This article is intended to be accessible to everyone, SEO professionals and beginners. The goal is to make you aware of the methods that work to improve your SEO, but above all the points on which to focus your efforts to rank in 2023!
Two Important SEO Reminders
Why target Google, and why the first page?
These are questions that come up very often. The answer is simple: the Google search engine represents 93% of queries entered in France, and 91% of these searches are limited to… only the first page! Internet users want a quick result, and stick to what they see. They will therefore rarely exceed the first page of results obtained.
The pillars of SEO, the base!
A quick reminder of the historical bases of SEO Company! All the art of a good optimization is based on 3 pillars: structure, content and popularity, divided into two categories on-site and off-site.
Among on-site optimizations, I classify structure and content.
The structure concerns the architecture of the website, which must meet the criteria examined by Google: intuitive navigation with a limited page depth, optimization of the pages and especially of the home page, loading time of less than 4 seconds, etc.
The content strategy takes into account the semantic field of the text, the presence of specific keywords, but also its formatting. The text must be structured by themes, hierarchized and marked up in order to guide the reader… and a fortiori the Google robots.
Off-site optimization, on the other hand, aims to gain popularity for the site, in particular by acquiring links. If good content will help link baiting, good backlinking will get quality juice.
I’ll tell you how!
6 SEO best practices in 2023
The performance of your website
The first thing to optimize is the overall performance of your site. This mainly depends on the performance of the hosting. I advise you not to try to save money on this post, you could very quickly regret it.
A good web hosting will ensure excellent availability of your pages, without excessive loading times or 404 errors, thus sending a positive signal to Google.
Next, look at code quality. Examine the CMS and the theme used, the number of requests needed to load the pages… Unfortunately, theme developers are not SEO experts: a poorly designed theme can cause serious damage to a site. Too heavy, too slow, poorly structured, poorly designed, and your natural referencing will suffer.
Finally, the weight of the images is a crucial factor to take into account. I have lost count of the number of times I have found myself auditing an e-commerce site with a home page larger than 10 MB… For the sake of your SEO, lighten all the visuals you include on your site!
You can visualize all this thanks to the Pingdom tool:
- The weight of the page
- loading time
- The number of requests
- The weight of the different content: images, CSS, html, scripts, fonts…
- The number of requests per type of content loaded
- External content uploaded
- And the loading time of each request!
Internal linking and crawl budget
We often focus on external links, the famous backlinks… and we often neglect the internal links to the site. And yet, these turn out to be of major importance.
Why work on your internal links?
As experts, what interests us the most in terms of this internal linking is the distribution of SEO juice between the different pages: indeed, a well-positioned page that has a certain juice must intelligently redirect it to the other pages. This allows search engine crawlers to understand which pages are most important.
To optimize your internal networking, the first thing to do is to remove as many links as possible from the common parts of your site: header, footer and sidebar. These off page SEO penalize your SEO because they are repeated on all pages, which generates links in all directions and weighs down your structure.
I also draw your attention to the mega menus, which completely dilute the SEO juice between all the pages of your site! The mega menu is the worst thing you can offer your site…
Two complementary techniques to improve internal linking
The thematic siloing
This technique makes it possible to partition the semantic universes between them. That is to say that there is no mixture within your site: a page addresses a specific subject, and not a series of varied themes.
No link should therefore pass between the internal pages of your different silos: each semantic compartment must be sealed, so that it cannot communicate with neighboring silos. This will ensure that you confine your pages to a single theme.
This technique makes it possible to combine the design of the customer experience (UX) with SEO practices. The design of the UX makes it possible to leave all the links in sight to the visitors, but from an SEO point of view, we hide certain links from the robots in order to offer them a structure that is more relevant to them.
In this way, Google does not see these links, and it is offered a better optimized structure at the level of the internal mesh, much more relevant for it.
In fact, we save Google crawl budget, and he thanks us for it. It’s magical, clean, and good for your SEO! So, you shouldn’t deprive yourself of it…
This is the second pillar of SEO that we talked about. To define a good content strategy, start by precisely identifying the specificities of the target you are going to address.
Define your personas
Do you know the typical clientele of your site? What is his average age, his socio-professional category, his geographical location? Gather all the information you can about your customers and create a typical profile.
