Love it or hate it, SEO is becoming increasingly necessary for any business that wants to excel in the digital realm.
And it doesn’t matter whether you’re an online business or a local one.
Despite having such a relatively low cost, SEO remains one of the most consistently profitable forms of digital marketing.
But here’s the thing about SEO:
SEO has rules, and if you don’t follow Google’s rules — your website is going to pay big time.
What do I mean by this?
Google has preferences and algorithms when it comes to ranking websites on Google.
If you follow these user experience based rules, then you’re going to rank. But if you don’t, you won’t rank, or worse — Google will penalize you.
It’s essential to know the do’s and don’ts of SEO, so let’s break it down.
A little disclaimer about SEO
If you’re new to SEO, there’s one important drawback you need to know.
It takes time.
While it might be possible to see quick results when you implement other forms of marketing, SEO results are far from fast.
In some cases, it can take months before you see the fruits of your labor. The time needed to start seeing results with SEO might be well worth it, but no one wants to wait.
This is what makes SEO “the patient business owner’s game.”
You may have to go through a period where you don’t see any results at first, but once you make it to the other side of that tunnel, you’ll be thanking yourself for sticking with it.
However, that’s not to say that there’s no way to speed up the process a bit.
How you can speed up your SEO results
I get it. No one likes to wait.
At least I don’t, and I’d be willing to bet that you’d like to see results quickly too.
And while there’s no way to see instant results with SEO, there are a few strategies you can put into place that will help you advance through the ranks much more quickly.
Today, I want to go over some of the best ways you can get ranked on Google as soon as possible.
I also want to go over some of the big pitfalls to avoid.
Because when it comes to getting faster results for SEO, it’s not just about what you should do, but also largely about what you shouldn’t do.
You need to be cautious. Taking multiple missteps in your SEO game has the potential to bring your whole strategy to a grinding halt.
The best practices for faster SEO results
I’m going to let you in on a bit of a secret.
Out of all the best practices there are for SEO, there’s one that stands above the rest.
Giving your audience value.
In fact, providing value isn’t just a great SEO strategy; it’s a great business strategy.
Providing value for others is one of the best ways to start seeing quick SEO results.
Think about it for a moment.
As someone who probably uses the internet pretty often, which websites do you find yourself visiting the most?
It’s probably not the ones that aren’t giving you value.
No one is going to repeatedly visit a website if they don’t get anything out of it. You’ve got to give people a reason to keep on coming back.
The form this value takes is up to you. It could be entertainment, or advice, as your own how-to guides. The possibilities are virtually limitless.
The only thing that matters is that you’re giving real value.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get into some more of the technical aspects of SEO.
Use high-quality, relevant backlinks.
Remember how I said that providing value is crucial to SEO success?
Well, Google needs a way to track whether or not your site is providing that value. Listing all of the factors that the algorithm uses would take forever, but there is one vital part of the equation we need to cover.
Backlinks are links that lead back to your website that originate from a different domain.
And the reason that Google values them so much?
You can think of backlinks like a score.
The more quality backlinks you have, the higher you’re considered in Google’s search engine competition.
Because if someone is linking to your content, then it’s a good indicator that you’re providing value that makes it worth sharing in the first place.
Therefore, backlinks are one of the most powerful tools in SEO — if you get them from the right places.
Where to get backlinks?
To put a long story short:
Backlinks make a much more significant difference in your search engine rank if they come from high-authority websites.
To summarize what type of backlinks you want, you want links from websites with authority and relevance in your niche.
You can use a tool like Moz to help you determine which pages are high-authority and which ones to avoid.So if you consistently get links from high-quality sources, Google will start to notice. But to get those consistent backlinks, it pays to have a great strategy in place.
The best practices for finding keywords
Keywords are another key aspect of getting excellent SEO results as soon as possible.
Without keywords, Google’s going to have a harder time knowing which searches to even rank you for.
Even with stellar content, if you aren’t targeting specific keywords, it’ll take much longer to see any results.
Do your research to target the best keyword opportunities.
Keywords are vital to SEO success, and because of that, they’re one of the mainstays to any website’s SEO strategy.
That also means that there’s a ton of competition out there for most given keywords.
This is why trying to brute force your way through the competition and outrank them for competitive keywords is far from the best approach to take, especially for newer players in the SEO game.
Sure, you might be able to pass up many of your competitors, if you have a sound plan, and lots of time to wait.
But this guide is about how we can get you to the top as quickly as possible.
So how do we get around the competition and start ranking high on search results quickly?
The key is to not go for the most competitive keywords.
Remember that the competitive keywords are going to take forever to rank for because everyone is shooting for them.
But that leaves a massive gap for a vigilant SEO opportunist to fill, by targeting the more specific, niche keywords.
Find the keywords that have decent search volumes, but don’t come with high competition. You don’t need to target the most popular keywords to get consistent traffic. You just have to rank high for the keywords you do target.
You need to use your keywords naturally.
Once you’ve found the perfect keywords to target, it’s time to include them everywhere you can, right?
The best way to use your keywords is by including them naturally in your content where you can.
Google is smart, and it can tell when you’re using the keywords in a way that makes sense.
It helps to include them in your headers and titles, but not at the cost of a clunky-sounding headline.
Try to include slight variations of your keywords throughout the content too.
For instance, if your main keyword is “bicycle shop,” then you could include “shop for bicycles” or “bicycle store” throughout your post.
Update your website regularly.
Another thing that Google loves to see is an active website.
When you update your website regularly, you’re letting Google know that you’re still going strong. It shows that you’re an authority.
Here are a few ways you can show Google that your website isn’t dead:
Keep a consistent flow of content.
Constantly posting strong content on your website is another one of the pillars that helps an excellent SEO strategy.
Longer-form content also helps you by giving lots of space to include your keywords.
It’s much easier to naturally include keywords in a long-form blog post than it might be on a 500-word web page. But the main reason that consistent content is so important is that it’s an easy way to update your website regularly.
Just putting out a blog post or two a week will do wonders for your SEO strategy.
Update any older pages.
Another way to update your website is by going back through your old content to revise and make additions to it when you can
This is great for a few reasons.
For one, it helps you show Google that you’re on top of updates.
But it also helps you maintain your image as an authority. You don’t want to host a website with outdated information, so going back and making changes when necessary is an essential step to take.
How to ruin a great SEO strategy (Don’t do this!)
Like I mentioned earlier, it’s not just about what you do but also about what you shouldn’t do.
Google doesn’t just tally the positives of your website. The score it keeps is dynamic and factors in the strong and the weak points to determine whether you’re posting top-ranking material.
If you consistently put up red flags for Google, your ability to get ranked is going to go down the drain.
Even if you’re implementing all of the best practices, they won’t help much if you’re putting all the worst practices into play too.
Black Hat SEO tactics & why they don’t work
In SEO, there are two types of strategies:
White hat tactics.
And black hat tactics.
White hat tactics are what we teach on our blog. They’re the strategies you should put in to place if you want to get ranked and do it fast.
The first thing to note about black hat tactics, though, is that they don’t work, not for long anyway.
In essence, a black hat tactic involves trying to exploit Google’s algorithm. There are plenty of ways people try to do it, but the problem is that Google will catch on sooner or later.
These are tactics that might’ve worked at one point, but the Google algorithm is continually improving.
If Google catches you using any of these tactics, Google is going to tack a significant penalty on your website, which will make it drastically harder to rank.
The only thing that black hat tactics are good for is reversing your hard-earned SEO progress, so do your best to avoid any of them at all costs.
Using bad backlinks — How to avoid a Google penalty
While backlinks can be your best friend, they can also be one of your worst enemies if you don’t use them correctly.
They’re one of the more crucial aspects of a good SEO strategy, which also means that they can also be one of the biggest pitfalls if misused.
The best way to keep from getting flagged by Google is to avoid spam links.
But what is a “spam link”? And how can you avoid getting them?
Avoiding spam links at all costs
A spam link is a backlink that comes from a domain that Google sees as low-authority or irrelevant.
While one link from a spam link probably won’t help you, it won’t ruin your website instantly either.
But if Google sees that you’re getting lots of links from spam domains, it might tag on a penalty to your site.
Unfortunately, you don’t have much control over other websites linking to you. But as long as you’re not actively chasing links from weak domains, you should be in the clear.
Never buy backlinks
Another colossal SEO mistake to avoid is buying backlinks.
If you weren’t aware, it’s entirely possible to find link-buying services online to build a list of backlinks to your website.
Notice how I said possible, but not that you should, because they’re far from ideal.
Buying backlinks is a bad idea for a long list of reasons.
The first and most important reason?
Google themselves have made it clear that buying backlinks is grounds for a penalty.
So if Google says something will get your website penalized, it’s probably not best to do it.
Even if that weren’t the case, buying links is a risky game.
You could get a high-authority backlink. But the much more likely reality is that you’ll just get a bunch of spam links.
Don’t chase backlinks from irrelevant sources.
Just because a website has high authority doesn’t mean that it’s a prime candidate to get a backlink from either.
Because even if the website is reputable, that doesn’t mean the audience is relevant to yours.
Google can recognize if your links are from other websites in similar niches, and a link from an irrelevant website isn’t going to do nearly as much good.
And even if Google can’t recognize it, the website’s audience can.
One of the most significant benefits of backlinking is that it can bring quite a bit of referral traffic back to your website. But if you’re getting your backlinks from sites with wildly different audiences, you probably won’t get much in the way of referral traffic.
And much of the traffic you do get is going to bounce, which is going to affect your SEO rank negatively.
Overall, links from irrelevant sources are going to be insignificant at best, and they’ll actively hurt your website’s rank at worst, so avoid chasing them altogether.
The worst practices for targeting keywords
We’ve gone over some of the best ways you can use keywords to your advantage.
So now, let’s get into the absolute worst ways you can utilize keywords; that way, you know what not to do.
Unless your plan was getting on the 10th page of Google.
Avoid keyword stuffing like the plague.
Keyword stuffing is the exact opposite of using your keywords naturally.
It involves one of two things:
1.) Using tons of irrelevant keywords to try and rank for as many terms as possible
2.) Using relevant keywords, but putting them in every place that you can find
Both of these won’t do your website any good.
While using keywords throughout your content is beneficial, overdoing it is going to bring more harm than good.
If you haven’t noticed the trend already, Google is pretty good at recognizing shady practices.
If you’re jamming keywords into every spot you possibly can in an attempt to rank higher for those keywords, Google will see it, and so will your audience.
Keyword stuffing will get your website hit with a hefty penalty by Google.
Worried that you might be accidentally stuffing your content?
As long as your content sounds and looks natural, you’re fine.
Again, SEO is about giving the best experience to Google’s users, so if your content is trying to game the system, it won’t turn out very well in the long game.
Avoid the most popular keywords — in the beginning.
Chasing after the popular keywords isn’t going to penalize your website like many of these other practices would.
But hat’s not the reason you should avoid it. In fact, targeting some of the more competitive keywords can be a great idea if you’re established as an authority already.
The problem is that someone new to the SEO game isn’t going to rank for the keyword “dog” anytime soon. There are way too many people already competing for “dog,” so only the best of the best actually get ranked.
If you plan on going after some of the more prominent keywords, wait until you’ve got a better foundation to stand on or include them as extras, but not your main keywords.
Remember, we’re trying to get ranked fast here, and you’re not going to get ranked quickly if you’re going for the keywords that virtually everyone else is too.
Common content mistakes that can wreck your SEO strategy
The way you approach content is going to have a tremendous effect on how quickly your SEO starts working.
