SEO is all about ranking on the first page of search engines for keywords that drive customers to your business.
But where you rank on the first page could be the difference between making $10,000 to $100,000 a month.
According to a study conducted by Chitika a few years ago, it found that the #1 listing on Google’s organic search result got an average of 32% of the traffic.
Imagine your target keyword receives 10,000 monthly searches, it means you could be getting 3,200 visits per month if you rank #1 for that keyword alone.
Don’t get super-excited yet. Ranking #1 for any worthwhile keyword comes with a lot of tough challenges. Overcoming these challenges is your job as an internet marketer.
In this article, you’ll discover the biggest SEO problems and the best ways to tackle them.
So what are the biggest SEO challenges today?
SEO Challenge #1: Getting A Natural, Editorial Backlink With Optimized Anchor Text
Moz did a study to find if backlinks remain the most important ranking factor on Google.
What they found was interesting:
They found that 99.2% of all top 50 results had at least one backlink pointing to the website, and 77.8% of top results had at least one external link pointing to the page.
Google relies heavily on links when ranking websites.
You have a slim chance of ranking high on Google without backlinks.
Now that you know backlinks are important to ranking on Google, the challenge is that you can’t just go out there and start getting any backlink. You could easily get penalized by Google if you do that.
So what should you do?
Go for high-quality, hard-to-get backlinks. These are links you get from high authority sites in your niche.
Examples of high authority sites are Forbes, Huffington Post, Mashable, and the Wall Street Journal.
These sites have been providing quality information on the web for a very long time. Google automatically trust any website that gets links from them.
Google favors this type of link because it’s not so easy to get.
So how can you get editorial links from high authority websites?
You’ll have to be creative, funny, unique, timely, helpful, and sometimes, controversial to get this kind of link.
You should develop relationships with writers who regularly publish on these authority websites.
If you can get their attention and help them in some way, there’s a high chance that they will link to your site in one of their articles.
How can you help writers on authority sites?
It could be writing a complete interesting article and giving it to them for free.
It could be helping them find a source for their next story.
It could be commenting on their articles and providing valuable feedback.
Think of something that could help you get their attention and build a relationship with them. This is the easiest way to get links from authoritative websites in your niche.
SEO Challenge #2: Outranking A Competitor With A Stronger And Natural Link Profile
Let’s assume your target keyword is “forex broker” and you want to rank number one for that term on Google search results.
How can you do it?
Note that the keyword “forex broker” receives an average of 6,600 searches per month and advertisers are willing to pay as high as $14.30 per click for that keyword.
By typing this keyword into the Google search engine, you’ll see established sites like FXPro, Investopedia, and Alpari currently ranking on the first page.
These sites have strong backlink profiles, and it would be difficult to outrank them, but it is possible.
The first step is not to directly compete with these established sites for the keyword “forex broker.”
Instead, you should find lower competitive keywords that are related to Forex. Doing this would help you get some valuable traction in the Forex niche.
You could focus on competing on long tail keywords like “best forex broker for beginners” and “best trading platform for beginners.”
The second step is to check their page backlinks. Tools like Ahrefs and Majestic would help you with this.
If the numbers and quality of their backlinks are something you can match, then you can proceed to compete.
For example, if your competitors have an average of 100 backlinks from 50 referring domains. If you think you can do more than that within a period of time, then you should compete with them.
By gaining more backlinks over a period of time, you’ll be able to oust your competitor from the number 1 position on Google.
The third step is to check your competitors’ on-page SEO strategy.
Do they have the target keyword in their titles and meta descriptions?
Do they have the keyword in their H2 tags?
Do they have the keyword in their image ALT attributes?
Sometimes, your competitor may not be aggressive targeting a keyword. You can take advantage of that by making your on-page SEO better than your competitors.
The fourth step is to see how your competitors are building links and try to replicate those links to boost your web pages.
Are your competitors guest blogging?
Are they sponsoring events or conferences?
