If you’re a website owner, you and I have something in common. We both want to rank on the first page in Google for our desired keywords. Of course, we do! Otherwise, what’s the point of having a website at all, right? If there are no people visiting your website then, no one will purchase what you’re selling. Meaning, all the time spent on writing, maintaining your website will be in vain.
I today’s post, I will share everything I’ve learned for the last couple of years in regards SEO for WordPress. Even though there are thousands of sites that share practical SEO advice, there is one particular web page that is outranking all of them. A website created by a dude who struggled for years to appear high in the search results. Right before he was about to quit and go back to his corporate job, he found the missing piece of the puzzle and he was able to put his site on the top of Google. This guy is called Brian Dean and he is the founder and owner of Backlinko.com – a website for SEO training and link building strategies.
Once you read this post you will have the needed skills, tools, and as the title is suggesting: 12 practical SEO techniques in your pocket to put your site on the first page of Google for your targeted keyword.
For the last couple of years, I’ve read thousands of pages on How to rank #1 in Google. Tried different things, used different plugins. I also paid Facebook and Google real money for advertising to gain more visitors. Nothing really worked. When I entered my WordPress admin dashboard, tears appeared on my eyes. I wasn’t getting enough quality traffic to my website. Yes, there were some spikes but this was mostly when I was running a social media campaign.
Then, all of the sudden I stumbled upon a site that I was seeing for the first time. A website looking so promising even from the first page. A website created by a regular guy who was trying to find his spot in the internet space. A guy like you and me. I started following this guy and I’ve read all of his articles. Now, this guy is known as one of the best SEO experts on the planet. Big companies are paying him big bucks to help them rank high. But he didn’t forget where he started and he is continuing to produce high-value content that can help you boost your content higher in Google search results.
As I mentioned, this guy is called Brian Dean and his website is called Backlinko.com.
10 Practical SEO Techniques
Let’s finally share the SEO hacks:
Technique 1 – Finding the Best Keyword
Even if you have a great idea for a new article, if people aren’t searching for what you’re writing, you most probably won’t get any new traffic.
A new blog post should start with detailed research about what others are searching for. Fortunately, there are a lot of free and paid tools that will help you.
I personally use Google Keyword Planner and Ahrefs to find ideas for new articles and also find the best keyword for my new blog post. I recently actually published a detailed post about using Ahrefs to find blog content ideas.
Here, I’m going to use Google Keyword Planner to show you:
First, access the dashboard of the planner > go to Tools > Keyword Planner:
Type your phrase and click search:
As you will see, the keyword I’m searching is really competitive:
It’s will be hard to rank high for this specific phrase. That’s why I will do the following: I will click on Competition twice to load the low competitive keywords first. Then I will go through the pages to find low competitive, long tail keyword I like, like this one: “how to launch own website.” Or this one: “how to begin your own website.”
The competition here is much lower and I have chances of ranking high for this specific keyword.
Technique 2 – Practical Content
The main thing people want when they search in Google or any other search engine is an answer to their question. If your content can give people an explanation to what they are asking for this will bump your site with a few spots and can even reach number 1 page for that specific keyword.
Ok, but why?
Simple, people are grateful when they find what they’re looking for. They will probably share your content, subscribe to your list, and they can even bookmark your page.
All of the above will tell Google that your site is full of valuable content, meaning, it deserves to appear higher in the search results for that particular keyword.
Ok, how do you produce practical content that people will love?
Another kind of obvious question: Add as much as data as possible. Share advice that will actually help people. Don’t stuff your posts with fluff and try to fool your visitors. People aren’t stupid. If your site isn’t offering an answer they will notice this and can even be angry at you for wasting their time. Instead, do the following:
1. Make a detailed research on the topic you’re writing a post
Nowadays this is really easy. You simply go to Google and you type what you’re planning to write for:
There is so much content online on any kind of topic.
2. Curate the found content
Once you have a couple of articles and videos at your disposal, start outlining the main points of your new post:
3. More useful information and less pointless text
When you start writing your copy make sure to add more advice, tips, steps, that can be actually used from the people reading your content than only writing stuff that no one wants to read.
These 3 steps are only part of the process. Continue to read to find what you should do next.
Technique 3 – Add Images, visuals, multimedia.
Let me ask you a question: Do you prefer reading plain text or you prefer watching a video?
I believe we both know the answer to the question. Video these days is widely popular. If you aren’t producing video content you should definitely add enough multimedia inside your post to make your content stronger. 94% of the people prefer posts with images than such with not a single image inside.
Fortunately, there are a lot of free stock photos sites which will help you make your content shine.
You can also use screengrab software – like the one I’m using on my site – to create step-by-step guides easy for people to follow.
I personally suggest these two:
- Snagit – The current software I use. You can see screenshots with this tool in my latest posts: Astra WordPress Theme; Elementor Page Builder.
- Evernote – The previous software I used. It’s free. You can see it in these articles: Cornerstone WordPress Page Builder.
One important thing here, when you’re uploading a picture inside your article, make sure that the title of the picture is named the same as your keyword:
Also, use the same phrase for your ALT text.
Technique 4 – Increase your CTR
CTR refers to click-through rate. If you’re not familiar with the concept, let me explain:
CTR is the percent of people who click on your page after seeing it appear in the search results. In mathematical terms, this means the following: CTR = Clicks/Impressions. Let say that 10 out of 1,000 people click on a link of your site after seeing it appear. This will mean that the CTR for this specific post is 1%.
You can see the exact CTR of all of your different posts by visiting Google Search Console:
Ok, but how can you increase your average CTR?
Firstly, let’s answer the following question: What makes people click? When you search for something online, what makes you click on a particular article?
In most of the cases, it’s an article that’s different from all others. For example, when I see something like this in the search results, I click:
The stars you see above are called rich snippets and they can be added with the help of a plugin provided by MyThemeShop. The plugin is called WP review. There is a free version and a pro one – here’s a link to the free version WP review plugin; Also one to the pro version: WP review Pro.
Using numbers and brackets inside your headline is another way to increase your CTR. If you check the site of Brian Dean, you will see that most of his articles are including numbers inside:
This is the main reason to name this article: 10 Practical SEO Techniques I Learned From Brian Dean. Simply numbers are standing our from the plain text when people search.
Technique 5 – Reduce Your Bounce Rate
In short, bounce rate means: The percentage of visitors to a particular website who navigate away from the site after viewing only one page. A bit longer explanation will be the following: Bounce rate is single-page sessions divided by all sessions, or the percentage of all sessions on your site in which users viewed only a single page and triggered only a single request to the Analytics server.
Your content should be so awesome that it will make people want to read more. But before clicking on your other pages, your first task should be keeping them on the page they’ve just landed. To do so, do the following:
1. Start your post with a strong intro: Tell people what they’re going to learn right from the start. If you scroll all the way up, you will see that I mentioned that you’re going to learn practical SEO techniques that will boost your ranking. Who doesn’t want to read that?
2. Make your content readable: I’m sure you’ve heard this before but adding headings, bullets, numbered lists inside your post is essential if you want to make people stay on your page. I’m doing this at this very moment. I’m adding a quick numbered list to explain how to reduce your bounce rate. No one wants to read a wall of text. It’s hard to digest and you can’t really understand what’s the main point the author is trying to make.
3. Images and Multimedia: As I already mentioned, you need to include high-quality pictures inside your post to keep the attention of the reader.
4. Related Posts: A lot of WordPress themes have related posts feature included. This basically adds posts of the same category below the end of the current post. A great way to make the reader go to your other pages:
5. Internal links: Naturally linking to other posts inside your current post is something you need to do in every article. A good practice is to revise your old posts when a new article is published to boost it. For example, when I publish this post, I will go through my older articles and I will add a link to this one when appropriate.
Technique 6 – Use External Backlinks
As mentioned in the beginning, crafting a practical content requires going through other articles on the web. Mainly, so that you can cover all aspects, educate yourself on the topic and be as detailed as possible so that people can better understand what you’re saying and also answer all of their questions. But these things are not the only reason.
As mentioned in an article in searchenginejournal.com, a study conducted by marketing firm Reboot aims to show that there is a positive correlation between a page’s outgoing links and its search rankings:
Pages that use external links inside your copy consistently outrank such that have few or now links inside their post. So, don’t be afraid of adding links to other websites thinking that people will leave your site and never return. It’s actually the opposite. External content will only make your own better. That’s why I consistently add links to other sites in all of my posts.
For example, in one of my lasts posts, I showcase 39 minimal WordPress themes. As you can imagine, I have 39 external backlinks.
Technique 7 – On Page SEO Done Correctly
Previously people stuffed their articles with the keyword they wanted this post to rank. Now, if you do this Google will punish your site and you will end up on the last page of the search results.
Let say you’re going to write a blog post about creating your own website and your target keyword will be: “how to launch your own website.” Instead of trying to add this phrase a couple of times inside your article, use semantic SEO.
Semantic SEO refers to a question or search phrase that produces meaningful results, even when the results don’t contain an exact match of the words or phrases used.
In short, add similar keywords inside your copy instead of trying to add your main keyword to sentences where it won’t fit.
How to do that?
One way is to go to Google Keyword Planner and add your phrase and click search:
The suggested keywords can be also used inside your article.
Another easy way to find similar phrases is by simply searching in Google with your keyword. Once you do that, scroll all the way to the bottom of the search results. You will find related searches which you can use:
Now, use this phrases inside your copy.
Thank you Google!
Technique 8 – Engage People on Your Site
There are 2 main ways to engage the people visiting your website.
1. Ask people for their opinion
Posts with a lot of comments mean that this article is interesting. Post with a thousand comments is like a little ecosystem for that topic. Google understands this and gives it a boost.
Ask questions inside your post and end it with an invitation for comments. For example, you can ask people for their opinion or to share with you their story by saying something like this at the end of your post: “Share your opinion in the comments below, I will love to hear your take about this:” Or something similar.
2. Social Media Buttons
You need to make your content easily shareable. Add share buttons but don’t push it. A lot of sites stuff their posts and pages with dozens of buttons making it hard for the visitor to read the actual content. Instead, choose 2 or maximum 3 social mediums and add only buttons for these channels.
As you can see on my website, I have buttons only for Facebook and Twitter. I don’t need Pinterest, Instagram, Linkedin, or anything else. Another cool thing you can do is to make your buttons sticky while the visitor’s scrolls:
This simple switch of buttons increased my social shares with more than 50%. Fortunately, Total WordPress theme has this feature included and I didn’t have to install an additional plugin for the change. If you’re using a different theme and you want social sharing buttons while you scroll you might wanna check SumoMe plugin.
Implementing a click to tweet button is another way to engage your visitors. When it comes down to sharing, you need to make it as simple as possible for the visitor. No one wants to jump through hoops to share a post. That’s why click to tweet buttons are so widely used by bloggers.
Let me show you how you can add you click to tweet button in less than a minute:
First, visit the website clicktotweet.com and Sign in with Twitter:
Type your desired tweet and click Generate:
You can choose a theme to match your site layout and paste the embed code inside your website:
The final result will be something like the following:
Looks amazing, right? As you can see, if you click the button it will generate a premade tweet and you simply need to click tweet, no other action on your end. When you ease your visitors they will be much more willing to engage with your content then if you’re only stuffing your copy with buttons.
Technique 9 – Promote your Content
This is the hardest part.
What do you do once you publish a post? You share it on social media and you probably send the new post to your email subscribers, right? Ok, what else?
I thought so. Most of the people publish a piece of content and they never return to this post. Often I do exactly the same thing. You spend a couple of days writing the perfect post and once it’s done you don’t want to touch it ever again. I know the feeling. However, this approach is wrong. It’s called the publish and pray approach: You publish a piece of content and you pray to appear on the first page of Google. It rarely works.
In order to get in front of your competitors in Google, you need to build quality links to your individual post. To do so, you need to promote your content to people who might like it, share it, link to it. There is no point of sending spam emails to thousands of people.
Ok, but how do you do the above?
I’m not going to lie. This step requires a lot of work but if it’s done correctly it will bring huge results.
Ok, what do you do:
1. Find sites that share similar content
Simply search in Google for the topic you’re writing for: I’m searching for “how to start a website from scratch”:
One of the results is topic on Quora. The most popular Q/A website. A site where people ask questions and real people answer them. You can create quite an awareness towards your site using this single medium.
2. Find people who are willing to share your content
In the best case scenario, you want influencers to share your content or link to your content. To find who are the most popular people for the topic you’re targeting you can use BuzzSumo.
Keep in mind that the free search is limited and if you want to use the full functionality of the features provided by BuzzSumo you might wanna sign for a trial period or for a paid account.
Ok, once you have access to the tool, go to Influencers > Search content shared > Type keyword > Search:
The result will show you the people, what they shared and their ranking, as you will see below:
Now, you need to reach these people.
3. Reaching out to people
Finding the email address of the person managing a website is easy, you simply go to the contact us page section. It’s also easy to reach a person through Twitter. You can simply tweet to him or write him a direct message.
The hard part is to tailor your message.
Remember, people aren’t really interested in what you’re offering or saying. The important part here is to tell people how will they benefit by sharing or linking to your content.
When I contact people over email I usually write something within these lines:
It’s needless to say that you will need to tailor your message depending on the person.
Technique 10 – Update your Content Regularly
Even though some articles are timeless, you still want to check your older posts and see if there is something else you can add. The lest you can do is update your existing links by making sure all of them are working and add links to your new blog posts which will boost their ranking as explained above.
Your older posts become irrelevant at some point and updating them will not only make the people reading them happier but it will also tell search engines that you’re maintaining your website which is always good for your rankings.
Also, depending on your niche, old blog posts tell people that this article is not relevant, thus they quickly bounce off your website.
Set a schedule to update your old blog posts. Twice a year will be probably enough.
Getting consistent traffic to your website is one thing, creating content that progressively gets more visitors over time is an art. And like any art, it requires a lot of work.
If you haven’t visited backlinko.com already, I highly recommend doing so and also subscribing for email updates. Most of what I know in terms of practical SEO techniques is thanks to what Brian Dean is sharing on his website. Not only that, he also has a YouTube channel where you can see the latest SEO practices on video.
I don’t know about you, but I will start practicing my last advice shared on this post, and more precisely this one: Updating your content regularly. I have some old WordPress themes and plugins reviews and I have to update them to match the newest updates.
What are SEO techniques, hacks, and practices are you using on your own website? Share in the comments below: