I decided to write a post about the 7 very basic SEO tips that people (including myself) sometimes seem to forget.
And listen, I get it, you already know them – but are you actually applying them correctly?
Google’s algorithm has come a long way and now it takes a lot more for ranking than just using your main keyword several times.
No doubt, content quality and links are still the heavy lifting ranking factors but there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye. Just pushing out a keyword optimized 1000-word page with a few backlinks pointing to it is not enough for ranking.
There are dozens of tactics that are not so widely used and have mainly stayed in SEO experts artillery but there’s no reason why you shouldn’t or couldn’t use these on your site as well. But don't forget about the basics first..
The 7 Important SEO Techniques
Here are some of the most basic, yet underrated SEO techniques that you should seriously consider using (or improving) on your site.
1. Internal linking
This is probably among the most basic SEO tips that I can give. Yet, it's so powerful when done correctly.
You might have the best content on the whole Internet but there’s no use for it if no one can find it.
This is were internal links come into play. While most focus only on link building, what they forget is connecting their own content and linking internally.
It doesn’t seem like much but internal links not only help your users to find relevant content on your site more easily but they also hint web crawlers that you have some more great content on your site.
To put it this way – if there are no crawlable links pointing to your page, it doesn’t matter how good it is because crawlers simply can’t reach it.
Internal links play a great part in your ranking power. If you have a backlink pointing to your page A and you direct some internal links from page A to pages B and C, you’ll give some of the page A’s link juice to pages B and C.
The better your internal links, the better is your ranking power.
2. External linking
Many websites treat external links like the plague. They try to avoid these at all costs or just use nofollow tags for every external link in the belief that it will hurt their page in some way.
The truth is the complete opposite. Linking to “good neighborhood” a.k.a relevant high-authority pages actually indicates Google that you value such resources and as the result, it will increase your trust in Google’s eyes.
Trust is everything – if search engines trust your site, you will never have to fear algorithm changes. Real, trustworthy sites link out to others and if you want Google to trust you, so should you.
3. Social signals
Facebook is not just a great place to watch cat videos and Pinterest is not just a wonderful source for hundreds of recipes and DIY projects. They can be powerful allies in your quest towards conquering SERPs.
Matt Cutts has even said that social signals are indeed a ranking factor and after that claim, tens of studies have constantly proven the same. Things like your following, activity, and shares will have a great influence.
Getting traffic from other sources might be another ranking factor, because it signals that you are a real brand.
4. Website speed
Website loading speed has increasingly become more important and Google has announced that page speed is now one of the ranking factors in their Mobile First index.
People are impatient, especially when browsing through their smartphone, so if your site loads too slowly, no one is going to read your super-uber-amazing content. They’ll simply go back to Google and check out the next search result.
Don’t lose all that juicy traffic because of page speed. When Mobile First is launched, you’ll want to belong to the cream of the crop alongside other fast loading pages.
Use PageSpeed Insights to know how well your site is loading.
5. Website structure
Site structure is often ignored completely, though it has massive importance in how your site is crawled and indexed by spiders. The structure is good not only for Google but for your users as well – structure helps them to navigate better and find related topics easily.
Imagine having a site about dogs. Logically, you could have categories like dog food, dog grooming, and dog training. If someone is looking for dog training tips, they’ll know exactly which category to choose.
However, if your site is just a collection of random dog related posts, it’s almost impossible to find the same content about dog training tips easily. The perfect structure is said to be like a pyramid where the top is your homepage and the bottom “tiers” are made of categories and subcategories.
6. Updating old content
Freshness score is a huge ranking factor. You can’t expect to publish a great piece of content and hope it to last a lifetime on the first page. Fresh content “degrades” over time, meaning it will lose its value unless it’s updated now and then.
No one likes to read old content, so why should your users?
How to update old content? That’s a topic for another day but in short: fix grammar mistakes, update the facts, expand the topic with new content, fix broken links and generally improve the way the content looked before. Fresh content is good content, so don’t let your articles dwell without any updates.
If you think it's not worth updating it (for example when the topic itself is outdated and not relevant anymore), then consider deleting the page or post all together.
You can do a 301 redirection to the homepage or another relevant topic to forward the link juice from the old URL.
Just these 7 SEO tips alone will most definitely boost your ranking power, but even more important than that: they will make your site more enjoyable for your users. Don’t ignore these and take your site to a new level.
Also, consider checking out my post about writing good content for SEO and your readers.
7. Optimizing image alt tags and file names
Be honest – you have at least one image uploaded to your site with filename “12345.jpg” or something else that doesn’t even remotely describe the image.
We’ve all done it and quite frankly this might be single-handedly the most ignored SEO tactic ever. It’s easy to forget your images when you are focusing on the content but images make up a huge part of that content.
The filename and alt tag are both incredibly important as they can give Google a clue on what the image is about and hint what the page is about. It’s another great opportunity to use your keyword, so why waste it?
8. (Bonus) Proper keyword research
Forgetting to do keyword research and optimizing your content accordingly is a common reason why articles don't get any organic traffic, and in turn, this can affect the SEO of the whole domain negatively.
Always do keyword research and make sure to find the right keywords with different volume.
Use this keyword search volume tool if you want to find out the search volume and earning potential.
Why these basic SEO tips are more powerful than complex strategies & secrets
Yes, there are many SEO strategies and techniques out there, that do help your rankings. But remember what's what. The basic stuff just mentioning is gonna cover at least 75% of your rankings.
It's easy to lose track of the ball and get sidetracked with theories and secrets posted by the biggest SEO-experts, I know because I've been there myself.
Let this be a reminder that most of your SERP game is definitely gonna come from executing the most basic SEO strategies optimally.