20 Free SEO Tips You Can Apply to Your Site Today to Increase 📈 Your Results - Or How I Increased My Results 3600% in Less Than 3 Months 👍

seo-tips-you-can-implement-today-for-freeOne of my new year's resolutions this year was to make organic search traffic a top priority.

And you know what its worked! But I am no where near being done!

For transparency sake in March 2018 this site appeared almost 180,000 in Google search results. This translated to 61,000 page views. For any given month in 2017 I was lucky to earn 5000 impressions.

After making many deliberate technical changes to this site and changing my content strategy things improved. My next goal is to reach 1 million monthly search impressions.

How did I do it? How can you replicate my success?

61k page views in March 2018

In this article you will learn 20 actionable tips you can implement today, for free, to start reaping the rewards of increased traffic to your web site.

Full disclosure, my results are mine. Your results can and will vary. I do use some paid tools, but you can implement these tips for free. The services and tools I use help me scale and complete tasks faster.

Intentional Effort and Motivation

I wont lie, I invested 10-20 hours a week for the first two months of 2018 making changes, one by one. I have not stopped making changes and will continue to make upgrades.

Good SEO is hard and takes a lot of intentional effort. But anything worth doing does.

The good news is there are many FREE things you can start doing today that will have an immediate impact.

Last week I got involved in a conversation with fellow Microsoft MVPs about our annual contributions. You see we were in the last week of our award renewal period, which means everyone is evaluating what we have done the past year.

A key area for MVPs is their blogs. How many, how much reach, how to get more reach etc.

Of course great content is the goal, but reaching the developer and IT community is more important for our MVP award status.

If no one reads the content we pour our soul into then does it really matter?

The good news is you can get the eyeballs you are after. And you don't have to be a Microsoft MVP to win big.

As MVPs we are motivated to reach others and provide good advice so everyone can succeed. Hopefully that is your first goal.

The second goal of course is to use our platforms to confirm our expertise and work ethics to earn great paying gigs and sell our products. Right now my main revenue goal is to enroll students in my Progressive Web App Course.

So between the MVP program, developer projects and my course I have lots of motivation to make this blog popular.

Organic Search Engine Optimization

Over 93% of web traffic originates with search.

The best news is that traffic is FREE! But it is not easy to earn.

That means a solid SEO strategy is important for anyone wanting to reach folks with their message. Compared to all the paid traffic channels, organic SEO is by far the best source of traffic.

Search engine optimization or SEO is the art of creating content and earning good placement on tarageted search or keyword phrases in search engines.

I emphasize earning because you can't buy your way to the top. At least not for a reasonable return.

The algorithms used by Google, Bing and other search engines are highly gaurded trade secrets. But they boil down to these requirements:

  • Make Content Real People Want to Read
  • Provide a User Experience People Like

That's it!

Simple, right?

Win these two categories and you will earn things like backlinks, etc.

The tips I share in this article are designed help you meet these two requirements. Plus this is not limited to just Microsoft MVPs. These tips will work for any web site.

Here is the Proof

I had neglected my SEO for a few years. I neglected checking my analytics and just assumed things were still humming along like they were several years ago.

After an MVP meeting in Boston I went and checked my analytics. I was sad, because there was almost no traffic.

Last year I made an intentional effort to grow my reach, but honestly I went down the wrong path. I listened to successful marketers talk about their channels, mostly paid.

So like them I spent a lot of time and money trying to grow an audience through things like Facebook ads. And to be honest I grew an audience. I have over 6000 Facebook fans and an email list I grew from 0 to 1400+ in the past year.

What was I doing wrong? I mean I try to author content I think other developers need to know. My site is fast, That is something I preach about, so I have to load fast!

Turns out despite writing good content (yes that is arbitrary 😃) no one was reading the content.

Bad search rankings were the big reason why. So over Christmas I decided to focus 100% of my effort to grow my organic search.

It was not an overnight success, but so far it was close.

I really started to see results in mid February. That is roughly when the items I am sharing in this post were fully implemented.

google-search-console-2018-growth

Note: I made a mistake in late February and removed my Google Analytics code on most of my site for a week.

