SEO Checklist: 39 Actionable SEO Tips for Your Niche Site (#16 is Rarely Talked About) [Updated February 2017]

Filed in Case Studies, SEO by on February 21, 2017 9 Comments

SEO checklist for WordPress blogsDo you know the biggest traffic source for the majority of successful niche websites?

It’s not their email list or social media (though email especially should be a major part of your strategy)

It’s Google Search!

Let’s be clear; without a strong SEO foundation and a steady stream of search engine traffic, it's hard to build a sustainable and profitable niche marketing business.

Google overwhelmingly dominates the global search market.

Nearly 90% of all search queries are generated from Google.

Other search engines like Yahoo, Bing, Baidu etc. make up the remaining 9-10%.

 

search engine market share

 

The writing is on the wall – if you want consistent search engine traffic, you need to play by Google’s rules.

A few months back, I wrote a very detailed post on how you can protect your niche website from a Google penalty.

In this post, I’ll give a quick and easy SEO checklist.

Some of the points in this checklist are one-time actions that’ll put your SEO strategy on track.

While the others are things that you need to look at every time you’re publishing a new blog post.

To make it easier for you, I’ve divided it into the three main categories of SEO – technical, on-page and off-page.

Bookmark this post and give it a quick look before publishing a new blog post.

 

(P.S. If you'd like to download a free list of 220 profitable buyer keywords click here or the image below)

 

What You’ll Learn in this Post

  • How to build a strong SEO foundation for your niche website.
  • How to tap into the fastest growing segment of search traffic.
  • How to build backlinks like a pro.
  • How to get rid of any unwanted and harmful links to your site.

 


rand-fishkin"Whenever I advise marketers on crafting pages, I ask them to put themselves in the minds of their potential visitors, and imagine a page that provides something so different and functional that it rises above everything else in its field."
- Rand Fishkin (Moz)

Click here to Tweet this

 

 

Technical SEO – Optimizing Website Performance

So, what exactly is technical SEO? Sounds complex, right?

If you go into the depths of technical SEO, it is certainly a complex topic.

But as a blogger, even having some the fundamentals of technical SEO in place, is enough for you.

In simple terms, technical SEO refers to all the activities you do in order to make it easier for search engine spiders to crawl and index your website.

It focuses on the performance factors of your site like speed, file sizes, crawl errors etc.

Here are some of the key technical SEO factors you need to keep in mind.

 

 

1) Select a Reliable Website Hosting Service

The standard of your web hosting service can have a major impact on your website’s performance.

If your web hosting package includes frequent website downtimes, slow servers and poor security, the performance of your website will remain poor even if you apply the best optimization techniques.

At NicheHacks we use, and strongly recommend, WPEngine.

It offers over 99% server up time, with servers located at different geographical locations.

Or you could go for HostGator, which is another highly reliable web hosting service.

You can measure website uptime by using Pingdom.

It sends you alerts every time your servers are down and also gives you the total server uptime at the end of every month.

 

brian-clark"The best place to hide a dead body is the second page of Google search results" - Brian Clark (Copyblogger)

Click here to Tweet this!

 

 

2) Make Sure Your Web Hosting Service Is Whitelisted

If your site is hosted on a spam/blacklisted server, even the highest quality of content and the best SEO strategy won’t take you anywhere.

So before choosing a webserver, make sure it’s a clean and whitelisted service, using this free tool.

As expected, we came out clean : )

 

 

3) Optimize Your Page Load Speed (TTFB)

Google takes page speeds very seriously and considers it an important factor while ranking websites.

If two websites are equal in all other ranking factors, the faster website will be higher in search results.

According to KissMetrics, a 1-second delay in your page response can reduce conversions by almost 7%.

 

image67

Source: KissMetrics

 

However, according to Moz, Google specifically monitors the TTFB of every website.

TTFB (Time To First Byte) is the time it takes to load the first byte of a webpage.

You can find out where your site stands in terms of page speed by using Google’s Page Speed Tool. Any score above 80 is good.

Here are a few other measures you can take to improve page speed.

 

  • Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)

A CDN can significantly improve your website performance.

CDN’s cache your static website files and serve them from servers located nearest to your website visitors.

However, your CDN needs to specifically improve the website’s TTFB.

That is only possible if it can cache dynamic HTML files as well.

This is further elaborated in this infographic by Incapsula, a leading CDN used by Moz and several other industry leaders.

