The Top SEO Strategies Used by the Experts
December 3, 2017//4,655 words
When you read a book, do you ever just skip right to the end?
Do you just want to get to the juicy stuff at the end?
In this post we’re going to cut the fat and get right to the most advanced SEO strategies that are consistently used by the top industry experts.
No need to skip ahead on this one.
I’m going to share with you 3 of the top SEO strategies used by 3 of the top SEO experts.
Read and review, read and review again, and then go straight to the source via the links included to get the complete SEO strategies from the SEO experts themselves.
Here are the top 3:
Top SEO Strategies #3: Rand Fishkin and Outbound Links
What better place to start than the website that comes up in the top 10 on most SEO searches (MOZ). And who better to start with than the man who co-founded this great source and is self-dubbed The Wizard of Moz.
Rand takes a close look, in one of his many “Whiteboard Friday” posts, at the SEO value ofyour own website’s links.
Let’s consider the two main ways …
Outbound Links SEO Strategies: Receive a Relevance Boost
A common conception about backlinks is that when someone links to your website, that source of the link is essentially giving their approval of your content.
That’s why they linked to it, right? Because it helped to support their content.
Google notices this big thumbs-up and gives you a boost.
What if there was a way to get this boost from Google without having to hope that other sites link to you?
Send outbound links to other high-quality websites.
This will tell Google essentially what your site is about based on the sites you link to and draw similarities between you and these other high quality sites (note – make sure you yourself are linking out to high quality sites!).
Reboot Online performed an SEO case study about this very thing.
Do outbound links matter?
In their case study, they created 10 new websites and wrote a 300-word article on each one about a made up word – phylandocic. Here is a snippet of their results:
Outbound Links SEO Strategies: The Personal Salute
Another great point that Rand Fishkin mentions in his post about outbound links is that:
You see, the website’s that you want to link to (those of high quality) are the ones that typically monitor their site’s activity, performance and links.
Basically, they will notice that you have linked to them.
In turn, they will likely look you up to see who are you, perhaps will like your content as well, and then link to you in the future.
Don’t link to just to get a link from.
This is bordering on being manipulative.
You see, getting high quality backlinks is big business and while there is a time and place, Google warns sites against linking in return for a good or service.
In fact, Google recently sent out a warning to bloggers about manipulative links.
Bloggers should use the no follow tag on links that don’t come organically (i.e., the links wouldn’t exist if the company hadn’t offered to provide a free good or service in exchange for a link).
-The Google Webspam Team
You can read more about the rel=nofollow attribute directly from Google and here is what the attribute looks like:
Outbound Links SEO Strategies: Linking to Yourself
This may be the best strategy of the three mentioned to this point.
If you have a specific post or page that has done particularly well, give it a scan to see where it ranks with Alexa.
How does it compare with the other pages on your site?
It is likely much higher.
You may be surprised.
Now, you can just enjoy this specific page doing well or you can spread the love to your entire site through internal linking (that is, linking to other pages of your website fromthis page).
Additionally, let’s say that you have a new blog post that you want to draw attention to. Why not send links to it to encourage it along?
A case study was performed by Glenys Grob about how internal links took one of her pages from a ranking of #29 to #4 over a time period of a few months.
I have to admit, this is an area that I have not fully leveraged myself.
It is also easier the more posts that you have because then you will have more content and types of content to link to.
Note: Links in your footer won’t help. Links in your sidebar might help.
Also, heed this advice from Rand:
General rule of thumb: If you can’t find any way to justify how something that you’re doing for SEO also benefits a visitor, maybe you should reconsider it, with a few exceptions. XML sitemaps might be a reasonable one.
Don’t throw links around. Make sure they add value to the visitor by improving the user experience.
Other great tips from Rand can be found at his personal page on MOZ.
Top SEO Strategies #2: Neil Patel and Site Speed and Performance
I learned a lot of what I know about SEO today from Neil Patel’s Advanced Guide to SEO.
It is very long.
And very technical.
But if you can get through it, you will quickly pass your peers for SEO knowledge.