So what did I do?

Author Greenfield Content

createdocumentfragment-serps-google-consoleBack in the 2010 time frame I was challenged by my manager to author more 'thought leadership' content.

What does that mean?

I wrote what I will call vanity content. These are articles I felt others needed to hear or that I felt were important.

Often they are more op-ed than substantive or actionable.

In short, developers really want to know how to get their job done, not theories.

Anyway, I wrote a lot of articles that were more editorials than practical. An example of these areticles is one I wrote about Mark Zuckerberg comments at TechCrunch Disrupt.

Lots of pontifications and yeah it tells you what I think.

But who the heck cares?

That page ranks for absolutely 0 keywords!!!!

Turns out I had hundreds of URLs ranking for 0 keywords, which means they were just dead weight.

Unless I share those articles on social media no one will ever read the article. And even then it is questionable. Most tweets and Facebook posts have little to no engagement to speak of.

Heck I am looking over that article and just see words, lots and lots of words.

I don't even want to read it!

I may apply one of my later tips to this article, I will let you guess which one!

Up to that point (2010) I typically wrote about things I thought were helpful. Typically it was how to write code, which should be what I write about! I want to help developers write better code.

At the same time I want business decision makers to know what they need to use for their business. So explaining technology is the other key content area.

But I can't just write things I get a fancy for. I need to write for what others are searching for.

So, in mid February I switched back to focusing on that strategy. I started writing on topics I would have never dreamed of 4 months ago. And you know what, people are reading those articles!

These articles fall in the category of Greenfield content. The difference between these articles and the vainity posts are they have a long traffic life. Sometimes vanity articles get a great initial bump, but quickly fade into obscurity.

Greenfield content targets common search phrases with decent or large volumes. Those searches are pretty steady over time.

The HTML Input Placeholder Color article is just an example. That page basks in 5-20 victors a day.

Did you know most web sites can't even get 25 real visitors a day!

Aggregate those view over 365 days and I should have 1,825-7,300 readers over the course of the year.

And you know what, I should get even more. I am not fully ranking as high as I can for that page's keywords yet. I am almost there! I am betting I can get to 30-50 readers a day by the end of April! #BOOM

To target these topics I needed to discover what people were searching for. This means keyword mining.

The best place to start is the Google Adwords keyword planner. You will need an Adwords account and I think it needs to be active for a while before you have full access. I also think they recently changed the rules to require some paid activity.

Bing has a similar tool, but it not near as good.

There are great paid services like AHrefs, which I now subscribe and SEMRush.

These tools should give you a good idea what phrases people are entering in search engines to find answers to their questions. They will also tell you estimated volumes, etc. The paid services will also help you understand how stiff the competition is, so you can target simple topics first.

There are other free keyword tools available online. Even with the paid services you will need to take time to identify target keywords to create content.

Key takeaway: Write What People Are Searching For

Write Differently Than Your English Teacher Taught, Write for the Web

I have mixed feelings about my experiences in English classes. I enjoyed the reading, but not the subsequent book reports. To this day I still get 'critiques' about my grammar and writing style. Somehow it never seemed like it followed a formula like math and chemistry.

Writing has changed in the past 30 years, thanks to the Internet.

In school we were and still are taught to write for print, not for digital.

There is a difference and knowing how to write for online makes a difference.

Most of us were taught a 'Chicago Style' of writing. 5 paragraphs, intro and conclusion. Each paragraph at least 3 sentences.

I still fight to avoid this style today.

But as you may have noticed this article avoids that style.

And for good reason.

Research says it does not work online. I call it 'Internet Style'.

001-book-online-article-contrast

How to Write a Paragraph

Even if you still read the morning paper or physical books, you no longer need to write for print.

Internet readers don't want long paragraphs, instead use short paragraphs.

Make sure there is margin or spacing between the paragraphs.

You should also 'bridge' paragraphs. Brian Dean has the best advice, I love Bucket Brigades.

Make your content skimmable. This way your readers can scroll down the page before committing to a full article. I often look for lists and main headers to get the general idea before committing.

