There is no shortage of tactics and tips for you to use when it comes to search engine optimization.
There is always a new growth hack and SEO tip to boost your rankings.
There are always new tricks to generate more links.
But most of that stuff fades with time and updates. SEO is always changing.
In fact, Google updates their algorithms more than 500 times every single year.
This makes it nearly impossible for SEOs to keep up. And it’s frustrating to backtrack constantly to update your tactics.
But, you can’t give up. We need SEO to drive high-quality inbound traffic.
Inbound leads, including those from SEO, cost 61% less than outbound leads.
On top of that, 93% of online experiences start with the use of a search engine!
But taking advantage of that incredible traffic has become increasingly difficult.
It seems like someone is always saying that “SEO is dead,” or Google adds an update that shocks the SEO community forcing a pivot and reverse.
Thankfully for us, there are a few timeless SEO tactics that have stood the test of time.
Each has outlasted the constant Google updates over the past few years.
You can count on them to hold up when it comes to creating a sustainable SEO strategy.
Here are three timeless SEO principles you should implement ASAP, and how to do it.
1. Make your page speed faster
Page speed might not be the first thing to enter your mind when considering search engine optimization.
But I’m here to tell you: Page speed is one of the most important ranking factors.
People don’t want to wait 10-15 seconds for your site to load.
So Google prides themselves on delivering results almost faster than you can blink.
And they’re not afraid to put that on display:
The top-ranked pages will almost always get the majority of clicks on a given organic search.
So it makes sense that they don’t want top-ranking pages that will get the most clicks to be slow.
Google’s goal is the same as ours.
They want to solve the user’s problem as fast as possible. The goal is to provide the best experience for each searcher.
If your page is ranking high, but it takes 10-15 seconds to load, Google will take notice.
They’ll see that the majority of people clicking through are coming back to the search engine result pages (SERPs).
They’ll see that the page in the second position only takes 2-3 seconds to load. That’s why everyone keeps going there instead.
The slow site can now expect to kiss those high rankings goodbye.
You are almost guaranteed to lose traffic if your mobile site takes longer than 3 seconds to load.
Every second longer that it takes for your website to load is another step toward losing those precious visitors you worked so hard to generate.
And, in all probability, your website is in this slow boat.
Even if you think it’s fast, it’s probably not fast enough.
According to Google’s latest page speed benchmarks, many companies miss the mark.
If people are leaving after just three seconds, it looks like these sites are missing it by a long-shot.
There is a 113% increase in the chance of your mobile traffic bouncing if it takes seven seconds for a page to load.
But, thankfully, we can use a few different tools that will help us diagnose the common culprits that are ruining our page speed.
Fixing our site’s speed should be a top priority because it determines if people are even going to take the time to land on our site and read our content.
To get started, let’s use Google’s PageSpeed Insights.
First, head to the Insights page and enter your website URL.
You’re about to get some clear-cut, actionable data on how to fix your site speed.
Next, hit “Analyze” and wait for the results to come in.
You can also sort the results by mobile and desktop speed to optimize for both.
The results will help you see what you’re doing right and what you can improve.
For example, while I received a “Good” rating of 91, it shows me the actions that I could take to get my score closer to 100.
It also shows me the current optimizations I am using that are keeping my speed fast.
For the optimization suggestions, you can click on each one to get detailed steps on how to fix them.
Another awesome Google helper that works specifically for mobile is their Test My Site tool.
This is one of my favorite ways to test client websites and adjust their speed fast.
Go to Test My Site and enter your URL to get started.
It will quickly scan your site from a mobile perspective, testing the load time based on a standard mobile 3G connection.
This is actually incredibly useful because the majority of mobile connections are still 3G.
Once the report loads, you get the ability to download a free report containing all of your mobile page speed data and any suggestions for improvement.
It also gives you an industry comparison to understand where you are in relation to your competition.
The report will help you assess your current page speed and how it’s impacting your SEO and visitor retention.
2. Link to relevant content and encourage others to link to you
Linking to relevant content is one of the simplest ways to improve your visitor’s experience.
And that’s what SEO is about.
SEO isn’t simply keyword stuffing or single-page keyword targeting anymore.
You can’t simply say “seo tips” 25 times in each paragraph to immediately rank #1 on Google.
It doesn’t work like that anymore.
Linking out to relevant content can seem scary, but I do it all the time in my blog posts.
It works because it saves the user from having to search for that information on their own.
This could frustrate them or take more time than they have.
If I provide them with the information they need, they are much more likely to have a good experience on my site and return for more.
And on top of that, if you want to get any links from other popular, authoritative sites, you need to be willing to link to them.
If you don’t link to relevant content, you can’t expect people to want to link to you.
And there’s no doubt that getting more backlinks is a huge ranking factor in modern day search engine optimization.
Combining nofollow and dofollow links will also help you get a well-rounded backlink profile that Google will reward.
So, how do you go about getting more links?
Start by creating better content.
Other sites are not going to link to your content just out of the kindness of their hearts.
It needs to be something worthwhile for them to include it on their page.
Just take a look at the number of links to Brian Dean’s infamous Skyscraper Technique post:
That single post has over 2,000 backlinks to its name!
That’s more than many people could dream of for their entire website.
And what’s his secret to getting so many high-quality backlinks to a single blog post?
The quality of work and the value that it brings to the table.
Creating tons of low-value content and pumping it out on your blog every day just to fill the page won’t work.
Spending time to develop the top-tier industry content is what drives links.
This means it has to be content that people can reference and source in their own pieces.
For example, I create huge guides on Quick Sprout because they help users and they generate links.
This specific content marketing piece generated nearly 900 links.
An easy way to start getting high-quality links fast is to create content that people will want and need to link to.
If you have to persuade or beg people to link to your content, it’s not good enough.
Here are a few ways to up your chances of getting a link (and you can find even more here):
- Create a valuable resource that will benefit readers.
- Write about something that no one else has written about.
- Create infographics.
- Create a roundup post filled with information from top influencers.
Next, reach out for links.
After you’ve created content that people in your niche will link to, you need to conduct some basic outreach.
One of my favorite ways to build links is offering value to sites with broken links.
Start by collecting URLs from your industry target blogs that you’d like to get a link from.
Next, use a free tool like Dead Link Checker to search each URL for broken links.
Once you run the report, it will instantly give you the broken links on that specific blog post.
This is extremely helpful because it allows you to see where content links are broken and how you can work your own content into their site.
For example, let’s say you’ve got a new huge guide on local SEO link building. It’s a niche topic, and your guide is longer and more actionable than the competition.
Browse a few related blog posts from top sites and scan those pages for dead links.
Then, start conducting outreach with a template like this:
It’s a simple way to conduct outreach that provides value for both parties.
It helps the blogger fix their content, and it helps you get links.
3. Improve CTR with great meta descriptions
CTR has become a hotly contested topic in the SEO community.
Does it really improve organic rankings? Is it meaningless?
Which came first, CTR or rankings?
But according to Searchmetrics, its importance is growing.
And it makes sense, considering what we know.
Google wants to provide the best user experience possible. I’ve repeated that about a hundred times already.
Therefore, if an article ranking #1 starts to see a heavy drop in CTR, and the second-ranked article sees a great increase, you can likely expect that Google will re-order them.
Why? The algorithm detects that users like that piece better than the other.
Need some more proof? Just take a look at this slide from the Search Marketing Expo in 2016 of insight from a ranking engineer at Google:
I know. That’s kind of hard to read. But it’s basically confirming what I just said.
The algorithm is designed to see clicks as “good” and no clicks as “bad.”
Larry Kim of WordStream actually did his own experiment to determine if this information from the Search Marketing Expo was accurate.
He tested 1,000 keywords in the same keyword niche from his own site data.
He then compared the CTR and ranking correlation for long-tail and head terms.
And he found that the long-tail terms get much higher CTRs. But, the weirdest part was how likely these long-tail terms were to be in the top ranks with such high CTR.
Then, Larry analyzed paid search queries in the same niche using those same organic terms.
And here’s what he found:
To sum it up:
Paid search CTR is super high in the first two ad spots but declines rapidly after.
Organic search CTR is high and contains big difference for long-tail and head terms in the first two spots, but there is minimal decline after.
CTR plays an important role in increasing your traffic and improving your rankings no matter which study you choose to look at.
The more traffic and CTR you drive, the more likely you are to rank higher on a search engine results page.
Here are a few tips you can implement today to improve your CTR.
Write a better headline.
Headlines should be your bread and butter when trying to improve your organic click-through rate.
They have the power to contribute to an increase in conversion by 10%.
And you can generate a 21% increase in CTR if you reduce it even further down to 8 words.
Make sure to stick to the proven headlines that users love to read.
I used to struggle with headlines.
Writing each post would only take an hour or two tops.
However, I’d spend almost the same amount of time trying to come up with a compelling headline!
Thankfully, not anymore.
I finally developed the formula for the perfect headline a few years ago. This system is almost guaranteed to give yours an instant upgrade.
One of my favorite techniques for producing great headlines is using a specific, actionable rationale.
- 7 Tips to Write Headlines Like a Pro
- 12 Headline Tips to Increase CTR Fast
The goal of a “rationale” is to explain why something should be done.
For example, it answers the question of why someone should click on and care about your content.
Try using words like the following:
Don’t forget the keywords.
Technically, keywords in your meta description won’t help you rank any higher.
But it can help improve your CTR.
And a higher CTR helps you rank higher, as we just saw.
Here’s an example of how you can naturally work those keywords into your headline and meta description:
Including these keywords helps to specify to the searcher that your content is exactly what they’re searching for.
Always remember to include them in your title and description to appear more relevant and drive your CTR through the roof!
It seems like every day I get emails about new SEO tactics and strategies to try.
People are constantly looking for growth hacks that can launch their business to the next level.
They want tips that can help them rank #1 for their most-desired keywords.
Some of them work, no doubt.
However, many of them won’t stand the test of time.
Google updates their algorithms over 500 times each year. That makes it almost impossible to keep up with the same tactics.
And as frustrating as it is, we still need SEO if we want to drive better inbound traffic.
Almost every online experience begins at a search engine.
But thanks to our best buddy Google, it’s become difficult to decipher the best ways to take advantage of this amazing traffic.
Luckily for us, you can implement some timeless tips.
Start by perfecting your site speed and fine-tuning your load times. If people have to wait more than 3 seconds, they’ll bounce immediately.
Then, upgrade your headline and meta description to increase your CTR.
No one will know how amazing your content is if they don’t click on it. And if they don’t click on it, you’ll eventually get bumped below the other results.
These might sound like tactics on the surface. But instead, they’re focused on the same underlying principles that Google uses to organize the web.
You want to put the searcher’s needs ahead of your own.
Give them an awesome experience. Answer their questions. And you’ll see your efforts pay off fast.
What are some timeless SEO principles you use to drive more traffic?