those from less authoritative channels.
  8. Video upload frequency: Channels that consistently upload new videos will be ranked higher than those that do not.
  9. Video age: YouTube tends to favor videos that are more recent.
  10. Video File format and Quality: YouTube prefers videos that are in mp4 format and that have good resolution, frame rate and audio quality.

It’s worth noting that YouTube’s algorithm is constantly changing and evolving, and the specific ranking factors used may change over time.

YOUTUBE KEYWORD RESEARCH

How do you do YouTube keyword research?

YouTube keyword research is the process of identifying and analyzing the words and phrases that people use to search for videos on YouTube. Here are some steps you can take to do YouTube keyword research:

  1. Start with brainstorming: Make a list of words and phrases that are relevant to your video. Consider the topic, the main message and the target audience of your video.
  2. Use YouTube’s Autocomplete: Begin typing a word or phrase into YouTube’s search bar and see what suggestions appear. These suggestions can give you an idea of the most popular related searches.
  3. Use keyword research tools: There are several keyword research tools, such as Google Keyword Planner, Ahrefs, SEMrush, that allow you to see the search volume and competition for a particular keyword. You can also use tools like TubeBuddy, VidIQ, which are specifically designed for YouTube, they can also help you with keyword research.
  4. Analyze your competitors: Look at the titles, tags, and descriptions of videos that are similar to yours and rank well. Analyze what keywords they are using and consider incorporating them into your own video.
  5. Use long-tail keywords: Long-tail keywords are more specific phrases that usually have lower search volume but also less competition. They are more likely to be used by people who are further down the buying cycle and are more likely to convert into a customer.
  6. Optimize your video title, tags, and description: Once you have identified the keywords that you want to target, make sure to include them in your video title, tags, and description.
  7. Monitor your performance: Use YouTube Analytics to monitor your video’s performance and see which keywords are driving the most traffic to your video. Use this information to optimize your video and improve its search ranking.

Keyword research is an ongoing process, you should regularly check and update your keywords to ensure that you are targeting the most relevant ones and that your video is reaching the right audience.

YOUTUBE CLICKTHROUGH RATE AND CUSTOM THUMBNAILS

Do YouTube clickthrough rates matter?

Absolutely they do! Click-through rate (CTR) is one of the factors that YouTube uses to determine how to rank videos in its search results and recommended videos sections.

CTR is a metric that measures the number of clicks a video receives divided by the number of views. A high CTR indicates that a video is relevant to the search query and that it is engaging enough to make people want to click on it. Videos with high CTRs are likely to be ranked higher than those with low CTRs.

However, it’s important to note that CTR is just one of many factors that YouTube uses to rank videos, and a high CTR doesn’t guarantee that a video will rank well. Other important factors include relevance, watch time, audience retention, number of views, likes and comments, channel authority, video upload frequency, video age and video format and quality.

Additionally, a high CTR doesn’t necessarily translate into a high conversion rate, it’s important to track the performance of your video and analyze if the viewers are taking the intended actions.

In conclusion, a high CTR is an indicator of the video’s relevance and engagement and it’s a factor that helps YouTube to rank videos, but it’s not the only one. It’s important to create high-quality and engaging videos, optimized for both YouTube search and the audience, to improve the chances of ranking well and achieving your marketing goals.

What about YouTube custom thumbnails?

Custom thumbnails are images that you can add to your YouTube videos to help them stand out and attract more clicks. They are a powerful way to grab viewer’s attention and increase the click-through rate (CTR) of your video.

Here are some best practices for creating effective custom thumbnails:

  1. Use high-resolution images: Make sure that your custom thumbnail is at least 1280×720 pixels and has a minimum resolution of 640×480 pixels.
  2. Make them visually appealing: Use bright colors, contrasting text, and attention-grabbing images to make your thumbnail stand out.
  3. Make them relevant: The thumbnail should be relevant to the content of the video and should give a sense of what the video is about.
  4. Use text sparingly: Include a title and/or short tagline on the thumbnail, but be careful not to overcrowd the image with text.
  5. Be consistent: Use the same style for all of your thumbnails to help your channel look more professional and make it easy for viewers to recognize your videos.
  6. Test different thumbnails: A/B test different thumbnails to see which one performs better and use that one as the final thumbnail.
  7. Respect YouTube guidelines: The thumbnail should not contain any graphic violence, sexually suggestive content, or hate speech.

By using a custom thumbnail, you can make your videos stand out and increase the chances of getting more views. It’s important to remember that the thumbnail should be relevant and consistent with the content, and should follow YouTube’s guidelines.

VIDEO DURATION

How long should a YouTube video be?

The ideal length of a YouTube video depends on the type of content and the audience you are trying to reach. Generally speaking, the longer the video, the more opportunities you have to engage with your audience and deliver your message, but it also means more effort to keep the audience engaged.

