SEO Best Practices | SERP Tools For Ranking Sites No #1

Traditionally, when we talk of SEO Best Practices it’s all about optimizing web content for targeted keywords. Initially, it was – used to be – considered an SEO practice to create 1 page per single targeted keyword. But, as of today, we’ll take a look at some of the most defining factors that will help your SEO this coming year. The basic elements that you must learn.

Bearing in mind, each year, SEO comes with an entirely new set of challenges that can make or break your success. That’s why you need to learn more about the new SEO routine changes and the best practices that will help you succeed. You should also know that Google’s Page Experience Update is coming soon.

So, are you prepared for the new Google Page Experience Update? Let IMN’s Detlef Johnson optimize your Core Web Vitals today. No reports or audits, just SOLUTIONS – he’ll do all the work for you! Yes! Of course, make my site fast→. And now, after the heads-up, let’s now focus on our today’s topic.

Which are SEO Best Practices to Use?

In the field of SEO, it’s safe to say that things are always changing. Whereby, optimization techniques that worked years ago are falling by the wayside. While SEO as a whole has evolved into a more intelligent discipline. That evolves beyond spamming the Search Engine Results Page (SERPs) with links and keywords.

Sophisticated strategies for increasing organic traffic exist, along with things like competitor gap analysis, keyword gap analysis, and so on. Fortunately, there are numerous strategies that one must use to be successful. Especially, in the ever-increasing competitive landscape of web content SEO and internet visibility marketing.

For your information, in terms of SEO best practices, there are four basic components of SEO that we all focus on as a daily part of our jobs.

These components include:
  • Keywords (and keyword targeting)
  • Search volumes behind keywords
  • Traffic coming from organic search
  • Conversions of customers searching for targeted keywords
The actual techniques revolve around:
  • On-page optimization
  • Link building
  • Content
  • Technical SEO

Eventually, these are all a focus of our professions as we report on our efforts and assess the next steps in any SEO campaign. But, how do you move forward through your SEO campaign? And how do you make sure that these factors are nailed down sufficiently enough? For you to either launch or expand an existing campaign?

Well, you’ve come to the right place. For one thing, this SEO for beginners guide is designed to do exactly that. Going through in detail the basics. In order to give you a solid foundation with which you can then use on your own. Let’s now keep the wheel rolling by looking into the key elements of a good SEO strategy.

Element 1: Keywords & Keyword Targeting

First, the basic component we’re going to look at before looking more into SEO best practices includes keywords and keyword targeting. Whilst, keeping in mind, back in the olden days of SEO, keywords were really all we had. So to say, keywords and keyword targeting.

Whereby, keyword targeting involved creating pages based on specific keywords and optimizing them. The content would be laser-targeted and built around this keyword. As you move forward with your SEO, you could technically include keyword synonyms, and related keywords in such a way that would help improve your rankings.

However, the problem with keywords, is that they can become redundant, too repetitive, and you can run out of SEO pain points in industry-related keywords fast. And as such, there’s very little room to move forward. The process of keyword optimization used to be executed in the following way.

Say perhaps that you:
  • did keyword research,
  • found the highest-performing ones in terms of search volume,
  • created a page for the keyword, and
  • ensured keywords were inter-weaved throughout your content accordingly.

Well, this was one way. But, let’s also not forget the different types of keywords, which are many. The goals of these keywords will change depending on how you want to approach your SEO.

Say for example:
  • Money Keywords
  • Head Keywords
  • Short-Tail keywords
  • Long-Tail Keywords
  • Supporting Keywords
  • Keyword Synonyms
  • Branded Keywords
  • Phrase Match Keywords
  • Broad Match Keywords
  • Negative Keywords
  • Exact Match Keywords

But, that’s not all, there are even many other keyword types. By the way, don’t get me started on LSI Keywords. Yes, they are a scam. And nothing more than a marketing attempt to brand synonyms and keyword relationships as something else. That’s why LSI keywords are SEO snake oil.

Related Topic: YouTube SEO Rank Algorithm | How to get in No #1 results

As you can see, the reason why we are going through such a detailed introduction of keywords is that they are a fundamental skill of the SEO profession. Not until recently, however, there has been a shift from keywords to topics and entities.

For instance, if keywords are specific words and phrases, topics can be considered broader terms and concepts. And while there has been a shift, you still cannot do without keywords. Since they are the backbone of any SEO strategy. Not forgetting, a new wrench was thrown into the works with the introduction of entities.

So, what are entities, exactly? By definition, just like you learned about verbs and nouns in school, entities are places, persons, things. Perse, they are the world in the new SEO plans and strategy developments. Personally, I think entities are, in my not-so-humble opinion, the single most important concept to understand in SEO right now. Full stop.

