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The importance of quality, white hat SEO for maximizing your business value

By Jamie Toyne

You’re tossing and turning in your bed, trying to fall asleep, but thoughts about your business are haunting you again. You have an awesome website that you eventually want to sell, but the strategies to increase its business value can be confusing– some strategies can be done instantly; others require more time and effort. It’s hard to know where to start.

However, there’s one simple strategy that will help maximize your business value while also rendering your business more sustainable: search engine optimization. It’s often intimidating but it’s not as technical as you might think. It also doesn’t take years of experience to be successful. Here, we’ll explain how implementing quality, white hat SEO can positively affect your business value.

What you think about maximizing value is wrong

What are some ways of maximizing business value? It depends who you ask. Some experts make an attempt to value businesses by calculating various financial ratios for a certain period in the future, building realistic plans, or focusing on revenue diversification. Others take the opposite approach and focus on the efficiency of the managerial team, core competency, and realistic scalability.

However, the effect of these indicators is extremely hard to evaluate and predict. In traditional business, the main drivers of success are identified first, which are usually indicated by the perceived value (value perceived by a customer) and the costs for providing this value. Perceived value is the maximum price a customer is willing to pay for a product or service. The value of the business is maximized if the perceived value is high, and the cost of providing this value is kept low.

The game changes when you’re planning to maximize the value of an online business. When you’re dealing with an online business, the type of customer your business attracts is inherently different. In 2018, over 20% of the world’s population participated in online shopping (Statistica). Sounds impressive.

But before you build a relationship and convert your visitors into customers, you have to find your customers — or rather, they have to find you and your amazing website.

What is White Hat SEO?

Before we dive into the secret valley of SEO tactics for increasing your business sustainability, let’s determine why you should focus primarily on White Hat SEO techniques instead of other methods.

If you’re imagining “white hat SEO” as a process in which you improve your SEO while wearing a white hat… well, that’s not quite it. White Hat stands for ethical ways of improving your SEO– in other words, tactics that are approved by Google.

Think about it like this: which article would your target audience prefer– the one with quality unique content, good logic, and structure, or the one filled with spammy keywords and broken links? White Hat SEO prioritizes the quality content, so your audience receives immediate access to better pages.

How Google’s algorithm works

Google’s algorithm crawls and ranks over more than 50 billion pages per day — and you certainly want to be number one in your search category. But how does the algorithm actually work? After your pages have been crawled, they are given an index, which simplifies the search process for Google. Once the page is indexed, it will be displayed if it matches the relevant query.

Naturally, however, your page isn’t the only one that matches a specific query. So how are pages ranked in each search category? The Google algorithm and good SEO know the answer. The Google algorithm is the set of specific metrics that define the order according to which the page is ranked. But the Google algorithm is just an algorithm– and you can outsmart it with SEO.

We mentioned earlier that it takes effort to get to the top of SERPs. Luckily, it’s not too dramatic— all you need is a spicy mix of good quality content, SEO knowledge, and patience.

Why White Hat SEO matters for maximizing business value

Generally, over 50% of website traffic comes from organic searches. When you consider that less than 10% of people go to the second page of Google, you realize the importance of your website appearing on the first page of the SERPs.

However, while paid ads or social media simply redirect people to your website on a pay per click basis, becoming the top Google result in an organic search requires time and effort. But don’t get upset – once you’re on the first page of SERPs, you’re a king on the hill, and it’s likely you will stay there, at least in the short to medium term. Why?

White hat SEO increases a business’s sustainability as well as barriers to entry, which means that existing competitors or new entrants cannot immediately start organically ranking for related search terms overnight. The more sustainable the business, the higher the value. Bingo!

Business value can be maximized solely using White Hat SEO, and in the next steps we’ll address how. And trust us – you don’t need to know thousands of signals that the Google algorithm uses to rank a page by heart. So if you’ve decided to make your online business more sustainable and maximize the value using white hat SEO, there are four key aspects you should follow: keyword research, on page SEO, off page SEO, and technical SEO.

