*This is Course 4 of an exclusive Learning Tournament for PRO users!
So far in this Learning Tournament, we’ve shown you that your Focus Pages are the supporting pillars on which your SEO strategies are resting upon. You also learned more about the benefits of employing an approach which centers on your most important pages.
In this course, we want to take things further – and zero in on all the elements of a successful Focus Pages strategy.
Look, your site’s SEO success is weighing on your Focus Pages, so you can’t afford to have an unstable, shaky structure.
How do you make it sturdy and reliable?
You need to be rigorous and build it brick by brick, as cutting corners will always come back to bite you. So read on to learn more about all the blocks which make up a high-ranking Focus Page.
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These are all elements covered by Squirrly SEO.
So this course will help you use the plugin to the maximum of its potential, as well. Let’s get to it!
A Blueprint for Ranking Your Focus Pages on the 1st Page of Google
Indexability is often the last thing which pops into mind when thinking about ranking, yet even seemingly small problems with indexability could result in your site losing its rankings. As the name suggests, indexability refers to the search engine’s ability to analyze and add a page to its index.
Several factors influence indexability, from page load time, site structure and internal link structure to how often you post new or updated content.
One of the biggest things for you to do right here and right now is to connect your site to Google Search Console.
And remember that if you make important changes to your pages (like getting 100% optimization with the SEO Live Assistant, or adding keywords to Open Graph and Twitter cards) you need to tell Google Search Console that you made the change.
Google won’t know about this change otherwise, and you’d be constantly asking yourself why your rank doesn’t increase.
Go to GSC -> Fetch as Google -> ask it to re-index your page.
We’ll help you with a button straight from the Squirrly SEO Focus Pages interface, though.
There are many other factors listed in Visibility. You need to get them all to Green and solve everything. Otherwise, your chances of ranking are 0 (ZERO).
You wouldn’t believe the number of times we’ve seen even SEO Experts and Web Developers fail at parts included in Indexability. They mistakenly de-ranked their customers by failing here. Of course, right now, with Focus Pages it becomes almost impossible to make such mistakes because Squirrly tells you everything.
Okay, now start getting this to Green in your Focus Pages section.
- Keyword Research
You should build your Focus Pages around the topics you most want to rank for; the keywords you want to rank on the first Page of Google.
But don’t rely on guesswork when it comes to which are the best keywords to target. Rely on data you get from Squirrly Keyword Research.
You always want to go after keywords with high search volume, ideally keywords which are trending at the moment. Also, go after long tail keywords (see why) and make sure your site really has a solid chance of outranking others!
This means: select keywords where competition score is presented as “Easy to Rank“.
There are over 300,000 keywords brought to the first page of Google by different customers of Squirrly. Most of them managed to achieve this success because they focus on keywords where they could really get ranked.
We’d see even more customers become super successful if they made the switch from bad keywords to good keywords they can target.
Some keywords are just impossible to rank for if you have a small business. Squirrly guides you to amazing hidden gems if you use it properly. (see here how I found 100 keywords to target in the super-competitive fitness industry; almost all of them are easy to rank for if you turn red elements to green with the focus pages framework)
Note! We have an entire course on Keyword Research coming up next, so keep an eye out for that in your Inbox.
^^ read the note.
In most cases, to be successful you will see that you NEED to switch the current keyword you targeted with your page. Don’t worry about making the change. ADAPT!!! It’s the only realistic way to achieve TOP 10 rankings in most cases.
- Keywords as Part of a Strategy
Don’t just pick keywords randomly; there should always be a clear strategy behind the keywords you target in your pages and articles.
Proper organization is essential in this case, which is why we built Briefcase – a single place inside the plugin where you can save and organize your best keywords.
(see a screenshot of this section in Squirrly SEO Strategy below)
Here, you can save keywords you want to capitalize later on.
For instance, if you have a site which sells city tours and you know there is an important event coming up in your city, you can capitalize on that. Let’s take Octoberfest in Munich.
You can create pillar content around that topic and name it Everything you need to know about Octoberfest in Munich.
This would be a valuable in-depth resource for tourists who will be in town for the famous beer fest. In the article, you could make a paragraph about cool things tourists can do while in town – and promote your tours. This way, you can reach highly-targeted visitors in an organic way.
Course 6 in this PRO Learning Tournament is all about building and managing your keyword portfolio using the Briefcase feature in Squirrly; make sure you read it.
- SEO Content
After you’ve devised a clear keyword strategy, start creating amazing content targeting that/those keyword(s). This resource can be a long-form article, a product/collection description, a description of your services – you name it. The content should be 100% optimized using Squirrly’s Live Assistant before you publish it.
Also, keep in mind the content should also be valuable to your audience. Try to make it a pleasant read. Give them plenty of information.
Also, it’s best if you create content which is over 1,500-words long and has very good “avg time on page” metrics inside Google Analytics. WHY – Because Google cares about seeing quality in your pages to rank you higher. Therefore, they look at how much time people have spent on your long pages.
We have an entire circuit dedicated to on-page SEO as well, so get excited!
- Platform SEO
There are a set of technical SEO settings you need to activate in Squirrly SEO to achieve the best results.
Since there are many types of content you can create in WordPress, you’ll need to make sure that the SEO Settings are activated for that particular type of content.
Of course, Squirrly SEO will make those necessary checks on your behalf, and signal any issues preventing your Focus Page from ranking on Google.
The Platform SEO check you see below is just one of the ways Squirrly SEO 2019 provides tremendous oversight of your site.
There are many cases in which for some particular post types, WP will not load the required metas and settings (mainly due to poor coding in WP themes).
Squirrly will protect you from such technical disasters.
It’s important to have your main keyword in the snippet for that page. Also, keep in mind the reason people don’t click on your listing (on search engines) could be that you don’t have an attractive enough meta description.