You have to start doing that better and more than your competitors.
The fifth step is to scan your competitors’ social accounts and monitor their mentions.
Search for their names on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram to see how they are participating in discussions.
You can join those discussions for the purpose of driving traffic back to your site and getting more social shares.
SEO Challenge #3: Generating Unique Content For A Large Ecommerce Site
Let’s assume you have an e-commerce site like Zappos. With thousands of products, each product needs its own page. So, you’ll have to write a unique description for each product on your site. This is a big SEO challenge.
Creating unique content for each product is a tough task. Some products are related and could use the same description, but don’t copy and paste the same description for similar products.
If you do that, the site would be at risk of Panda, a Google penalty which penalizes sites with duplicate and thin contents. Each page on your site must have its own unique content.
How do you deal with this challenge?
The best solution is to hire experts who are knowledgeable about the products.
Experts can quickly write unique descriptions for each product. They know the products inside out compared to an SEO who knows little of the product and how it works.
Hiring experts would enable you to concentrate your effort and time doing things you know how to do best.
Another simple solution is to combine similar products into a single page. This is even better as it saves you time and resources.
Here’s a perfect illustration of what I’m talking about on a Zappos product:
As you can see, Zappos lets you select different sizes of a clothing item on the same page. This is better than creating separate pages for different sizes of the same item.
SEO Challenge #4: Pushing Down Negative Results About Your Business
Back in 2014, Matthew Woodward wrote about his dissatisfaction with WP Engine, a managed WordPress hosting service.
The post garnered over 500 comments on his blog. It was well received, and many bloggers moved their sites away from WP Engine as a result of the post. It was a big blow to the reputation of WP Engine.
A negative review like this could prevent you from hosting with WP Engine.
Back then when Matthew published the negative review on his blog, it ranked high on Google. I can remember coming across the post a few times while searching for something related to web hosting.
But today, when you type the keyword “WP Engine review” you won’t find Matthew’s article on the first page. The SEOs at WP Engine did a good job pushing down the negative review in search results.
When you plug “WP Engine review” into the Google search box, this is what you’re likely to see:
As an internet marketer, you must push up positive reviews about your business and push down negative reviews.
How can you do that?
There is 2-step process you have to follow:
- Create a lot of positive contents about your brand
- Get a lot of backlinks to your positive contents
By following this 2-step process, you’ll quickly push down negative results about your brand.
Another thing you can do is to contact writers who wrote the negative reviews and get them to remove their negative contents about your business. This could be giving them incentives or providing them with better service to get those bad reviews removed.
SEO Challenge #5: Creating Unique Contents That Easily Generate Links And Stand Out In SERPs
These days, it’s hard to talk about SEO without mentioning content marketing.
In fact, the days of aggressive link building is over.
These days you need contents to build valuable backlinks.
Here’s proof from Google Trends:
Google Trends show that the phrase “link building” is slowly dying while “content marketing” is increasing.
To rank high on Google, you need to create unique, high-quality contents that make link building easy. Therefore, SEOs need to incorporate content marketing into their skill set.
SEOs need to know how to recognize a high-quality content when they see one. An SEO should also know how to create better high-quality contents.
A high-quality content should be original and different from everything else out there.
A high-quality content should have a strong headline and be actionable.
A high-quality content should also be engaging and thought-provoking.
If your content isn’t making readers leave comments on the page and share it with their friends, then it’s not a high-quality content.
So, as an SEO, you should regularly be creating contents influencers, readers and linkers would want to see in your niche.
For example, Brian Dean wrote a complete list of 200 Google ranking factors. Before this post was published, no one was able to write up to 200. Many tried and stopped below 110.
By making the list up to 200, Brian’s post received a lot of links and social shares. He was able to turn his blog into a business that makes 5-figures per month as a result.
SEO Challenge #6: Promoting Your Contents To Influencers And Linkers
Simply creating high-quality contents is not enough to crack the first page of search engines.
