As over 57% of all web traffic comes from Google, SEO is worth understanding. But, before we dive into specific SEO techniques, let's cover the absolute basics - what it is and why it matters.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for "search engine optimization." The goal of SEO is to improve the number of visitors to your website through a search engine's organic search results. Organic search means a natural search result that is not based on advertising.
SEO is about improving your site's rankings in the organic (non-paid) section of the search results. The end goal is to get a website to rank in the #1 spot on Google, or at least on the first page.
Basic of SEO
Tasks associated with SEO include:
- Keyword research.
- Understanding search intent.
- Creating high-quality content.
- Optimizing specific keyword content.
- Building backlinks.
- Website code optimization.
Taiwan Search Engine Market Share
In 2021, Google is the dominant search engine in Taiwan. Google has a massive 92% market share, with Yahoo 6% and Bing trailing at 1%.
By ranking well for a specific keyword, you can attract "free" traffic to your site, month after month.
Advertising stops as soon as your budget runs out, greatly reducing traffic to your site. Social media is increasingly a pay-to-play game. Without paying, your reach and engagement will likely drop. On the other hand, using SEO as a marketing tool, will continue to pay dividends over time. By creating solid content that deserves to rank, traffic to your site snowballs over time as shown in our client's graph:
SEO vs. PPC – What's the difference?
The main difference is SEO aims to get traffic from organic search results by improving a website's ranking. While Pay-per-click (PPC) gets traffic and visibility from paid search marketing. PPC often uses Google Ads where businesses pay Google to show their ads in the paid area of the search results.
Everything above should help you understand the basics of SEO. In the next chapter, we'll explore how SEO can help your business grow.
Why is SEO important?
In this chapter, we'll learn the business benefits of a top-ranking site. Plus, show how SEO is the most cost-effective approach to marketing your business.
Every day, Google helps millions of users who are looking for answers to their questions or solutions to their problems. Google research shows that 75% of smartphone owners use the search function to address their immediate needs before doing anything else.
We use search to:
- Discover new products.
- Find relevant services.
- Locate businesses.
- Uncover useful information.
SEO can help improve your site's search engine position and help people find your business in search results.
The Business Benefits of SEO
This greater visibility helps you to:
- Drive more people to your site.
- Build better relationships with your customers.
- Improve the customer experience.
- Increase your authority.
- Have an edge over the competition.
- Increase leads, conversions, and sales.
- Decrease dependency on PPC.
All this leads to more sales, more loyal customers, and more business growth, with far less advertising costs.
1) Search drives visitors to your website.
Search is a HUGE source of traffic. While paid advertising and social media can send traffic to websites, over 70% of all traffic begins from a search engine.
As the data shows, almost 60% of all traffic on the web starts with an organic Google search. Facebook generates only 5% of all website traffic.
Organic traffic is extra valuable because of its specific, high-intent keyword searches.
a) SEO gets more traffic than Paid per Click (PPC) Ads
Now, you might think that Google ads are driving visitor traffic. Although PPC ads appear above organic rankings, only about 3.17% of people click on paid advertisements. So, organic clicks account for ten times more traffic than paid clicks on either desktop or mobile devices.
In Taiwan, the top visited sites are search engines and Google has about 92% of the overall search market, making it crucial for generating leads and sales.
b) Most Visited Websites in Taiwan
Ranking of Top Websites by average Monthly Traffic according to Similarweb (Jan 2021)
Avg. Visit Duration
Pages Per Visit
25m 02 s
c) Mobile Phone Growth in Taiwan
Users trust Google's search algorithm. They choose to visit the pages that Google has determined as the best, rather than the ads that appear above. Today, in Taiwan over 50% of all web traffic comes from mobile - so it's integral for your growth to concentrate on this type of traffic
2) SEO is an Inbound Strategy
Customers do their research via search. 71% of B2B researchers start their research with a generic search, not a branded search. So, they're looking for a solution to their problem, and not for you. SEO targets quality traffic - so it's an inbound marketing strategy.
Outbound Marketing vs. Inbound Marketing
Outbound marketing channels aim to interrupt people. Cold calling, spam emails, billboards, and interruptive ads focus on the advertiser's goals. It's expensive, and the ROI is much lower than inbound marketing. Plus, potential customers may find it annoying.
Inbound or permission marketing attracts customers by creating valuable content. It is customer-centric by creating useful information that solves the buyer's questions and problems. It centers on making it easy for your audience to find you when they want information.
When consumers see your business at the top of search results, they're going to associate the keywords they searched for with your business. SEO helps build brand awareness with your audience. iamrobert specializes on building these associations.
3) SEO is 24/7 brand exposure.
Let's show the importance of SEO with an example.
Let's say that you run an insurance company in Taiwan. Every single month, 22,000 people search for "機車強制險" (compulsory scooter insurance).
Consider that the first search result in Google gets around 28% of all clicks. That is more than 6000 visitors to your site every month if you're in the top position.
How much are those visitors worth?
The average PPC advertiser spends about $52nt per click for that search phrase (機車強制險). So that web traffic of 22,000 visitors is worth roughly $320,320nt per month to the companies running the ads.
And that's for a single search phrase. However, with an SEO-optimized site, you can rank for hundreds of different keywords for free. In fact, AHREFs studied three million search queries and found that the average top-ranking page ranks in the top 10 for almost 1,000 other keywords.
We've covered how SEO can help you grow your business. Now, it’s time to learn how Search Engines actually work so you can drive visitors to your webpages.
How do Search Engines Work?
In this chapter, you’ll learn what search engines are, how they work and how to ensure you're indexed on Google.
Let’s get started.
Search engines are answer machines. Google's search algorithms scour through hundreds of billions of pages in their index to find a set of results that best answer your query.
When you search, an algorithm works in real-time to bring you what that search engine considers the "best" result for the words you searched for. This ordering of results by relevance is known as ranking.
How search engines work?
Search engines sort billions of pieces of content and evaluate which content is most likely to answer your question.
Search the Internet for content and review the code or content they find. Search Engines use bots (called spiders or crawlers) to find new and updated content.
Store and organize the content found during the crawling process. Once a page is in the search engine index, it can display because of a relevant query.
Provide the content that best answers a searcher's query. Order the results by relevance from highest to lowest.
1. Crawling: Can Google find your pages?
Ensuring your site gets crawled and indexed is a prerequisite to showing up in the search results. It's always good to check how many of your website pages are in the index.
A quick way to check your indexed pages is to head to Google and type "site:yourdomain.com." The returned results show the pages Google has indexed for the site specified:
The results Google displays (see "About XX results" above) isn't exact but gives you a baseline of which pages are indexed and how they appear in search results.
For more accurate results, use Google Search Console Index Coverage to monitor and report. You can sign up for a free account.
2. Indexing: How does Googlebot spider see my site?
The cached version of your page shows a snapshot of the last time Googlebot crawled it. To check the results:
- Type your site "site:domain.com" into Google search box.
- Click the drop-down arrow next to the URL.
- Click cached to view the results.
3. Ranking: How does Google determine the "best" result?
Google's algorithm uses over 200 factors to generate search results. Nobody knows what they all are, but we do know what the important ones are:
- Topic Relevancy.
- Page Experience.
We will cover this in detail in the next section.
Does buying PPC increase my SEO?
A common myth in Taiwan is that buying Paid Per Click (PPC) ads will increase your rank. This is FALSE.