 

pagespeed-incapsula1

Source: Incapsula Blog

 

Here’s a useful list of some of the leading CDN’s that you can use for your niche website.

  • Optimize Image Sizes

If your website uses a lot of images (which it should), make sure they are optimized properly.

As a normal practice, save your images in JPG and GIF formats, as they occupy the least space.

There’s a useful WordPress plugin, Smush.it that automatically compresses all the images on your site. Make sure you have it installed.

Also consider installing Image Lazy Load, a plugin that delays loading the images in your content until the readers scroll down to reach them.

  • Remove Unnecessary Plugins

Certain WordPress plugins are essential for a successful niche website.

But too many plugins can really drag your site speed down. So keep the important ones, and get rid of the rest.

 

4) Run Stress Tests on Your Site To Measure Performance

The whole point of optimizing your website for search engines is to rise up in rankings and attract more traffic to your site.

But what if your webservers can’t handle heavy traffic and slow down (or even crash) the moment a few dozen people visit your website?

Not only will this result in poor user experience but will most definitely cause your rankings to drop.

So before disaster strikes, run stress/load tests on your site to see if it can handle heavy traffic.

You can use free tools like Load Impact, ZebraTester or Load Storm to send dozens of virtual visitors to your site in a short period of time and measure your server’s performance.

 

5) Switch Your Site from HTTP to HTTPS To Improve Security

How would it feel if every time a Google Chrome user visits your blog, he gets to see this right next to your website URL?

Not pretty, right?

According to WordPress security company Wordfence, Google Chrome is now marking any website without an SSL certificate as insecure.

Naturally, that’ll turn users away.

But that’s not all.

Google now considers website security as one of the key ranking factors and prefers HTTPs websites over HTTP in search results.

Here’s a detailed guide on switching your site from HTTP to HTTPs and making it more secure for your visitors. There are several SEO implication of this change as well.

At the same time, I strongly advise you to get in touch with your web hosting service provider to find how you can make the switch.

Doing this is important, and will not only make you look more credible to both Google and your visitors but also make your website more secure, at a small price of course.

 

6) Install WordPress to Setup Your Site

Once you set up your domain and web hosting, you need to either develop your own website with a custom CMS or install a ready to use blogging platform or CMS like WordPress, Joomla,  Blogger etc.

Choose WordPress, it’s a no-brainer.

Nearly 27% of all websites on the web are powered by WordPress.

It has thousands of high-quality website themes and plugins that are real life-savers for bloggers and marketers like you and me.

So don’t waste time thinking about this.

 

 

Why is this important from an SEO perspective?

Because your CMS has a direct impact on your website’s performance.

Plus, with WordPress you’ll be able to follow all the SEO best practices by using simple plugins.

No other CMS comes even close in terms of the flexibility and performance WordPress offers.

Installing WordPress on your site is really simple.

But just in case you need help, here’s a step by step guide to help you setup your WordPress site in just a few minutes.

 

7) Install Google Analytics to Understand Your Audience Behavior

You can improve something that you can’t measure.

Google Analytics gives you all the data and insights you need to measure your website’s traffic, audience preferences, user behavior and your best performing content.

Create an account, add your website to Google Analytics and copy the tracking code to your website.

Or simply use a Google Analytics WordPress plugin to set up everything for you.

 

8) Set Up Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools for Your Site

Having your site registered with Google Search Console (previously Webmaster Tools) and Bing Webmaster Tools allows you to submit your sitemap to Google Search and Bing, and gives you additional insights about your website traffic and audience.

Google also uses Search Console to communicate with individual webmasters regarding any website errors or search engine penalties.

You can set up both these accounts by simply signing up and submitting your site.

 

9) Use a Mobile Friendly Website Design

Does your website use a mobile friendly design? If not, Google is all set to penalize you in its upcoming algorithm updates.

Google rewards websites that offer a pleasant user experience.

With the number of smartphone users rising dramatically, Google now requires every site to have a mobile version or use responsive website design.

You can use Google’s Mobile Friendly Test to find out if your site is mobile friendly.

 

mobilefridnly

mobilefreindly

 

 

BrysonMeunier-lg"In this new era of SEO, it’s no longer possible to ignore mobile searchers and mobile
sites, and compete with those who don’t.
" - Bryson Meunier (Search Engine Land)

Click here to Tweet this!

10) Enable Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) on Your Site

More people access the internet from their mobile devices than desktops, which is why mobile friendliness is now one of the core ranking factors in Google search.