You need to promote your content to influencers and linkers. This is a major challenge for many SEOs.
The truth is if you’re not promoting your contents, there’s absolutely no way it will get those valuable links you want.
So how do you promote your content to get links and shares?
There are many ways to do this:
You could ask an influencer for a killer quote you can include in your content.
Another effective strategy for getting links and shares is to mention influencers in your post and let them know after the post is published. This would help you get the attention of influencers who may share it with their followers on Twitter and even link to it in their blog posts.
SEO Challenge #7: Building Brand Recognition In An Industry
Let’s assume you want to buy prescription eyeglasses, so you turn to Google and type “prescription eyeglasses” into the Google search box.
When Google returned results, you can see sites like Frames Direct and 39dollarglasses.com.
Then deep down on the same search result, you can see brands like Ray-Ban and Warby Parker.
Tell me, who would you patronize?
I haven’t heard of 39dollarglasses.com and Frames Direct, and it’s unlikely I will buy from them.
Ray-Ban has spent years building their brand. Warby Parker is right up there too. I think I can buy from these brands because I’ve heard of them many times before.
You can use SEO to build up your brand and get your name out there and build a winning brand.
It’s by creating valuable contents that target your ideal customers.
You must also ensure that you’re doing this on a consistent basis.
Pick a topic that relates to your business, and write dozens of contents around that topic.
For example, Neil Patel is regarded as one of the to internet marketing consultants. Neil has been creating valuable contents on a regular basis on the Quick Sprout blog for over eight years now.
In fact, he started another marketing blog at NeilPatel.com.
By regularly publishing high-quality contents, Neil was able to build his personal brand.
SEO Challenge #8: Using Social Media To Boost Your SEO Efforts
Today, link building alone may not deliver that first page rankings. And if link building alone lands you in the number one position for your target keyword, it only tells Google that something isn’t right with your backlink profile. That immediately puts you at risk of a Google penalty.
Normally, a page with a lot of backlinks should also have some real social shares on Twitter, Facebook and maybe Instagram.
Therefore, a solid presence on social media is very important for your SEO strategy.
This is a big challenge many marketers face:
They find it difficult to combine their SEO efforts with social media.
Social shares may not directly influence rankings, but it tells Google a lot about your backlink profile.
If you want to build a natural backlink profile, do yourself a favor by becoming active on various social channels where your target audience hangs out.
Make an effort to grow your follower base on Facebook, Twitter and others that are relevant to your business.
Sites that have social pages with high-quality followers rank better in search results.
SEO Challenge #9: Implementing The Right SEO Tactic
There are over a hundred SEO strategies on the web.
Brian Dean published “21 Actionable SEO Techniques You Can Use Right Now” on the Backlinko blog.
That blog post was interesting and educating. But what Brian didn’t say in that post is that you don’t need a lot of SEO tactics to succeed in SEO.
You only need to rely on a few SEO strategies to achieve success with SEO. Jumping from one SEO strategy to another is a sure recipe for failure.
Choose one or two SEO strategy and focus your efforts on making them work for you.
SEO Challenge #10: Working With A New Domain Name With Zero Links
The last biggest SEO challenge is building a website from the scratch with a brand new domain name.
New domains lack trust and authority that is required to rank on the first page of Google.
It doesn’t really matter if your website is well-optimized and has an amazing website design, search engines won’t automatically give you a stamp of approval.
What should you do?
You should gradually build high-quality links and create fantastic contents over and over again. Then you should be willing to wait for at least six months before your site starts seeing a lot of traffic from search engines.
How to Create More Clickable Google Search Snippets
Google search results are becoming ridiculously competitive. Plus, Google’s search results are becoming incredibly engaging: Many search users prefer to use search results (open “People Also Ask” results, clicks image and video carousels, etc.) that getting a click from search results is getting harder and harder.
With the introduction of new and flashier ways to be seen, you still have to learn how to creatively and dynamically exploit those offered tools. Being seen with so many others attempting the same technique is just as hard as it was when visibility relied only on ranking.