Keyword research

You have your website with high-quality content, but you look at the statistics and realize that there is not much organic traffic going to it. Don’t get upset straight away: you’ve probably just chosen the wrong keywords to target for.

Obviously, choosing the right keywords is essential for the growth of your business through search engines. Each keyword has its own story, and you have to decide which story you want to tell.

There are three types of keywords:

  1. Primary keywords
  2. Secondary keywords
  3. Supporting keywords

Primary Keywords

The primary keyword is the main target keyword for the page. It often has the most search volume: however, it’s also the most competitive one. But how can you identify what the primary keyword is? You can do it in two steps: first, research all potential keywords. Second, filter the most relevant ones. It’s not a bad idea to start a spreadsheet and brainstorm all the possible keywords. We’d recommend searching for the keywords in SERPs and the using the Google Keyword Planner to sort out the best ones. Luckily, Google Keywords Planner is free.

Let’s assume you are selling New Zealand Ski Packages.

First, write down all the keyword combinations that you find relevant for New Zealand Ski Packages. For example:

new zealand ski holidays
new zealand snow season

Then, you can extend your list by putting the terms in Google and observing who is ranking for similar keywords.

primary keywords

Now it’s time to use Google Keyword Planner. Once you have written down the keyword you want to rank for, you will get the list of keyword ideas alongside the relevant metrics:

keyword ideas

There are three major metrics you should consider: average monthly searches, keyword difficulty and competition score.

Google Keyword Planner gives a good overview of the average monthly searches. It also gives general information on the competition. We use MOZ to get a keyword difficulty score: 20 to 30 represents intermediate difficulty, over 50 should be generally avoided, 0 to 20 is what you should be targeting. Remember: your primary keyword should find itself in a sweet spot between lower difficulty and higher search volume.

metrics

Once you have accumulated all the information in your google sheet, it’s much easier to choose your primary keyword.

Secondary Keywords

Secondary keywords form a group of keywords you can win by properly optimizing for the top-level phrase. They follow the primary keywords and often appear on the target page. You can look for them in related searches, Google Trends, or AutoSuggest.

Example: Auto Suggest

auto suggest

Supporting Keywords

The goal of supporting keywords is to informatively answer the questions. You can identify these supporting keywords by doing research on different forums. Reddit, the Wikipedia Table of Contents, AnswerThePublic, and Google’s “People also ask” section are all good examples of these different forums. It’s important that you’ve covered all the questions your audience has when it comes to New Zealand Ski Packages.

It makes sense to create a separate spreadsheet and write down the supporting keywords. Then, you can filter them by lower search volume, lower keyword difficulty, lower competition, and less commercial intent – generally speaking, you want to have your supporting keyword rank the easiest.

Example: People also ask (Google)

people also ask

After you have thoroughly done your keyword research, you should check if your website is already ranking for any other keywords. Ahrefs offers organic keyword function, where you can put a URL for your website and get all the rankings you already have for specific keywords. This is important because in a normal keyword search, you’re trying to guess all the keywords, but you might be simultaneously ranking for keywords you’re unaware of.

Should you target for Long Tail or Short Tail Keywords? The traffic for Long Tail keywords is lower, because the keyword is more targeted. Therefore, you should establish yourself in the niche with the long-tail keywords first. After some time, go for shorter keywords, because they inherently have more competition. Besides, long tail keywords are usually put in the supporting pages that link back to the target page.

Rough and Dirty approach to master On Page SEO

Once the initial excitement of having defined the right keywords has worn off, it slowly gets replaced by another challenge – finding a location for the keywords and figuring out how to optimize your page. In fact, on page SEO is more scientific than you could imagine.

Let’s first create a structure for your page – as Google looks at the semantic order of your H tags, you need to set up Roman numeral outline structure. If we would like to sell New Zealand Ski Packages, then the outline of your page would look like this:

H1: New Zealand Ski Packages
H2: Ski Packages for beginners
H3: Details
H2: Ski Packages for advanced
H3: Details

Before we move to the ultimate guide for your on page optimization, let’s define several terms.

