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7 Habits of Highly Effective SEOs
Posted by Cameron Francis on October 03, 2014 in SEO

SEOs who possess the best information generally beat out their competition. Since the topmost item on a search engine results listing receives nearly half of the visitor traffic, websites that follow the best SEO practices enjoy high web traffic, and better exposure of content, services and products to potential customers and clients. However, getting there can be a challenge without the right knowledge, discipline and focus. To succeed at SEO, take to heart these seven habits of highly effective SEOs.

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1. Perform Keyword Research with Search Intent in Mind

The first of the seven core habits of highly effective SEO professionals is competently conducting keyword research. Although most professionals understand the importance of keyword research, few take the time to learn the most effective strategies. Most people defer the task of learning for later, figuring that a quality education on keyword research can be acquired at a later date. It should be kept in mind that this is an illusion, since individuals will only get busier as they advance in their SEO careers. For this reason, it is critical for anyone who desires to be considered an SEO professional to invest in a solid understanding of proven keyword research methodologies.

When conducting keyword research, keep in mind what individuals searching for a given phrase are expecting to find. Doing this offers a series of benefits that include the following:

  • Higher conversion rates;
  • More organic inbound links;
  • Increased social shares; and
  • More targeted traffic

Individuals who enter a search query are generally looking to solve a problem, and SEO professionals should understand this as an opportunity to get more out of their optimisation efforts. This information can be utilised both for improved targeting that ensures quality traffic is reaching the website and for the avoidance of irrelevant phrases.

In practice, this first habit requires that SEO professionals conduct a more thoughtful keyword research. Instead of just analysing quantitative aspects of keyword statistics, it is important to use qualitative criteria as a way to further refine keyword research results. Individuals conduct the search queries for arbitrary reasons and evaluate search engine results qualitatively. For this reason, search professionals cannot view the preferences of human traffic through a mechanised lens. Rather, a human understanding is required in order to

  • Match the content of your website with your visitors’ intention;
  • Seek visitors with an apparent interest in a brand’s products; and
  • Look for keyword phrases that imply a need that can be satisfied.

2. Proactively Communicate On-Page Recommendations for Improvements

Throughout the research phase, many inexperienced search professionals spend a great amount of time doing research, but fail to communicate this information to an individual capable of taking action. Even among the most experienced SEO professionals, time and other constraints often lead to some of the best information getting lost.

It is one of the most important SEO habits to ensure that all intelligence gathered through SEO efforts is communicated to relevant parties who can utilise it. This is important regardless of a person’s role in an organisation, whether that would be as an employee, company owner, or as a service provider to another firm.

Although an unfortunate tragedy, on-page research is often neglected in favour of seeking out new keywords and meeting project deadlines. Getting the traffic to a webpage is just the first step, but it is what happens once the individual is on the page when the action really starts to occur. Therefore, the first step that search professionals should take is to make sure on-page elements are incorporated into SEO research. Once this is done, the research should be compiled and communicated to others in easily-understandable reports. These reports should be shared with everyone in the organisation, including employees, investors, and specific key partners.

3. Develop SEO Strategies that Build Brand Equity Not Link Quantity

After the Panda and Penguin updates during the last couple of years, it has become all the more important for SEOs to focus on building a brand. Links can be important, but they should be seen as merely a single slice of a much bigger pie. Additionally, too many links can cause your SEO efforts to become imbalanced, leading to negative results and customer dissatisfaction.

Most businesses seeking to market themselves, generally do not aim to compel customers to make an immediate purchase. This can be witnessed in almost every advertisement seen around the world, including print ads, banner ads, and on television.

Effective advertisements never ask for a sale, but rather increase an individual’s awareness of what a brand has to offer. When the time comes where the targeted need is experienced, the individual will remember the company’s products and return to make a sale. This is especially true online, where the vast majority of sales will result from individuals who have voluntarily chosen to return to the website.

Search professionals should make sure that they make the building of brand equity one of their top SEO habits. An understanding of the essential importance of brand equity should permeate all aspects of any SEO implementation. This is even true for businesses that thrive off banner ads and small enterprises with minimal website traffic. Like most search professionals know, even massive website traffic can lead to minimal sales. The same can be said about links, where a mere increase in volume will not lead to improved net results. The goal of link building should always be to build a brand, not to merely building links to drive traffic.

4. Convert Raw Data into Actionable Metrics for Improvement

As analytics tools are becoming increasingly more functional, user-friendly, and affordable, search professionals are incorporating these tools into even the smallest websites. Tools like Google Analytics are available completely for free and provide rich insights into traffic patterns and behaviours. This data can even be extracted in large quantities, allowing for even more insightful research that can undoubtedly lead to better performance. However, search professionals should understand that analytics software has become almost universally adopted, to a point that even non-technical users are including it on their websites. For this reason, search professionals will need to work harder to make better use of this information than their unskilled competitors.