In fact, Google recently announced its “mobile-first index” which means Google will now look at web content primarily from a mobile user’s point of view.

Using Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) on your site is one of the ways to tap into this surge of mobile traffic.

It’s an initiative by Google, similar to Facebook’s Instant Articles, which allows webmasters to publish a lighter version of their website (which loads instantly) for mobile users.

 

 

Switching to AMP has its pros and cons which is why many bloggers are still unsure if they should make the move.

However, since Google is increasing its focus on mobile users, it only makes sense to make your site easier to navigate on mobile devices.

You can turn your blog posts into AMP by simply installing the official WordPress plugin.

 

11) Use an SEO Friendly URL Structure

Are you using search engine friendly URLs?

Not sure? Here’s the difference.

Wrong URL Structure: http://www.yoursite.com/postid=34

SEO Friendly URL: http://www.yoursite.com/onpage-seo-techniques

Do you see the difference?

An SEO friendly URL includes some of the main keywords that describe the content of the page.

It helps readers and search engine spiders determine the page content easily.

Here’s how you can change your URL structure in WordPress

Dashboard==>>Settings==>>Permalinks

 

permalinks1

 

12) Create HTML and XML Sitemaps for Your Website

An HTML sitemap is primarily aimed at the website visitors. It gives them a tree-view of your website and all its pages and subpages.

It does not have a direct impact on SEO, but does improve user experience.

An XML sitemap, however, is important for SEO and gives Google spiders a starting point to crawl your website.

It’s not meant for your visitors and should not be displayed on your website.

You can create an XML sitemap in WordPress by using the Google XML Sitemaps plugin.

Once your sitemap is ready, submit its URL to your Google Webmaster Tools account.

 

sitemap1

 

Also add your sitemap location to your website’s robots.txt file.

You can find this file in the root folder of your website.

Just add the URLs of your sitemap to the robot.txt file like the URLs below.

User-agent: *

Sitemap: http://yoursite.com/my-sitemap1.xml

Sitemap: http://yoursite.com/my-sitemap2.xml

Here’s a snapshot of Google’s own robots.txt file to give you an idea.

 

googlerobot

 

13) Silo Content As Much As Possible

Siloing your content simply means breaking it down into different categories according to their topics. Every category contains blog posts related to that topic.

For example, here on NicheHacks, content can be broken down into categories like social media, blogging, niche website reports, case studies etc.

 

image132

Source: QuickSprout

This helps search engine crawlers go deep into your website and crawl related content together.

It also means that no page on your site is more than a few click away from the user.

 

14) Eliminate Crawl Errors on Your Website

Crawl errors occur when something on your website prevents Google crawlers from indexing it.

If you have a large website, these errors can be in thousands.

But don’t worry, it’s not as difficult to locate and eliminate these errors as you think.

Go to your Google Webmaster Tools account==>>Crawl==>>Crawl Errors

 

image032

 

Go through this list and eliminate the source of each problem that is causing these errors. Here’s a detailed guide by Moz on eliminating crawl errors.

 

15) Manage Page Redirections Properly

As your site grows, you might need to redirect older URLs to more updated content on your website.

But you need to do this correctly, otherwise your new URL will not have the same authority in Google’s eyes as the old ones.

There are mainly two types of redirections that are used in different scenarios

301 Redirect: Used for permanently redirecting a URL.

This tells Google that your old URL is now outdated and the redirection is permanent.

This also transfers 90-99% of the old page’s authority to the new one.

302 Redirect: Used for temporary redirections.

This tells Google that the redirection is for a short time and the old URL will be activated again.

This doesn’t transfer any of your page authority to the new URL.

But if you keep it activated for too long, your original page might lose some traffic.

 

 

Neil Patel"Every on-page SEO task is really for the user’s benefit. Yet most SEOs still haven’t come to terms with that fact." - Neil Patel 

Click here to Tweet this!

 

 

16) Disavow Low-Quality and Spammy Links

You already know that the quality of your backlinks has a huge role in determining your search engine rankings.

Backlinks from relevant, reliable and high authority publications can shoot your rankings up.

On the other hand, spammy and low-quality links from irrelevant sites can make you look suspicious to Google’s algo (or even get you penalized)

Thankfully Google’s Disavow tool allows you to disassociate your site from any low-quality links.

It tells Google not to consider the selected links when assessing your website.