79% of your audience is only going to skim your content. That’s not likely to change.

Don't be hurt knowing everyone will not read your content.

Instead, create content that is easily skimmable and still provides value. Your goal is to help them, not consume their time.

You should also try your best to tell a story. A problem in my primary niche here on Love2Dev is being too technical. Most the content in the development space reads like documentation.

Over the past year I have authored a new Progressive Web Application book and articles for other publications. At least on two occasions my editors pushed me to tell a story with my content. As a developer my mind struggles with the concept of making technical content read more like a novel.

Don't worry you won't have to write the next Harry Potter, just something that engages your audience. Over the past year I have been working more and more with C# Corner to improve the site's SEO. The idea of producing and updating content from documentation and example style articles into something more engaging has been a struggle.

Since the authors are developers and general learn development concepts from documentation the creative side is often overlooked. But not only will incorporating a story based approach engage more readers, it will help your search profile.

Why?

Because your content will be better quality and over time you will be rewarded.

Master in Communication tells us there are three powers your content gains through story telling:

  • Synchronicity
  • Persuasion
  • Empathy

Appeal to the reader's person, and don't just produce dry content that bores them. Make them engage deeper than just scanning your articles by telling a story they can relate.

Write Long

Research shows longer content ranks better. But this is not the whole story.

02_content-total-word-count_line

Just because this research shows longer articles rank better does not mean this rule applies 100% of the time.

Sometimes short content is the right content. I still try to hit at least 500 words an article.

My workflow is to identify a primary keyword phrase and look at the top 10-20 results. How long are there articles? Especially the top 3 results, they matter the most.

More may not be better.

Sometimes the question (keyword) can be answered in a sentance or two.

This does not mean to write 2 sentance articles! Answer the provide an answer as quickly and succinctly as you can, but always provide more depth to the topic.

Recently I have been producing a series of 'how to' on topics I consider very beginner. For example JavaScript for loops. The funny thing is everytime I start on these 'simple' topics I find some intermediate or advanced topic to cover in the article.

I do find authoring longer articles gives me an opportunity to prove my skill level, show off a little and cover a broad range of keyword opportunities.

If I can produce an article that ranks in the top 30 for 500 or more keyword phrases means I have a winner that will generate traffic for years to come. The CSS Placeholder Color article ranks for over 400 keywords I know about.

Think about that reach?

Bonus : Make sure you mention your primary keywords or keywords in the first two paragraphs. You don't want your primary keyword to show up around word 1500!

Use Media (Images & Videos)

I know we tend to write toward developers, but a picture is worth a thousand words.

Research has shown content with pictures and videos rank better.

03_content-contains-at-least-1-image_line

Way back in 2009 Moz did a study that found posts with images, lists and videos attracted the most domain backlinks.

But who has time to find and sometimes pay for photos?

I don't.

Thankfully there are a handful of sites with free stock photography and images:

These are just some of the free sites I use for artwork. Sometimes I pay for photos and design work. It depends on the content and potential pay back.

I was spending time creating illustrations. But honestly there is little return in the time it takes to create a decent illustration. Sometimes it took longer to make the feature illustration than it took to write the content.

Today I have changed to a good photo. I may overlay some text, but that is rare. I limit my effort to uploading the original and then letting a set of AWS Lambdas optimize the image and create a responsive array to include in my pages. The Lambdas even create the HTML, CSS and JSON I need to render any page I might create.

For technical content, which most MVPs produce, you should also include screen shots. Phones have made that super easy. On Android just hold the power and down volume button down.

iPhones are similar, push the power button and home button at the same time and quickly release.

On Windows you can hit the Windows + PrtScn button on most keyboards. Windows also has the Snipping tool. Just hit the start button and start typing snipping and it will show up.

The snipping tool allows you to isolate an area of the screen for a screen capture. You can then annotate the image. There are a few of these in this article.

I have also started making screen captures of source code because I have been having markdown to HTML rendering issues with HTML. I hope to fix that soon.

