19 SEO Tips From the Mouths of HubSpot’s SEO Team

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Back in 2017, HubSpot experienced something that got never happened prior to — our blog’s monthly traffic flattened. Even worse, it started to decline. So , right after months of worrying over the mysterious reason for our blog’s traffic plateau, we decided to sit down, chug a lot of coffee, and find the culprit.

We discovered that our editorial technique of brainstorming subjects and relying on our intuition to determine our own audience’s content preferences was no longer sufficient. We decided to pivot and focus the energies on the funnel that has consistently generated most of our blog’s traffic for its entire existence — organic search.  

Nowadays, years after we all adjusted our organic strategy, we’ve surpassed the majority of our monthly traffic goals as well as broke some month-to-month traffic records. Needless to say, we’re thrilled (and relieved) that our natural strategy fueled our traffic boost and shattered the great traffic plateau of 2017. In this post, we’ll summarize the essential tips that will helped us drive our organic technique, with insight through HubSpot SEO specialists.

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1 . Spend as much time on the SERPs while you do in tools.

Even though an algorithm dictates a search engine’s results page (SERPs) search positions, the algorithm rewards web publishers that craft the best content material on the internet.

Because of this, it’s important to understand search intent. To do this, we analyze the keyword’s SERP plus determine the problems customers are trying to solve when searching for this query.

Aja Frost, your head of English SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION at HubSpot, states, “Yes, tools offer us a ton of info. But that details is often based on imperfect, out-of-date, or biased data sets. We encourage SEOs to combine the insights these people getting from their tools with real-time clues on the SERPs. Every time you decide to target a new keyword, refresh a piece of content, or identify a page or part of pages with abnormal traffic, take a look at precisely coming up for the primary queries on Google. ”

Depending on your goal, Frost says to pay attention to:

  • Search features,
  • The type of content absolutely ranking (product webpages, listicles, tutorials, and so forth ),
  • The websites that are ranking (databases, businesses, media websites, directories, etc . ),
  • How far down the page the first organic outcome appears,
  • How your page comes up (title, meta explanation, date, jump hyperlinks, schema if appropriate, etc . ).

When you conduct these types of searches, “Don’t miss to use an incognito windows, frequently clear your cache, cookies, and history, and operate your searches to both a desktop plus phone, ” Ice adds.

2 . Master the SERP overlap test.

While in SERPs, Frost conducts a SERP overlap test. The girl says, “I make use of this test all the time to determine whether to target two-plus queries with a individual piece of content. ”

Now, you might be wondering, what is the SERP overlap test?

Frost details the particular steps below:

  1. Do a quick search in incognito for Key word A and a separate search for Keyword W.
  2. If the SERPs look fairly various (i. e., the particular top-ranking pages are different, or the first outcome for Keyword A is the ninth outcome for Keyword B), Google treats all those queries as separate searches with different intent.  
  3. Nevertheless , if the SERPs possess a lot of overlap, you can treat them because the same query.

3. Aim for the particular featured snippets in SERPs.

Featured snippets are exactly what search engines use to display an answer to a question directly on the SERP, so a user would not need to visit another page to get the answer to their question. The image below is an example of a featured little for the query “What is inbound advertising? ”

what is inbound marketing featured snippet box in google search results

As you can imagine, showcased snippets impact organic search results, which is why it is also essential to try to rank with as numerous featured snippets as you possibly can.

To do so, produce posts that answer specific questions users have. The content in your featured snippet must be semantically relevant to the particular keyword a user looks for. This means that you can’t answer the question of “What is inbound marketing? ” with unrelated content as the algorithm knows enough in order to detect relationships between your keywords and explanations you give.  

Additionally , your website post should be structured and formatted in a manner that lets Google understand you’ve answered a question. For instance, this could indicate using specific code, so your featured little stands out on the page.  

Based on Karla Cook, the particular Senior Manager of HubSpot’s blog team, “Targeting featured thoughts with consistently formatted sections has taken out some (but definitely not all) of the guesswork when it comes to ranking intended for featured snippets.

Matthew Howells-Barby, Vice President of Advertising at HubSpot, provides stressed that clean and consistent code is a significant factor in winning snippets. ”

4. Consider on-page SEO, but not everything you publish has to be search-friendly.

On-page SEO is the process of enhancing a page on your site with front and back-end components that help you rank higher in search engines. These components include:

  • High-quality page content
  • Page titles
  • Headers
  • Meta descriptions
  • Image alt-text
  • Structured markup
  • Page URLs
  • Internal linking
  • Site swiftness

For this instance, let’s focus on the copy-oriented elements like high-quality content, page titles, headers, meta explanations, and image alt-text.