Related Topic: Inbound Links | 10 SEO Tips to Increase your Site Ranking

So, do you think I’m just another SEO professional spouting the latest “silver bullet” that will die on the table along with many before it? Well, you need to consider this: three of the most important ranking factors, at last disclosure, were Content, Links, and RankBrain.

Meaning, an entity is anything that is singular, unique, well-defined, and more so, easily distinguishable. And this is why, when we talk about Keywords & Keyword Targeting, it’s so important to ensure that your site is optimized with entities, keywords, and topics.

Element 2: Data Set Topics & Web Tools

Wait a minute, Topics, Topics, and even more Topics! So, what’s the deal with these topics? As I mentioned previously, SEO is traditionally about optimizing for targeted keywords. And it was – used to be – considered an SEO best practice to create 1 page per single targeted keyword.

As an example, you can come up with your topics by performing topic research using a tool like Not to mention, SEMrush also has its own tool called the topic research tool. Using both of these tools, you should be able to uncover suitable topics for the type of website you are working on.

That’s all well and good, but what should you do if you are optimizing for multiple topics? Luckily, Kristopher Jones from Search Engine Journal (SEJ) has a very wonderful method. Particularly, on how to optimize your site for multiple topics. You’ll find it in his post, How to Optimize Your Website for Multiple Topics.

Above all, there are other basics you may have a look at as well. Including content, links, and technical SEO that will make or break your success. And, with that in mind, let’s now take a look at some of the most defining SEO best practices. As well as factors that will help your SEO in the future, and basic elements that you must learn.

Practice 1: Keyword research performance by industry

Talking about SEO best practices, the first thing that you should do is to perform research based on industry. Especially, if you are not familiar with your client’s industry. So, doing industry research is the first part.

Your primary source for such industry information should be your client. This is when you should perform some sort of discovery – and ask questions to determine any industry specifics that you should be aware of while doing SEO.

The next part would be figuring out the SEO elements that your competition is using to leverage their SERP performance. On one side, you can think of improving rankings and organic traffic as a core component of SEO. Whereas, the competitor gap analysis is a core component of assessing the next steps in an SEO campaign.

Related Topic: Ahrefs | A Powerful SEO Tool to Grow a Site Search Traffic

And then, after looking into the industry, and defining your industry benchmarks, you will need to move forward with a site analysis. This will help you uncover what has been done to the site previously, and what is being done to the site now.

It’s imperative that you obtain this information because one wrong step can cause you major issues in your SEO campaign later. On the other side, make sure that you’re lucky enough to be on a team that has this information. By so doing, you can simply ask your team’s manager about the information.

In return, they should be able to give it to you on the spot. However, if you are not quite as lucky, you may end up in a situation where you can’t assess that prior information. Oftentimes, in such cases, what is currently on the site is all you have. And you’ll have to think about your SEO campaign moving forward from that point.

Practice 2: High-quality content remains the king

Let’s ask ourselves a very simple question. Does Google’s algorithm suffer from issues when it comes to assessing whether or not content is of high enough quality? Yes, it can, as one SEO study found out recently when trying to game Google’s algorithm with Lorem Ipsum Text.

In general, high-quality content is what’s going to help your site perform. And just like the old saying goes” Content Is King” and there is nothing to argue about that. But, that takes on different forms depending on different attributes of your marketing campaign.

Some marketing campaign attributes include:
  • The site’s main industry.
  • Previous works on the website.
  • Current works on the website.
  • Site industry’s overall competition.
  • What the site competition is doing.
  • Standings of Google algorithms currently, etc.

In terms of your site’s main industry, there are industry variations in SEO – no doubt about it. I highly suggest taking an open approach to SEO best practices or strategies. And not think that once you’ve learned a strategy, that you’re done. Not hardly.

You should also keep in mind, that industry norms constantly vary with time. And can, therefore, be as different as the website itself. To find out about these norms, you should try and do a Competitor Keyword SEO Analysis using tools like the ones by MOZ.

Generally speaking, a competitor gap analysis tool helps you find what you need to do to increase those rankings above your competitor. That said, you can go on and read more about how to perform a competitor gap analysis in detail.

The things that you’ll want to gain from your competitor gap analysis includes insights like:

  • Your competitor’s rankings.
  • Your competition’s content (frequency of posting, word counts, etc.).
  • The link profiles of your competitors.
  • And, to a lesser extent, on-page SEO and technical SEO.

Practice 3: Consider your competition’s link profiles 

Notably, your competition’s link profiles can provide either you (if sole) or your SEO team with very important and valuable insights. After all, your competition’s link profiles, along with your own, should also be a core component of this analysis.

However, it’s good to know that this is where things can get dicey. That’s if you don’t have a good grasp on SEO. And what may seem to be obvious in terms of correlation may be entirely different when looked at from the POV of having everything. So, beware that this is where the dicey part comes in.

On one hand, if you don’t do a link analysis, but there are other weaknesses, you may never be 100% certain what was responsible for improving the site. On the other hand, if you have all of the information, you may still never be 100% sure. But at least, you can narrow down the exact root cause of the improvement.

Always remember, search is not a simple correlation – since correlation is not causation. And just because you added one thing doesn’t mean that that one thing caused said improvement. In reality, the daily algorithms a search engine like Google choose to announce, just so happen to be the most devastating.

That’s if you’re in any way engaging in spammy practices. This brings me to the following topic: white hat SEO vs. black hat SEO.

Practice 4: Work within the Best SEO Techniques

I am sure many of you know just about wearable hats. But, when it comes to SEO, these hats have quite a different meaning. Therefore, it’s good to take note that in the field of SEO, there are different philosophies. However, these philosophies don’t always mesh well.

In fact, they can be frustrating for SEOs the world over, because one group believes one thing while another group believes another. As I mentioned, although I’m sure you’ve also heard the phrase ‘content is king’? This is no longer entirely true, content is everything (well, pretty much).

In other words, the best possible way you can perform best in the search is by giving value to your audience and preferably, your industry too. It’s no longer enough to stick a poorly written blog up once a month – or worse, use text spinners to rejig old content.

Related Topic: How SEO Ranking in SERPs is Done for Sites to Rank High

For content to be the king in terms of SEO, it must adhere to some of the key content writing skills. Perse, good content must be original and not infringe on the intellectual property rights of others, highly relevant and useful to the target industry and audience, and very well written with good grammar and spelling.

The images and videos should also include a title, ALT tag, and description. And if appropriate, try to give credit to the original artist. For example, if you’re using creative commons for licensed images in your content. Lastly, it should also point to the source of research and quotes where applicable, etc.

What is White Hat SEO vs. Black Hat SEO vs. Grey Hat SEO?

To enumerate, White Hat SEOs follow Google’s Webmaster Guidelines to the letter. They believe in implementing white hat SEO techniques that will be sustainable for the long term.

More so, that won’t cause Google to levy a penalty against them. And with the most ethical white hat SEOs being those who provide their clients with everything that they do – they give details, they give the links they build, all of it. They are ethical and transparent in their SEO duties and provide reports that the client can take reasonable action on in the future.

On the contrary, Black Hat SEOs are not afraid to embrace the latest and greatest SEO guides. They use black hat SEO techniques, regardless of how far astray they lead them from Google’s guidelines. They are masters of a perpetual churn-and-burn machine. More often, getting great short-term results, but lacking in long-term results.

Related Topic: What is a Google Penalty in SEO? Site links profile analysis

It is these Black Hat SEOs who use programs like Scrapebox, SENuke, HRefer, and XRumer in an attempt to build links en masse. So that these links will, in turn, push their rankings to the #1 spot – until Google catches them and all hell breaks loose. Then, they just start over with another domain.

By the same token, Grey Hat SEO is a healthy mix of the two. Usually, by using black hat SEO techniques for research but not execution. While also using a white hat approach for sustainable results in the long term. This is likely where most aggressive SEOs fall.

Fortunately, there’s nothing legally, morally, or inherently wrong with this. But, if you want to stay on Google’s good side, you will want to choose a white hat SEO or grey hat SEO.

Practice 5: On-page SEO & Technical SEO are also Important Factors

Other important factors you should be aware of include the latest in SEO techniques as they apply to on-page and technical SEO. When it comes to SEO best practices, On-page Optimization includes optimizing the page to deliver unique value. Both for authorship, metadata, schema, and rich snippets.

In addition, it also includes optimization for phenomenal user experience (UX) and laser-targeted keyword targeting. It can also easily be shared through social networks and transition seamlessly between devices. It’s also crawler/bot accessible – Google’s Gary Illyes is on record as saying “Just make that damned site crawlable.”

In terms of SEO best practices, Technical SEO is heavily focused on the crawling and indexing of your site. This is where you can tilt the odds heavily in your favor by making sure your site is properly optimized for crawlers. But, this doesn’t have anything to do with content or links and is highly technical in its implementation.

Technical SEO Includes:
  • Anything and everything to do with robots.txt.
  • Optimization of your navigation and website’s architecture.
  • URL structure optimization.
  • Structured Data implementation.
  • Canonicalization of URLs.
  • Error page analysis and correction (4xx, 5xx, 3xx, etc.).
  • Server analysis for bottlenecks that can be costing you SERP performance.
  • SSL implementation for a secure website.
  • Page speed metrics along with individual SEO elements that increase page speed.
  • Mobile-friendliness.
  • Cross-browser and cross-platform compatibility.
  • Code optimization (including W3C aspects like validation, accessibility, and so on).
  • AMP for news publishers (which can cover a broad range of topics).
  • International multilingual implementations.
  • Pagination like next/prev.
  • Internal links.
  • Link Profile analysis to determine penalties or algorithmic adjustments (if any).

Practice 6: Try Optimizing for Search Intent

Based on SEO best practices, optimizing for search intent & ensuring the intent matches the target query precisely is also a good start. You must target and successfully fulfill user intent in order for your optimization to be successful.

These are basic SEO best practices that have been in use since the early part of the 2010s decade. You must make sure that your keywords highly meet the user intent for that query Still, another important consideration for SEO is to read and memorize the Google Search Quality Raters Guidelines.

However, this is NOT to mean that you can go off and optimize what they say for organic search. This is created by an entirely separate department from organic search. But, their manual contains important insights. To understand how Google overall views certain search factors.

Being part of many SEO best practices, these are factors that you can then translate into improving your overall E-A-T – Expertise, Authority, and Trust.

Practice 7: Try to E-A-T your Content

Google’s core algorithm update of August 2018 had many people scrambling to understand what had destroyed their website so readily in the SERPs. It’s known as the medic update because it was believed that the update targeted medical sites.

When, in reality, it targeted YMYL (your money or your life) type sites as categorized in Google’s Quality Raters Guidelines. In fact, it was one of the first updates where no SEO could figure out what happened within the first 60 days. This update turned out to target the following types of sites:

  • YMYL – Your Money or Your Life – sites
  • Health sites
  • Ecommerce
  • Finance
  • Business
  • Technology
  • Travel
  • Entertainment
  • Coupon / Deal sites
  • Adult Sites

This update was a turning point in Google Algorithms that specifically targeted sites for long-term authority and trust. Yes, authority and trust are a big deal. So, how do you build authority and trust? By answering the user’s query thoroughly, and mind-mapping your content to achieve this ultimate goal.

In the coming years, if you want to build your own sites and make sure that they are SEO friendly, long-term sustainable SEO is even more of consideration now. The following are more SEO Best Practices and factors you must know about that are also important.

Consider the following:
  • Optimizing for overall page speed,
  • Strategic optimization of your target keywords including:
    • within the page title,
    • meta descriptions,
    • H1s,
    • sub-heading tags, etc.
  • Page URL optimization,
  • Optimizing for page speed through:
    • Image file size,
    • Image file names,
    • Alternative (alt) text,
    • Title Text, etc.
  • Write your content according to the intelligence level of your target audience,
  • Internal link optimization when creating a page of content,
  • Including images strategically throughout your text, etc.

Final Thoughts,

It’s important to realize, whenever it comes to some of the SEO Best Practices as listed above, or even more, correlation is not causation. Let me elaborate on why. In SEO, you may think that if you make a slight change to some keywords on a site, or you make changes to some links, that an immediate improvement is perceptible and likely due to that change.

The problem is that it seldom works out that way in the real world. When it comes to SEO, correlation is not causation. It means that it’s not enough to just say that you did this, or this, and even this, and that, that was a contributor to your results. On the contrary, though, detailed organic traffic data analysis and interpretation are needed to find the full story.

As a result, that’s what makes SEO so complex – the fact that it’s not a simple correlation/causation paradigm. Instead, it means that SEO is far more complex with layers of algorithms. Not to mention the fact that a search engine like Google makes changes to its algorithms daily.

Learn More: Best SEO Tactics | Get More Rich Snippets CTR & Ranking

In other words, considering our SEO Best Practices above, you can’t expect to do SEO for a month and achieve amazing results overnight. It seldom happens this way. Instead, you must implement a multi-pronged approach. Leading to a solid foundation that takes into account many issues across SEO elements to be successful.

Not forgetting, a focus on any one thing will only lead to sub-par results that create nothing more than a blip in your Google Analytics data. An organized approach that focuses on the ultimate in quality is simply the best. While also, keeping in mind, that your users pinpoint their wants, needs, and desires as they relate to the query.

Therefore, be the answer in your industry for your user’s query by considering the SEO best practices above. And your SERP performance will thank you. But, if you’ll need more support, you can Contact Us and let us know how we can help you or your SEO team. Feel free to share your additional thoughts or questions in our comments section below.

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