You can access it from your Google Search Console account.

Here’s what Matt Cutts, Google former Head of Spam, said about using this tool.

“If you are at all worried about someone trying to do negative SEO or it looks like there’s some weird bot that’s building up a bunch of links to your site and you have no idea where it came from, that’s the perfect time to use disavow as well….even if you don’t have a message in your webmaster console….So if you’ve done the work to keep an active look on your backlinks and you see something strange going on, you don’t have to wait around. Feel free to just go ahead and preemptively say, ‘You know what; this is a weird domain. I have nothing to do with it, and no idea what this particular bot is doing in terms of making links,’ so go ahead and do disavows even on a domain level.”

 

Source: Disavow Tool Guide

As Matt suggests, you should keep a close eye on your backlink profile and routinely disavow any unwanted links pointing to your site to keep your profile nice and clean.

Here’s a more detailed guide on using the Disavow Tool.

 

17) Use Canonical URLs to Avoid Duplicate Content on Your Site

You’re a NicheHacks reader so I’m sure you stay away from all the dubious SEO stuff like using duplicate or spun content on your site.

But there are other ways duplicate content can make its way to your blog.

For example, you might be curating content on your site from different sources, or you might want to publish your guest posts for other blogs on your own website as well.

However, most of the unintended duplicate content issues arise because of URL structure and parameters.

For example, the following URLs might appear the same to a common user, but Google treats them as different URLs. If all of them are indexed, it will be treated as duplicate content.

http://www.yoursite.com/page

http://www.yoursite.com/page/

http://www.yoursite.com/page/index.htm

http://www.yoursite.com/page/index.htm?ref=email

 

 

But instead of taking you into the technical details, I’ll just share the solution with you.

Install WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin to your blog and use it to add the canonical tag to your duplicate pages.

The canonical tag simply lets Google spiders know which version of the content on your site is original, so that the bots ignore all other versions.

The Yoast SEO plugin gives you a field in the post/page editor where you simply need to paste the URL of your preferred page.

 

 

Leave this field empty if the page/post you’re creating is the preferred version of your content.

Also make sure you’ve set your preferred domain in Google Search Console.

 

You can read more about canonical URLs and how to use them to avoid duplicate content, in more detail in this post.

 

On-Page SEO – Optimizing User Experience

On-page SEO is all about user experience. Unlike popular belief, it’s not about stuffing your content with high traffic keywords.

Instead, you need to focus on creating high-value content that offers your visitors exactly the kind of information they’re looking for.

This visual by Rand Fishkin describes on-page SEO perfectly (Source: Moz)

 

seo-basics-guide-perfectly-optimized-page

 

18) Research the Right Keywords for Your Content

Keyword research is at the core of any on-page SEO strategy.

If your content is focused on the right keywords, you can quickly find your way to the top of Google’s search results.

It’s an important topic that needs to be explained in a lot of detail.

But I’ll keep it simple for you.

At its core, keyword research is simply another form of market research.

Your target audience is out there searching for solutions to different problems.

Your job is to correctly identify the keywords they’re searching and determine if you can practically rank for them.

For example, a broad keyword like “t-shirts” may get hundreds of thousands of searches, but is it easy to rank for? No

Is it good to rank for? Maybe, maybe not.

Because head keywords like “t-shirts” don’t really tell you anything about the searcher’s intention.

Is he looking to buy t-shirts, design t-shirts, t-shirts for his girlfriend, or simply learning what a t-shirt is?

This is one of the reasons why head keywords have very low conversion rates.

Body keywords, usually 2-3 word phrases with slightly clearer searcher intent, have less traffic as compared to head keywords.

But they’re still very competitive to rank for. “Boys t-shirts” is an example of such keywords.

Long-tail keywords are much more targeted 4-5 word phrases.

They get much lower traffic (100-1000 per month avg.) but are easier to rank for since they have low competition, and a much higher conversion rate.

If your site ranks for dozens of long-tail keywords, their combined traffic can be significant.

Smart marketers focus primarily on Long-Tail and Body keywords.

 

 

So how do you find such keywords?

There are a number of tools to help you.

But I suggest you start your search with Google’s related searches to get a better idea.

Let’s assume I’m in the weight loss niche, and I’m looking for high traffic body and long-tail keywords I can easily rank for.

Let’s see what Google suggests

 

 

When I scroll down the search results page I can see the list of related searches for my head keyword, weight loss

These are closely related terms, with more searcher intent, that people are searching for.

You can use them in your content instead of the broad head keywords.

You may also use Ubersuggest to find hundreds of related keywords people are searching on Google.

 

 

If you don’t have any keywords in mind, you can simply enter your competitor’s URL in SEMRush to find the keywords they’re ranking for.

This would give you a good starting point for choosing your target keywords.

For example, here’s what I got when I searched for Matthewwoodward.co.uk in SEMrush

 

 

You can see more keywords by expanding the list

 

 

The free version of SEMrush shows you the top 10 keywords any domain is ranking for.

The premium version gives you hundreds more.

Quora is another great place to find keywords for your content.

Quora is one of the largest Q&A platforms on the web where you’ll find thousands of questions and answers related to your niche.

 

 

Just search Quora for one or two broad keywords related to your topic, and you’ll get dozens of threads where people have answered different questions in detail.

Go over some of the top threads and try to notice the keywords that are repeatedly used.

Note them down in a separate Notepad file.

You can search these keywords on Google to find more suggested keywords in the related keywords section that I mentioned earlier.

All these techniques are great for finding keyword ideas that you can explore in more detail.

However, as you might have noticed, I haven’t gone into the specifics of choosing a keyword and planning your content around it.

That’s down to two reasons.

Firstly, it’s a very detailed topic that deserves a dedicated post of its own.

I strongly recommend you read Brian Dean’s Ultimate Keywords Research Guide if you want to explore this topic in more detail.

Secondly, here at NicheHacks, we usually choose our content topics based on the needs and interests of our audience (which we found through surveys and our past content trends)

Once we finalize a topic, we then do some research to find the keywords people are using to look for those topics.

And once we’re done with content creation, we sprinkle those keywords gently all over our content without compromising on the quality or the user experience.

Works really well for us since we focus on creating really long and in-depth posts, which means we get to rank for multiple long-tail keywords.

I suggest you do that as well.

 

19) Website Meta Tags

The role of meta tags has changed over the last few years.

They are still important, but for different reasons.

 

eta tags

 

Title Tags

Title tags are used to display the title of your post in Google search, and have a direct impact on your page rankings.

Preferably, the title should contain your main target keyword.

But it should also be concise. Ideally, your title length should stay between 50-60 characters to be completely visible.

You can use Moz’s title generator to see if your title and meta description are clearly visible.

 

titletag

 

Meta Description

This is the short description of your page that appears below the title in search results.

It does not have a direct impact on search rankings so you should not stuff keywords in it.

But according to Survey Monkey, nearly 44% of people click on a search result because of the meta description alone.

So you need to make it engaging for the readers and use it to give them a good idea of your page content.

You can use the Yoast SEO plugin to get title and meta description previews in WordPress.

 

20) Add Modifiers to Your Title To Rank Higher

As I said before, ranking for different long-tail keywords can bring in a lot of combined traffic to your site.

Adding modifiers to your page title, in addition to your primary keyword, can help you rank for long-tail keywords that you don’t even know about.

Modifiers are support terms that make your titles more descriptive and help users understand the context of your page better.

Many people use these terms while searching.

The following terms are good examples of modifiers.

  • The current year (for example, SEO Tips for 2017)
  • Geographic location (eg. SEO Tips for Local Businesses in New York)
  • Best (eg. The Best SEO Tips for 2017)

 

21) Use Primary Keyword in the First 100 Words of Your Page

According to Ahrefs, using your target keyword at least once in the first 100 words can help you rank higher, because it gives Google a better understanding of the topic of your page.

 

 

It’s a strong relevancy signal that’ll not only help you rank higher but also give your readers what they want right away.

 

22) Use Keyword Based Image Alt Text, Filenames and Description

When you add images to your posts, make sure they have descriptive and SEO friendly alt text, filenames and descriptions.

For example, if your image filename is image123.jpg, change it to a more descriptive name like guest-blogging-seo.jpg.

 

imagetag

 

If you have descriptive alt text, filenames and image descriptions, you’ll give your images a better chance to show up in relevant search results.

 

23) Use H1 Tag for the Title and H2 Tags for the Sub-Headings

This is standard practice for most SEOs, but that doesn’t make it any less important.

Make sure your page title, containing your primary keyword, is wrapped in the H1 tag.

By default, WordPress uses H1 for page/post titles.

 

 

For all the sub-headings in your post, use the H2 tag.