Here's how Google explains it:
"Google's first responsibility is to provide Search users with the most relevant possible results. If businesses were able to pay for higher rankings in the search results, users wouldn't be getting the information they're looking for."
So - you cannot pay Google to occupy any position in its organic search results. Organic search results are natural results that rank based 100% on merit.
What is Search Engine Positioning?
Search engine positioning focuses on achieving higher rankings for individual web pages.
Why is Search Engine Positioning Important?
Search engine positioning is essential. It affects how much traffic your site receives. The more people who visit your site equals the better chance you have of selling your products or services. When searching, most people stay on the first page of Google. So, your brand must be one of these ten results.
This graph shows the click-through rates (CTR) for each search position on desktop:
In fact, the top 3 results receive most clicks, with over 60% of searches on both desktop and mobile.
If you are not in those positions, you are not getting the traffic to gain awareness and leads.
Where does my site rank on Google?
Google searches are customized for each user. Google factors in location, past search history, and search settings to “tailor your results to what is most useful and relevant for you in that moment.”
To remove this bias and get more accurate results, use the free tool USearchFrom.com. It simulates Google Search results with custom options including:
- Location (Country, City, State).
- Depersonalizes your search history.
Also, setup Google Search Console to track your site’s search performance. The performance report tracks your ranking for keywords, the number of clicks and impressions.
The Search Engine Results Page (SERP)
The search landscape has changed in Taiwan and is no longer just ten blue text links of searches from the past.
Now, Google’s first page contains lots of SERP Features, including:
- Featured snippets.
- “People also ask” boxes.
- Knowledge graphs.
- Top stories.
- Video results.
- Local results.
- Image results.
There are over 16 SERP Features that commonly appear on Google’s result pages.
For example, look at this SERP for “Best dog to own” – it includes a featured snippet and video results:
Today search engine positioning is not about moving up a few spots, it’s about maximizing your SERP real estate. There are multiple ways to be listed at the top of the page.
Search engines rank web pages based on hundreds of different ranking factors. The next chapter will show you how to optimize for the most critical ranking factors.
Search Engine Ranking Factors
In this section, we cover the most important ranking signals in Google's algorithm (in 2021):
Text is the currency of the Internet
If you search for "best dogs to own," you would only want to see webpages about this topic, and not a random topic such as formula 1 racing.
That's why Google looks for pages that relate to your search phrase. Google examines pages, especially its headings and browser titles, that contain the same keywords as the search query.
But this idea isn't foolproof. So, Google also uses natural language processing (NLP) algorithms to look for the presence of other relevant words on the page.
Here's how Google describes it:
Just think: when you search for 'dogs', you probably don't want a page with the word 'dogs' on it hundreds of times. With that in mind, algorithms assess if a page contains other relevant content beyond the keyword 'dogs' – such as pictures of dogs, videos, or even a list of breeds.
High Quality Content is Key:
Google wants high-quality content to rank above low-quality content. So, an article about "Best Dogs for Families" should have subsections that answer:
- What Makes a Good Family Dog?
- Questions to Ask When Choosing a Dog.
- Plus, each breed with a description, photo, their pros, and cons.
The presence of this content would likely help increase Google's confidence that your page is about what it says it is. Think about the phrases people would search for to find your pages and include those terms.
Ask yourself: Does my content satisfy what a user wanted when they decided to do a Google search?
SEO-friendly content is highly structured. By using headings and bullets - users can get the answers to their questions faster.
But Google doesn't rank "the most relevant pages at the top" as there are thousands or millions of relevant pages for every keyword search.
For example, "best dogs to own" brings up 934 million results in Google:
So – Google also relies on other factors including Authority.
Above matching the words in your query, Google uses Authority to determine if the content is accurate and trustworthy. It does this by examining how many other sites link to your website. These are called backlinks.
"For example, if other prominent websites link to the page (what is known as PageRank), that has proven to be a good sign that the information is well trusted."
Think of backlinks as votes from other webmasters. When someone links to your page, they're vouching for that content and recommending it.
In general, the more links a page has, the higher it will rank:
But not all backlinks are created equal. A link from a newspaper like Taipei Times will have more authority than your friend's blog.
However, in examining the way Google works in Taiwan, we have found backlinks to be less critical than usefulness.
How to check your site's backlinks for free?
Ahrefs Backlink Checker
- Go to Ahrefs' Backlink Checker.
- Enter your full site URL.
- Click Check backlinks button.
- Go to UberSuggest backlinks. It's under the SEO Explorer Menu.
- Enter your domain or a specific URL.
- Click Search Button.
In Chapter 8, we cover link building in detail.
Content can be relevant and authoritative. But if it's not useful, Google won't position it at the top of the results page.
Anytime you search, there are thousands of possible results. So how does Google decide which pages you are going to find useful?
A significant factor for where your page ranks is how well the content on your page matches the query's intent. Does this page match your search terms? Does it help fulfill the task you wanted to accomplish?
In the words of Google:
Creating compelling and useful content will likely influence your website more than any of the other factors discussed here. Users know good content when they see it and will likely want to direct other users to it.
So, make your content interesting and useful. Google's webmaster guidelines has a great deal of information to help. Check out On-page SEO guide which will give you in-depth knowledge.
How Does Google Measure Usefulness?
User Experience Signals help Google measure its usefulness. They measure how users interact with search results
Dwell time is the length of time a person spends on a webpage after they've clicked a link on a search engine result page (SERP), and before clicking back to the SERP results.
For example, users click on a search result, and then they immediately bounce back to Google. This is known as Pogo sticking. Google will see this page as not performing as well.
Bing (Microsoft's Search Engine) confirms Dwell Time as a factor in their algorithm:
"short page dwell times can indicate the content is not capturing the visitor's interest."
So, make your content "sticky" so that users stay on your page, and don't bounce back to the search results.
Focus on quality content:
Fulfill your searcher's intent
Let us give you a real-life example for one of our clients who wanted to target gastric bypass surgery (胃繞道手術) in Taiwan.
The first result you click ("A") is from a leading hospital in Taiwan. As it's a famous hospital, lots of sites have linked to the domain.
But the content is disorganized. It is written for doctors and is full of jargon that most people do not understand. This results in most people clicking back to the results after 10 seconds or so.
Contrast that with another result ("B"). Their website doesn't have as many links pointing to it, and they hired us to author the article.
We focused on ensuring the best user experience by:
- Organizing the content into distinct sections.
- Answering every question people might have about the topic.
- Writing it in a way that anyone can comprehend.
- Incorporating images to break up the text.
That page ranks very well on the "usefulness scale." Even though B doesn't have as much trust or authority as A, it will still perform well in Google.
How users interact with the search results matters. If Google sees people like a certain search result, it will get a significant ranking boost:
Usability of Web Pages
When ranking results, Google evaluates whether webpages are easy to use. Is the content accessible, fast, and easy to consume?
In Google's words:
"When we identify persistent user pain points, we develop algorithms to promote more usable pages over less usable ones, all other things being equal."
In this section, we will explore Google's Page Experience, and how to measure them:
Google knows no one likes waiting for pages to load. Since 2010, Google confirmed page speed as a ranking factor.
Their research suggests that:
- 53% of Mobile Site Visitors abandon the page if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.
- As page load time increases from 1 to 10 seconds, the probability of a mobile visitor bouncing increases 123%.
- Improving your load time by 0.1s can boost conversion rates by 8%.