In chapter two of this guide, Neil offers up page loading speed improvements way beyond the basic and typical suggestions.
Let’s go through some of the best.
Improving Page Loading Speed: Advanced Tracking
This is more than just going to GTMetrix or Pingdom and scanning your home page.
We’re going to take it a step further.
Don’t you think it’d be helpful to know how your page is loading for different users from different parts of the country of the world?
And you really need to look past your home page …
Let’s track this data in Google Analytics.
If you’ve already installed the GA Universal Tracking Code than you are already collecting data so no set up needed here.
Open up your Google Analytics account and on the left hand side of the page go to the Behavior Flow and Site Speed.
Now, there is one thing you should do.
You may not be seeing as much data as you were hoping to see. That’s because Google Analytics’s default is to just take a sample of your visitors – 1% of your site traffic.
You can customize this, however, as well as many other things related to Google Analytics over at Google Developers.
Now, when you first visit Behavior Flow > Site Speed > Overview you will likely see some measurements that you aren’t familiar with:
The average page load time is the most common while the other metrics allow you to deep-dive into specific details.
For my site, you can see that my average server response time is .5 seconds. I might want to think about upgrading my server to cut that time down.
Simply hover over the title of each metric for Google’s explanation.
Back to the left, click on Page Timings to see breakdown and comparisons by page:
And then page suggestions will tell you what to fix, and how to fix it without having to scan page by page:
Take a look around and for a more advanced walk-through, visit Eric Mobley’s guide to Measuring Performance with Google Analytics.
Improving Page Loading Speed: Images are Your Biggest Enemy
Don’t get me wrong, images are great for content and user experience.
But for page loading speeds they are your biggest enemy.
It’s not uncommon for your page’s size to be 80% to 90% or more of images.
Now, we can’t get rid of them, right? I mean, if you’ve read any of my recent posts you know that my articles would be terrible without images.
So what do we do?
Reduce the Quality of Images
I recently wrote an article about the importance of page speed to SEO where I compared two images:
The image on the top is an enormous 1.45MB and the image on the bottom is 11KB which is only .75% of the size.
Can you tell the difference?
This little change can save your loading speed one to two seconds all by itself.
So how do you find these large images?
Neil shared this easy trick:
Go to Google Images and search your site:
Then go to Search tools and Size:
Start with Large and see what images remain:
Another method that I would recommend is to download Screaming Frog SEO Spider.
It’s a free tool that will crawl all of your images and return to you the URL where the image is located as well as the exact size.
Another way to reduce the negative effect that images can have on your page loading speed …
Serve Scaled Images
Do you ever import an image into WordPress, Joomla, or even Microsoft Word and then shrink it down a tad to make it look just right?
When you do that, you’re shrinking the size of the image displayed, but in terms of your website, the browser is still having to load the full size of the image even if it’s showing a fraction of the size.
In fact, the browser is having to work extra hard because it’s having to load the full size of the image and then the CSS that was added to shrink the image back down.
I find that GTMetrix is a great tool for providing information related to scaling images.
Scan your site and then see if you have any scaling opportunities:
Be careful …
I have learned from experience that you shouldn’t just blindly follow the specifications given to you by GTMetrix.
That’s because it’s not taking into account larger screens.
Let’s say that GTMetrix is telling you that your image only needs to be 100px by 200px to display properly.
So you resize your image accordingly and then someone views your website on a large desktop screen and the image displays pixelated.
That is because, depending on your platform, the images are set to automatically resize (large or small) depending on the screen size.
Here are some options for you:
1.) View your changes on a large screen after you make them
2.) Set a max-width or max-height size for the image so it won’t grow beyond the file size
3.) Don’t shrink the image file down as far as GTMetrix is suggesting. Give yourself a bit of wiggle room.
Another great tip I’ve learned from Neil for improving my page loading speed …
Improving Page Loading Speed: Browser Caching
You’ve heard about browsers and caching before, but what is browser caching?