There are quite a few elements which go into making the Snippet fully optimized, and Squirrly will walk you through all the steps.
- SEO images
Make sure to have an alt attribute for your images. This provides better image context/descriptions to search engine crawlers, helping them properly index an image. Also, the alt text will be shown in place of an image, in case the image cannot be displayed.
You’ll need to have at least ONE image from your Focus Page being named as keyword.png
There’s a check for this in the Focus Page section as well, so if you are using Squirrly, all you need to worry about is following the instructions and turn the associated element from Red to Green.
- Traffic Health
It’s not only important to bring traffic to your site, but also to ensure that traffic is high-quality.
You know how people say you need Quality Content in order to rank higher on Google?
Most people think about quality content in very vague and UNRELIABLE terms. The Google search engine is quite a technical device. Therefore, it looks for very specific and very clear indicators, not random user preferences.
It looks at things like: bounce rate, exit rate, time on page, navigation flow, etc.
A high bounce rate could indicate your visitors don’t find your content relevant or interesting enough. This usually happens when you do SEO in a wrong way and you don’t match the content you’ve created to the visitors’ intent!
Also look at the average time on page to better understand how visitors engage with your content. Analyze this metric in relation to the number of words on your page.
What constitutes a good time on page for a 500-words page is different than a good time on page for a 1,500 words article. That’s simply because it takes longer to read a long-form article than it is to read a short one.
- Platform Health
Your site needs to be built on a strong foundation. A page will NOT rank high if most of the website has low-quality SEO.
In Squirrly SEO 2019, you can check the overall health of your platform – in your case, your WordPress site. And there’s also an entire panel inside the Focus Pages section dedicated to this.
Also, keep in mind that you need an Audit score over 80 to achieve the best rankings with your Focus Pages.
- Original Content
Make sure you don’t have duplicate content on your site. If you have lots of content you’ve copied from other pages online, it will negatively impact your rankings.
If you have a lot of duplicates across pages from your own site, that will also be a problem.
- Page Authority
Page Authority (PA) is a score developed by Squirrly. Yes, we use our own score here, not the score from Moz.
The score basically predicts how well a specific page in your site will rank on search engine result pages (SERP). The score is calculated based on dozens of factors and the higher the score is (it can go up to 100), the greater a page’s ability to rank. It’s difficult to influence the PA score directly, but the best approach is to build its link profile (get external links from other high-authority pages).
Alternatively, you can increase this by making sure your pages get shared a lot across social media platforms, like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook.
- Social Signals
Make sure to promote your content on social media platforms to get engagement and shares, and reach new audiences. Use platforms which make sense for your business- there are plenty of opportunities out there you can leverage from Facebook and Twitter to Pinterest and Instagram.
Getting links from high authority domains remains an important ranking factor. We know this is an area where many struggle with, so the final circuit is all about what you can do to get more backlinks to your pages.
The Best Practices section will also show you many best practices for getting backlinks to your Focus Pages.
- Inner links
This is all about optimizing other posts in your site for topics which are similar to that of your Focus Page. These articles can be optimized for long-tail variants of the main keyword for which you’ve optimized your Focus Page. You can also use different website architecture designs to achieve this.
Again, linking these articles to your Focus Page shows Google your Focus Page is the most important page in your site for that topic.
Just look at the example below. You could have a huge page on your site about “Best Tours to Romania”. That would be your Focus Page. Next, you’d create those satellite pages. Each one for their own derivative keyword. Then from each satellite create links towards the Focus Page.
The Inner Linking feature of your Blogging Assistant inside Squirrly SEO can help you speed up the inner linking process.
- Outbound links
All links going out from Focus Pages towards 3rd party sites should have a no-follow attribute.
Within Squirrly SEO, we offer ways to monitor your progress and check your results by providing keywords ranking data. This is really important, strategy-wise.
Some strategies will work better than others. So it’s critical to keep track of performance and know when it’s time to maybe drop a keyword, go back to keyword research and try to find new opportunities.
You need to be able to track this in almost real time and always know what’s going on. It’s the main reason why we’ve designed the Business Plan.
If you spend over 3 months constantly working on a Focus Page and you can’t get it ranking higher, it means you need to think if it’s time to change the keyword and re-optimize for a better one.
Some great News for You!
All the aspects mentioned in this course are aspects you need to cover to make your Focus Pages absolutely flawless.
When you’re working with Focus Pages, you need to be super thorough. It’s just 4-5 pages, but as you can see, there are a lot of things to do.
Luckily for you, in Squirrly SEO, we’ve already covered all these aspects and shaped them into tasks you can work on to make your Focus Pages the absolute best.
So that’s one less thing you need to worry about.
Remember! Every time you manage to turn a Red light Green, you win. Every task you complete represents an SEO victory, taking you closer to the 1st Page of Google.
One More Thing Before You Go
The Focus Pages strategy is one which keeps evolving, which means it’s important to continuously refine your SEO strategies.
This is NOT something you work on once.
New pages in your site will become your Focus Pages, so you’ll have new pages you’ll relentlessly work on to rank high. Once you are done ranking your initial, money-making Focus Pages, you can continue to create pillar content which serves as new Focus Pages.
You’ll need to try different methods, work from different angles to achieve success with your pages.
That’s how you keep moving and keep improving.
You’ve Made it! End of Course 4
Great job completing the course and earning your badge! We’re halfway through this PRO learning tournament; there are four more badges to collect, and a lot more to learn.
That said, successful SEO is not only about continuous learning. It’s also about action.
So focus on your Goals for this course: Identify the tasks Squirrly SEO points for your Focus Pages and start working on them; these are the tasks which will take you from Never Found to Always Found on the 1st Page of Google.