A slow-loading website can hurt your SEO too. So, faster sites can boost user experience.
Also, Google's search algorithm is now mobile-first. It means the mobile site version is the "main" version Google uses to assess your site. So, if your site loads quickly on desktop, but slowly on mobile, Google will still consider your website slow.
While Taiwan mobile connection is 4G and has unmetered internet access - the rest of the world does not. The fact is: 70% of global cellphone networks will occur at 3G or slower speeds through 2021.
In May 2021, google confirms core web vitals will be a search ranking factor – so page speed is crucial.
How do I test my site speed?
1) Google PageSpeed Insights (PSI)
- Go to the PSI URL.
- Enter Your Full Site URL & click the Analyze Button. Remember to use the full URL http://www or https://www to assess the page.
- Scores for mobile and desktop are given.
PSI scans your page's code for problems. Remember, to focus more on mobile as that is what Google uses to assess your page speed.
Keep in mind this is a general analysis tool. Despite what people assume, the actual loading time of your page isn't a PSI score factor. In ranking sites, Google uses your real page loading time in seconds, not the PageSpeed Score. So - don't get hung up on the physical score - use the score to see opportunities to improve.
2) Measure Global PSI Performance
As Google PageSpeed servers are in the US, the score will be inaccurate if your site's hosted in Asia. With Lighthouse Metrics, you can get your PSI score from around the world. See how your site performs for users in different countries.
3) Other Site Speed Measurement Tools
To test your site's frontend performance, also check out:
- WebPageTest (Multiple Locations + mobile testing).
- Pingdom Speed Test (Multiple Locations with Free Sign Up, Desktop Only).
- GTMetrix (Multiple Locations with Free Sign Up, Desktop Only).
- Google Test My Site (Simpler Version of PSI).
- FastorSlow (site performance from major locations around the world).
- ByteCheck (Measure TTFB Only).
Remember, your load time is more important than your Performance Grade.
How PageSpeed Analyzes Data?
PageSpeed Insights gives two sets of data:
1) Field Data (if available)
Field Data measures how long it takes for your site to load from real users over the last 28 days (using Google Chrome Browser data). These users aren't an average timing but data at the 75th percentile – which means that 75% of users have a faster experience.
If field data isn't available because it is new or doesn't have enough traffic, the following message shows:
Field data helps to measure Core Web Vitals that optimize quality of user experience. Google believes Core Web Vitals are "critical to all web experiences." We will cover these Vitals in the next section.
2) Lab Data
Lab data simulates visiting your mobile site using:
- An underpowered phone (Moto G4, 2016).
- Low speed 3G networks.
From that data, PSI gives a list of opportunities and diagnostics to improve your page speed:
One Warning: not all the tool's recommendations will make sense for your site. Also, the score can be misleading because it doesn't correlate to actual speed. In Google Analytics, you can check your actual page speed.
Core Web Vitals
In 2020, Google has introduced a new ranking signal called Core Web Vitals. Google PageSpeed Insights field data checks Core Web Vitals. It will be a search ranking factor globally from August 2021.
Google Core Web Vitals are:
1) Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
LCP measures Loading Performance.
The time it takes for the webpage's main content to load. An ideal LCP measurement is faster than 2.5 seconds.
2) First Input Delay (FID)
FID measures Interactivity.
Remember when you've tapped a button on a site, and nothing seems to happen. FID measures the amount of time for a webpage to become interactive. It's the time for the browser to respond to your first tap or click on the page. An ideal measurement is less than 100ms.
3) Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
CLS measures Visual Stability.
Remember when you've tried to tap a link, and it shifted its position. So, caused your tap to send you to a different page? CLS measures the amount of unexpected layout shift of visual page content. An ideal measurement is less than 100ms.
One August 2020 study showed that only 12% of Mobile and 13% of Desktop top search results passed.
Most Taiwan sites will fail this measurement as it needs a significant rethink and refactoring of a website's code. Remember, an excellent page experience score alone won't push you to the top of Google.
As Google states:
"A good page experience doesn't override having great, relevant content. However, in cases where there are multiple pages that have similar content, page experience becomes much more important for visibility in Search."
So, a page experience signal can act as a tiebreaker. If two pages provide fantastic content, the one with the stronger experience signal will rank higher.
In theory, great content can outrank a great page experience.
Is your site virus-free?
Google Safe Browsing is a blacklist service that will let you know if your site contains malware or phishing content.
Browsers use this service for checking pages against potential threats, and will give a warning:
Safe Browsing Checks:
For a real-time check, Sucuri gives a free check that includes Google Safe Browsing.
Alternatively, if you have Google Search Console set up for your site - you can check under security issues:
Does your site work on mobile?
Over 65% of all Google searches occur on mobile. In July 2019, Google switched to "mobile-first indexing." So, Google only uses the mobile version of your site rather than your desktop version to index and rank.
Google's Mobile Friendly Test can quickly assess if you have any issues.
If you've setup Google Search Console, you can see if your site has any mobile usability issues.
Bottom line? You must fix any mobile usability issues. Your site's content and UX must be 100% optimized for mobile.
Is your site encrypted?
Google gives a slight advantage to sites that use HTTPS to secure their websites. According to Mozcast, HTTPS encryption secures 97.5% of first page results.
Plus, the browsers show a warning when you visit a site that's not secure, which your visitors will see as a sign of mistrust.
So, definitely set it up.
How to setup HTTPS?
For our clients, we generally set up Let's Encrypt on our servers which is free:
If that's not an option, this website has further instructions, and has a handy Google Translate guide to help.
Avoid Duplicate URLs
Also set your site to 1 URL with or without www. The reason is Google treats them as different sites, and you run the risk of duplicate content, which could result in Google removing your site from the Google index, and consequently, in searches.
Follow Google's guide to resolve the issue.
Pro Tip: Ensure your website works with either www or non www as not everyone will type www.
Does your site use popups?
Make sure your page doesn't use popups that obstruct your main content. Google states that using interstitials popups on mobile can negatively impact your rankings for mobile search visitors.
Next, we'll dive into keyword research. Then, you'll know the exact words and phrases your customers use to search. That way, you can rank for terms that your customers search for daily.
Choosing the right keywords is vital to rank high in search engines and drive leads to your online business. In this chapter, we’ll learn how to choose the right list of keywords to create content that will rank on Google.
Sound Good? Let's dive in...
What are keywords?
Keywords are the words and phrases we enter in search engines to find what we're searching for. Keywords are what most people call Google searches or search queries.
You want your page's keywords to be relevant to what your audience is searching for, so they can find your content amongst the search results. When you build your content around the words and phrases that people search for, your website can rank higher for those terms.
Why are keywords important in SEO?
Keyword research helps you understand how your target market search for your products or services. It also informs you how people ask for more information on your topic.
Google uses relevance to help rank results, and keywords help match the user with the content that will best answer their needs:
With this knowledge, you can create new content ideas. Plus, optimize your content to match searcher intent, answer their questions, and improve your chances of being found on Google's first page. In essence, you're building content people want to find.
Keyword research helps you:
- Formulate a content strategy.
- Identify and speak the language of your target audience.
- Create useful content for your target group.
- Communicate to Google that a webpage is a right match for a search query.
- Improve search ranking by helping Google understand the webpage content.
- Connect the right content to the right people at the right time.
- Drive more qualified traffic.
- Increase conversions by driving consumers to you rather than your competitors.