That’s because your content is probably going to make up the majority of pages on your website.
Not only that but poorly structured or planned content is going to dismay any visitors who might’ve stayed on your website longer.
If nothing else, bad content is a massive missed opportunity, so here’s how to avoid it:
Irregular content flow
Being consistent with your content is vital to your success in SEO. Google loves to see that you’re regularly putting more value out, and so do audiences.
When a website stops getting updated with new content, Google will mark it as dead. Dead sites have much lower chances to get ranked since they’re likely outdated.
And if you are putting out content, but it’s at an irregular interval, it’s going to be harder to get people coming back or to subscribe to your email list.
Bad formatting is also something that can really hamper your SEO results.
I love this advice because it’s so easy to implement but still makes a big difference.
Take a look at this, it’s the previous section, but all in one giant paragraph:
Now, let’s take a look at it with better formatting:
Notice how much easier the second picture is to digest?
It’s the same information, just played out in a better fashion. Walls of texts are great ways to bore an audience to death, so try and split up your paragraphs into smaller, easier to read sections.
Using walls of text isn’t going get you penalized directly, but if your visitors are leaving the site too quickly because of daunting paragraphs, it might start hurting your rank.
And another bonus tip for formatting your content:
Do you know what else helps break the monotony of a blog post?
Including pictures throughout your content helps keep user interest from waning after long bits of nothing but text.
Website design & functionality
The last aspect to work on if you want to improve your SEO game quickly is the website itself.
Your website is the framework that everything else is going to stand on, so if it isn’t strong enough, the rest of your work is going to have a tough time shining through.
That’s why it’s vital that you avoid these common website mistakes if you want to get a higher rank fast.
Do your best to prevent slow load times.
Load times are another one of the most significant factors to a highly-ranking website.
There are a couple of reasons for this.
The first is that Google considers page loading speeds almost as high as the content on the page itself. This is why they provide a free tool that you can use to check whether or not your website loads fast enough.
The second reason is that people are impatient.
If we weren’t, no one would be reading a guide on how to speed up the SEO process.
It’s in human nature to not want to wait.
Take a look at how quickly someone will bounce off of a website if the page doesn’t load immediately.
If people are bouncing from your website because of slow load times, it’s going to be double trouble. The first is Google itself factoring your page speed, and the second is going to be when Google sees that so many users are bouncing from your website.
Don’t have a poorly optimized mobile website.
Most people who visit your website are likely going to be using mobile devices.
And Google has taken this into consideration. Within the last few years, they’ve switched to a mobile-first system for SEO ranking.
This means that Google’s algorithm takes your website’s mobile version into account before looking at your desktop version. The pictures above show Google’s mobile-first system at work.
The first picture shows the CDC’s webpage, which is in the lowest bracket for mobile optimization; it also happens to rank all the way on page 14 for the keyword “dog.”
Keep in mind that even though the CDC has a very high authority, they’re still only ranking on page 14. This is likely in large part due to poor website optimization.
Whereas Wikipedia, which ranks #1 for the keyword, has a score of 81 on Google PageSpeed Insights.
You could have the best desktop website in the world, but if your mobile-client is poorly optimized, you’re still not going to get very far.
This is why you need to make sure that everything on your website is optimized well for both mobile and desktop.
Need help with your white hat SEO strategy?
Doing SEO the right way can be complicated.
But that doesn’t mean you should take shortcuts to speed up your Google rankings.
Taking shortcuts can be very damaging to your SEO, and it’s never worth it.
Remember that ranking fast on Google is all about quality.
Whether you’re hiring someone else or doing your own SEO, it needs to be done clean and with white hat SEO.
Hiring a trusted digital marketing agency to handle your SEO is going to save you a lot of time for you to focus on your business. But it’s also going to make sure your SEO is handled correctly to rank faster.
Are you ready to boost your SEO rankings for your business? Contact us today to take your SEO to the next level. Don’t forget to request our media kit and review our case studies.