By Neil Patel
SEO doesn’t discriminate.
For brands that “get it” and have the know-how and resources, the coveted first page rankings are ripe for the picking.
But let’s be honest.
SEO is back-breaking and often mind-numbing work.
With a plethora of continually growing ranking factors and algorithm updates, staying on top is a daunting task.
But it doesn’t have to be.
Quite a few SEO tactics—requiring only marginal effort and little time—can help you appear in the search results.
I’m not saying that laziness and a half-hearted effort will get your brand to the top.
But I would like to discuss five specific tactics that don’t require a lot of work but should still have a noticeable impact.
1. Optimize titles and tags using a sneaky trick
Let me preface this by saying I love out-of-the-box tactics most people overlook.
Sometimes, we miss the things that are right under our noses.
There’s one particular technique that Brian Dean mentions in this post on Backlinko I absolutely love and have used myself.
It’s incredibly simple, yet I feel it can have a considerable impact on your SEO.
Here’s how it works.
Say you’re writing a blog post and want to find fully optimized phrases for your title and meta description.
You can save yourself a lot of time by entering a broad keyword in Google and scoping out Adwords ads for optimized phrases.
Here’s an example.
I’ll use “CRM software” as my keyword phrase.
Here are some of the ads that pop up:
From here, I can find at least three or four potential phrases to use for my title and description.
For instance, I might pick the following:
- Positive customer experience
- Enhance customer service
- Custom dashboards reports
Just like that, I’ve found three fully optimized phrases I can use in my content.
And just think about it.
These companies obviously didn’t choose these keyword phrases at random.
In fact, they’re often the result of extensive split-testing to see which phrases would get the most clicks and highest conversions.
So, you know for a fact the phrases you find via this method are gold!
Besides using this technique when writing new posts, you can also use it for existing content that has performed okay but hasn’t reached its full potential.
For instance, you could go back and tweak the title and meta description of a post lingering on page two of the SERPs to give it “the extra SEO juice” it needs to climb to page one.
2. Optimize Google My Business
According to a 2016 report from Search Engine Land,
nearly 60 percent of searches now come from mobile devices.
So you can bet that local SEO is of supreme importance, especially for brick-and-mortars.
And here’s the interesting thing.
Half of consumers who perform local searches on their smartphones actually visit a store within one day.
If you’ve been skimping on local SEO thus far, you’re probably missing out on a lot of high-quality leads and, ultimately, sales.
Although there is a laundry list of elements contributing to sound local SEO, there’s one simple tactic that can help you considerably.
And that’s optimizing your Google My Business account.
It takes a minimal time commitment but can have a palpable impact.
Here’s what you want to do:
- Claim your listing if you haven’t done so already. Set it up here.
- Look over your business’s details to ensure they’re correct and up-to-date.
- Include your hours and any other relevant information.
- Choose hyper-specific categories for your business. This makes it much easier to rank than having broad categories.
- Consider adding new images of your business, showing it inside and outside.
Here’s a good example of how you want your listing to look:
Also, be sure to encourage your customers to leave reviews because this can definitely boost your “street cred.”
3. Check for (and fix) crawl errors
You may have read a previous post I wrote on how to use Google Search Console like a boss.
One particularly useful element I covered was crawl errors.
It’s an extremely important feature that allows you to quickly identify the following:
- 404 errors
- Server errors
- URLs pointing to a nonexistent page
Here’s the purpose of crawl error reports in Google’s own words:
In other words, this will tell you whether there are any issues preventing Google from properly crawling your site.
This way, you’ll be able to identify any problems quickly and fix them right away without having to look through your site manually.
All you have to do is click on “Crawl” from your dashboard.
Then click on “Crawl Errors.”
If everything is good, you’ll see this:
Otherwise, Google will list the details of any problems.
If you do find errors, consult this guide from Moz on ways to fix them.
4. Optimize for image search
Here’s the thing about Google image search.
Driving traffic through image search tends to be much easier than through regular search.
First, there’s less competition.
Second, a lot of people fail to fully optimize their photos for image search.
I like to think of it as low-hanging fruit that can generate an influx of traffic.
Optimizing for image search is by no means rocket science but can definitely help your SEO and traffic.
Here are the essentials.
1. Be highly specific when creating a file name for each photo.
I suggest going long-tail for your descriptions versus using broad terms.
For instance, you are better off going with “red-camping-tent-in-forest.jpg” than with “camping-tent.jpg.”
2. Take care of the alt text.
If you’re unfamiliar, alternative (alt text) is
a word or phrase that can be inserted as an attribute in an HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) document to tell web site viewers the nature or contents of an image.
If for some reason the image doesn’t appear on a page or a person visiting that page has a visual impairment, the alt text will describe it to them.
Again, the key to creating great alt text is to be specific.
To give you an idea of what Google is looking for, here is an example from its image publishing guidelines:
And here’s one more little trick.
3. Specify the width and height of your images.
According to WordStream,
A web browser can begin to render a page even before images are downloaded, provided that it knows the dimensions to wrap non-replaceable elements around. Specifying these dimensions can speed up page loading and improve the user experience.
If you haven’t been following these image optimization practices in the past, I suggest going back and tweaking your images so that they follow this formula.
It doesn’t take much effort but can prove very beneficial.
5. Improve outbound links
We all know that inbound links are of monumental importance.
In fact, many experts agree that inbound links are still the number one ranking factor in 2017.
But what about outbound links?
These obviously don’t carry the same weight as inbound links, but it doesn’t mean they have no significance.
I recently came across an interesting study from Reboot that measured outbound links as a ranking signal.
Long story short, they found that
outgoing relevant links to authoritative sites are considered in the algorithms and do have a positive impact on rankings.
It makes sense this is a ranking factor.
Because most pages containing outbound links to authoritative resources offer genuine value compared to pages containing internal links only.
If you’ve been slacking on your outbound links, I recommend going back and adding at least three links to high-quality relevant resources on your posts.
This may be all it takes to give your content a boost in the SERPs, and it can help you maintain any higher rankings you’ve already obtained.
And the best part is that it’s really quite easy.
A quick Google search on your topic should provide you with plenty of potential resources.
Or you could always use BuzzSumo to see what’s resonating with readers.
Here are just a few things that pop up when I enter “CRM software”:
Just like that, I’ve found a handful of quality resources to link to.
I get it.
SEO can be a total pain at times.
It’s by far one of the most meticulous and painstaking digital marketing techniques.
And I also know what it’s like to be pressed for time.
While I can’t promise these tactics will get you to the number one position in SERPs for every single keyword phrase you’re trying to rank for, they should—most definitely—improve your standings.
When it’s all said and done, they can be the catalyst for a surge in organic traffic to your site, which should bring in more qualified leads.
Can you think of any other SEO tactics that don’t require a major time investment?