There are many opportunities for you to add artwork in your content. Images are an easy improvement.

But there are more opportunities...

Start a YouTube Channel

Last year one of the first things I did was get serious about video. I had grand visions of becoming a YouTube star.

I got a green screen, tripod, lavaliere microphones and of course editing software.

Video production is way more complicated than I anticipated. Not to mention getting people to watch developer videos on YouTube is not easy.

In fact, I will warn to not expect much traffic from YouTube in terms of traffic to your channel. Developer topics are not highly sought after.

Which is a shame because there is some great content on how to develop great software.

I got a little depressed about my results. But then I looked at the subscription and view numbers of what I consider to be my YouTube competition. You know what, their numbers sucked too!

I was making my expectations against different niches. So basically here is the honest truth, developers are missing out on great YouTube content.

But the rest of the world loves YouTube. I have learned so much about everything, including development the past year watching YouTube each morning when I get up.

So why I am telling you to start a YouTube channel?

  • YouTube is Free
  • You Don't have to invest much time and energy
  • OBS is a free tool to record your screen
  • It is an SEO Secret!

That last point is important, but first what is OBS?

Open Broadcast Studio is a free, open source video recording tool. Thanks to Kevin Griffen for turning me on this great piece of software.

It can record your screen and create the videos you need for YouTube. But that is not where it shines.

You can use it for YouTube Live, Facebook Live, Twitch and other live media platforms!

Live is where the action is.

I still use Camtasia to record my screen for code walk throughs and slide decks. I should probably switch. But when I stream live from my desktop I use OBS.

While I was at the summit I forgot my phone tripod and needed to get creative. So I used OBS from my Surface to interview Greg Whitworth about CSS. I live streamed the interview and now it is a permanent video on my YouTube channel.

The cool thing is when you stream a live video on YouTube you can then post it as a regular video!

Did I say no editing and production involved?

Plus it was all FREE! Heck Yeah!!!!!

But wait there is more! I have not forgotten the SEO part.

Now the hard part starts. You need to write a blog post on the topic. When you are done writing, embed the YouTube video in the article. Google loves this!

YouTube is one of their properties. So they love anyone that promotes their properties. When you embed a video in your blog post you are killing two birds at once.

You are promoting your video on YouTube, but you are also adding multi-media to your article.

Images, videos and anything that adds non-text value to your content makes it rank better.

Users are four times more likely to consume video content than written copy.

In fact anywhere you can, embed the video. Add it to LinkedIn, Google Plus, Facebook, etc. There are literally thousands of sites you can embed your YouTube video.

Make sure you put a link to the blog post in the video's description. Even though it is a nofollow link, it still has some juice. I get site traffic from these links.

Today, I don't worry about my YouTube traffic. Its great if it happens. But I know the real value is embedding the video in the article.

For the record I will record a video for this article and embed it....right here looks good!

I don't always record the video first, sometimes it takes a few days to get around to it. But I try. I can testify when I add that video I typically see a rankings boost within 24 hours. Sometimes that is the difference between a position 25 and a place in the top 10!

Publish to a YouTube channel and embed the videos in your articles, Google loves to promote its own properties!

Sign up for a FREE Lumen 5 Account

Video is hot, duh I just wrote about it.

Attaching short videos with your social media posts is a great way to increase your engagement numbers.

But who has time to make all those 15 second videos? I don't.

Initially I signed up for Shakr, which costs $100/month. I made lots of videos using this service. They provide templates for 10-120 second videos. The best part is they render in the cloud, so your computer is not tied up with an intense video rendering process.

Most videos take 5-10 minutes to produce.

But $100, too much for my needs.

Then one day I found Lumen 5. I honestly have no idea how I found it.

They have paid plans, but I don't pay at all. I use the free service.

You can add your RSS feed and they will periodically grab your latest post, extract text and add background images. All that left is you hitting a button to render the video.

You can customize the video, but honestly I don't.

If you have followed my social media the past year you have seen these videos. Maybe you are following me thanks to the attention those videos gave my social channels!

You can also add these videos to your posts for that media bump.

Once you create a Lumen5 account add your RSS feed and it will make promo videos you can add to social media to promote your posts.

Attaching these videos to Tweets, Facebook and other social media posts will increase your aggregate engagement rates!

Emojis Increase Engagement Rates

emoji-in-serp-titleAdd emojis to your post titles and make sure you share the emojis in your social media shares.

Thanks to Kirupa for sharing how to use emojis in HTML. He explains how to get code points and add them to your text.

Go to Emojipedia.com to get the code points, it has a built in feature to copy them to your clipboard. You can then paste the emoji in your text.

The emojis show in the search results, which makes more people click your result, and that will move you up the ranks.

That's right, the number of times searchers click or chose your link in the search results affects how well it ranks. If you are in the top 10 for a week and have zero clicks then most likely you will be dropped down.

Having the visual pop provided by an emoji can grab the attention that earns a few extra clicks. Those clicks translate into better rankings.

The emojis also get better social response rates.

Its all about the visual attraction. Remember we like to look at pictures more than we like to read and emojis are just fun!

Ask Brian Terlson!

Embed Slide Decks

Even if you don't speak at conferences and user groups like I do slide decks can be your SEO friend.

I use PowerPoint to help me outline content. Plus I can create diagrams and currate images.

You can export your slides as images and PDFs. The images can then be repurposed in your written articles or videos.

You may also want to use the slide deck to record a video or do a YouTube live stream. Of course then you can embed the recording!

You should also create accounts on SlideShare and SpeakerDeck and upload your slide decks. Make sure you include a good description with a link back to your article.

You should also include links to your content in the slides. Google can read those links and give you backlink credit.

Exporting to a PDF can be valuable as well. There are thousands of document sharing sites you can upload to, like Scribd. Google can also parse the PDF for those links and give you a backlink.

I also use some of my slide decks as free lead magnets to grow my e-mail list. I typically reformat the slides to make them more 'book' appropriate and keep the content a little different since it is a lead magent.

Slide decks are an often overlooked tool to increase your search engine visibility.

Make Infographics

Just like slide decks infographics can be powerful SEO tools.

People like pictures and infographics are informative graphics (see how they are combined to a cool word?)

You can also share those on image sharing sites and of course earn links back to your site.

Pro Tip: Turn your slide decks into InfoGraphics!

I have created a few infographics and they seem to be well liked. I do pay graphic design specialist to create them for me. I spend about $40-50 for each one, but it is well worth the inevestment.

FYI: I have ordered an infographic for this article 😁

Use HTTPS

As of this summer I doubt any site using HTTP will be listed in any search results.

Google has made it clear in recent years HTTPS is a ranking signal. Chrome and other browsers are getting more aggressive with visual messages when a page does not use HTTPS.

This means consumers will not visit insecure sites.

The evidence is clear, if you are not using HTTPS you probably are not listed in the first page for any search today. There are some exceptions to this rule.

My anecdotal survey says less than 10% of the searches I perform or research include pages using HTTP.

Another observation about sites using HTTTP, they tend to be abandoned. By that I mean the content has not been updated in a year or more, in most cases. Which is probably why they have not been upgraded to use HTTPS.

When I find sites using HTTP I tend to review them and find what they rank for and put that content on my to do list because I know I should be able to out rank that page within a month or so.

Certificates are free today, so there is not real excuse to use HTTP anymore. Upgrade, today if you have not.

Be Fast - Real Fast

I have been saying this for over a decade. I still encounter developers that argue web performance does not matter.

The reality is consumers, real people, want pages to load fast. Like before they click a link fast. On mobile cellular connections no less.

Google has been clear, speed matters for search engine ranking. Marketers know this.

In fact they write more about web performance optimization than developers do. And those are the people that hire developers, think about that...

The first rule is you need to have meaningful content painted on the screen within a second. You should also be usable between 3-5 seconds after the user perceives they requested the page.

At 3 seconds you have lost 50% of the customers that wanted to read or interact with your page.

Mobile makes this harder.

Always test your site and pages on real mobile hardward and by that I mean average mobile phones, not an iPhone X or Pixel 2.