You should prioritize creating optimized page copy to improve your own SERP rankings. Whatever you write should include your own target keyword, become contextually relevant to your own target keyword, and answer questions your users may have. Ultimately, the goal is to indicate to search motors that you’ve answered questions a user might have in regards to a query.

However , Victor Pan, Mind of Technical SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION at HubSpot, says that not everything you submit has to be search-friendly.

“This could be ad landing pages, thank-you pages, internal product sales enablement pages, plus login pages. Prioritize optimizing for lookup when the opportunity is greater than the time spent, and leave the remainder on the back burner. Tackle the back burner as soon as you’re able to build a process to reduce the amount of period needed to optimize, inch he adds.

5. Target a number of high and low-volume keywords.

With an organic search strategy, you need to target keywords that span an entire potential buyer’s journey, including a variety of high and low-volume keywords.

Braden Becker, a Mature SEO Strategist from HubSpot, says, “Broad, early-interest keywords are usually higher in volume, while later-interest or even purchase-ready keywords tend to be lower in volume since the audience is more specific. Therefore , you shouldn’t be scared to target low-volume key phrases if they have a higher probability of turning traffic straight into leads or customers. ”

In HubSpot, the SEO team conducts in-depth keyword research for the four onsite blog properties (Marketing, Sales, Service, and Website). They first look for search volume, a few as high as 120, 000+ and some as low as fifty searches per month.

According to Frost, you need to get creative using the high-volume keywords you’re targeting.

For instance , when she was the editor on HubSpot’s Sales blog, the girl assigned content that could have strayed from our usual topics yet boasted significant lookup volume. However , every posts answered our own audience’s questions, aligned with our values, plus were well-researched and comprehensive.  

6. Consider pruning content after very long periods of growth.

Pruning your content could be the process of reducing the number of indexed pages by deleting old, lower-quality content that doesn’t add value to your site.

Becker states, “Consider ‘pruning’ content after long periods associated with growth. As web sites grow and scale, you’ll find some content fails to perform not surprisingly. As that stack gets bigger, it could have adverse effects in the rest of your website’s speed and overall performance. Audit your site with regard to pages that aren’t driving a certain degree of traffic, backlinks, or even conversions, and unpublish them. ”

You can learn more about the information pruning process right here.

7. Consolidate website pages using redirects and canonical labels.

When you perform a site audit, you might find multiple pages that contains similar content. When that happens, you should consider combining website pages using redirects or canonical tags.

Becker says, “Nobody wants several pieces of website content serving the same objective because it can cause you to cannibalize your traffic in SERPs. inch To fix this, you are able to redirect low-performing webpages to a page on your own site containing associated information.

Becker adds, “Besides manipulating, if you have exact replicates, you may even add a canonical tag from the replicate to the core page, which keeps the copy visible but informs Google to prioritize the core page when ranking your website. Be careful when determining to canonicalize or redirect — these are delicate decisions and really should only be made when it makes perfect sense in order to. ”

Google explains more about this technique here.

8. Implement a traditional optimization strategy.

In 2015, Pam Vaughn, Principal Marketing and advertising Manager of HubSpot’s Web Strategy plus former Editor of HubSpot’s Marketing Blog, made a revolutionary breakthrough about HubSpot’s organic blog traffic — the overwhelming most of it came from articles published before that will month. In fact , 76% of our monthly blog views came from these old posts.

Today, Vaughn’s innovative revelation rings even louder than ever — 89% of our monthly blog views come from blogposts published at least six months prior, and coming from developed an entire strategy dedicated to refreshing and republishing these historic pieces of content. All of us call these types of blog posts updates, and they include 35-40% of our content calendar.  

By refreshing associated with new information, SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION tactics, and effectively republishing them as new blog posts, we are able to build upon their existing organic value and user wedding and double and even triple their traffic. This process also helps us optimize our blog with regard to efficiency, decreasing the amount of new content we need to create while at the same time increasing our organic traffic and conversions.

Historical marketing isn’t for everyone, although. It’s a strategy catered for a blog that:

  • Generates a substantial amount of organic visitors,
  • Has a very long blog subscribers,
  • Has social media followers that can supply the surge of traffic, shares, and inbound links to your updates,
  • Owns a substantial repository of old blogposts that are worth refreshing and republishing.