Here are some guidelines to consider when determining the length of your YouTube video:

  1. Short-form content: Videos that are less than 2 minutes long are considered short-form content. This type of content is well suited for quick tips, how-to videos, and other types of content that can be delivered in a short amount of time.
  2. Mid-form content: Videos that are between 2 and 20 minutes long are considered mid-form content. This type of content is well suited for tutorial videos, product reviews, and other types of content that require more detailed explanations.
  3. Long-form content: Videos that are longer than 20 minutes are considered long-form content. This type of content is well suited for webinars, live streams, and other types of content that require more in-depth explanations and engagement with the audience.
  4. Audience preferences: It’s important to consider the preferences of your target audience when determining the length of your video. Some audiences may prefer shorter videos, while others may be more interested in longer, in-depth content.
  5. Video purpose: The purpose of your video should also be taken into account when determining the length. If your goal is to increase brand awareness or generate leads, a shorter video may be more effective, while if your goal is to educate or entertain your audience, a longer video may be more appropriate.

In general, the key to creating a successful YouTube video is to provide value to your audience, keep them engaged and make sure that the video is the right length for the type of content and audience you are trying to reach.

VIDEO FILE NAME

The file name of your video is the name that you give to the video file before you upload it to YouTube. It’s an important factor to consider when uploading your video because it can help increase the visibility of your video in YouTube search results and make it easier for viewers to find.

Here are some best practices for naming your video file:

  1. Use keywords: Include relevant keywords in the file name that describe what the video is about. This will help YouTube understand the content of the video and make it more likely to show up in search results.
  2. Be descriptive: Make the file name as descriptive as possible. Use a title that accurately describes the content of the video.
  3. Keep it short: Keep the file name short and concise, ideally less than 70 characters, so it doesn’t get cut off in search results.
  4. Use dashes instead of underscores: Dashes are more search-friendly than underscores, so use dashes to separate words in the file name.
  5. Avoid special characters and spaces: Special characters and spaces can cause problems when uploading videos and may not be compatible with some systems.
  6. Consider SEO best practices: Use the same conventions you would use for SEO when naming your video file.

It’s worth noting that, once you upload a video to YouTube, the title and the file name are not the same, the title is the visible name of your video on YouTube, the one that appears on the video page, the search results, the recommendations and the playlists. The file name is not visible to the viewers, but it still important for the search engine optimization (SEO) of your video.

VIDEO TITLE AND DESCRIPTION

The title of your video should be concise, descriptive, and include relevant keywords. This will help YouTube understand the content of the video and make it more likely to show up in search results. The title should be compelling and grab the viewer’s attention, but also be honest and reflective of the content of the video.

The video description should also be well written, providing more information about the video and what it covers. It should be engaging and give the viewer a good idea of what to expect from the video. It’s also a good idea to include relevant keywords in the description, but not to stuff it with too many keywords, as this can negatively affect the video’s visibility.

In addition to the title and description, it’s also important to use tags, which are keywords or phrases that describe the content of your video. These tags help YouTube understand the content of your video and make it more likely to show up in search results.

Overall, the video title, description, and tags are all important elements that can help increase the visibility and engagement of your video on YouTube. It’s important to take the time to craft a compelling title and description that accurately reflects the content of your video and includes relevant keywords to help it rank well in YouTube’s search results.

AUDIENCE RETENTION: HOW MUCH OF YOUR VIDEO PEOPLE WATCH

YouTube Audience Retention is a metric that measures how engaged viewers are with a video by tracking how much of the video they watch. It’s a way for YouTube to understand how engaging is a video and how much of it people are watching. YouTube uses this metric to rank videos in its search results and recommended videos sections. The more a video can keep viewers engaged, the higher it will be ranked.

YouTube provides Audience Retention data in the form of a graph, which shows how many viewers watch the video at different points in time. The graph is divided into two parts:

  1. Viewer retention: This shows the percentage of viewers who continue to watch the video over time.
  2. Absolute retention: This shows the number of viewers who continue to watch the video over time.

The graph shows an overall retention rate and it also breaks down the retention rate by different segments of the video.

There are several ways to increase audience retention on your videos:

  1. Make sure the video is engaging: Use a strong opening, keep the video interesting and use storytelling techniques to keep your audience hooked.
  2. Optimize your video length: The video should be long enough to cover the topic but short enough to keep the viewers engaged.
  3. Use subtitles and closed captions: This will help viewers who have hearing impairments, who are in a noisy environment or who are watching your videos in a different language.
  4. Optimize for mobile: Make sure your videos are optimized for mobile viewing as more and more people are watching videos on their smartphones.
  5. Use annotations and end screens: Use annotations and end screens to direct viewers to other videos, playlists, or a call to action.
  6. Monitor and analyze: Use YouTube Analytics to monitor audience retention and analyze what is working and what is not.

Audience retention is a key metric on YouTube and can have a big impact on the visibility and engagement of your videos. By creating engaging content, optimizing the video length and using the above tactics, you can improve the audience retention of your videos and increase the chances of reaching a wider audience.

SUBSCRIBES AFTER WATCHING

Subscribing to a YouTube channel after watching a video is an important metric for YouTube creators because it can help to increase the reach and visibility of their videos. Subscribers are more likely to watch and engage with a creator’s future videos, and they also help to build an audience and community around the channel.