Keyword research is the north star of your SEO campaign: it tells you where to go and whether you're making progress.
What are long-tail keywords?
Long-tail keywords are search terms with lower search volume and competition levels. They are often longer (3+ words) and more specific that your visitors use when they're closer to a purchase decision. They more clearly communicate the searcher's intent and are the linchpin to SEO. They make up 70% of all searches.
When somebody searches for "running shoes," it's known as a short-tail keyword, or seed or head term. These are generic, 1–2-word phrases with high search volumes in the 10K – 100K range.
When somebody searches for "best running shoes for a marathon race," that is a long-tail keyword. They are usually 3+ word search phrases with lower search volume in the 1k-10K range.
While the traffic from long-tail keywords is a fraction of the traffic from head keywords, the trade-off is: less traffic in exchange for less competition and greater buyer intent.
Why target Long-Tail Keywords?
The two main benefits of targeting long-tail keywords:
- Higher conversion rates as they attract prospects who are later in the buying cycle.
- Easier to rank on search engines as less competition.
Since they're super specific, long-tail keywords allow you to rank high relatively quickly in search results while you're still gaining ground on head terms. Plus, they often attract highly qualified traffic that's more likely to convert to leads and customers.
What are good SEO keywords?
The right keywords are the gateway to more search traffic, and should meet four criteria:
- Significant Search Volume: Don’t optimize for keywords that no one is searching for.
- High Relevance: Your keywords should align closely with the services or products you offer.
- High Conversion Value: Choose keywords that lead to sales and engagement rather than curious browsing.
- Reasonable Competition: Target keywords that you can realistically rank for.
If your keyword is missing any of these criteria - then chances are it will fail.
Map keywords to the buyer's journey stages, whether it's the Awareness, Interest, Decision or Action stage, as this ensures your content matches their search intent. We’ll cover search intent in the next chapter.
Target long-tail keywords with high traffic potential.
Focus on long-tail keywords with at least 1k-10k monthly searches. These are not too competitive to rank for but can potentially drive organic traffic to your site due to its high search volume.
When should you do keyword research?
Keyword research should be the first step for any new website, and is needed when you're:
- Seeking a new niche.
- Creating new content ideas.
- Optimizing your existing content.
How to Do Keyword Research:
- Step 1: Find keyword ideas based on key terms, related search, and long-tail.
- Step 2: Choose high value keywords by checking keyword difficulty and search volume.
- Step 3: Determine user intent.
Step 1: How do you find keywords?
The goal is to find the right keywords that people search for and then building awesome organic content from these terms. So, how do you find the right phrases that will boost leads, traffic, and conversions?
1) Use Google Autocomplete to Find Long-Tail Keywords
Google Autocomplete fills in your searches as you’re typing and helps find relevant terms. Use your browser's incognito or secret mode - so the results aren't influenced by your search history.
Start by typing your seed term into the search box to see the suggestions.
We can try different combinations to refine the terms:
1. Keyword + A: gives hints for words starting with A. Then B - All the way to Z.
2. Best + Keyword: Think of other relevant modifiers such as Top or Cheapest.
3. Use * as Wildcards to get ideas.
Although Google Autocomplete doesn’t give you the exact monthly search volume for those keyword variations, you can be confident that if a keyword phrase appears in Google Autocomplete, it has enough traffic to justify writing about that topic.
2) Use Google Searches Related To
Google’s related searches are the eight search results at the bottom of a search results page.
These results give you hints into user intent and pain points. These terms sharpen your customer insight and understand search intent as they predict the search that a user is likely to make next. Related searches help define your search query so that you can provide the best possible answer. If you click on one of the results, you get another set of terms to help calculate solid keywords to include in your content.
3) Find Question-Based Keywords
Your audience asks thousands of questions every day. If you know the questions that people ask Google, you can write the perfect answers. In a 2017 Jumpshot study on Moz approximately 8% of search queries are phrased as questions. Build your brand's authority and reach by targeting those questions with these 3 free tools:
AnswerThePublic: Get search insights from your customers’ minds.
AnswerThePublic helps automate and discover keywords by combining Bing and Google's suggested searches and visualizing them in a search cloud. It helps to answers the questions of your audience, by getting keyword ideas in the form of questions. It doesn’t work with Chinese – but you can use Google Translate to translate the downloadable .csv file to speed up the process. Then check search volume with a keyword tool.
Use QuestionDB to generate a list of specific questions.
QuestionDB has over 31 million questions that have been harvested from Reddit and Stack Exchange. Start with your broad keyword, and you’ll get a list of questions that people are asking online about that topic. You can use these as content ideas for your posts. English only.
Use Google's People Also Ask to Find Topic Questions
The "People also ask" box is included in more than 43% of all queries on Google:
These sites are a gold mine for finding long-tail question keywords. Bonus, if you click on one of the items, Google shows even more questions.
PRO TIP: AlsoAsked speeds up the process and breakdowns which questions users are asking about a topic and how they’re linked together.
4) Generate Keyword Ideas Using Google Keyword Planner
Google Keyword Planner (GKP) is a free keyword research tool that helps you understand what people are searching for with the following options:
- Discover new keywords: Get keyword ideas for your product or service.
- Get search volume and forecasts: See search traffic volume and future estimates for your keywords.
Whilst its technically for Google Ad campaigns, you can use it to obtain search volume.
How do you discover new keyword ideas with GKP?
You’ll need an active Google Ads account to view the Keyword Planner.
1. Go to Tools & Settings > Keyword Planner.
2. Click Discover new Keywords:
3. Enter your head keywords.
4. Get a list of related terms:
How do you get exact search volume with GKP?
The main criticism of GKP is the monthly search volume is too broad (10k – 100k) and doesn't help with keyword planning. To get more exact data, you can enter your keywords into the "Get search volumes and metrics" tool and sort by impressions.
1. In Top Menu, go to Tools & Settings > Keyword Planner.
2. Click Get search volumes and metrics.
3. Enter your keywords on separate lines. Wrap each of them in brackets  to get an exact search match. E.g. [link building]
4. Set the maximum CPC to as high as possible. Click the drop-down and drag the slider to the far right:
5. Sort by the “impressions” column, which tells you the estimated number of views for your ad over the month for those specific keywords.
Because the max CPC is so high, these impressions should be close to the actual monthly search volume for that keyword.
5) Install the free Keyword Surfer Chrome Extension
Keyword Surfer is a Chrome Extension that reveals search volume in Google Search, and you can sort by country, including Taiwan.
- Install the extension.
- Look at the results.
It also gives related search terms with traffic, and the word length of the articles - that will help with your writing.
6) Soovle for Semantic Research
Soovle shows you the top autocompletes from every search engine listed at the same time including:
Soovle is simple to use:
- Enter a broad keyword phrase related to your industry.
- Copy the phases or click the download icon.
- Use those phrases for your keyword list.
Step 2: Choose High-Value Keywords
Now you have your list of keywords, it’s time to determine value by validating them for:
- Search Volume.
- Commercial Intent.
1) Choose Keywords with Good Search Volume
Search volume, or the number of searches for a keyword, matters because Google drives new visitors and traffic to your site. If you target keywords that no one is searching for no one will find your content.
To determine search volume, you can use:
- a) Keyword Surfer: A Chrome extension that offers search volume by country.
- b) Google Ads’ Keyword Planner: Ideal for local SEO, plus offers search volume via city or region.