How to get more people click your search listing in SERPs? Here are three really effective ways:
1. Monitor Your Click-Through
The first step to improving your search snippet visibility is to set up monitoring of how your pages are performing right now and get alerted if anything changes.
Finteza is an advanced analytics platform allowing you to keep a close eye on your site performance in search and all the various channels.
To monitor your click-through from organic search:
- Register an account at Finteza
- Add their tracking code to your site and give it some time to accumulate some data
- Click “Sources” and there choose “Search”
- Go to “Pages” to see how your top landing pages are performing in search:
This gives you bird’s eye view on your site organic performance in organic search. It’s a great way to analyze and evaluate your old content. Using Finteza, you can also set up a retargeting campaign to target those search referrals better if they choose to return to your site.
Repeat steps above at least weekly to see if any of those pages start losing clicks from search: These might need some work. Here’s exactly what you may want to do:
2. Use Semantic Analysis
Google uses a variety of analysis methods to identify high-quality content that meets their users’ needs. One of the key components of Google’s content evaluation process is semantic analysis.
Basically speaking, semantic analysis is about clustering your key topic into subtopics and concepts that constitute it. To give a quick example, if we were to apply semantic analysis to [hiking], we’d come up with a variety of underlying concepts including, National Parks, Mountains, picturesque trails, being outdoors, and even birdwatching.
All of those concepts relate to hiking in some way or another.
Broadly speaking, semantic analysis helps machines understand natural language – the way that humans communicate – including context, goals, etc.
When it comes to search optimization, semantic SEO helps:
- Create more indepth and richer content that meets Google’s expectations
- Optimize for intent (what’s the end goal behind each search)
- Give Google enough context for them to create a more clickable search snippet for your listing.
Another example of semantic analysis in action is Google’s results for [where it was filmed]. While the query is seemingly absolutely generic, Google is able to understand this question relates to the movie “It”.
Text Optimizer is the semantic analysis tool that goes right to the source, i.e. Google search snippets. For each query you type, it would collect Google’s search snippets and apply semantic analysis to them to come up with the list of underlying concepts:
[TextOptimizer’s results for [where it was filmed] – as you can see the tool got the actual context of the query and clustered it into related topics]
Including 20-25 of these concepts into your content will help Google better understand your text, and create richer more clickable search snippets. Here’s a more detailed review of the site I did previously.
3. Optimize for Rich Snippets
Rich snippets have become the new keywords. These little details are what causes your listing to “pop” in a search, catching the eye of the user no matter what place on the first page you occupy. Proper use of rich snippets are a requirement for being seen.
“Rich snippets” are search results providing the user with more answers right within SERPs. To qualify for rich snippets your web page should have rich markup:
Here are the supported types of rich snippets:
If you have reviewed a tool or a product, use Aggregate Rating structured data for your search snippet to look like this. This will populate stars in search that definitely draw an eye!
Recipes will have some nutritional and preparation information, like how long it takes to cook and how many calories are in each serving.
Events will show dates and times for each event for quick reference. Every event name is linked in search results giving you more clickable links in search.
There’s a number of structure data types that allow you to add more details to your brand knowledge graph (NOT for local businesses though).
These include: Official social media accounts, logo, and the corporate contact:
Movies and Books
Movies and books will also show off a ranking system, and some product pages have a star rating alongside price.
HowTo markup will help Google to locate more information from your tutorial, for example, number of steps, time to complete, etc.:
HowTo Schema shouldb’t be used for recipes though. Other than that there are no official restrictions to certain types of tutorials that can have it.
One word of caution here: Only use structured data when it absolutely makes sense. Google frowns upon using Schema just for the sake if rich snippets. If it is not an actual review, don’t use the ratings markup, as it could backfire. Google actually sends manual penalties for a structured abuse, so read the documentation properly to make sure you follow all the rules!
Optimizing for rich snippets relies heavily on whichever website builder and/or CMS you are using. For most of them there are lots of plugins and addons allowing to quickly integrate structured markup.
The above tips will hopefully help you generate more clicks from your current organic positions without having to invest in improving it. See it as a low-hanging fruit opportunity to improving your traffic!
Do you have a tip for optimizing search snippets? Let us know in the comments!
Top the Charts! 5 Must-Know SEO Solutions to Promote Your Managed IT Service
According to Internet Live Stats, Google processes over 40,000 search queries every second. That’s 3.5 billion searches a day.
When someone searches for your managed IT service, you have the opportunity to attract them straight towards your website.
All you need is search engine optimization or SEO!
Here are five SEO solutions that can help drive traffic to your website. With these techniques, you can attract new customers and grow your business!
Let’s get optimizing.
1. Topics & Keywords
An effective SEO strategy starts with a list of keywords. These keywords reflect the content your customers are searching for online. Using these keywords, you can create content that matches their search intent.
To start, you can use tools like Google Keyword Planner and Google Trends. These tools will show you the popularity of each keyword.
Once you have this list, you can create pillars and clusters. Pillars give your website visitors the main page of collective content. Then, the clusters break this content into sub-topics with specified information.
This strategy can help boost your SEO plan and attract people to your Managed IT Services.
That way, you’re attracting new website visitors while providing them with an easy, efficient user experience, too.
2. On-Site SEO
Your website needs optimization as a whole as well as on a page-based level. To start, make sure your website’s content hierarchy is well-structured.
Then, there are a number of areas that require review to ensure these SEO solutions work.
Once you’ve studied your target audience to determine your keywords, you also need:
- Descriptive URLs
- Keyword-optimized page titles
- Compelling meta descriptions
- Content optimization (includes keyword placement in headers, body text, etc.)
- Good user experience
- Structured data markup
- Effective call-to-action language
As part of your overall SEO strategy, on-page SEO is an important component of attracting visitors.
3. Off-Site SEO
An off-site SEO strategy includes local SEO. This strategy helps you attract local customers to your website and business.
To start, make sure your listings are updated with the correct content information.
This includes your Google My Business listing as well.
4. Technical SEO
Technical SEO ensures search engines can find your content. These areas include:
- Website speed
Technical SEO solutions are essential for success. Otherwise, how will customers find your website?
According to Fit Small Business, search is the number one driver of traffic to content sites. In fact, it beats social media by over 300 percent.
Your content should consider customer search intent. That way, you’re giving visitors content that answers their questions. This can include service content, credibility content, and marketing content.
This content should also add value to your business.
Consider writing blog posts or white papers. You can also post videos or add testimonials to your website.
That way, your SEO content shows visitors you’re a valuable resource.
Bring It in: 5 Must-Have SEO Solutions
With these five must-have SEO solutions, you can attract new visitors to your website. The right techniques will then turn these visitors into leads, then leads into paying customers!
That way, your company grows, one SEO strategy at a time.
Check out our latest posts for more effective tips and tricks!
SEO 101: The Essential SEO FAQ for Bloggers
I don’t provide SEO services and I am self-taught – which hardly makes an expert. But I’ve been blogging for a lifetime and for all these years I’ve been reading about and implementing SEO practices – which means I know more than an average blogger.
With that said, I’ve decided to put together this SEO FAQ for those who want to quickly understand the concept without going too indepth:
What is SEO?
Simply put, SEO is about making a website easy for search engines to discover, go through and understand.
- creating content (based on search engine users’ needs),
- making your content “link-worthy” (i.e. attract backlinks),
- using HTML and structured data to make content easier to understand for the machine, etc.
SEO is NOT trying to “fake” any of positive signals search engines use to rank web pages. Search engine friendliness should be authentic and SEO professionals should work together with website owners to achieve that.
Do Bloggers Need to Know SEO?
SEO aims at helping a page rank on top of organic search results, and search engines are known to bring the most qualified leads (people turn to Google when they know what they want).