Here are some reasons why it’s important that people subscribe after watching a video:

  1. Increased reach: Subscribers are more likely to see and watch a creator’s new videos, which can help to increase the overall reach of the channel.
  2. Repeat views: Subscribers are more likely to watch multiple videos from a creator, which can help to increase the overall views and engagement on the channel.
  3. Building community: Subscribers can help to build a community around a channel, providing feedback, participating in polls, and creating discussion around the videos.
  4. Increased revenue: Subscribers can help to increase the potential for monetization of a channel through sponsorships, brand deals, and other revenue streams.
  5. YouTube algorithm: Subscribing to a channel is a signal to YouTube’s algorithm that the viewer is interested in the channel’s content, and thus, it’s more likely to recommend it to other users.

It’s worth noting that not everyone will subscribe after watching a video, but encouraging viewers to subscribe is still an important aspect of building a successful YouTube channel. You can encourage viewers to subscribe by including a call to action at the end of the video, creating a compelling channel trailer and having a consistent upload schedule.

Ultimately, increasing subscribers helps to establish a loyal audience, and it’s a key metric for YouTube creators to track their growth and success.

VIDEO SHARES

Sharing a video on YouTube refers to the act of a viewer sharing the video with others, through social media, email or other platforms. Video shares can have a big impact on the reach and visibility of a video, as they can help to increase the number of views and bring new viewers to the channel.

Here are some reasons why video shares are important:

  1. Increased reach: Sharing a video can help to increase its reach, as it can be seen by a wider audience beyond the original viewers.
  2. Viral potential: A video that is shared widely has the potential to go viral, which can bring a huge amount of views and exposure for the channel.
  3. Building an audience: Sharing a video can help to bring new viewers to the channel, who may then decide to subscribe and watch more videos.
  4. Increased engagement: Videos that are shared are more likely to receive comments, likes, and other forms of engagement, which can help to increase the overall engagement on the channel.
  5. Brand awareness: Sharing a video can help to increase brand awareness and promote a business or product.

Encouraging viewers to share a video can be done through including calls to action at the end of the video or by making it easy to share by including share buttons on the video page. It’s also important to create shareable and engaging content that people will want to share with others.

Overall, video shares are an important metric for YouTube creators because they can help to increase the reach and visibility of a video and bring new viewers to the channel. It’s important to encourage viewers to share the video and create shareable content that resonates with people.

YOUTUBE PLAYLISTS

Video playlists on YouTube are a way for creators to group related videos together and make them easily accessible to viewers. They allow creators to organize their content and make it easy for viewers to find and watch related videos. Playlists also can help to increase the overall views and engagement on a channel.

Here are some reasons why video playlists are important:

  1. Increased watch time: Playlists can help to increase the overall watch time on a channel by making it easy for viewers to watch multiple related videos in one sitting.
  2. Improved organization: Playlists allow creators to organize their content in a way that makes it easy for viewers to find and watch related videos.
  3. Increased discoverability: Playlists can help to increase the discoverability of a channel by making it easier for viewers to find related videos and explore more of a creator’s content.
  4. Improved engagement: Playlists can help to increase engagement on a channel by making it easy for viewers to watch multiple videos in one sitting and encouraging them to watch more of a creator’s content.
  5. Increased monetization potential: Playlists can help to increase the potential for monetization of a channel by making it easy for viewers to watch multiple videos, which can lead to more ad revenue.

Creating playlists on YouTube is easy, you can create them on your channel, and you can also add existing videos to them. It’s important to have a clear theme or purpose for each playlist and to organize the videos within the playlist in a logical order. It’s also a good idea to promote your playlists by including them in your end screens or annotations.

In conclusion, video playlists are an effective way for YouTube creators to organize and promote their content, which can increase the overall watch time, discoverability and engagement on their channel. They also can help to increase the potential for monetization of a channel.

PROMOTING YOUR YOUTUBE VIDEO

What are the best ways to promote a YouTube video?

There are several ways to promote a YouTube video and increase its visibility and reach:

  1. Optimize for YouTube SEO: Optimize your video’s title, description, tags, and other metadata to make it more likely to show up in YouTube’s search results.
  2. Share on social media: Share your video on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn to increase its reach.
  3. Embed the video on your website: Embed the video on your website, blog, or other online properties to increase its visibility and reach.
  4. Use end screens and annotations: Use end screens and annotations to promote your other videos and encourage viewers to subscribe to your channel.
  5. Collaborate with other creators: Collaborate with other creators in your niche to cross-promote each other’s videos and reach new audiences.
  6. Use YouTube ads: Use YouTube’s advertising platform to promote your video to a wider audience.
  7. Reach out to influencers: Reach out to influencers in your niche and ask them to share your video with their audience.
  8. Engage with your audience: Respond to comments, answer questions and engage with your audience to build a community around your channel.
  9. Create a video series: Create a series of videos around a specific topic to keep your audience engaged and coming back for more.
  10. Use email marketing: Use email marketing to promote your video to your existing email list and encourage them to share it with their own network.

It’s important to note that the best way to promote a video on YouTube will vary depending on the video’s content and target audience. It’s also a good idea to A/B test different promotion methods to see which one works best for your video.

In summary, promoting a YouTube video is essential to increase its reach and visibility. There are several ways to promote a video, such as optimizing for YouTube SEO, sharing on social media, collaborating with other creators and influencers, and using YouTube ads, among others. It’s important to test different methods and find the best way to promote the video according to its content and target audience.

EMBEDDING YOUR YOUTUBE VIDEO IN BLOG POSTS

Should you embed YouTube videos into blog posts?

Embedding YouTube videos into blog posts can be a great way to increase the engagement and visibility of both the blog post and the video. When you embed a video in a blog post, you’re providing an interactive and multimedia-rich experience for the viewer, which can help to increase engagement and keep the viewer on the page for longer.

Here are some reasons why you might want to embed YouTube videos into blog posts:

  1. Increased engagement: Embedding a video in a blog post can increase engagement by providing a more interactive and multimedia-rich experience for the viewer.
  2. Increased watch time: Embedding a video in a blog post can help to increase the overall watch time on the video, which is an important metric for YouTube.
  3. Increased discoverability: Embedding a video in a blog post can help to increase the discoverability of both the blog post and the video, making it more likely to be found by search engines.
  4. Increased sharing: Embedding a video in a blog post can make it more likely to be shared on social media, which can help to increase the reach and visibility of both the blog post and the video.
  5. Improved user experience: Embedding a video in a blog post can improve the overall user experience by providing a more engaging and interactive experience for the viewer.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that not all blog posts will benefit from a video and not all videos are suitable for all blog posts. It’s important to ensure that the video is relevant to the topic of the blog post and that it will add value to the overall user experience. It’s also important to make sure that the video is embedded in a way that is accessible to all viewers, including those with disabilities.

In summary, embedding YouTube videos in blog posts can be a great way to increase engagement and visibility, but it’s important to ensure that the video is relevant to the blog post content.

OPTIMISING YOUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL PAGE

How do you optimise a YouTube channel page?

Optimizing your YouTube channel page can help to increase the visibility and engagement of your channel and make it more attractive to potential viewers. Here are some ways to optimize your YouTube channel page:

  1. Use a branded profile picture and banner: Use a branded profile picture and banner that accurately represents your brand and makes it easy for viewers to identify your channel.
  2. Optimize your channel description: Use keywords in your channel description and make sure it accurately represents the content of your channel.
  3. Organize your videos into playlists: Organize your videos into playlists based on topic or theme to make it easy for viewers to find related content.
  4. Use end screens and annotations: Use end screens and annotations to promote your other videos and encourage viewers to subscribe to your channel.
  5. Add links to your website and social media profiles: Add links to your website and social media profiles in your channel’s about section to make it easy for viewers to connect with you on other platforms.
  6. Use YouTube cards: Use YouTube cards to promote other videos, playlists or links to your website.
  7. Use YouTube analytics: Use YouTube analytics to track the performance of your channel, and make data-driven decisions to optimize your channel.
  8. Create a consistent upload schedule: Create a consistent upload schedule to keep your audience engaged and coming back for more.
  9. Use video branding: Use video branding elements like intros, outros and watermarks

Voice Search

HOW VOICE SEARCH WORKS

Voice search is a technology that allows users to perform a search query by speaking into a device such as a smartphone, tablet, or smart speaker. Voice search uses natural language processing (NLP) and speech recognition technologies to understand and interpret the user’s spoken words, and then match those words to relevant search results.

Here’s how voice search works:

  1. The user activates the voice search function by saying a trigger word, such as “OK Google” or “Hey Siri,” depending on the device being used.
  2. The device’s microphone listens for the user’s query and records it as an audio file.
  3. The audio file is then sent to a remote server, where it is processed and converted into text using speech recognition technology.
  4. The text is then analyzed using natural language processing (NLP) technology to understand the user’s intent and extract relevant keywords.
  5. The extracted keywords are then used to perform a search query and generate a list of relevant results.
  6. The device then speaks the results back to the user, or displays them on a screen, depending on the device being used.

Voice search is becoming increasingly popular as people are becoming more comfortable with interacting with their devices using voice commands, and as the technology behind it continues to improve. It’s important to keep in mind that the way people are searching with voice is different than with text, they tend to use more natural language and ask more conversational questions. This means that it’s essential to optimize your website and its content for voice search by including long-tail keywords, and providing comprehensive and accurate information on the topics you cover.

HOW TO OPTIMISE FOR VOICE SEARCH

Optimizing your website and its content for voice search is an important step in ensuring that your business can be found by users using this technology. Here are some ways to optimize for voice search:

  1. Use natural language: As voice search uses natural language, it’s important to use conversational language on your website and in your content. Use long-tail keywords and phrases that match the way people are likely to speak when using voice search.
  2. Optimize for featured snippets: Featured snippets are the answers that appear at the top of the search results when a user asks a question. Optimize your content to target featured snippets by answering questions directly and providing comprehensive information on a topic.
  3. Use structured data: Structured data, such as schema markup, can help search engines understand the context of your content, making it more likely to appear in voice search results.
  4. Optimize for local search: Voice search is often used to find local businesses, so it’s important to optimize your website and content for local search by including your business name, address, and phone number on your website and on local directories.
  5. Use long-form content: Long-form content is more likely to be found in voice search results, so consider creating longer blog posts and articles to cover a topic in-depth.
  6. Optimize for mobile: With more and more people using voice search on mobile devices, it’s important to optimize your website for mobile to ensure that it’s fast and easy to use on a small screen.
  7. Track and monitor your voice search results: Use tools like Google Search Console, Google Analytics and Voiceflow to track and monitor your voice search results and make data-driven decisions to optimize your content.
  8. Test your website with voice assistants: Test your website with popular voice assistants like Google Assistant, Alexa, and Siri to ensure that it’s easy for them to understand and navigate.

In summary, optimizing for voice search involves using natural language, optimizing for featured snippets, using structured data, optimizing for local search, creating long-form content, optimizing for mobile, tracking and monitoring voice search results, and testing your website with voice assistants.

Link Building

Content alone doesn’t bring traffic from Google though. You need to rank in Google and for that you need links to your site. When other sites link to your site it’s a signal to Google that your site is awesome and worth visiting. A link to your site is a vote of confidence and links are a good way to build authority in the eyes of Google.

Not all links are equal though. If you get a single link from Oprah.com it could be a massive signal to Google that your site is awesome. If you get thousands of links from low quality, poor quality and low authority sites this is a signal to Google that you’ve been buying links and you will be penalised.

WHAT IS LINK BUILDING?

Link building is the process of acquiring hyperlinks (often called “links” or “backlinks”) from other websites to your own. These links serve as a “vote” of confidence for search engines and help to increase the visibility and authority of your website.

Here are the main ways that link building can benefit a website:

  1. Improve search engine rankings: Search engines use links as a way to determine the relevance and authority of a website. The more high-quality links a website has pointing to it, the more likely it is to rank well in search results.
  2. Increase referral traffic: Links also serve as a way for users to discover new websites and content. When a user clicks on a link, they are taken to the linked webpage, this is known as referral traffic.
  3. Establish credibility and trust: Having many high-quality links pointing to a website can establish credibility and trust with both users and search engines.
  4. Discover new opportunities: Link building can also open up new opportunities for a website, such as partnerships, collaborations, and guest blogging opportunities.
  5. Brand building: Building links from authoritative and reputable sites also helps to improve the brand visibility and credibility.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that not all links are created equal. Search engines place more value on links from reputable, high-authority websites than from low-quality or spammy websites. Therefore, it’s important to focus on building high-quality, relevant links from reputable websites.

In conclusion, link building is the process of acquiring hyperlinks from other websites to your own, it serves as a vote of confidence for search engines and help to increase the visibility and authority of your website, improve search engine rankings, increase referral traffic, establish credibility and trust, discover new opportunities, and improve brand building.

RANKING FACTORS

As I mentioned before there are more than 200 factors that Google’s algorithms look at when deciding which websites to rank in what positions for search queries. There are a number of sites that keep track of data related to these ranking factors and publish annual reports on what could possibly be included in these ranking factors. Again, Google doesn’t reveal the secret in its secret sauce but the data and evidence can give us clues.

Brian Dean of Backlinko currently publishes the best and most authoritative list of ranking factors:

As of the time of writing these ranking factors are as follows in order of importance:

  1. Referring domains = LINKS
  2. Organic click-through-rate
  3. Domain authority
  4. Mobile usability
  5. Dwell time
  6. Total number of backlinks
  7. Content quality
  8. On-page SEO

Let’s take a look at each of these factors:

Referring domains

The number of other sites (domains) that link to your site is one of the most important ranking factors.  Of course the authority of these domains is an important factor too. Domain authority comes from age, number of backlinks and other trust factors.

The anchor text in your backlinks are important too. If you want to rank for a keyword and a different site links to your page using that keyword in the anchor text of the link it’s a signal to Google that your web page is relevant to the keyword in the anchor text. Remember, however, that too many links with exactly the same anchor text is a signal that link buying has taken place so you need variation in your inbound anchor text in order to avoid getting penalised by Google.

There are some SEOs who think that links from government and authoritative education sites (such as universities) give your website an authority boost and Google will rank you higher. Matt Cutts, who used to work as Head of Webspam for Google, denies that links from .gov and .edu sites will boost your rankings, however.

The types of links you get to your site are important too – the best types of links are editorial links i.e. when the website links to your website directly from within the copy of the article or blog post.

Links from ads don’t help you rank so don’t ask for links on banner ads “for SEO purposes”. These types of links are OK for low volumes of traffic but won’t help your SEO efforts.

Your backlink profile needs to have variety. This is the sign of a normal website where links have naturally grown and not artificially built. If your backlink profile has links from only a few sources e.g. forum posts or blog comment links this is a sign that you’re trying to manipulate the search results. Don’t use software and other quick fixes to build links as these will ruin your backlink profile.

Link factors Google considers when assigning a weighting to a link:

  • Authority of the linking page or site (look for a high Domain Rating and URL Rating in AHREFS)
  • DOFOLLOW links are preferred but NOFOLLOW links from high authority sites such as Wikipedia will help. Have a mixture of DOFOLLOW and NOFOLLOW in your backlink profile
  • Editorial links are preferred to sidebar and sitewide/footer links
  • Links should be surrounded by relevant text
  • Google looks at the chances that a link will actually be clicked as a factor
  • Variation in anchor text is important – but there is a strong correlation between having the the target keyword in the anchor text (or a partial match) and ranking. Never ask for specific anchor text when link building – it will come naturally
  • Link relevancy is also influenced by other outbound links on the page that give more context and are related to the link being evaluated
  • Unnatural links result in penalties
  • The best types of links are editorial i.e. where the site owner has linked to your page as a result of its good content (and not because they’re getting paid to do so)

HOW TO BUILD LINKS

Competitor analysis:

  • Review your competitors backlink profiles in order to work out how they gained their links and then do the same if possible

Quick and easy ways to build links:

  • Contact resource sites and ask for your page to be added to their list of resources
  • Ask related sites if you can contribute a guest post and link back to your own site
  • Create links to your site from social media sites, blog comments and video sites

Editorial links:

Step 1: Identify where competitors are getting links from and where these links are pointing to

Step 2: Create better content than what your competitor has produced

Step 3: Do an outreach campaign or promotion so that people link to your content instead

How to do outreach campaigns

Content will naturally attract links over time but quite often this takes a long time. The best way to get people to view and link to your content is to mail them and tell them about it.

Timing is important, so use AHREFS Alerts to actively monitor the Internet for when someone links to a specific piece of competitor content, or mentions your specific brand or URL.

The faster you move the more likely someone will link to your page since the topic is relevant to them and top of mind. Email them and ask if they will link to your content which offers a similar resource.

If someone posts an article about your target keyword, mail them quickly and let them know about the article you wrote which relates to the topic.

How to send outreach mails without coming across as a spammer

Don’t use a template. Personalise each mail. Or at least don’t look like you’re using a template.

Don’t bother sending outreach mails to massively successful bloggers or tiny, newbie bloggers since you won’t get any value out of either. You need to approach bloggers or site owners with a relatively large audience but not so large that your outreach mail will be ignored.

Important:

  • Identify their personal email address and not a generic email address like info@
  • Put yourself in their shoes and answer the “what’s in it for me”question – why should they link to you?
  • Give them something new and worthwhile linking to
  • Explain what the post is about (briefly) and how it can add to what they’re publishing
  • Give them enough information to evaluate if the content is good enough to link to

Another approach is to use the psychology of vanity and mention or feature them in your article. They are then likely to link to it or share your article on their own social media profiles.

So:

  • Quote their article, podcast or soundbite
  • Stroke their egos
  • Talk about how awesome their product or service is and how it’s helped you

Only share your best content – the stuff that’s average and not GREAT won’t be worthy of attention.

Give evidence in your outreach mail that others have enjoyed your content too:

  • Where you have featured
  • Shares from influencers

Don’t rely on the similarity of your content with their content or the content that they’ve shared. Show how your content is supremely better or has a different viewpoint.

Outreach email subject lines:

  • Don’t be spammy or sleazy
  • Keep them short and descriptive
  • Be honest

Asking nicely

You need to figure out a good balance between flattery, asking for a link or a tweet and not spamming.

It’s OK to follow up – but only once.

Specific link building tactics

  • Create link bait content ie content that attracts links naturally
    • Research findings
    • Unique data
    • Results of a survey
    • Infographic
    • Interactive content
  • Create a tool or online service that provides value

How do you create share-worthy content?

You need to tap into human emotion and understand why people like sharing content and what will motivate them to do so.

People like sharing content that makes them look good, knowledgeable, trendy or on point.  They will share an article or content piece that helps them by backing up their own opinion or drive home a point they’re trying to make.

Feelings play a huge part in why people share. Think about what happens when you see a funny video on Whatsapp. You laugh and immediately feel good. You want to share that good feeling with other people so you immediately share it with other people and hope for their reaction. If the other person laughs it was because of something YOU did – you made them laugh! What a great feeling!.

The same can be said for content that evokes anger or riles people up about a cause. You see a video about a hijacking attempt in Johannesburg so you pass it on to all your friends as a caution or to show your displeasure in the high rate of crime in the country.

The type of content people share is related to current events and things that are the talking points in culture. This could be something that the current US President said or did or some amazing piece of technology everyone is talking about. Everyone wants to be a newsbreaker and share the latest, up-to-date content on a buzzworthy topic.

The other reason people share is to help others by giving them a resource that will make it easy for them to complete a task. Something that has genuine, practical value will be shared because in so doing people are helping others.

It’s also true that content that has been shared by many others is more likely to be shared and this results in a lovely snowball effect.

Remember that link-bait works differently for different niche audiences and industries. Your target industry may not care about an extremely in-depth content piece on a single topic but might prefer a carefully assembled collection of resources or valuable bits of content in a top-10 list.

Don’t replicate an existing piece of content unless you fundamentally add value by giving it your own unique spin or dramatically increasing value. Cloned content gets nowhere.