Also make sure that at least one sub-heading (preferably from the top 2-3) has your keyword in it.

 

 

24) Make it To Google’s Featured Snippet by Structuring Your Content the Right Way

The featured snippet in Google Search (also called rich answers) is a traffic goldmine.

It’s boxed answer that appears on top of Google’s search results when your query is a question.

 

 

Any content that makes it to the featured box naturally attracts the majority of the traffic for that search query.

Studies suggest that Google shows rich answers more frequently for voice searches as compared to text queries.

And every voice result starts with a brand name reference to the source site.

For example, if NicheHacks makes it to the rich answers snippet, the voice result will start like this

“According to NicheHacks……”

A huge branding opportunity!

 

 

Getting your site featured in rich answers has a lot to do with the structure of your content.

According to Convince & Convert, pages that are well optimized for particular keywords and already ranking in the top 10 results, have a higher chance of getting featured.

More importantly, pages that mention their target search query as a sub-heading, along with a detailed answer, are more likely to be featured.

 

25) Use Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) in Your Content

Latent Semantic Indexing or LSI keywords are terminologies and phrases related to your broader niche and your main keyword.

When creating content for your website or blog, you need to make sure that you’re mixing up LSI keywords along with your main keyword.

According to Upward Media, using LSI keywords is also important because of RankBrain, one of Google's core ranking factors, which evaluates search queries based on context and searcher's intent.

For example, if your main keyword is “generate website traffic”, your LSI keywords can be

  • Get more visitors
  • Attract more traffic
  • Drive more visitors
  • Get free traffic

You can use a free tool like LSI Generator to find dozens of relevant terminologies and phrases for your main keyword

 

lsi keywords seo

 

Also mix up different long tail keywords that appear under the related searches section in Google search results. For example here are the related searches for “freelance blogging”

 

Screen-Shot-2015-03-20-at-11.08.39-am

 

These are the searches that Google considers relevant to your main keyword.

So using them will make your content more natural and get you ranked for more keywords.

 

26) Create High-Quality Content To Boost On-Page SEO

A survey by HubSpot shows that nearly 75% of consumers prefer researching brands and product through articles and blog posts instead of paid advertisements.

And according to Quicksprout, blogs get 97% more inbound links and 434% more indexed pages as compared to simple websites.

 

blog1

Source: QuickSprout

 

So the best way to rank for a lot of keywords and strengthen your on-page SEO is to consistently create high quality content.

To be more specific, Google considers any content high quality if it is

  • Actionable
  • Focused on solutions
  • Optimized for relevant keywords
  • Easy to share and gets shared a lot
  • Written for humans not search engines

There are several posts on NicheHacks that discuss content marketing in much more detail, so I’ll leave it here.

But from an SEO perspective, here are a few things you need to keep in mind while creating content

  • Avoid Thin Content – No more 500-800 word posts. Google likes longer and in-depth articles, as apparent from this study by SerpIQ.

 

Screen-Shot-2015-03-20-at-11.09.34-am

 

Be as thorough as possible and create longer content in the range of 1500-2000 words (and beyond, if needed)

  • Avoid Duplicate Content like Plague – Creating duplicate content is the easiest way to get your website penalized by Google. There’s no harm in doing research and citing authority resources, but don’t copy their stuff completely.
  • Useful, Actionable, Data-Driven and Well-Researched – The hallmark of quality content is its usefulness and credibility. Readers also tend to share content that is backed by research. The easiest way to do this is by using studies by research companies like Pew, Statista etc. Share data with your readers to gain credibility, and provide action items to make your content really useful.
  • Content Engagement – Google takes content engagement very seriously. In fact, it is one of the primary ranking factors. It measures content engagement by the average time a reader spends on a page. Research shows that certain content types like videos, images, infographics, list posts, case studies etc. drive more engagement than others.
  • Content Freshness – If you’re in a niche where new things are regularly happening (news, sports, fashion, events, frequent updates etc.), content freshness is an important ranking factor for you.

 

frshness

Source: Inspire Chicago SEO

 

Over a period of time, sites in your niche with fresher content will outrank you if you do not make regular updates to your own content.

 

27) Make Video a Part of Your SEO and Content Strategy

Video is unarguably the most engaging form of online content.

In fact, nearly 74% of all internet is expected to be driven by video content by the end of 2017.

Using videos as a part of your content strategy also strengthens your on-page SEO.