How do you position yourself in relation to your target and your competitors? It is important to seek to meet the needs of your customers, and to anticipate those of which they are not yet aware (hence the importance of knowing them well). In this way, you ensure that you are always one step ahead.
How to write and present your offer? Depending on the values of your company and the brand image you want to convey, I advise you to determine an angle of attack and stick to it. This image must be respected both in your communications on your site, but also on your social network pages for example.
Why you? What are the benefits of your offer? What differentiates you from your competitors? Know your strengths, but also your weaknesses! Explain the added value you bring to your customers and work on your weak points.
All this will allow you to better target your customers and your offer, it’s very important!
Define the right keywords
How do you find yourself on the web? On what keywords? There’s no point in having a beautiful site and innovative products if no one can find them. Positioning yourself on keywords that are not too competitive and targeted to your activity (think about seasonality!) is at the heart of content strategy.
What is the search intent of your customers? Your goal is to answer their questions: don’t forget that Google is above all an answer engine…
So, target the keywords that really convert and bring in business: no need to type too broadly if it brings you mostly unqualified traffic. You will also need to take into account current positions, search volumes, competition index, CPC (associated with Google Ads) …
You can resort to the SEMrush tool, which will help you a lot in all these steps. Forget the bad practice (now outdated) of repeating the same keyword X times on the page, as some plugins encouraged us to do (Yoast SEO for example). Today, we talk about semantic field and lexical field!
By using the semantics associated with your keywords in your content, you will naturally obtain the lexical field that revolves around it, in order to best respond to the Google Rank Brain algorithm.
Here is what SEMrush can bring up:
- Key words
- Evolution des positions
- Organic traffic
- Search volume
- Concurrence (keyword difficulty)
- URL associated with the keyword
Once the keywords have been targeted, the tool will fetch the associated semantics (as with YourTextGuru) and submit the keywords to you to place. But it will also control the proper optimization of your text once written: placement of words, frequency, etc.
Pollution and zombie pages
I noticed that the sites I audited were very often polluted by pages with poor SEO performance, pages that are sleeping, that have no traffic, etc. They are called “zombie” pages!
Google judges the overall quality of your site, that is to say that it takes into account all the pages that are made available to it, including these dormant or poorly optimized pages. Poor quality pages are pages that degrade the entire site, which therefore impacts its positioning.
How to detect these pages?
Start by looking at Google Analytics which pages do not generate / little traffic. Look for pages that are not ranking, that lack content, that are poorly optimized, etc. The MyRankingMetric tool can also make it easier for you to find them for you.
How to treat these pages?
- You can optimize to saveas many pages as possible: using title tags, H1, by improving the internal linking to these pages, by integrating illustrations and content into them, without forgetting the semantics to make them more relevant, etc.
- It is also possible to mergepages if you find that they are duplicated.
- Finally, delete or unindexedpages when there is no other choice.
By dealing with these zombie pages, you optimize Google’s crawl budget and you offer more relevant pages to Internet users: you are a double winner!
Backlinks for maximum popularity
This is the 3rd pillar of SEO that we saw at the beginning. Let’s start by breaking the myth: Google is not a search engine… but an advertising network! Google does not want us to manipulate links, because it profits precisely from the sale of advertising space and links.
It is therefore necessary to remain very careful when deploying links: this must be thought out and implemented through a global strategy. Google’s PageRank is based on these links, so it’s normal for the company to hunt for abuse.
Net linking is often equated with Blackhat (abusive or even illegal techniques), while everyone on the internet is more or less Blackhat from the moment they exchange a link, publish a guest article to obtain a link, he places a link in a blog comment, which he publishes in a directory, etc.
There are mainly 2 techniques to generate backlinks to your site:
Le link baiting
It is a passive technique, intended to offer rich and relevant content, which will naturally generate links and therefore… popularity. Basically, it’s to provoke the natural desire to share its content! This technique is called passive, because we bait, but we do not have control of the links that will be generated in this way.
Different ways to generate these natural links:
- Articles: they must be references in your community and easily shareable on the web (share buttons)
- Controversial content: this automatically generates shares and reactions!
- Feedback and case studies: presentation of projects carried out; problems encountered
- Lists: tops, worst, flops, unmissable, tips, etc.
- Contests: negotiate free products with suppliers and offer them
- Offer something: a white paper, a free tool, etc.
- Interviews with personalities / influencers and video podcasts
- Surveys and market studies (sometimes taken up by the media: there, we gain a very beautiful natural link!)
- Photos and infographics: easily shareable via Pinterest
It is an active technique, where we will generate links artificially to gain popularity with Google. Unlike link baiting, we are actors, because we manipulate both links and Google robots.
There are different ways to create link building:
- Contact book: these are the easiest links to find, for example your suppliers, your manufacturers, your colleagues, the tourist office, the town hall, etc.
- Specialized directories
- Business network platforms, example: CCIs, incubators, local professional groups, etc.
- Blogs and themed sites
- Press releases / press relations
- Watch for quotes: Using Google Alert and Talk Walker Alerts, if you’ve been quoted but not linked, you can request one
- Takeover of sites: you will be the only one to have links on them
- Expired domains: this is a way to bring up themed mini-sites
- Monitor your links and recover your missing links by recontacting bloggers, who may have deleted the page or anchor, for example.
- Plagiarized content: request a quote with a return link for compensation
- Examine the links of your competitors and offer yours to the same sites (for 50€, a blogger can replace your competitor’s link with yours…)
The link strategy
And for those who don’t want to have to deal with all that, there are link strategies: turnkey services offered by platforms such as SEM Juice. You will be able to benefit from an audit of your link profile, the implementation of a personalized strategy, etc.
Placing links using measured strategies allows you to take no risks, because you stay under Google’s radars without over-optimizing: you don’t try to go too fast. The link anchors are thus deployed strategically, mainly targeting the natural on varied sites and themed with different site owners (we avoid PBNs). They are integrated into qualitative content.
Thus, the site rises slowly but surely, the objective is to aim for sustainability to prevent everything from collapsing like a house of cards. As I always say, what works with Google today may not be more effective tomorrow… So have some leeway and don’t play with its current tolerance threshold.
Last important point: favor quality before quantity. Few links, but relevant links and on positioned sites.
My platform classifies the distribution of SEO juice between pages by means of fruits: small SEM Juice fruits link to a homepage, with natural anchors (URL / brand), while large SEM Juice fruits link to internal pages with link anchors (keywords, broad expressions).
In this way, we distinguish the SEO juice sent to the internal pages and the home page. We will be able to work on a page at the content level, by optimizing its keywords and its semantics, then push this page via the links.
Google EAT: Trust Authority Expertise
These are themes that are in the crosshairs of Google. EAT is closely related to the YMYL pages and concerns all subjects that can have a positive or negative impact on the happiness, health and wealth of the user: finance, medical, legal, insurance, mutual, security, etc.
It’s like in real life… the more people talk about you, the more famous you will be! It is
- Establish yourself as an influential and competent person in your community, via forums and specialized sites, social networks, etc.
- Produce videos, webinars by establishing yourself as an expert
- Write a book
- Give lectures
- Receive links from influential sites in your area
Your name / brand must be omnipresent on the first pages of search results: social network pages, sites that talk about you, etc.
Tips for improving your EAT score
You can include author names in your content, and highlight these authors via their biographies. Google needs to understand who is responsible for a website and who wrote the different content.
It is also necessary to take care of its brand image by completing its profiles on social media, and interacting with the people of influence in its environment. By telling your story, you will succeed in communicating with your audience.
As already mentioned, it is important to remove irrelevant pages. This is because Google rates each page individually, and the presence of many low-quality pages can negatively impact your site’s overall reputation. It is for this reason that these pages must be reworked or deleted.
Similarly, consider securing and professionalizing your site, using HTTPS, secure payments, but also legal notices, clearly visible contact details, authority site links, etc. Having a well-filled, updated and active Google My Business page is a very good signal, even more so if it is accompanied by positive reviews.
Finally, you can use your network to enrich your content: ask influential people in your sector to intervene on your site and publish articles, videos, testimonials, interviews, etc. In short, improve your content, work on your expertise, your authority and your credibility!
I discussed with you the 2023 best practices to please Google. As I mentioned, what works today may no longer work tomorrow, which is why it is necessary to rely on sustainable and effective strategies over time. SEO is changing, and it’s up to us to adapt!