You are hungry after a long day at work. You head to the kitchen and find nothing ready for you to eat. Instead, there are a few ingredients in the fridge and you are not sure how to put them together to cook something that will not kill you.
So, you head over to the internet and plug in, “roast cassava recipe” and hit the search button. You get immediate results and this particular one interests you. You click it. Then you land on a page with a long story of how the author’s grandmother’s pet monkey could harvest and roast cassava. You scroll to the bottom and find a five-line recipe of roast cassava. In your head, you wonder why they had to bring in their grandmother’s story even though it has nothing to do with teaching you how to roast cassava.
That right there is search engine optimization. And the introductory story took you in hook, line and sinker.
A well-optimized blog will not only bring traffic to the website but also capture and keep users on the content page. Several factors come into play and we are going to discuss the most critical ones in this post. The introduction plays a key role as to whether people will read the article or not.
This post is a practical guide on how to optimize your website for better rankings and traffic.
Tips for Optimizing the Introduction for Better Readership
When people search for information on the internet, they see headlines and excerpts on the results pages. How you write the title will determine whether people will click through or not. Optimized headlines get as high as 80% click-through-rates. However, only about 20% of those who land on the page actually read the content.
This drastic drop is attributed to the effect of the introduction of the article. Most people do not take their time to write introductions that will hook the reader in and keep them reading through the post.
Here are some tips to improve the introduction of your articles to improve conversions.
a) Start with a controversial / interesting statement
The human subconscious is programmed to let people take sides whenever there is a controversy. When you raise a controversial topic, they will “hand in there to see where this thing goes.” Without realizing it, they have given you their full attention and time to pass your message. Use the opportunity wisely and pass your message across before they change their mind.
b) Open with a question
You can raise a question at the start of your article. Questions raise curiosity and people begin to formulate answers at the backs of their minds whenever a question is asked. They will want to read on to see if their answer compares with your answer in the article.
c) Give a story
Stories can intrigue the mind. People anticipate what happened next. They want to fill in the details and see how your story weaves the facts of the articles. Stories also leave a lasting imprint in peoples minds.
d) Give a statistic
Sharing statistics at the beginning of an article has a way of resonating with the reader. They jog their memory to the time when they had a similar conversation. When they see numbers, they will be like, “…this is exactly what I was telling my colleagues and they could not agree with me.” They feel vindicated and more intelligent. They feel you are on their side.
Another interesting thing with statistics is that, it leaves people wondering if they are within the statistic or they have been carved out. They want to read the rest of the article to find out more.
e) Make use of an interesting quote if it is relevant
Quotes are timeless. Some people will want to read the entire article just because they have seen a quote by their favorite personality in the opening statement.
Technical Tips for SEO
These are technical settings that you should configure correctly to improve your site’s performance. Check the following:
1. Domain name
Your domain name should be short and sweet. People who visit your site should be able to remember your domain name even after they’ve left your site. If you can find an exact match top level domain, even better.
The domain name should give the visitor an idea about the theme of your blog. Using too long and complicated domain names will confuse people and they will most likely forget your website. Shorter domain names work better with optimized URLs.
2. Encrypt your site
There is an increasing correlation between HTTPS encryption with higher rankings. You can buy SSL certificate from a trusted vendor or use the free one from Let’s encrypt. Make sure that both the www and the non-www versions of the domain name open the same page (click here for guidance). If they don’t, you should redirect the mis-configured page to go to the right place.
3. URL structure
Include a target keyword in your URLs. Use as minimal trailing slashes as possible in the URL to improve visibility on the web. Make sure all your post URLs are set to display https://domainname.com./post-name/ to improve their visibility.
Check for all broken links in your site and fix them. Also check for dead links in Wikipedia and capitalize on them. Go to Wikipedia and search for “keyword + “dead link””.
4. Site responsiveness / mobile friendliness
Google loves responsive sites. Your blog should render well on mobile devices as well as desktop. It should also be consistent across different browsers.
5. Site speed
Optimize your site for speedy load times. Leverage browser caching, minify java-script, and compress media files. Speedy sites rank better than slower sites.
6. Create and submit sitemap
A site map for your blog curates links to all the pages in one place. It helps reduce the resources used by search engine robots while crawling your site. You can also create a custom robot.txt file with a link to your XML sitemap in it.
Once you have done this, the search engines will crawl your site sooner than later. Please note that manual submission does not give you any added SEO advantage. However, you need to set up everything right before submission to avoid errors during crawling.
7. Check out your competition
Use Screaming frog SEO spider to check competitor link profiles and find link building opportunities. You can also use our Chirpsuite analytics tool to review your website and do competitor analysis. You will get a detailed report on everything you should do to improve your SEO game and website performance in general.
You can also find link building opportunities on Flippa. Go to Flippa and search for relevant sites in your niche. Check out the seller-provided details to see backlinks and how they got those links. Implement their strategy in your own blog.
8. Check your analytics
Verify your Analytics account (you can use Yoast SEO plugin for this as well) and check the data about your blog.
You will see the most popular posts, the most searched keywords, bounce rates, etc. you can use this data to improve a whole lot more about your site.
You can use the data to optimize your site for better performance.
Website / Blog Content SEO Tips
Search Engine Optimization thrives on rich content. You should optimize your content for better performance by ensuring the following:
9. Do proper keyword research and then write pillar content
Usually, SEO starts with proper keyword research. Find untapped keywords from forums such as Reddit and Quora. Write pillar content using the skyscraper technique. Longer is better if used wisely. Give value and package it in well-written copy that is devoid of errors.
Use simple language and shorter sentences. Write an engaging copy. Include your targeted long tailed keywords in the title, within the first 100 words of the copy, in highlighted text (bold / italics), in the subtopic, and before you close the copy.
10. Monitor keyword saturation
Strive to reach 0.6% keyword concentration in the copy. Add relevant LSI keywords (related keywords) to avoid keyword stuffing. Maintain a healthy balance between internal and outbound links. Avoid using excessive internal links. Control the number of outbound links as well.
Prioritize high authority and relevant sites when adding outbound links and make use of exact match anchor texts. Balance the number of “dofollow” and “nofollow” outbound links to avoid “bleeding” your site to death.
11. Content meta data
Create an award winning meta description for your article. It should be as effective as an elevator pitch. Those who read the snippet in SERPs should click through to your site for more information.
When you post videos on YouTube, write keyword-focused mini blog to accompany the video. Higher rankings for your video will have a spillover effect on your blog.
12. Write up-to-date content
You don’t have to post daily to rank better. You have to keep your content updated (evergreen) though. If anything, you need to do more outreach for your existing content. That way, you will get more backlinks and more traffic without having to write fresh content every time.
13. Reach out to related blogs for guest blogging opportunities
Reach out to related blogs and high authority publications for guest blogging opportunity. When guest posting, aim to provide value and write engaging content that educates the reader.
More backlinks to your site will improve your domain authority. You can also get backlinks from high authority publications by giving reviews about their products / services that you use.
14. Include different types of media and embed videos
Use different types of media on your blog. Include images, videos, text, and even audio. Use correct file names for every attached media file. Include an alternative meta tag with your target keyword.
15. Make use of tables and lists
Also use tables and numbered / bullet lists in the copy. Generally, write the copy in an “F-shape”. This will ensure that readers still get the core points even if they just scan through the copy.
16. Do not forget your 404 error page
Your 404 error page should give the reader more options about where to go next to reduce bounce rates. Include a search bar and a menu to serve the reader with related / recommended posts.
Many people have created images / interactive media for their error pages; you can also do the same for your site.
Social Connection SEO Tips
17. Connect your site to at least one social media account
Register for social accounts and connect them to your blog. If you are not a fan of social media, you should at least have a google plus account.
When you share your blog posts on google plus, they appear in the search results. Encourage your readers to share your posts via social media. Include prominent social media buttons for that purpose.
18. Make use of Gravatar
Create a Gravatar account and edit it to include all the information you want people to know about you in about two lines. Include your contact details. Upload your best headshot. Gravatar will allow you to maintain consistent brand across the web whenever you make a comment on any website.
19. Enlist your blog in local directories and blog aggregators
Submit your blog to some of these blog directories. If you have a local business, consider listing it in local business directories. It will help people who are looking for businesses as yours find you more readily. Avoid listing your blog on questionable directories.
20. Use Facebook and Google ads
This is the shortest route to getting maximum exposure on the web. If you have the money to spend, set a budget for it and monitor the metrics. Keep re-targeting until you achieve the desired ROI.