According to Convince and Convert, adding a video to your content can increase your chances of making it to Google’s first page by 53 times.

 

 

For bloggers like you and me, one of the best ways to use videos is to create short video clips relevant to the topic of your blog post, upload them to YouTube and embed them in your content.

Doing so would act as a strong quality evidence to Google.

 

 

The rich media mix of your content will not only help you engage readers more but also send strong social signals which would help you rank higher.

 

28) Add Social Sharing Buttons to Boost Social Signals

There’s a lot of debate on whether social signals directly impact your search rankings or not.

But one thing’s for sure.

More social shares result is more exposure and more eyeballs on your content.

This naturally increases your chances of finding more readers, generating more traffic, and even attracting more backlinks.

This is precisely why you need to have a basic social media sharing widget in place on your site.

 

 

You can use free floating widgets like SumoMe or AddThis set up sharing buttons on your site in minutes.

 

29) Create Deep Interlinking of Content on Your Blog

Deep interlinking of content makes it easier for Google spiders to crawl new content and go deep in your blog.

When creating new content, make sure you frequently link to other relevant pages on your website.

For example, here on NicheHacks, we link to at least 8-10 other NicheHacks posts for every thousand words.

 

interlink

Source: Neil Patel Blog

 

The deeper you link, the easier it is for spiders to crawl your website.

 

30) Frequently Link To High Authority Content on Other Sites

Getting backlinks from high authority websites is one of the primary objectives of any SEO strategy.

But did you know that linking to high authority sites in your own content can also prove beneficial for your rankings?

When Google spiders crawl your content see outbound links to high authority sites in your niche, they consider this as a positive indicator.

His becomes even more effective when your link anchor text is natural.

 

 

mattcutts

 

 

Off-Page SEO - Building High Authority Backlinks

This aspect of SEO is primarily focused on getting natural backlinks from relevant high authority websites in your niche.

When a popular website links to your content, Google considers this as a vote of confidence from a trusted source.

The more authority links you have for a piece of content, the higher your rankings will get.

However, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind while building backlinks.

Here’s a quick look at some of them.

 

31) Use Natural Anchor Text

Google has come down hard on irrelevant and unnatural backlinks in the last few years.

In simple words, if you’re consistently creating links with exact keyword anchors, you’ll get into trouble with Google.

The right way is to create anchors that fit naturally with the overall the overall content on a page.

The right way is to create anchors that fit naturally with the overall the overall content on a page.

Also remember the LSI keywords that I mentioned earlier in the post.

When creating backlinks, use anchor phrases instead of anchor words. Include your main keyword and its variations in your anchor phrase.

 

32) Create Link-worthy and Share-worthy Content

The key to getting natural, relevant and high authority backlinks is to create content that people love sharing.

Research shows that certain types of content are shared more frequently than others.

 

image084

 

Focus on the content types that are shared more frequently.

Notice how infographics are the most frequently shared content type.

This is because people like quoting and sharing data backed content.

Including data references in your content can get you powerful backlinks from authority sites.

 

33) Influencer Outreach

Building relationships with the influencers in your niche is the key to getting easy and high authority backlinks.

No wonder it is one of the fastest growing methods for customer acquisition.

 

Tomoson-Study

Source: Tomoson Blog

 

Work on maintaining a good relationship with the experts in your industry, and reach out to them from time to time when you publish new and relevant content.

Here’s a detailed post on how to master the art of influencer outreach

 

34) Guest Blogging

If you do it the right way, guest blogging is one o the best ways to get backlinks from authority websites in your niche. What is the right way?

If you do it the right way, guest blogging is one o the best ways to get backlinks from authority websites in your niche. What is the right way? This post by Christopher is all about that.

 

35) Blog Commenting

Believe it or not, blog commenting still works.But not the way you think.

You can’t build backlinks with blog commenting because most of the times they’re “no-follow” links with little SEO value.

But you can use them to build relationships and create long-term partnerships that can help you achieve bigger SEO goals like being featured in expert roundup posts, being cited as an expert and getting more natural backlinks to your site.

Not sure how?

James has covered all of this (and more) in this epic blog commenting guide.

 

36) Forum Discussions

Just like blog commenting, niche specific forums are some of the best places to build relationships in your industry and get cited on other authority blogs as an expert.

There are hundreds of forums in every niche.

You just need to find them using different search queries on Google.