You can use the Chrome developer tools to perform simulated tests. WebPageTest is another great way to audit your pages. Your goal is to achieve a speed index of 1000 or less.

I wont hijack this article with web performance optimization advice. I have enough of that on the site already!

Do Not Use Fast Food Frameworks

I know I get lots of grief about this topic. But I am 100% right.

Sites that use Angular, React, Ember and other fast food frameworks don't rank well.

The #1 reason is they load too damn slow!

giant-yellow-slug

JavaScript is the #1 reason your pages don't render fast.

Plus Google deprecated their AJAX cralwing policy a couple of years ago, which means single page apps and AJAX heavy sites won't index well in the first place.

If you want to rank well, ditch the framework and focus on pre-rendered static web sites using thin JavaScript.

Remember the average web page takes 22 seconds to render on mobile phones. JavaScript is the reason. My pages average 3-4 seconds, just sayin.

Fix Your Broken Backlinks

The first thing I did over Christmas was repairing my backlink profile. These are links to your site. They account for about 33% of your ability to rank, or so the experts say.

I did the research and found about 2000 broken backlinks to my site! That was more than were active. No wonder my organic SEO had fallen so much.

Most were pointing to my original blog engine's routes. I spent about 30 minutes each night going through the list and identifying the URLs they pointed to and setup a 301 redirect to a new page.

Sometimes this was redirecting the link to the new route. Other times I had removed the content all together. I either pointed them to my blog's home page, my home page or a related page.

If you are not familiar with a 301 redirect it refers to the HTTP status code returned from the server when a resource is requested but has been moved to a new address. It tells the client (browser) the resource has permanently moved and what the new URL is. The user agent should then load the new location.

By configuring 301 redirects you are reclaiming these links. For Love2Dev this had a big impact on the domain rating. This is a common KPI different search engine optimization tools have created to indicate the domain's health in terms of SEO. Each service has their own algorithm so I won't try to provide details.

The irony to this story is one of the first blog posts I wrote was how to setup a 301 redirect in ASP.NET.

Claim Your Site in the Google & Bing Web Master Tools

The first place to identify your broken links is in the Google & Bing web master tools.

This is your 'official' window into how the search engines view your site. You can see what backlinks you have been credited, what search phrases you rank for and how much traffic they send.

Just as important you can also see if there are crawl errors. The main thing I look for are 404 or not found URLs on my site.

Google reports these URLs and what source pointed to the missing URL. You can then configure a 301 to direct that traffic to a new URL.

If you have not configured your site in these web master tools you should read the instructions. You will need to either add a special HTML page or a DNS record to verify ownership.

In Google you should also claim up to a combination of 4 variations: http://domain.com, http://www.domain.com, https://domain.com and https://www.domain.com. I can't remember why this is important, but do it. The stats and information will be available for your cononical protocol and domain.

Canonical Tag

Speaking of cononical, you should add a rel="cononical" META tag to every page. Its value should be the final or single source of truth for the page.

You should setup 301 redirects for anyone entering your site using HTTP and the domain configuration you are not using.

For example I route everyone to https://love2dev.com/{slug}. You may route to your www version, it is up to you. Just route them to a single source.

Search engines use the cononical tag to give the authoritative URL all the credit. This keeps your link juice from being distributed to other versions, which reduces your ability to rank.

Open Graph & Structured Data

There is no proven correlation between structured data and your ability to rank, yet. But it can be helpful for social media marketing and the potential to be listed in a position 0 resource.

Position 0 are the useful content boxes above the first listing. The content can be in a variety of forms, like lists, image packs or paragraphs. The content is 'scraped' from one of the top 10 listings, not nessecarily the #1 listing.

I have a few pages benefiting from position 0 right now. I can attest they drive a higher volume of traffic than normal search listings.

Sometimes structure data is used for these resources.

Structured data is also used for local SEO, but that is an entirely different subject.

Re-Purpose Old Content

If you are like me and started blogging over a decade ago you have old, crusty articles. Some of then have some value, they just need to be refurbished.