If you have all four of those things, we suggest implementing a traditional optimization strategy. To learn about specific sorts of historical content you should update and the specific process of updating them, check out this blog blog post written by Pam Vaughn herself.

nine. Train your website visitors to search for your brand.

SEO is utilized to increase the number of unbranded searches for your business.  

Pan says, “The logic is that these were potential customers that would not have otherwise converted. This logic will work for a young business, however for mature businesses that have a good relationship using their customers, branded visitors is just as important. ”

For example , platforms like Amazon have trained their clients searching on Google to append “amazon” for their searches for site-specific results.  

Pan says you can motivate and inspire customers to do this by getting the go-to specialist on topics related to your brand. Given that Amazon is one of the leading shopping sites, clients refer to the platform for shopping needs. To be an expert, you have to develop page authority.  

10. Develop page authority.

Page authority is among the factors search engines use to determine rankings. For instance , if you’re a seasoned weblog with a reputation like a go-to industry professional, your site will likely better search engine positions than pages on the more recent site.  

Given this, it is important to build your brand and authority within your niche. Blogging regularly, posting on social networking, guest posting upon other sites, and simply being active within your industry are valuable ways to build your reputation.  

In addition , you should write about tangential topics your customers have an interest in, helping you provide them with the most relevant info while also signaling to search engines that you write about your sector in-depth.  

All of these strategies will offer your website authority plus indicate to search engines that they need to pay attention to your own domain.

eleven. Leverage the pillar-cluster model.

Considering that people heavily rely on Google to provide precise and relevant answers to their questions, search engines like google need to understand every single search’s intent plus context.

To do this, Google has developed to recognize topical contacts across user inquiries, monitor similar questions users have made previously, and surface content that they deem the most authoritative on the subject. To help Google understand our blog content like a trusted authority, all of us decided to implement the pillar-cluster model (further explained in the video clip below).


By creating a individual pillar page that gives a high-level introduction to a topic and links to cluster web pages, we effectively signaled to Google that our pillar page is a source of authority on the subject.

Another benefit of the pillar-cluster model is it provides site visitors having a better user encounter. Not only is it easier just for Google to crawl our blog and recognize semantic relationships among posts, but it’s also easier for our market to find the content they are looking for.  

12. Create a link-building strategy.

Gaining high-quality inbound links from websites and web pages with high-authority is crucial for boosting your site authority. Unfortunately, because nice as it would be, “If you write it, they will connect to it” is not a viable SEO tactic.

The primary method we all use to earn high-quality links is social networking with other sites using a higher domain or even page authority and requesting links to our content. We furthermore make sure our content material is relevant to the mentioning website’s content. Another way to earn quality back links is by following Backlinko’s skyscraper method.  

The skyscraper method involves identifying content that ranks well for key phrases you want to rank regarding and creating content material that is of better quality than the top-ranking posts. Then, you use SEO tools to find the sites that link to your competitor’s content and ask probably the most authoritative source to replace your competitor’s hyperlink with your links.

Backlinko tried this strategy and asked one hundred sixty websites to connect to their post about 

Google’s two hundred Ranking Factors. Because of this, they earned seventeen backlinks from mentioning sites with high domain authority, and the posts’ organic visitors increased by 110% in only two weeks.  

13. Do not change URLs.

The inventor of the internet, Tim Berners-Lee, once said, “Cool URIs don’t alter. ”

Actually it’s a popular stating — “What the cool URI? A cool URI is one which does not change. Exactly what sorts of URI alter? URIs don’t modify: people change all of them. ”

Being a refresher, URI means Uniform Resource Identifier and it is meant to determine a resource, while a URL provides information about how to locate the resource. For example , the URI would be your name, and a WEB LINK would be your home address. Your name merely identifies you, and a address shares finding you.  

Pan says, “URLs, a subset of URI’s, should change as little as possible. A brief history of ‘why a URL changes’ is usually filled with good intentions that often get lost with time, so be sure to add a note the same way you should when you discover traffic anomalies. inch

Note: You can do this within HubSpot’s continuously evolving URL Mapping tool.

14. Compress and optimize your multimedia data files.

Compressing media files may not appear to be a high priority for your SEO strategy, however it should be. According to Becker, your video, image, and gif file size directly affect your site’s page load velocity, which is one of the ten most important ranking elements.  