Search professionals should possess a full understanding of both the technical and strategic considerations of extracting from analytics tools. This means that professionals should have a good understanding of how to use both the included platforms and spreadsheet software to develop inferences. If possible, professionals should be trained on how to develop programs that automatically interpret this data and communicate with platforms through APIs. Professionals should also understand how to develop reports that can be easily understood by others. By doing this, search professionals are able to make much better use of available intelligence than raw data could provide alone.

The good news for the SEO industry is that truly professional analytics tools are still out-of-reach for most individuals and small businesses. Both costs and learning curves are the primary constraints, creating opportunities for search professionals to add value. These new tools are capable of an incredible range of functions, from building heat maps of mouse movements to monitoring sentiment on social channels. Since these new tools can provide businesses with sufficient intelligence to make a wide range of strategic decisions, they are often willing to pay heavily to professionals who fully understand them.

5. Keep Yourself Up-To-Date with the Latest Search Algorithm Advancements

Even more than a decade after search engines have become mainstream, they are still perpetually evolving. New algorithms are making new information like visitor sentiment and social shares much more important than they were in the past. Since the goal of a search engine is to provide relevant information to customers, they have to constantly tweak their strategies to add value. Unfortunately, this can leave search professionals having to adapt to these changes when they are released. Algorithm changes are rarely announced ahead of time, so it is critical that SEO professionals take the initiative to keep up-to-date with the latest changes from key search engines.

Effective search professionals should always make learning about new search engine algorithm changes one of their key SEO habits. Since there are hundreds of quality search engine optimisation blogs available online, these can be followed as a way to learn more. When a big change emerges, it might even be a good idea to read a book or even take a class to understand the new information. With tens of thousands of individuals who are involved in the search industry, the good news is that information is widely available. This is especially true considering how quickly most search professionals can create a website or blog. Therefore, this information should be actively sought in order to be highly effective in your SEO and marketing campaigns.

6. Seek Continuous Improvement by Experimenting with New SEO Resources and Tools

Even among some of the brightest individuals in any profession, many become complacent and fail to maintain their dominance in their industry. This is especially true in the SEO industry, where algorithms and technologies are perpetually evolving to yield a wide variety of advancements. Since these advancements tend to represent business opportunities, it is important to SEO professionals to regularly invest the time to read about new strategies and experiment with new methodologies. Since the SEO market is primarily based on innovation, it is a requirement for mere survival to perpetually improve one’s knowledge and skills.

In many ways, this SEO habit is very similar to the fifth habit: keeping up-to-date with search algorithm advances. However, it is important to highlight the importance of advancing in a variety of ways. Although keeping up with search algorithms is probably the biggest segment of research and improvement, other aspects are important as well. For example, 4K monitors are projected to become increasingly prevalent. To an individual who fails to keep up with advancements in fields relevant to SEO, he or she might fail to see the opportunity to optimise on-page elements for high-resolution monitors. When 4K technologies start to become mainstream, the knowledgeable professional can sit back and watch rankings improve. In the meantime, less knowledgeable competitors will be scrambling to make the adjustment.

It is important that search professionals seek out high-quality information for effective self-improvement. Although information is widely available online, some sources cannot be trusted to provide relevant information. As most SEO professionals know, some unethical websites are merely trying to sell a product rather than truly add value to their visitors. Therefore, it is important that search professionals verify the source first before trusting any information. As much as possible, professionals should seek to possess an understanding derived from first-hand, well-researched information. When a new idea is discovered, it should be explored further and tested through experimentation. By doing this, search professionals can expect to improve their personal worth, grow their business, and build a stronger reputation.

7. Get the Job Done

It should go without saying that all of the information in the world is useless unless action is taken. With most SEO activities being conducted on a computer, it is easy to get distracted by the billions of articles and advertisements seen online. One of the core SEO habits is therefore to avoid distractions and acquire the motivation to take action. Without doing this, even the most skilled professionals will get nothing out of each day, watching their incomes wither away.

Data analysis, education, experimental projects, and developing recommendations for extraneous improvements should truly not be neglected. However, they are merely keys to success, all of which are needed to reach new heights. If search professionals have truly made a habit of the first six steps, they should see themselves as holding the keys to a chest full of gold. Although the keys are held, they must actually be used to turn the lock. In some cases, it may take an arduous journey to in order to reach the treasure chest. But once it has been reached and the owner of the keys finally puts everything together through action, success will be realised in an instant.

To succeed as an SEO professional, it is critical to make all seven habits a part of everyday life. From mining data to implementing a link-building project, success will come easily to those who put them all into practice.

Now you have at your fingertips a proven and effective tool to beat your competition to the draw; whether in Google or other major search engines. Armed with the 7 Habits of Highly Effective SEOs, you can now enjoy increased traffic, better conversion rates and a healthier bottom line. Take care and enjoy the video summary below.

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Cameron Francis

Co-Founder

Cameron Francis is the CoFounder & Managing Director of ETRAFFIC, Melbourne's #1 Creative & Digital Marketing Agency. For over a decade Cameron has been providing growth marketing and digital strategies for over 2,000 small businesses, start-ups & entrepreneurs around the country.
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