On Page Ranking consists of 4 elements:

1) Exact match keyword placement.

Exact matches are your exact keywords.

2) Variations of your keyword.

Variations are synonyms of your keyword, partial matches, stemming and modifiers. To make your life easier, you can find your variations by looking at the bold terms in SERPs.

3) Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI).

LSI is the abbreviation for Latent Semantic Indexing – words that naturally come up in a conversation about something. For optimization purposes, we are not talking about synonyms
or variations of your keyword. If we are talking about New Zealand Ski Packages, we would naturally mention such words as skiing, snow, boots, winter, etc. If you feel like it’s hard to come up with LSI, there are a lot of tools online that can help you.

4) Word Count.

Word Count is the number of words on a page – specifically in the body text in between

tags. After conducting numerous experiments, we figured out that the sweetest spot is between 1300 and 1500 words. You can read more about the experiment here.

However, there are many factors that may affect the number of words on a page. For example, if a competitor is ranking first with 5000 words, you cannot expect to outperform him with 1300 words. As long as you provide good quality content and cover the topic fully, it doesn’t matter if you have too many words on a page. By the way, both LSI and Word Count are ranking factors.

If you have to optimize your page quickly and effectively, without going into many details, you should consider using the Rough and Dirty approach.

Here are 2 steps for Rough and Dirty on page optimization:

Put your target keyword in top 4 places: Meta Title (page title that search engines see), URL, H1 (page title that humans see) and Body Copy. Make sure that your Meta Title and H1 are the same, and there is only 1 H1 on the page.
Use secondary words and LSIs in H2, H3, H4s, Image Alt tags and image file names, Bold and Italic text, Lists, on page anchor texts and meta description.

…And that’s it!

How can we prove that white hat on page SEO optimization is the best way to maximize business?

If you’re familiar with on page SEO, you’ve probably heard about the recent Rank or Go Home Challenge – the SEO competition organized by Steven Kang and the SEO Signals Lab Group. Contestants were given 30 days to rank the keyword “Rhinoplasty Plano” with a new site. The website was created by Kyle Roof and his team, and was written entirely in Latin Lorem Ipsum text. It eventually reached number one in Google for both the organic and map searches, and actually became the knowledge panel for the search term. Roger Montti from Search Engine Journal points out how rare this feat is: “Google ranking a site written in Latin,” he says, “is analogous to the wheels falling off a car.”

Kyle’s Lorem Ipsum site was optimized using tweaks and tricks from the scientific on page method, developed by Kyle and the team, as well as the Rough and Dirty approach described above.

For further reading on Kyle Roof’s page optimization, see here

However, on page optimization can be even more effective combined with off page optimization and technical SEO.

Off Page Optimization techniques

Montti, Roger. “SEO contest expresses weakness in Google’s algorithm” https://www.searchenginejournal.com/google-algorithm-loopholes/278093/ November 13, 2018.

The purpose of off page optimization is to increase user perception of your site by doing activities that affect your rankings.

This can be achieved through multiple methods:

1) Backlinking: This is what happens when you’re referred by other reputable websites who provide a link back to your website. This automatically increases the quality and trust of your content and website authority in the eyes of Google and web users, and it shows search engines that the information on your website is valuable and trustworthy. As long as the link is naturally created by other people/sites who simply like your website, or built manually by asking others to collaborate with you, it is considered a white hat SEO activity.

2) Other off page activities: These are activities that boost your website’s publicity organically, and therefore increase the trustworthiness of your page. When a post receives attention through likes and comments; when your page is mentioned online because it matches another brand’s vision; when you do an Instagram takeover and receive publicity for that: all these are activities that can increase the trustworthiness of your profile. Same with other off site SEO activities: guest blogging, social media marketing, good ad placement and many other activities can positively affect your website rankings.

A major part of off page SEO is about finding your real audience and reaching out to them to promote your expert content / promotional offer / data you’ve produced and suggesting it would be in their interest to link back to you.

Technical SEO

So far, we’ve covered keyword research and on and off page SEO. But there’s one more aspect that affects the user experience directly: technical SEO.
Technical SEO is the process of following search engine requirements to achieve better website crawling.

The checklist below covers some essential aspects of technical SEO:

  • Google Analytics/ Google Search Console

Google Analytics should become your basic tool to track the statistics of your website. It can show you all the basic information you need: traffic, the performance of your campaigns, the audience you’re reaching, and much more.

Google Search Console is another free Google Tool that tracks the performance of your website. Using Google Search Console, you can understand how Google sees your website and how you can improve it to rank better.

  • Sitemap

An xml sitemap is used by search engines to crawl your site, and a html sitemap is used by humans to search the pages on your site. XML sitemaps should also be submitted to Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools, so that search engines can find your site quickly.

  • Meta Robots

Meta Robots are instructions that you can provide to search engines when the bots are crawling a web page.

  • Malware

Sites found with malware are immediately dropped from rankings and can be completely de-indexed if the problem persists.

  • Manual penalties

A manual penalty is an action taken by Google against your site after a human reviewer has determined that a page on your site is in violation of Google’s policies. Manual penalties should be addressed immediately and, once fixed, submitted to Google for review.

  • HTTPS

HTTPS (https://) is the secured url preferred by search engines.

  • www Redirect

For best practice SEO and for the sake of canonical/duplicate content issues, it is preferred that the non www. domain record should redirect to the www. record on the website.

  • Rel=Canonical

Rel=Canonical is a tag which establishes the preferred url for a webpage and its content. It consolidates external links pointing to a webpage, ensuring that the target webpage gets credit for all links pointing to it.

  • Broken links

Broken links can negatively affect your SEO. If there are links on your site, both internal and external, that result in a 404 error page – these are broken links that need to be fixed.

Do It Yourself?

On Page Tools

Fortunately, there are now limitless tools that can help do your own successful SEO. For example, by comparing various on page factors, PageOptimizer Pro – a computational competitor analysis tool for on-page SEO – tells you how well your page is optimized for your keyword. Additionally, it suggests changes you can implement to improve rankings, and gives you insight into the steps your competitors are taking to improve their rankings as well.

page optimizer pro

We use MOZ to check domain authority and keyword difficulty – essential data every SEO needs for SEO success.

moz

Off page tools

Ahrefs gives great insights regarding link building. It also shows the actual backlinking strategy by providing the website link profile, and it shows the websites that link back to yours.

ahrefs

The power of Majestic is in its link intelligence database. Using this tool, you can find out what is your web presence, which is, as we already know, a crucial factor for improving rankings.

We’d suggest that you take advantage of free Google tools: Google Keyword Research, Google Analytics, Google Search Console- they can give you more than enough information to start your website optimization.

However, if you don’t have enough time or expertise to do SEO on your own, you can always contact marketing agencies to do it for you. For example, our agency High Voltage SEO Agency works with businesses who are serious about results – we aim to get our clients ahead of their competitors on Google and win the leads that for so long have been going to the others. We stay true to the SEO ethics and provide only White Hat SEO services that are transparent and based on natural, human internet browsing activity.

Some tools, like PageOptimizer Pro, offer a Done For You option. Here, POP experts take action on reports from the tool and help to improve headers, titles, descriptions, word count, LSI terms, and other on page ranking factors.

We’ve now been over several SEO tactics: keyword research, on page SEO, off page SEO, technical SEO. You can choose which tactics work best for you, but by using a combination of the SEO tactics in this post, you should see the value of your website gradually increase inline with predictable, steady, organic traffic growth. Good white hat SEO can certainly help to maximize your business value, and there are wonderful tools that can help you, making the process not overly time-intensive. Good luck, and hopefully now you can sleep calmly in your bed as you watch you make money in your sleep!

About us:
High Voltage SEO Agency is a bespoke SEO firm based in Melbourne, Berlin and Phoenix.
We build and implement custom SEO strategies for small to large enterprises and invest heavily in research and testing, having conducted over 250 experiments on the Google Algorithm in the past 3 years. Follow us at https://www.facebook.com/highvoltageseo/ or email at andy@hvseo.co.

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