“The bigger an image’s file size, the longer it takes your internet browser to load that image, which increases your own website’s loading time as a whole. And the lengthier your website’s loading time, the more likely it really is that Google can penalize you, ” he says.

The act of data compresion blends similarly colored pixels into individual pixels to reduce the image’s resolution and, in turn, file size. These changes are undetectable to the human eye, since it is more sensitive to details between light and dark than colors. Compression will not diminish the impact your images will have on your own audience, and your pages will load quicker.  

Top quality tools for media file compression are usually:

  • Squoosh 
  • TinyPNG (supports set compression)
  • A person Compress
  • Clipchamp

15. Make use of image alt text.

Search engine crawlers that scan your blog can’t understand your images unless they include alt text explanations. Because of this, adding these descriptions to your photos is a priority with regard to SEO, as bots will strike towards you if they can not understand what’s on the site pages. Picture alt text can also be helpful for ranking your blog pages in image-based SERPs.  

Also, alt text is a best exercise for creating an accessible website. Screen readers can pick up on alt text when switching screen elements, ensuring that all of your site visitors have a consistent browsing experience.  

Almost all alt-text should be descriptive, contextually relevant to the particular page content, plus short. Consider the subsequent example from Becker:  

David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox batting from home plate at Fenway Park

Image Supply

Low-quality oll (derb) text would examine “Baseball player striking a ball in a baseball field, ” while descriptive and contextual alt text would read “David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox playing baseball from home plate in Fenway Park. ” 

16. Influence CTAs as often as it can be.  

Optimizing your page in order to rank in search engines doesn’t do you worth it if your pages aren’t optimized to transform visitors. Aim to increase conversion opportunities by using calls-to-action with content material offers relevant to web page content and the various stages of the potential buyer’s journey.  

The image below is definitely an example of a CTA on our SEO Creating: 12 Tips on Creating Blog Posts That Rank on Google blog post.  

example of seo starter pack cta in a hubspot blog post

Image Source

Every page on your own site is an opportunity for conversion, so each page on your web site should include a CTA that aligns with visitor search intention. Since you can imagine page visitors is there to learn something, CTAs are exciting as they offer more understanding and educational details.  

seventeen. Form good human relationships with your developers and designers.

Hitting your SEO targets isn’t a marketing-specific effort — you will also need to collaborate with our developers and developers. Because of this, Frost indicates forming good associations with these teams.  

She says, “Get to know these individuals, learn their vocabulary, figure out what motivates them (usually it’s actual cool projects), and, most importantly, teach all of them important SEO principles. This could entice these to come to you before removing an older page that has 500 backlinks. ”

18. Perform a technical SEO audit.

If a search engine bot crawls your site for indexing, it needs to understand exactly what your site is. That will refers to content but also how your site is placed. Unorganized websites are difficult to index since contextual relationships are usually hard to discern, plus, as a result, these web pages won’t rank in SERPs.  

Because of this, your site’s technical set-up is really a critical component of SEO. These technical factors can include, but are not limited to:

  • Web page speed
  • XML site map
  • URL structure
  • Site architecture
  • Pagination

To prevent strikes from bots, we recommend conducting a technical audit of your web pages.

19. Check, double-check, and triple-check your computer data.

To truly flourish in your SEO technique, you need to measure your own success by checking out standard data metrics like organic traffic growth, conversion price, bounce rate, plus keyword rankings.

Becker says, “Growing organic traffic requires time, but it also requires a village. When executing keyword research, traffic analysis, or any performance-related audit, always have more than one source of data to help you. ” 

If you see traffic drop in your content administration system, check Search Console to see which pages that drop has affected. When the decline is concentrated to just a few pages or even articles, use a search positions tracker to determine when you have lost position for virtually every high-volume keywords. The particular smarter your diagnostics are, the better your own decisions are in reaction.

SEO Is An Ever-Evolving Landscape

This post uncovered strategies that helped all of us devise an SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION strategy that allowed us to shatter a year-long visitors plateau and break monthly traffic information. However , as SEO is continuously modifying, it’s entirely possible that these types of practices could become obsolete one day.  

The meaning of our blog’s tale isn’t to glom onto these SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION tactics for the rest of your content marketing career; really to keep adapting, regardless of how well you’re executing.  

Editor’s note: This awesome article was originally released in March 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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