When you visit a site, your browser will store the files from that site on your hard drive for a set period of time. When you return to that site, your browser will see which files need to be updated and then reload the site again much quicker.
What you need to do is allow your assets (images and files) to be cached for a longer period of time than normal.
Normally, files will be automatically cached for up to a couple of hours.
We want to lengthen that to a week … maybe more.
Now, to do this you will need access to your .htaccess file.
You can get to this file by going to your root folder in cPanel or FTP, if you have Yoast SEO installed in WordPress, or just simply ask your web host to help.
We only need to input a few lines:
Let me explain.
First, you must declare RewriteEngine On for the system to recognize this code.
Then you can see that I first made reference to .jpg files and secondly to .png files. These are obviously referring to images I have on my site.
Finally, I’ve declared the max age of these file types to be 604800 (one week). You see, the measurement has to be in seconds.
Here’s a great cheat sheet from Neil:
See that instead of .jpg and .png I have .css and .js listed.
The only other difference is that I have the max age reduced to one day instead of one week. The reason I have this is because it’s likely that I’ll update these files on a daily basis where as my image files won’t be updated for a long time once they’re set on a page.
You could set all of these to expire in a year if you wanted to. It would be better for site speed.
However, keep in mind that if you max out these times and then update your website, returning visitors aren’t going to see those changes unless they clear their browser’s cache!
Neil has a ton more value to add to your SEO strategies. Check out his blog where he talks about all things related to digital marketing.
Top SEO Strategies #1: Brian Dean and Increasing Time on Page
Reading Brian Dean’s blog at Backlinko.com is refreshing.
He’s a former full-time copywriter and you can tell by the quality of his writing.
He’s eager to teach you what he knows.
Brian opened my eyes to what I now believe will be the most important SEO factor from here on out:
Time on Page.
If your page used to rank highly but then dropped quickly after just a couple of weeks, check your time on page.
Your website’s time on page or dwell time can boost or hurt your rankings, but I also believe that this is the key to ranking longevity.
Here’s a quick rule of thumb:
Take a look at your Google Analytics and Behavior Flow to get your breakdown per page.
What does Brian suggest for increasing your visitor’s time on page?
Increasing Time on Page: Bucket Brigades
Bucket brigades are focused on keeping the reader interested in your article when they otherwise might be ready to leave.
What do they look like?
Here’s the deal:
What’s the bottom line?
But here’s the kicker:
If you hadn’t noticed to this point, I take full advantage of Brian’s bucket brigades.
Gone are the days of long paragraphs of text. Now, we have proof that short bursts and 1-2 lines of text maximum work better and keep the reader more engaged.
Now, here’s an even better tip:
Increasing Time on Page: The APP Method
Before you can even worry about the content 1,000 to 2,000 words down, you need to get people hooked in the first 3 to 5 sentences.
Did you know?
That the majority of people who stay on your site for less than a minute will actually leave after the first couple of sentences?
So you don’t have much time to get people hooked.
That’s why Brian came up with the APP Method.
Let me illustrate:
Now let me explain:
We naturally want to start an article with a big grand introduction.
Instead, we should keep it brief and get right to the hook.
First, we will focus on reaching an agreement.
At the beginning of this post, I asked an easy question that if you were being truthful you’d have to answer yes to:
You had to agree and now we’re on the same page.
Then I made a promise to resolve the previous issue that we agreed upon:
I wrapped up the intro by giving you a quick and intriguing preview:
And now hopefully you’re interested to at least start the article!
And we’ll blow past that 1-minute mark!
Brian shares these and other SEO strategies that he’s developed and perfected on his blog. Be sure to check out his great marketing content.
In summary …
I hope that you learn as much from these 3 strategies as I have.
And still am!
Whether it’s the SEO value of your own outbound and internal links, the user experience boosted by the page loading speed, or compelling people to stay hooked on your content, your website has the potential for some serious growth in organic rankings.
There are many other tremendous advanced strategies that I will have to share in the future, but for now check out Brian’s, Neil’s, and Rand’s blogs.