Here are a few examples

“your primary keyword + forums”

“industry + forums”

“industry/keyword + discussion”

 

37) Claim Your Business Profiles on the Web

You don’t want some unknown weirdo to show up in search results when your brand name is searched on Google, right?

It’s not just about your reputation either.

Branding is a core part of Google’s search algorithms.

Stronger and well-known brands are not only preferred in search results but are also unlikely to get a Google penalty (unless they commit a strong offense).

Claiming your brand name on all the major platforms on the web is one of the easiest ways to create a strong brand image in Google’s eyes.

It also gives you a shortcut to Google’s first page whenever someone looks specifically for you.

For example, look at the top results when I searched for Digital Marketer (a well-known brand in the digital marketing space)

 

 

Here are some of the websites/platforms where you should create your business profiles with your exact brand name, and link back to your website’s homepage.

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google+
  • Yelp
  • Crunchbase
  • YouTube
  • LinkedIn
  • com
  • Tumblr
  • Pinterest
  • Hulu
  • me
  • Posterous
  • TypePad
  • Squidoo
  • StumbleUpon
  • Etsy
  • Gravatar
  • Scribd
  • LiveJournal
  • HubPages
  • Flickr
  • PhotoBucket

Make sure you always use your brand name when creating profiles for your blog even on other websites.

 

38) Create Social Media Profiles to Boost Rankings

Cognitive SEO carried out an extensive study to understand the relationship between the social media presence of a brand and its search engine rankings.

The study found a direct relationship between higher rankings and a strong social media influence

 

 

The least you could do to take advantage of this is to create your social media profiles on some of the major platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, LinkedIn etc.

Link back to your site from your profiles and use them to share your content.

 

39) Enable Twitter Cards and Facebook Open Graph To Boost Engagement

Your social media influence is directly related to the level of engagement your social media posts generate.

Enabling Twitter Cards and Facebook Open Graph makes your posts on these platforms more engaging and help you generate more clicks.

For example, which of these tweets looks more attention grabbing?

 

Without Twitter Cards

 

With Twitter Cards enabled

 

The difference is clear.

The same happens when you enable Facebook Open Graph.

It shows additional details of your post, along with your featured image and a short description which helps people understand your post better.

Pinterest also has a similar feature called Rich Pins.

 

 

(P.S. If you'd like to download a free list of 220 profitable buyer keywords click here or the image below)

 

Ready to Publish an Optimized Post?

Phew! That was long, and you can see, I’ve not even scratched the surface on most of the points.

But this post ws not about giving you details of every SEO technique.

We have several other posts on this blog which discuss each of these points separately.

This post is a checklist.

Bookmark it and go through it every time you’re publishing a new blog post (especially the on-page SEO part).

Look forward to hearing your thoughts in the comments.

Jawad Khan
Jawad Khan is a content marketing consultant and a freelance blogger for hire. Follow him on his blog, WritingMyDestiny, Twitter and Google+

Comments (9)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Mario says:

    Jawad really amazing article. So much to learn, you covered everything. Implementing all of this on my website i can really boost my seo to another level thank you.

  2. Hiren Shukla says:

    Very Nice article..

    You have mention very nice step by step guide for SEO checklist for wordpress blog..

  3. Dominique says:

    Nice guide. The one thing I'd advise is the piece about content length. Every page or blog post on a website doesn't have to be over 1,000 words long like so many blogs keep suggesting. The length of your content is going to depend on how narrow/broad the topic of the page is. The broader your topic, the longer the page should be.

    • Jawad Khan says:

      Hey Dominique,

      I partially agree.

      It does eventually have to do with your topic, but there are always genuine ways to make your content more meaty even if your topic isn't that broad.

      As I mentioned in the post, the longer your content (talking about blog posts here) the more long tail keywords you can rank for and higher chances of driving traffic

  4. Francis says:

    Hi Jawad,

    So using external links (hyperlinked on some words) will be helpful for ranking? I think there are 3 off.page SEO, do.you have a link of a complete list for off page and how it is implemented? Like how many forum posting in a day etc...

  5. Emmerey Rose says:

    Hi Jawad! What a great post. Everything I need to know are here. I was wondering, do you also suggest using wordpress for beginners? isn't it complicated for them?

    • NicheHacks says:

      WordPress is the easiest platform on the web to use in my experience. Drag, drop, click and a plugin for anything you could ever want to do. No coding or tech experience needed. I doubt you'll find anything easier that is also so powerful.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *