SEO is easy to pick up, but very difficult to master. Anyone who spends a few hours learning the fundamental pillars of SEO can get a relatively firm grasp on the basics — including keeping your site updated, harnessing the power of great content, building external links, and getting involved on social media. Each of those strategies is critically important to an SEO campaign, and you can spend months or even years perfecting your approach to each of those strategies.
For the experienced inbound marketer, the basic advice on how to best handle those tactics is redundant. Browsing through the archives of articles on SEO shows you just how in-depth those basic strategies can be, but it doesn’t provide you with any new information or any advanced techniques that you can put to use in your own SEO campaign.
Fortunately, there are plenty of more advanced tips and tricks you can use to gain traction in your SEO strategy:
Site Speed Optimization
You may already be aware that the speed of your site plays a role in how you rank. Specifically, the faster your site loads and the quicker your users can engage with your material, the better you’re going to fare in search visibility. But you may not be aware of all the micro-tactics you can employ to effectively maximize your site’s speed.
First, improve your browser caching — make sure your caching plugin (or function) is enabled, but keep it free from complicated settings. Compress as much information on your site as possible, clear out any old pages or drafts stored in your back end, and reduce the size of all your images by loading smaller versions and stripping them of meta data before uploading.
You should also find a reliable hosting provider, minimize your redirects, and simplify your code as much as possible, giving users as much functionality as possible without bogging down the processes necessary to make it happen. As with anything else in SEO, you’ll probably have to make tweaks over time.
Advanced Link-Building Techniques
Simple link-building tactics include posting in industry forums or submitting guest posts to similar sites. It’s time to take those strategies to the next level. First, start wooing government and educational sites in your area - .gov and .edu links are hard to get, but they’re some of the juiciest links you can find. Sponsor a community college or provide data to a local branch of government — build real relationships with your local .gov and .edu site holders, and build links from there.
Next, start producing high-quality images. Infographics are, of course, effective for this, but any high-quality photography will do. Make them publicly available, so long as people link back to your domain, and as other bloggers and authors use them, they’ll link to your website to give image credit. You can also take more efforts to circulate your great content by posting them on social bookmarking sites and getting involved in more social channels.
Establishing a Multi-Platform Presence
By now, you undoubtedly have a Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, but the social world is far more complex today than it was even two years ago. Get involved on as many channels and platforms as possible. Start by making a mobile app — Google is indexing apps now, and they’ll likely play a larger role in ranking in the future. Then claim your company’s profile on any social platforms you’ve as of yet neglected, such as Snapchat, Yik Yak, or Meerkat. Wider visibility is always better.
Finally, get yourself noticed on all the third-party apps you can. List your business on local directories like Yelp, but go a step further to get mentioned in other applications. Strike a deal with Uber or Lyft. Find niche apps related to your industry, and offer something of value to them in exchange for a mention.
Ensuring the Accessibility of Your Site
Take the time to occasionally gauge the accessibility of your site using Google Webmaster Tools. First, check to ensure your site is up and functioning properly, then head to the "Crawl Errors" section and scout for any page-level discrepancies that might have sprouted since the last time you checked. If there are any 404 errors listed here, set up a 301 redirect to a new, appropriate page to instantly fix the problem.
You’ll also want to pull a manually updated sitemap from your website and compare it against all the pages that Google lists as currently indexed. If there are any discrepancies here, you might have a major indexing problem.
Subverting the Knowledge Graph
The Knowledge Graph is one of the most formidable obstacles search marketers will face in the next few years. Because it offers searchers immediate information, it prevents at least some portion of potential visitors from traveling to your site. Right now, the Knowledge Graph’s domain is relatively limited, but it’s going to expand dramatically in the next few years.
To prepare for this, shift your content strategy. Stay away from any topics that provide immediate, direct information about a general topic. Instead, focus on in-depth how-to articles or very niche questions that Google wouldn’t be able to easily store in a database. Keep your topics as specific as possible, and start answering more complicated questions.
These are only a handful of the advanced practices that inbound experts use to hone their approach to SEO. With an in-depth knowledge of the functions in Webmaster Tools and a ground-level understanding of website code, you can delve even deeper into the bits and pieces that ultimately make your website successful in ranking higher.
I’ll leave you with one more piece of advice, useful for new SEO strategists but indispensable for more experienced experts: read the news. It’s advice you’ve undoubtedly heard before, but it’s all too easy to let the habit slip. In as little as a few days, you could fall behind the times and your strategy could lag behind the competition. Staying up-to-date on the latest technologies, latest Google updates, and latest rounds of speculation could very well give you the competitive edge you need to stay ahead.