QUALITY AND RELEVANCE

When it comes to link building, not all links are created equal. Both the quality and relevance of the links pointing to a website are important factors in determining the value of those links.

  1. Link quality: Link quality refers to the authority, trustworthiness, and reputation of the website linking to your website. Links from high-authority websites, such as government websites, universities, and well-established media outlets, are considered to be of higher quality than links from low-authority or spammy websites.
  2. Relevance: Relevance refers to how closely the content of the linking website is related to the content of your website. Links from websites that cover similar or related topics to your own are considered to be more relevant than links from unrelated websites.

Search engines use these two factors, link quality and relevance, to determine the value of a link. A link from a high-authority, relevant website is considered to be more valuable than a link from a low-authority, unrelated website.

It’s important to note that link quality and relevance are not the only factors that search engines use to determine the value of a link. They also take into account the anchor text used in the link, the placement of the link on the linking page, and other factors.

To achieve high-quality and relevant links, it’s important to focus on creating valuable and informative content that is likely to be shared and linked to by other websites. Also, it’s important to build relationships with other websites in your industry and to reach out to them to request a link.

In summary, when it comes to link building, the quality and relevance of the links pointing to a website are important factors in determining the value of those links. Quality refers to the authority, trustworthiness, and reputation of the linking website, while relevance refers to how closely the content of the linking website is related to the content of your website. Building high-quality and relevant links can help to improve the visibility and authority of a website on search engines.

ANCHOR TEXT DIVERSITY

Anchor text is the visible, clickable text in a hyperlink that is used to link one webpage to another. Anchor text diversity refers to the variety of words and phrases used as the anchor text in links pointing to a website.

Having a diverse anchor text profile is important for several reasons:

  1. Avoiding penalties: Search engines use anchor text as a way to determine the relevance and authority of a website. If a website has a large number of links with the same exact anchor text, it may be flagged as spammy or manipulative, which can result in penalties or lower rankings.
  2. Improving relevance: Anchor text diversity can help to improve the relevance of a website by using a variety of keywords and phrases that accurately reflect the content of the linked-to page.
  3. Enhancing the user experience: Using diverse anchor text can also enhance the user experience by providing more context and information about the linked-to page.
  4. Helping with brand recognition: Use of brand keywords in anchor text can also help with brand recognition, by making it clear to users and search engines that the link is associated with your brand.
  5. Improving link diversity: Having a diverse anchor text profile can also improve the overall diversity of a website’s link profile, which can help to mitigate the risk of penalties or lower rankings.

To improve anchor text diversity, it’s important to vary the words and phrases used as anchor text in links pointing to your website. Instead of always using the same exact phrase or keyword, use a variety of related keywords, phrases, and even brand names to diversify your anchor text profile. Also, it’s a good practice to use a mix of branded and non-branded anchor texts, so it can look more natural.

In conclusion, anchor text diversity is the variety of words and phrases used as the anchor text in links pointing to a website. Having a diverse anchor text profile can help to avoid penalties, improve relevance, enhance the user experience, help with brand recognition and improve link diversity.

LINK NEIGHBOURHOOD AND YOUR BACKLINK PROFILE

Your backlink profile tells the story of where your links are coming from. If your links are from sites with a good reputation then you’re all good but if your backlink profile mainly consists of low quality sites from “bad neighbourhoods” (sites with low reputation in the eyes of Google) you could be in trouble.

Notice how I use the words “could” and “may” a lot? This is why SEOs use the phrase “it depends” so often – understanding and deciphering Google is an ongoing challenge for SEOs.

LINK BUILDING VELOCITY

If your site has very few links and over the course of a few weeks suddenly starts getting many websites linking to it this is a signal to Google that something fishy could be going on (buying links for example). Google might do a manual check (meaning that an actual human will look at the links coming in to your site) and this might result in a penalty. If you’re engaging in link building, slow and steady wins the race.

LINK BUILDING TOOLS

Link building tools are software programs or online platforms that help with the process of acquiring hyperlinks from other websites to your own. These tools can automate various aspects of the link building process, such as finding link opportunities, analyzing link profiles, and monitoring the progress of your link building efforts.

Here are some examples of popular link building tools:

  1. Ahrefs: Ahrefs is a comprehensive link building tool that allows you to analyze your own and your competitors’ link profiles, find link opportunities, and track your link building progress.
  2. SEMrush: SEMrush is a comprehensive SEO tool that includes a link building feature that allows you to find link building opportunities, analyze your link profile, and monitor your backlinks.
  3. Majestic: Majestic is a link analysis tool that allows you to analyze your own and your competitors’ link profiles, find link building opportunities, and track your link building progress.
  4. Moz: Moz is a comprehensive SEO tool that includes a link building feature that allows you to find link building opportunities, analyze your link profile, and monitor your backlinks.
  5. Ahrefs Site Explorer: Ahrefs Site Explorer allows you to research backlinks, discover top pages, view social activity, and analyze anchor texts.
  6. Majestic Site Explorer: Majestic Site Explorer allows you to research backlinks, discover top pages, view social activity, and analyze anchor texts.
  7. Majestic Backlink Checker: Majestic Backlink Checker allows you to research backlinks, discover top pages, view social activity, and analyze anchor texts.
  8. Linkio: Linkio is a link building automation tool that allows you to easily find link building opportunities, track your progress, and streamline your outreach efforts.

Local SEO

WHAT IS LOCAL SEO?

Local SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the process of optimizing a website to rank higher in search engine results for location-based keywords and phrases. The goal of local SEO is to increase the visibility of a business in search results for people searching for products or services in a specific geographic area.

Here are some examples of how local SEO can help a business:

  1. Increase visibility in search results: Local SEO can help a business to appear higher in search results when people are searching for products or services in the area where the business is located.
  2. Attract more local customers: By appearing higher in search results, a business can attract more customers who are searching for products or services in the local area.
  3. Improve brand awareness: Local SEO can also help to improve brand awareness by making it easier for people to find a business online.
  4. Enhance online presence: Optimizing a website for local SEO can also help to enhance a business’s online presence by making it easier for people to find the business’s contact information, address, and other details.
  5. Improve map visibility: Local SEO also help to improve a business’s visibility on map-based search results, making it more likely that a business will appear in the “local pack” of search results.

To improve local SEO, it’s important to optimize the website and its content for location-based keywords and phrases, and to make sure that the website includes accurate and up-to-date information about the business’s address, phone number, and other contact details. It’s also important to claim and verify business listing on Google My Business (GMB) and other local business directories. Additionally, it’s important to get positive customer reviews on platforms like Google, Yelp, or Tripadvisor, as well as building backlinks from local websites and directories.

In conclusion, Local SEO is the process of optimizing a website to rank higher in search engine results for location-based keywords and phrases, its goal is to increase the visibility of a business in search results for people searching for products or services in a specific geographic area.

LOCAL SEARCH RANKING SIGNALS

Local search ranking factors are the elements that search engines consider when determining the relevance and authority of a business in a specific geographic area. These factors can include both on-page elements, such as the content and structure of a website, and off-page elements, such as the number and quality of reviews and citations.

Here are some examples of local search ranking factors:

  1. Google My Business (GMB) Listing: Having a complete and accurate GMB listing can help to improve visibility in local search results.
  2. Proximity: Proximity to the searcher is an important factor in local search results.
  3. On-Page Optimization: On-page optimization, such as including location-based keywords and phrases in website content, can help to improve visibility in local search results.
  4. Reviews: Positive reviews from customers can help to improve visibility in local search results.
  5. NAP consistency: NAP consistency refers to making sure that your business name, address, and phone number is consistent across all directories and platforms.
  6. Link Signals: The number and quality of backlinks pointing to a website can also influence visibility in local search results.
  7. Social Signals: Social signals, such as likes, shares, and followers, can also influence visibility in local search results.
  8. Personalization: Personalization factors, such as search history, can also influence the local search results.
  9. Behavioral signals: Behavioral signals, such as click-through rate (CTR) or bounce rate, can also influence the local search results.

It’s important to note that these factors can change over time as the search engines continue to update their algorithms and the way they process data. Therefore, it’s important to stay up to date with the latest changes and to monitor the performance.

KEYWORD RESEARCH FOR LOCAL SEARCH

Keyword research for local search involves identifying the words and phrases that people are using to search for products or services in a specific geographic area. By understanding the keywords and phrases that people are using, businesses can optimize their website and its content to rank higher in search engine results for those keywords and phrases.

Here are some steps for conducting keyword research for local search:

  1. Identify your target location: The first step in keyword research for local search is to identify the location that you want to target. This can be a city, region, or even a specific neighborhood.
  2. Research keywords and phrases: Next, research keywords and phrases that people are using to search for products or services in your target location. You can use keyword research tools like Google Keyword Planner, Ahrefs Keyword Explorer, or SEMrush to find keywords and phrases that are relevant to your business and that have a high search volume in your target location.
  3. Use long-tail keywords: Long-tail keywords are longer, more specific phrases that are more likely to be used by people searching for products or services in a specific area. These keywords are more targeted and less competitive.
  4. Look for location-based keywords: Look for keywords and phrases that include the name of your target location, such as “pizza delivery in Brooklyn” or “best hair salon in Los Angeles”.
  5. Analyze your competitors: Analyze your competitors’ website and their online presence to identify the keywords and phrases they are targeting.
  6. Optimize your website: Once you have identified your target keywords and phrases, use them to optimize your website and its content, including titles, meta tags, and body text.
  7. Monitor your progress: Monitor your progress by tracking your website’s rankings for your target keywords and phrases, and make adjustments as needed.

In summary, keyword research for local search involves identifying the words and phrases that people are using to search for products or services in a specific geographic area, using keyword research tools, focusing on long-tail keywords, looking for location-based keywords, analyzing your competitors and optimizing your website and its content. Finally, monitoring your progress to make any necessary adjustments.

In conclusion

SEO. It’s vast and it’s glorious.

I hope you enjoyed reading the above and get to work implementing SEO for your own website, YouTube channel or business.

Please reach out to me if you have any questions and good luck!

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