Before you throw out those old articles, evaluate if their core value or points are still valid today. If so refresh the content.

  • Add more content
  • Remove broken links
  • Link to new authoritative content
  • update or add media

Not only do you get a new article, but you don't have to start fresh.

Remember to 301 the old URL before publishing to a new URL.

One thing I am doing as I refresh old articles is use shorter URLs, you may want to do this as well.

Delete Dead Weight Pages

Remember that Zuckerberg article I mentioned earlier? Dead weight. I need to delete it.

I wont now, because it is an example for this post.

But I have deleted around 400 dead posts on this blog since the first of the year. I am removing 40 this week alone.

Removing dead pages helps your site rank better because Google has a clearer picture of what your site is about. Plus those old post that no longer have backlinks or talk about technology that no longer exists dont offer value to anyone.

Google Gary Illyes unpacked this topic in a Q&A with Stone Temple Consulting a few years ago. Its about having high quality content. If you think about those pages are not bringing you traffic but they consume spidering time from the Googlebot and create 'noise' that keeps potential visitors from reading your core message.

I think removing those posts was a big reason why my newer posts started doing better.

Make sure you setup a 301 redirect from these posts to something live on your site. For me, most of those URLs now point to my main blog page.

Use Mobile First Responsive Design

This should not even need to be mentioned, but I will anyway. Google is aggresively swapping their mobile index to be their primary index right now. That's because the majority of searches originate on mobile devices.

By June mobile will be the primary index. This means Google will spider or evaluate your site as it renders on a phone more than it will as a desktop. Perform poorly on small view ports and you risk not ranking in search results.

This should emphasize the need to have a mobile first responsive layout on your site. You need to be able to render nicely on any device and any viewport.

Shoot For Big Targets - Hit Long Tails

Its easy to start digging into keyword data. I know I am fascinated by the terms and volumes I am finding in my research. Its important you understand how to read the data to form a realistic strategy.

Remember how I said the placeholder color article ranked for hundreds of phrases? The vast majority of those terms are lucky to see 10-20 searches a month.

Sure there are about 10-12 with over 500 searches a month globally. And yes those are the primary terms I am targeting. But I am careful to identify different 'long tail' phrases.

About 20% of the billions of searches Google handles each day are entered for the first time! This means there was no way for you to know to target those phrases.

For what it's worth this is where their RankBrain AI engine kicks in. But that's another complex topic....

Think about 20% of a billion. That is a lot of potential traffic to your site. And it does not stop with new searches. The vast majority of search keyword phrases are entered less than 20-30 times a month.

Search engines do their best to interpret the user's intention and deliver the best result set. It helps when you know how to pepper your content with latent semantic phrases.

These are words and phrases that relate to the target keyword. For example, writing about Toyota automobiles should be surrounded by phrases related to driving or repairing a car.

Knowing what semantic or contextual phrases helps, a lot.

You can manually try to harvest search suggestions by entering primary phrases in the search to see what the auto suggest tool returns.

But free tools are always better!

Nile Patel's free uber suggest tool is very helpful.

There are also many services you can pay for, and full disclosure, I recommend this if you are serious. I subscribe to aHrefs and it is worth every penny.

I have refreshed and updated dozens of articles with additional phrases over the past few months and seen immediate impacts. But I need to know what to add and these tools help guide me to the right phrases.

I have to say this may be one of the biggest improvements I made. In the past most of my articles would have some rank on 5-10 phrases. Today it is rare I have an article with less than 100 phrases with some SEO ranking.

Wrapping it Up

These tips have focused on how you can modify a combination of on page/technical SEO and your content/editorial strategy.

Some should be obvious, but if you are like most you neglect the easy things more than you should. Others you probably never considered.

I know there are items in this list I never applied till I took a leap of faith. Letting go of hundreds of old posts is a good example.

Organic search should be a primary goal of any content strategy. It is where the majority of web journeys begin. The traffic is free, but not easy to earn.

Writing content people need is important, but making sure you provide the best experience means your great content is sure to rank high and earns lots of free, reoccuring traffic.

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