Google is the undisputed ruler of the organic SEO realm.
It’s not only dictating the rules of the game but also changing them every now and then. These algorithm updates send shockwaves across the SEO landscape. Webmasters are scrambling to keep up the pace and make sense of it all.
The tricky thing is there are a lot of pieces of the puzzle that need to fall together. Another problem is not all techniques have a direct or substantial effect on the ranking.
The good news is others have been where you are. They managed to attract a whole lot of organic traffic without blowing the budget and wasting time. You can play it smartly too and emulate this success.
So, here is a comprehensive checklist to guide your SEO strategy in 2019 and beyond.
Make Sure to Tool up
One cannot hope to rise above organic competition without proper tools.
First off, we have Google Search Console. It’s an amazing free solution you need to add to your arsenal right away.
One can use it to closely monitor the performance of your website. It also allows you to submit a sitemap, conduct audits, and identify MVP keywords. You gain a clear idea of site improvements you can make.
Secondly, Google Analytics is, hands down, the best instrument for evaluating how people interact with your pages. It shows you how much traffic is coming your way and detects trends and patterns. Moreover, it’s possible to find best-performing pieces of content.
In other words, you have a chance to figure out exactly what works and what doesn’t. The beauty of it is you can choose to integrate two Google tools for maximum benefits.
That being said, there are some other plugins to consider, such as Yoast SEO. They work wonders for WordPress and other major CMS users.
Hunt for Suitable Keywords
Keywords remain the backbone of organic prominence.
The main objective is to find the words and phrases your potential customers use in their queries. They are your opportunity to connect with a huge audience.
Long-tail keywords are particularly valuable all-around, especially if there’s low-competition involved. On the other hand, question keywords make a lot of sense for blog posts and articles.
Some other factors to weigh are cost-per-click (CPC), keyword difficulty, estimated visits, and volume trends. They all shape the business utility of keywords.
The quickest method to discover them is to utilize Google autosuggest feature. You simply type the phrase and then see what shows up.
In case you want a dedicated keyword research tool, go for Keywordtool.io, Ahrefs’ Keyword Explorer, or The Google Keyword Planner. Provided your budget allows it, you can also invest in a premium keyword tool.
Once you pinpoint and obtain targets, you need to add them to your content and pages.
This brings us to the next key area of organic SEO.
Namely, on-page SEO is a tried-and-tested approach you cannot afford to neglect.
Start by integrating keywords into URLs of your pages. This way, you help search engine crawlers easily determine what your pages are all about. Try to shorten and make them more descriptive as well—this trick gives you a small ranking boost.
Furthermore, pay close attention to title tags. They represent another place where you should use keywords, typically at the very beginning. Additionally, you need to embed title tag modifiers.
Just avoid keyword overstuffing, as it does more harm than good. You’re better off leveraging synonyms and LSI keywords instead.
Moving on, ensure the first 150 words are optimized to perfection. We know Google prioritizes this introductory section when indexing pages. The same rule applies to H1, H2, and H3 tags.
While at it, tweak your image alt tags and filenames. Make them more self-explanatory. Otherwise, search engines may struggle to index them.
Yes, they are notoriously bad at this task.
Launch Link-Building Campaigns
Another vital facet of on-page SEO is related to links.
We’re talking about the good old link-building, a strategy with the huge organic payoff.
Take the example of external links to authority websites. They send positive signals to organic gatekeepers and help you come across as credible and trustworthy.
When it comes to internal links, they bring some points too, even more so with keyword-rich anchor texts. Of course, you need to link only to relevant, related pages. The additional benefit is you improve navigation and user experience (UX).
Finally, we have backlinks, which carry the most ranking weight. Here, guest posting poses a nice tactic to acquire these SEO boosters—as long as you stick to respected websites and contextual links that is.
These ‘votes of confidence’ improve your overall link profile and, together with it, your ranking.
Technical Side of Things
The technical aspect of SEO is perhaps the most dreaded one.
But you have to face it, like it or not. So there’s no point in postponing optimization.
Kick it off by carrying out an audit and fixing crawling errors. This housecleaning enables crawlers to easily index and rank your pages. Likewise, keep an eye on other technical errors.
For instance, try to find broken links and repair them promptly. You can do it via the “Coverage” option in Search Console.
Furthermore, get on top of mobile optimization. In the era of mobile-first indexing, this is a game-changing investment. Essentially, you have to evaluate mobile-friendliness and then take steps to make your pages more responsive.
Lastly, check your site loading speed and see how you compare to the industry average. Even a split second makes a world of difference. So, maximize speed both for desktop and mobile users—get under three seconds if you can.
You will likely increase engagement metrics like dwell time. It’s a win-win.
Produce Quality Content
Despite all the algorithm changes, content still remains the king.
Both quality and quality matter, but strong emphasis is on the former. Google, for example, seems to favour long formats because it indicates an in-depth approach. Therefore, try to always go over 1000 words and hit 2000 whenever you can.
Just avoid one pitfall—big walls of text. Break them down into more digestible chunks. Short sentences and paragraphs increase readability and reduce bounce rates.
Along similar lines, upload plenty of multimedia content. Think in terms of images, charts, videos, infographics, quizzes, etc. Visual flair is a huge magnet for visitors too.
The real meat, though, comes in the form of facts and figures—surveys, case studies, and industry expert interviews. They help you establish yourself as a trusted source of information and expertise.
Lastly, take advantage of Schema Markup to give search engines a clear overview of the content. This component also determines how your content is displayed in the SERP.
Oh, and remember to promote your posts to amplify reach. Quality hardly matters if nobody knows about your content.
Time to Dominate Organic SEO
As you can see, there are many moving parts that can make or break your organic SEO strategy.
So, take a deep breath and get your priorities straight. Select the right tools of the SEO trade that address your needs and goals.
Lay the strong groundwork with keywords, links, and other staple tactics. Investigate your current state of SEO. Sort out technical issues and attract more eyeballs to your content and brand.
On their own, all these elements give you only a slight edge. But, rest assured, every bit counts and adds up in the long run.
Therefore, use our checklist as a roadmap to success. You don’t have to implement everything, at least not right away. Feel free to start small and scale up as you go.
Contact us if you need help fleshing out or implementing your digital game plan. We can help you stay on top of shifting requirements and outpace your competition.