"What is the single best piece of SEO advice you've got?"
That's the question that many marketers ask me on a daily basis and something I try to answer on my personal blog about digital marketing. Whether you are focused on content marketing, social media, PR, or PPC, SEO is sure to be one of the strategies in your marketing toolbox.
This was also a hot topic asked on question and answer website Quora and answered by several top SEO experts like Rand Fishkin, Matt McGee, and Ryan Stewart. Their answers are summarized here, along with answers from nine more top SEO experts for a total of 12 of the best SEO tips from 12 top SEO experts.
"Focus on creating trust through everything you do online and offline," says McGee. He explains how you have two audiences; search engines and humans. Search engines like Google displays webpages it trusts to searchers. Humans trust Google to show them webpages that answer their questions.
If you create content humans trust, and throw in some of the technical work to make sure Google can process your content, then Google will trust your website and according to McGee, "...your natural traffic will grow and grow and grow. You won't have to worry about algorithm changes. Your website will be crawled more deeply, your content will get indexed faster, and you'll be able to rank for more competitive terms faster."
Rand Fishkin, Founder and Wizard of Moz, Moz
Fishkin says one of his favorite SEO tips he recommends is to "Create a site, service, product or hook that has a natural, viral feedback component accessible to search engines." He goes on to explain that this is done through links, embedded content (like infographics, see below), badges, and incentives to share. As examples, he points to SimplyHired's job trends charts, OKCupids' data-driven blog posts (new posts no longer being produced, but still a great example), and Mixcloud's social voting/promotion. Fishkin could have included Moz's own Beginner's Guide to SEO and other Moz guides in his list, which have been seen millions of times. Fishkin says that once you figure out how to produce content that spreads, in many ways you've already won the SEO game. "The key components then become content, keywords and a scalable business model."
Ryan Stewart, Founder, Webris
In addition to emphasizing the importance of real knowledge of technical SEO and analytics, Stewart points to testing as fundamental to SEO because things are always changing. "There is no singular blueprint to SEO success," he says, "If there was, we'd all be rich. That's what makes this field so fascinating - it's dynamic and it's really difficult." So get your lab coat on and start experimenting and analyzing the results.
Adam HigherVisibilityHeitzman, Co-Founder/Managing Partner,
"If you want to rank for a specific keyword, make sure you have a webpage that answers questions about it," says Heitzman. Sounds easy enough, but too many companies miss this simple strategy. Heitzman explains further, "A practice I like to use is to take a step back and think about if I were searching for 'x keyword' what questions would I have? How can I incorporate this into my page so that the user has no reason to leave?"
Ben Holland, VP of Digital Marketing, MWI
If you're over 40 you might think of people "typing a search" into Google. But voice search is the next big thing, and it is changing what keywords people use, when they search, and how they get search results. On Google, the results you get from a voice search often show up in an answer box on the search engine results page (SERP). When there is a result in that box, Google will often "speak" the result back to you. "With more platforms leveraging voice search, getting your site to appear in the answer box is going to be key," says Holland. He recommends SEOs creating headings that match questions users may ask search engines, then answers those questions directly below in a concise manner. "Once you have the structure of your page perfected it is time to improve the page's visibility in the SERPs. The key is to make it to the first page--if you can get on the first page you can show up in the answer box, even if you don't have the #1 ranking for non-voice results."
Aleyda Solis, Founder, Orainti
You can't market to someone you don't understand might be the best way to sum up Solis' advice. She emphasizes the importance of building customer understanding into your processes, rather than making it a one-off activity. "You need to answer the questions 'What's your audience search behavior in your target market? What, when, how and from where do they search? How are your competitors already answering those queries?'" she says. By answering these questions and others Solis says "Then you'll have the required understanding to identify the best way to connect with your search audience and will be able to identify which technical, content and link aspects of your site needs to be optimized and promoted in order to maximize your visibility in search results for relevant queries."
Wil Reynolds, Founder and CEO, SEER Interactive
"Spend as much time to understand people as you do to understand Google," Reynolds says. "Understand why people buy, why people trust, the impact of branding on purchasing--search engine algorithms don't buy things from your company, people do."
Choose Keywords Wisely
As much as SEOs these days talk about search intent and focusing on topics rather than keywords, when someone goes to Google they still type (or speak) keywords into the search engine. "Invest a lot of time in researching the keywords that potential customers will use," Beal says. "The terms and keywords that are native to your industry may not match actual search queries." Given that up to 15% of all Google queries are completely new, this is more than mere hype.
Make it About Them, Not You
Duane Forrester, VP Organic Search Operations, Bruce Clay, Inc.
Successful SEO doesn't depend solely on technical considerations, but often the people involved. An impatient manager can end an SEO project before it has had time to succeed. A content team with other priorities can leave a core component of SEO without fuel to make it run. "Make others the hero. Show them how doing the SEO work supports their own goals," says Forrester. "They win, you win, the business wins. Otherwise you look like someone trying to get others to take on more work." Forrester says it helps to keep in mind that everyone has a set of goals they're working towards, and that when you succeed in showing them how SEO helps them reach their goals, then they'll help you succeed with your SEO goals.
Become the Expert
John Rampton, digital marketing expert
"Whatever industry you are in you should become an expert in it," says Rampton. "Then be out there in the world helping others and proving you're the expert." Rampton advises doing this by creating valuable content like podcasts, videos, slide decks, talks, and blog posts to help others become more knowledgeable about your space. "The more of an expert you become, and the more content you create as a result, the better it will be for your brand and the SEO results will follow. Then it will start growing by itself because you'll become the person other people ask to speak at events, be a guest on a podcast, and give comments for articles."
Search and Social
Dennis Yu, CTO, BlitzMetrics
Is there a connection between social media and SEO? Of course, says Yu. "SEOs neglect the connection between search and social, that likes = links," he says. "Generate authority by spending a dollar a day, using workplace targeting on Facebook to reach journalists, media, and influencers," he recommends. He then advises that if you are covered in one publication, like the LA Times, amplify it through social media to the folks who work at the New York Times and Forbes. "When they see you in another reputable publication they're more likely to reach out to you and link to your online content."
Publish Amazing Content
Jayson DeMers, CEO, AudienceBloom
"Publish truly amazing content, and the rest of the pieces will fall into place," DeMers says. "Your content strategy is the backbone of your SEO strategy because it fuels your social media campaign (which acts like an amplifier to spread your content's reach) which improves your ability to earn inbound links." If that seems to sum up many of the other tips above, perhaps that's because it is such a key part of successful SEO.
What about you? What's your top SEO advice? Let us know in the comments below. And enjoy this infographic from the digital marketing agency MWI summarizing these SEO tips.