SEO is tied to the fabric of the internet. You do it without realising it. It’s more than just choosing keywords and creating content around them. It has evolved into entities, semantics and keywords based on search intent. SEO is everything you do to rank high on search engines. Most people never go beyond the first page of Google results. Hence, page one is the coveted online real estate everyone wants to get on.
For those who are not masters of SEO, they turn to search experts to help them rank high. An SEO expert optimises your website for search, helps to improve user experience and conversion. If you’re a business owner looking to dominate SERP results, you need these SEO skills for online success.
1. Audience Research
Keyword research has evolved. It’s not a standalone action anymore. Keyword research is part of a holistic process that considers the buyer’s journey. The first SEO skill you need is to understand the audience you’re serving. What makes them happy, sad or anxious. Where do they work? How much do they earn? What type of content resonates with them to solve a problem?
To become an SEO expert, you must master the ability to understand the needs of your target audience, establish a link with your business goals and move them from search query to conversion.
How to Do Audience Research
Define Your Target Market
This is the specific group of prospects you want to reach with your marketing message. They have a problem or common characteristic that makes them most likely to patronize your brand.
Use Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a great source of information about your target audience. You’ll get information such as demographics, geography and interests.
If you already have customers using your services or products, gather information from Google Analytics in a database. Data points for B2C companies to consider include: location, time zone, age, language, stage of life, interests and spending power.
Fill in the Gap with Social Media Analytics
Facebook Insights offers information about your target audience. You’ll find information about the topics your audience enjoys. Pay attention to the messages and comments you get from users. Use the feedback to personalise user experience and improve quality.
See What Your Competitor is Doing
Analyzing your competitor answers some important questions. Are they reaching a unique segment you haven’t considered? Are you both pursuing the same market segments? How do they position themselves?
2. Competitor Research
Competitor research reveals the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors. You identify the type of marketing campaigns that worked for them so you can invest in a similar campaign. An understanding of your competitor’s weakness helps you develop better products and services.
Profiling high ranking brands is a top SEO skill you need to master. You must determine
- Areas they excel
- Their current market share
- Unique Selling Proposition
- Types of services they offer
- What people love and hate about them
- Their pricing structure
- Total sales volume
The SWOT Technique
The SWOT technique is a popular method of competitor analysis
Strength – Where do you excel? What are your internal resources and tangible assets?
Weakness – Areas where your competitor is better than you.
Opportunities – Is there an emerging need for your product? Is the market underserved by an existing supplier?
Threats – This includes emerging competitors, changing customer attitudes, negative press coverage and changing regulatory environment.
Analyse social media channels, campaigns and websites
Use the search function to dig up discussions or mentions surrounding products and services. Subscribe to their channel and analyse their frequency of posting and levels of engagement.
Use Tools to Collect Data
Now you’ve identified your competitors, it’s time to dive into data collection for your analysis. Thankfully, there are several tools out there based on your budget. I advise you to get SEMrush or Ahrefs. Both are powerful options.
If you have a limited budget, Mangool’s range of SEO tools is the next best thing. Buzzsumo is also a good option. Discover websites that are producing content in your niche and those with the top shares.
Enjoy this free competitor analysis template from Shopify.
3. Web Analytics and Tracking
One of the most important SEO skills, web analytics helps you understand if your strategy is working. You also get reports you can show to clients or superiors you’re accountable to. Google Analytics is the gold standard. Create your own customisations based on your reporting need. Examples include assisted conversion reporting and attribution models to go deeper into the customer’s journey.
Beyond analytics, knowledge about heat maps, tracking mechanisms and Google Tag Manager is compulsory. You may also need to work with IT professionals and developers who don’t understand implementation to ensure proper tracking in marketing tools.
4. International SEO
Many SEO professionals ignore international SEO or anything outside their home country. That’s fine if you’re a local brick and mortar business that serve a defined audience. However, if you’re an online e-commerce store, there’s a decent chance your customers are abroad.
A few things you should do
Acquire an international domain from the country where your customers reside. All your domains should redirect to your main store but feature their local currency. International domains allow your website to be visible in a country’s search engine.
Create location pages to optimise your keywords for specific locations. It helps to establish your brand in a particular region or country. For instance, “Adidas streetwear in Lagos.”
Transcribe your language into the local language of each international domain. You want your customers to enjoy a personalised experience with your brand. Getting past the language barrier is a huge part of the user experience.
The image below is the Portuguese version of Neil Patel’s website. His site features a total of six languages.
5. Local SEO
For local businesses that require online visibility, local SEO skills are essential for success. If your clients cannot find your business on their mobile phones, you become extinct. Sadly, many businesses leave money on the table because they underutilize the power of local SEO.
A few tips to implement
Ensure the name, phone number and address on your website are consistent throughout your online listing.
Add location pages to your website. Search engines crawl your site to find the best matches for their results pages. A landing page for each business location you service increases your chances of turning up for that search query. Include details such as local roads, popular locations and streets that increase the entity salience of the location.
Claim your Google My Business listing. If you’ve already claimed it, log into your GMB account and ensure all your details are consistent. Include a brief description of your business, operating hours and a link to your website.
Collect reviews. It’s a local ranking factor, perhaps the most important. Encourage your customers to leave reviews. You could offer a discount on their next purchase to entice a review. Positive reviews help you rank better. People immediately believe in your business and its products when they see five-star ratings.
6. On-page SEO Ranking Factors
On-page factors have a massive impact on your ability to rank. A few things to focus on include
The content of the page – Create good content that is linkable and meets a demand. If people can’t link to your content, search engines won’t rank it, neither will the page drive traffic. Understand the intent behind keywords and write from that angle. Optimise your content around entities and semantic that is similar to the keyword.
Create long-form content – Long-form content addresses many aspects of a topic. Search engines always rank long-form content over shorter content because it’s more in-depth. Use answer the public and Google related searches to find good sub-topics for your pillar. Answer all questions a user might have about a topic.
User engagement – Your website is designed for humans and search engines. It’s important to look at your website from the view of the user. User signals are a good indicator of improvements you need to make on your site. Metrics include bounce rate, pages per session and CTR.
Title Tag – After content, title tags are the most important on-page SEO factor. Ensure it includes the keyword you’re writing for.
7. Link Building
Link Building is Google’s top ranking factor. It’s very difficult to rank without links because the Google Core Algorithm is based on links. Before the Google Penguin update, link purchase and other black hat methods was the norm.
There were sites such as Ezine that helped you get easy backlinks with minimal efforts. Today, only white hat link building techniques work. Links power the internet. It passes trust and power from one site to another. You need links to survive on the internet. To learn more, read this Complete Guide to Link Building.
8. A Sense of Humour
Yes. Laughter is a part of life. There are so many ups and down in the SEO industry, sometimes you need a good laugh to take the edge off. Ever felt like you were at Google’s mercy when they make a gazillion changes a year? Taking a step back to unwind reminds you that you’re doing marketing, not a gun to your head job. A great sense of humour makes your job more productive and enjoyable.
Take time to learn these SEO skills. It won’t happen in a day but the results are worth it in terms of search rankings, improved user experience and conversion. Without SEO, you’re floundering – unable to keep head above water and get to the top of Google SERP results.