No traffic source is as effective as search traffic. Unlike driving clicks with ads (PPC), organic search is NOT interrupting user’s surfing the web. Instead, it serves them content exactly when they ask
This makes SEO one of the most important digital marketing channels. It can drive highly targeted traffic and pre-qualified leads to your site on a continuous basis (no need to keep investing in ads)
How Has SEO changed over the years?
SEO is maturing fast and it has been exciting to watch. The biggest driving force behind this evolution is Google that has been working hard on their search algorithm to understand natural language and search intent, as well as penalizing any manipulating tactics.
The result: SEO has become more integrated into other marketing channels. Furthermore, SEO is more about focusing on long-term goals rather than quick traffic gains
If ten years ago SEO was all about creating fake signals (keyword stuffing, link buying, etc.), these days it’s all about creating linkable assets that rank and engage potential customers.
Can SEO Be Handled “At Home”?
WordPress bloggers generally don’t have to worry about getting SEO help. WordPress is pretty well set up and there’s a variety of free plugins to help.
Here’s a detailed guide to get yourself educated: Google SEO: Should it be your only priority?
What is The Most Important SEO Element?
Content… by far! Content is the foundation of any SEO strategy. Content ranks, attracts links, spreads, engages customers and turns them into believers.
Content is not just an article or a blog post. By content I mean any kind of text you put on your site, from a landing page copy to your “About us” page or a product description.
Many businesses jump into digital marketing without willing to invest in content, and this strategy is doomed to failure. Building on-site content should be everyone’s SEO priority.
Text Optimizer is a great tool that helps you create better content by providing you with the mindmap of associated concepts and questions. It uses semantic analysis to process Google’s search snippets and break any keyword into subtopics.
While it’s primarily search intent optimization tool, it’s also helpful for overall content research showing which topics to cover and how to structure your article.
You can read my own Text Optimizer case study here.
What Are the Most Dangerous SEO Myths?
- Keyword density… This is one of the most persistent SEO myths out there. Why I dislike it so much is because it fills the web with trash content. Keyword-density focused strategy spoils the brand image and creates lots of problems which take lots of time to fix.
- On-page SEO alone will get you to #1. There are so many SEO agencies there that are happy to keep “optimizing” your website but rankings won’t come. The reality, you still need outbound tactics to gain backlinks and external visibility (branding) to achieve higher rankings
- SEO is dying… SEO death has been predicted for years now. These days with Google’s new SERPs features that aim at keeping the user using Google, and the fast growth of voice search, SEO is predicted to die soon again
The truth is, SEO is full of ingenuous tools and people. It is evolving together with search engines and it will survive Google’s death one day.
What’s the Best SEO Advice You’ve Received?
There’s a real human being behind each query.
Really if you stop thinking of keywords as “word strings to optimize for” and start seeing them as a real person’s question, SEO becomes much clearer (and more fun).
This mindset helps build more helpful content, optimize for search intent better (why would anyone type this into the search box? What are they willing to do once they find the answer?)
On top of that, by looking at keyword research as something that helps you serve your customer will help you understand your audience better and come up with better products and offers, on a higher-level.
Answer The Public is a nice free tool that turns keyword research into question research helping you to clearer see your readers’ struggles behind their search queries.
On top of that, the tool also mind-maps the retrieved keywords / questions helping you in brainstorming.
Where Does a Blogger Start with SEO?
As stated above, there’s not much a blogger can do to start with SEO except for creating useful original content.
Here’s also a nice clutter-free introduction into SEO: SEO Basics: Complete Beginner’s Guide to Search Engine Optimization . Here’s a much easier guide but also one that lists the most essential step: 3 Basic Steps to Making Your New Blog SEO-Friendly. Here’s also a helpful writing checklist that will help you handle the basics:
As you may have noticed, I am not listing a ton of tools here as I don’t want this guide to overwhelm the reader. Those mentioned are a good start!
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