2) Understand Keyword Ranking Difficulty
SEO is a zero-sum game. If you want to get traffic for a page, you do that by taking someone else's traffic. The only way to take someone else's traffic is if Google deems your content is better than theirs.
Compete by assessing:
- The competition you're up against.
- Your ability to create content that exceeds in quality what's currently ranking.
If your website is brand new or targets local SEO, competing for super competitive headwords doesn't make a lot of sense.
Look at Google's search results and analyze the pages ranking in the top 10. Remember to depersonalize your Google search - so the results are more accurate. Those sites are your competitors vying for the same position on the search results.
Free Keyword Difficulty Tools
Ahrefs Keyword Difficulty Checker estimates the difficulty of getting a top 10 search results for any keyword. It assesses the score by calculating the number of backlinks required to rank for that term and shows the top 10 results.
Simply enter your keyword, choose your country, and click the button. Works with Chinese keywords and targets Taiwan. No sign-up required.
If you want to know where your site currently ranks for the keyword, use Ahrefs' super useful Keyword Rank Checker.
Other tools include:
- Ubersuggest: Free tool with up to 3 searches a day.
- MozBar: A browser plugin for Chrome calculates difficulty using Moz's Page Authority (PA) and shows the number of backlinks. It's convenient as it works in the browser as you search. You'll need to register for free to see results.
Keyword Difficulty Tips:
- Don't take the difficulty as the only clue. The score is a guideline and not an absolute value. It's just not possible to boil down Google's ranking algorithm to merely a score.
- Don't Compare scores between the tools. Remember that each system has a unique way of calculating difficulty.
- Always manually check the top 10 search results for content, and search intent.
- Explore the backlink profile. Many Taiwan sites have previously used black hat SEO to generate spammy backlinks. So, check the quality of the linking domain.
3) Find Transactional Keywords with Commercial Intent
Search is the #1 resource for research. According to Google, 90% of B2B researchers use search to research business purchases, and 71% start with a generic query. This means they're searching for the product first, not for you.
Once you understand how prospects find your solution, incorporate buyer intent keywords into your content.
Buy Now Keywords:
These are keywords that people use just before making a purchase.
- Shipping (e.g. free shipping).
Buy Now Keywords examples include:
- HostGator discount.
- Buy Salsa online.
- Textbooks free shipping.
Product keywords also indicate a desire to purchase and focus on a specific product category, brand name, or service.
Product keywords include words and phrases:
- Specific brand name.
- Specific product or model #.
- Top/Top 10.
If you're a service-based business, words like "hire" could also work. The goal is to place yourself in the mind of your prospective customer.
How to Evaluate Commercial Intent:
To find profitable, high-ROI keywords that can net you fantastic results, use Google's Keyword Planner to prune your list.
You can evaluate commercial intent by looking at the cost per click (CPC) and the advertising competition for a specific keyword in Google Ads.
In Google Ads, go to Discover new Keywords, and order by top of page bid (high range) column. Generally, the higher the CPC – the more valuable the keyword is.
Step 3: Search Intent
Publish Content That Searchers Want
SEO used to be all about adding keywords to your page. Now, your content, must match with the searcher's intent (the reason they're searching). Your content needs to give someone searching for that keyword what they want. In 2021, if your content doesn't match search intent, it won't rank on Google.
Search intent matters so much that Google dedicates 17% of their search quality evaluator guidelines to understanding it.
Pay special attention to the top 3 results for your keyword because that's where most of the clicks are. Know that your content needs to be better than the competition to rank.
Keyword research answers the question of "what" your customers are searching for; search intent answers the question of "why" they're searching for it.
Why is the most critical question you can ask before creating content — not just why you're crafting the content, but why your customer needs it, why it's valuable, and why someone is searching for it.
How do you use keywords in SEO?
Most guides recommend the following:
- Include the keyword in the title Tag.
- Include the keyword in the URL.
- Mention your keyword throughout your Page.
- Include long-tail keywords in your Content.
- Internal Linking.
It makes sense to follow this advice, BUT the primary way to optimize for a keyword is to match search intent and build excellent content. Keyword-stuffed content doesn't help anybody, so Google won't rank your content unless it's useful.
Apply your Keyword Research.
- Group keywords with associated topics and intent. Create pages around this group rather than individual pages for each keyword variation.
- Look at the Search results page to determine the 3 Cs required: Content Style, Content Type & Content Format.
- Give your audience a better guide than the top 3 results. Think: "What unique value could I offer to make my page better than the current ranking page?".
The cornerstone of using keywords successfully focuses on adding value and being helpful while creating content around topics that you know will interest your intended readers.
Psst... Here's Why and How to Depersonalize Google Search
Remember, Google will automatically personalize your search results based on your:
- Search History.
- Language Settings.
Google personalizes search results for a good reason. But this can be misleading because the websites you visit frequently may rank higher for you.
To avoid this, depersonalize your results and see how your audience views your page:
a) Use private mode for your browser. Switch to "incognito mode" (Chrome) or “private browsing” (Safari) or “private mode” (Firefox).
b) you can add &pws=0 to the URL of a search results page to disable "personal web search" (pws).
c) Location Specific – you can add &near=location to Your Google URL. Use + for spaces (&near=taipei+city).
For example, to search for Italian Restaurants in Taipei:
(This includes your keyword in the “q=” parameter, and your location in the “near=” parameter).
d) Language: you can add &lr=lang_xx to your google URL to search for specified language. To work out your language check here:
Here’s some common ones:
- &lr=lang_en English.
- &lr=lang_zh-CN Chinese (Simplified).
- &lr=lang_zh-TW Chinese (Traditional).
Also, the site USearchFrom.com helps depersonalize search for you.
Now, you know the keywords you want to rank for, you'll need to understand your customer's search intent to succeed at SEO. The next chapter covers how to align your content with search intent to rank higher in Google.
Understand Search Intent
Search intent has become increasingly important over the last few years. Search engines want to know: What is the user intent behind the keyword? Content that doesn't match search intent won't rank. In this chapter, we'll teach you how to master search intent.
What is Search or User Intent?
Search intent or user intent is the goal of the person using Google.
When we search for something, we have a desired outcome. Whether it's an answer, a recipe, concert tickets, a video, or a car photo, that desired content is our "user intent."
Google founder, Larry Page, described the perfect search engine as: "understanding exactly what you mean and giving you back exactly what you want."
So - Google is looking for your intent when you type a topic. For example, if you're in New York and search "football," Google will most likely show NFL and the New York Jets first. Yet, if you search "football" in Manchester, then soccer and Manchester United will bubble up.
Mobile phones and tablets have put people in control. We all now expect an immediate answer when we want to know, go, do, and buy. Satisfying this intent through digital marketing will help your business grow.
Your customers use search engines from initial consideration through the purchase—and past it. So, if you want to rank high in Google, you have to offer content that best fits the users' search intent.
Understanding your user's intent behind keywords will enable your business to deliver the sought-after content on your website.
Why is Search Intent Important?
Satisfying search intent is Google's no. 1 goal. Google wants to rank pages that best fit the search term and intent behind it. That's why it's crucial to ensure your page matches your audience's search intent.
Rather than focusing on hitting a certain keyword density or backlink strategy, your SEO strategy should focus on making your users happy. If your page doesn't meet their intent, it won't rank.
If you get the intent wrong, people who find your web page in the search results will bounce back to Google's search result page when they realize that your page doesn't answer their query. And Google's algorithm will record that and move your web page down in the results.
Google now ranks video #1 for how to tie a tie, because it matches the user's goal.
Optimizing your user's keyword intent gains more relevant and qualified website traffic:
- Reducing bounce rates: people get what they want, so they stay on your pages.
- More page views: Meeting your user's intent makes them more likely to engage with the rest of your site.
- More Featured Snippets and Answer Boxes: It allows your page content to rank above the first search result.
- Reach a wider audience: Google is smart enough to interpret multiple queries as having the same topic and intent. Your intent-optimized page will show up in a lot more searches.
Daily, your customers type their needs into a search field. Whenever someone uses Google to find information relevant to your product or service, you need to be there.
Don't chase keywords you "want" if they don't match user intent.
You can't fight search intent, and you'll waste a ton of money if you try. Let's take the finance industry. For many finance terms (e.g., online stockbrokers), comparison type websites dominate the top positions. This reflects user intent as they want comparison sites to be top, not lots of single vendors they need to browse through one at a time. In situations like this, doing keyword research to find other, more niche terms is a valid SEO strategy.
What are the 4 Pillars of Search Intent?
Every search keyword has an intent behind it. What is the searcher hoping to achieve?
Google breaks user intent down into four categories:
- Informational (Know):
A user wants questions answered or information on a specific topic.
- Navigational (Go):
A user who seeks a specific resource, page, or site.
- Commercial (Buy):
A user knows what they want to buy and research before making a purchase.
- Transactional (Do):
A user looking to purchase.
These categories help determine the type of results that Google shows.
The searcher is looking for information. 80% of searches are informational.
It might be an answer to a simple question like "Who's the President of Taiwan?". Or something that requires a more in-depth explanation like, "How does combustion work?".
Examples of informational searches:
- "CKS airport directions".
- "SEO Guide".
- "Football scores".
- "Who is Anthony Fauci?".
How to identify informational search intent?
You can identify informational intent with the following clues:
- They use informational cues like: "who," "what," "when," "where," "how to," "when was," "why," "ways to," and "guide."
- The search is often longer than a few words and includes details.
- There isn't any company-specific or brand information.
Know Simple vs Know Queries:
Google Search Quality Raters Guidelines breaks this down into two query types:
- Know Simple Query - seek a specific answer such as a fact. It can be answered in a concise list or in 1-2 sentences.
- Know Query - Broad, complex, or in-depth informational queries that do not have a short answer. Controversial, unclear, or no definitive "right answer."
How to Optimize for Know Simple Query
A Know Simple Query answer is often displayed in a Special Content Result Box (SCRB) on the SERP. It's often a short (40-60 word) snippet of text.
To rank for Know Simple featured snippets follow this pattern:
- 1–2 sentences in length.
- Short lists.
- "Correct and complete" responses.
- Fit neatly within a mobile phone screen.
- Have the question placed directly above your answer.
Know Simple Queries can equal Zero Click Searches
Now, "How tall is Biden?" gives an instant answer. Also, it doesn't provide a link to the SERP page or a website where the height data came from and would result in zero clicks for most users:
If your content strategy is to rank for questions with definite, non-negotiable answers related to your niche, you should trim these from your content strategy.
Google is now sophisticated and gives us answers directly, without sending us to other 3rd party sites. These Zero-click searches have risen to over 50% from google.com. This is why we must narrow the focus to topics that provide current, useful information that Google can't get elsewhere or from aggregate data.
Informational Intent Click Through Rates
SEO has one main goal: reach the top 3 organic search results on Google. For informational intent searchers, this will translate into over 60% of clicks.
Why must your content answer informational queries?
Today, we no longer following a linear path from awareness to consideration to purchase. We grab our phones to get immediate answers. Mobile has become indispensable in our lives to:
- Learn something.
- Do something.
- Discover something.
- Watch something.
- Buy something.
In 2015, Google defined this concept as micro-moments.
For example, if a user wants a holiday. They may start searching for "beach holidays Asia" and then narrow down to specific destinations "Thailand."
Users will research the destination further, and if your website is providing them with valuable information, they're going to associate the keywords they searched for with your company.
Customers use search from initial consideration through the purchase—and beyond. A Think with Google report states that:
"People turn to their devices to get immediate answers. And every time they do, they are expressing intent and reshaping the traditional marketing funnel along the way."
Content holds all the power. When your prospects look for solutions online, you want your business to have high search engine results. So, your content creation must align with how Google's algorithms work.
Successful websites should aim to fulfill people's needs each step of the way.
The searcher is looking to go to a specific website or location. Often the search includes a branded term such as Nike. It's probably faster for the searcher to Google Nike than enter the entire URL into the address bar (nike.com).
Examples of navigational searches:
- "Gmail Login".
- "TrendMicro pricing".
If a user is specifically searching for Nike, showing them, Reebok won't meet their needs. People that search for these terms don't want to go to a third-party website. So, trying to rank for your competitor's brand names is impossible because Google already knows the searchers' intent.
You can identify navigational user intent with the following clues:
- The search includes a brand or website domain name, a person's name, or other specific information.
- The search is short and generally three or fewer words.
- Google SERP page displays local results and knowledge graph.
- Google "Search in Search" feature shows.
How to Optimize for Navigational Queries
Make sure you rank for your company's name and product brand names. The formula to follow is:
your brand name + navigational search query
Then create content about specific products or services that meet the navigational need they were searching for, such as brand or service overview pages.
To get clues about navigational search queries type your brand name into Google and see what comes up. Use the Asterix symbol (*) for wild card searches.
The searcher is seeking a specific product or service but hasn't decided yet. Most people use the web to do their research by looking for reviews and comparisons. 94% of B2B buyers research online before finalizing a purchase.
Commercial searches examples:
- "Best baby milk powder".
- "Nike vs Adidas".
- "Web design review".
- "Top restaurant in Taipei".
- "Which running shoe is best for me?".
They may also have transactional intent but need more time and convincing. Given the right landing page and content, they could convert to your product or service.
Keep in mind, search intent is also influenced by:
- Location-Specific Search.
- Personal Search.
Location Specific Searches:
Many location searches have commercial intent. Examples such as:
- "Italian restaurants near me".
- "Cheapest hotel in Taipei".
- "Web design Taiwan".
Google reports tremendous growth in "near me" searches. Today's impatient consumers want things in the moment they need them—which is typically "now."
In Taiwan, "______ near me" is often replaced with "______ district". For example, more people type in Chinese "Italian restaurants Xinyi."
3 Quick Ways to improve your Local SEO:
- Add your business address to your website to help Google understand where your business is located. Ensure its consistent across social media, and directories.
- Use Local Business structured data code to tell Google about your location, business hours, reviews for your business, and more.
- Create a free Google My Business listing to help people find you and encourage customers to post reviews.
Rise of the Personal Search:
The advice people once sought from friends, we now expect to get from our phones. As we use search daily, people tap personalized queries:
Words like "me," "my," and "I" are signaling that people expect personally relevant content. Google also has seen an 80% increase in mobile searches including "…should I?". As a result, we are treating search as one of our best, most trusted friends.
The searcher is looking to buy. They're at the bottom of the buyer funnel and are ready to make a purchase. They're seeking a place to purchase it.
transactional searches examples:
- "Buy iPhone 11".
- "Norton Antivirus coupon".
- "Galaxy note20 cheap".
- "N95 masks best price".
Transactional Keywords can include:
- Where to buy.
- Best Price.
- Schedule appointment.
- For sale.
Your content creation must align with how Google's algorithms work. So - the formula is:
transactional keywords + brand, product, or service name
- Discount Oakley sunglasses.
- Where to buy Oakley sunglasses.
Also, this formula for buyers who may not know the specific brand they want:
transactional phrases + general industry terms/products/services
- Sunglasses clearance.
- Where to buy sunglasses.
Often, Google Ads keywords are transactional keywords. Use them to develop content that helps customers in the conversion step of their purchase process.
We recommend optimizing these types of content for your transactional queries:
- Product pages.
- Category pages.
- Pricing pages.
- Sign-up pages
- Live demos.
- Appointments pages.
- Free consultations.
- Sales pages.
How to create user intent-focused content
How do I find search intent?
Research the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) for the Keyword Phrase
While you may not immediately know the intent behind a keyword phrase, Google usually does. So, study the SERPs can give you inside information into searcher intent. You should check the pages that already rank for that keyword.
Every element in the SERPs gives us search intent clues. Pay attention to:
- Organic listings.
- Knowledge graph results.
- Featured Snippets.
Understand which search intent categories Google is displaying. If you want to rank for this keyword, it probably won't happen with a blog post. Searchers are in buying mode, not learning mode. So, product categories pages dominate this search result.
1. Google Ads Keyword Planner shows Transactional or Commercial Intent
We can also follow up with Google Ads to see the transactional value. Often the higher the suggested bid and competition, the higher the transactional intent. Even if we don't intend to bid, it's helpful to know what others are willing to pay and its competitiveness.
In the following results, notice how "buy iPhone 11" has by far the highest suggested bid. The reason is it has extremely high commercial intent, and competition for it is intense.
How to use Keyword Planner in 2021
Keyword Planner is a free tool, but you NEED to have a Google Ads account.
Step 1. Login to Google Ads.
Step 2. Click Tools & Settings at the top of the page.
Step 3. Choose Keyword Planner from the drop-down menu.
Step 4. Click Discover New Keywords to generate new ideas.
Step 5. Choose Start with Keywords Tab.
Use words and phrases that describe your business, services, or products. Think about your product category. Use a comma (,) to separate keywords – if more than one is required. Also – check country and language.
Step 6. If required you can filter the results.
On the Keywords Results Page, you can filter the results by:
1. Location: This is the country or region (e.g., Taipei). You can select multiple regions.
2. Language: If your customers are based in Taipei - you'd want to change the Location to Taipei City and choose Chinese (Traditional) as the language.
2. Research the "People also ask…" Boxes.
Google's Related Questions box is the goldmine of user intent as it tells you: "These are the questions people have around this topic."
Your content should provide answers to these questions to rank higher.
3. Visit the top-ranking Pages.
Nothing gives more insight into search intent than visiting the actual top-ranking pages.
Delivering content that satisfies user intent is challenging as it's difficult to measure.
Ensure your content aligns with the Intent.
You won't rank in 2021 if you don't hit the user intent with the right format. Users have clear expectations of what type of content they want for a specific query. Look at the most dominant content type in the search results and make sure your content delivers the format and features Google expects through:
- Content Style.
- Content Type.
- Content Format.
1) Does your content style match the results?
If we search for "unboxing playstation 5" - they are all video results.
So - to rank for this topic video is required.
If we search for "keyword rank checker", - we will see that all the top results are tools.
Google knows that the search intent for "keyword rank checker" is people looking for tools. Unless you build a tool that will let them check their keywords - your page won't rank. Content about how keyword rank checkers work or reviews won't work.
However, if we change the search term to "best keyword rank checker," the results include a featured snippet, and the search intent has turned to commercial.
2) Does your content type match the search results?
Your content type pages often are:
If we search for "buy black cocktail dress" we get local and eCommerce category page results:
If we search for "iPad Pro" we get a product page result:
That's because we're looking to buy a specific product and not just a category of products.
Does your content format match the search results?
Check the format of the top rating pages for your keywords. Some standard types include:
- "How-to" guides.
- Step-by-step tutorials.
- Opinion pieces.
- List posts.
If we look at the results for "how to cut an apple" we see that most of them are how-to guides:
Google has a featured "How-to" snippet as well:
Google also has a specific category for recipes.
List Posts whose headline lists a numbered collection of reasons, secrets, types, or ways. For example, 10 Ways to Beat the High Cost of Living or Five Familiar Skin Problems.
Most of the results for "best places to travel in Taiwan" are list posts:
So, examine the SERPs for clues and format accordingly.
For queries like "how to wire a socket," we see mostly step-by-step guides, like this one:
So - if your content is a how-to guide - either a step-by-step guide or video can help you rank.
Write for your audience, not Google.
When creating your content, it makes the most sense to follow the crowd. Ensure your content follows a 1:1 Search intent match to Google.
If most of the top pages are how-to guides, create a better how-to guide. If they're list posts, make a list post. You get the idea.
Remember, we need to optimize our content to the user experience. The search intent should determine the type of content you create.
Next, you'll learn on-page SEO to ensure Google finds and understands your web pages to show them high in the search results.
Now that you understand search intent, let's dive into on-page SEO. We'll learn to craft web pages that answer searcher's questions and increase search rankings.
What is On-Page SEO?
On-page SEO optimizes web page content to rank higher and earn more relevant organic traffic from search engines.
On-Page SEO makes your website more usable and valuable to users, improving your rankings and visibility in search results.
Off-page SEO differs from on-page SEO. Off-page SEO optimizes the website for signals that occur outside of it (e.g., backlinks). On-page are factors you can control.
Pro Tip: Read our On-Page SEO guide for in-depth knowledge.
Here's our 8-step On-Page SEO checklist:
1) Craft Compelling Unique Content
Your page content is the most critical ranking factor and should be your first SEO priority. Google confirms that content and backlinks are 2 out of their top 3 most important ranking factors. If your content isn't shareworthy, it's impossible to generate natural backlinks.
Google understands what searchers are seeking better than anyone. Google ranks the top pages highly because it has determined it’s the best answer to the searcher's questions.
On-page SEO means creating the kind of content your audience is seeking. The best way to do that is to check Google's first page for that keyword. If they're all a specific type of page (like a list post, product page or videos), your page's content must match.
SEO is a zero-sum game. Your page must provide value and be better than the other results Google is currently ranking. You must align your content with the search intent of those keywords.
6-step formula for SEO content:
- Use keyword research to identify the keywords you want your page to rank for.
- Search Google for those keywords you want your webpage to rank for.
- Identify which pages rank high for those keywords.
- Match search intent to determine what commonalities those pages possess.
- Create similar content that's better than those you have found.
- Double-check that your page is a 1:1 match for search intent.
Read our in-depth write SEO Content Guide to broaden your knowledge.
2) Write a Persuasive <title> Tag
The page <title> tag refers to the title of a web page and tells both users and Google what the page's topic is.
It's the first thing searchers read, the clickable blue link on Google search results. So - write a title tag that's keyword optimized and aligns with search intent to encourage clicks.
Hint: Think of what you would want to click on to search for your target keyword.
Follow this pattern:
Primary Keyword – Secondary Keyword | Brand Name
6 Tips for a Good Title Tag
- Include your primary keyword. Your title tag is the most critical place to include your keyword.
- Put your keyword first. NN/g's research shows that the first two words (11 characters) will determine whether someone continues to read on or not in SERP results.
- Short & Descriptive. Google's display titles max out at 600 pixels. In English, that's around 60 characters. For Chinese, under 30 characters.
- Unique for every page. If you can't decide what your page is about, how can Google?
- Write for your customers. Avoid titles that are just a keyword list as they don't encourage click-through.
- Accurately summarize the page's content. Avoid clickbait as your bounce rate will soar.
3) Optimize your Meta Description
A meta description (or description meta tag) is the short snippet summarizing your web page's content. If your title matches your searcher's goal, then they may read it.
Meta descriptions aren't a ranking factor anymore, but the click-through rate is. So, when searchers see a persuasive one, they're more likely to visit your site. Write them like advertising copy and boost clicks.
7 Meta Description Best Practices:
- Be short. Google cuts the text based on the pixel width of the characters (680px on mobile). For English, that's 150 - 160 characters. For Chinese, 65 - 70 characters or less.
- Accurately summarize your page content. Avoid writing a meta description that isn't related to the content on the page and write a sentence rather than only a list of keywords.
- Outline Your Value Proposition. Answer why a user should go to your page. Meet search intent by doubling down on what searchers are looking for.
- Include a call-to-action (CTA). Use a CTA or offer to increase your click-through rate and differentiate yourself from the competition.
- Use active voice. Address the searcher directly and make it actionable. Tell them what to expect to find on your page.
- Include your primary keyword. Google bolds words and phrases closely related to the query.
- Write a unique meta description. If your title and meta description doesn't match - it hampers the user experience. Meta descriptions often appear when sharing on social media.
4) Use short, descriptive URLs
All your site URLs should be easy for Google and users to find, read and understand.
Which URL gives meaning?
Simple URLs convey what the page is about, and extremely long and cryptic URLs may intimidate your visitors. So, avoid generic URLs such as "page1.html". Just by seeing the URL, a user should understand the topic of a page.
3 Ways to Optimize Your URLs:
1) Include your keyword in the URL
Google uses the terms in your URL to help understand what your page is all about. Studies show that a well-optimized, keyword-rich URL can increase organic CTRs by 45%.
2) Use short URLs
Shorter URLs rank better in search results and are much easier to type out, improving the user experience.
3) Use hyphens in your URLs
Google recommends you:
- Use dashes (-) instead of underscores (_) in your URLs.
- Separate your words to aid understanding (red-dress.html vs reddress.html).
5) Optimize Images
Now, over 21% of all US web searches occur on Google images. Google uses images to understand your page's content.
3 Steps to Optimize your images:
1) Use a descriptive, keyword-rich file name.
Filenames help Google understand the subject matter of the image. For example, ipad-pro.jpg is better than pic-12345.jpg. Google recommends using dashes between the word.
2) Use a descriptive "alt" attribute.
An alt tag is essentially the image's name. It's a brief, helpful description of the image and includes appropriate keywords.
Not only are alt tags useful for search engines. They help those visually impaired recognize the picture as they will hear what that image is.
3) Optimize for Speed.
Page speed is a ranking factor, and images take up more than 75% of data loaded on web pages. Remember: 53% of mobile users abandon sites that take over 3 seconds to load. So:
5 Ways to Optimize Image Speed
1. Use the Correct Image Type
Saving as the correct file type will improve image quality and reduce the file size.
- JPG – best for photos.
- PNG – screenshots, text-based images, and line drawings. If your image has limited colors (under 256), saving it as a PNG-8 rather than PNG-24 will reduce file size.
- SVG – logos, icons, simple illustrations.
Pro-Tip: WebP is a newer format with better compression than .png and .jpg files - around 25% -35% smaller. However, it doesn't work on all browsers, but there are code workarounds.
2. Resize your photos to the size required.
If you upload huge images from your digital camera, it will slow your page down. So, scale photos down before uploading, and reduce the resolution to 72dpi.
3. Compress your images.
Reduce your file sizes and speed up load times. Use Optimizilla to compress manually. Alternatively a CMS plugin can automate this for you.
4. Lazy load images to improve loading speed.
Chrome has recently released new code to delay the loading of images until we need them. Add loading= "lazy" to your image tag. Also, remember to include the image's width and height.
5. Serve responsive images.
Serving desktop-sized photos to phones will use 2 - 4 times more data. Rather than using a "one-size-fits-all" approach, serve varied sizes based on screen size. The srcset attribute displays multiple versions of your image to different screen resolutions.
To learn more on optimizing images to improve web page rankings, visit this Google Search Central Images Guide.
6) Add internal and outbound links
Internal links are hyperlinks that link to pages on your site. They're different from outbound or external links, which link to pages on other sites.
Write descriptive link text.
The Link or Anchor text is the visible text inside a link. Anchor text sends signals to search engines regarding the content of the destination page. To improve your ranking, use keyword-rich words that describe the page you're linking to. Avoid writing generic anchor text like "page" or "click here."
Build Internal Links.
Internal links help Google find, index, and understand your site's pages. Plus, it improves visitor navigation and sends link authority to help the other page rank higher in the search results.
Link to Relevant Pages.
Outbound linking to relevant content helps strengthen the topical signals of your web pages and adds context for Google to understand your page better. Outbound links are how you should reference your sources.
A recent study by marketing firm Reboot showed a positive correlation between a page's outbound links and its rankings in search results.
Aim to outbound link to 5-8 authority sites in your article to help your readers learn in-depth about something you cover on your page.
The free tool Screaming Frog can check the status of your links.
7) Get rich snippets with structured data (Schema).
Google uses structured data to understand the page's content. Rich snippets are search results with additional information displayed. Look at this recipe search result:
Google pulls this information from invisible structured JSON data that's on your page called schema markup. This specific type is called recipe markup.
Rich Snippets are more eye-catching than average search results and can increase organic CTR and indirectly boost your ranking.
Five common structured data types to benefit your business are:
Help your e-commerce or product page stand out by showing the price, reviews, and in-stock info. The product image can display in Google Image Search.
2) Local Business
Enhance your local listing, and help customers easily find your address, contact details, hours, reviews, and other helpful info.
If you add it to your news or blog pages, you can suggest the correct headline, date published, and image that Google should show in search results. Our blog pages use this format.
It can enhance your appearance in Google Search results by featuring your logo, event name, event dates, cost and more. It's not available in Taiwan yet, but watch out for it.
A Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) page contains a list of questions and answers about a particular topic. It can appear in rich results and as an Action on Google Assistant.
Steps to create rich snippets:
- Choose your page's rich snippet type. Use Google's rich search gallery to discover more types.
- Generate the code. To do it manually, JSON LD Generator can help with most types. You'll need to add the code to your webpage. We typically build it into our CMS - so you don't need to think about it.
- Use Google Rich Results Test to validate.
- Google's Search Console has rich search result reports listed under Enhancements, which means you can test if they're being used or validate.
8) Chunk your content to ease reading
Research shows only 20% of web page content gets read. Chunk your content to help your users quickly scan your content and find what they are looking for.
Break up walls of text, and use:
- Use headings. Break content into sections with a subheading.
- Use bullet points. Break text into lists to help us scan.
- Use Numbers. If you're creating a list, then use numbers.
- Images. Images can help explain and break up wall-to-wall text.
- Short Paragraphs. 2-3 sentences per paragraph is a good rule —one main idea per paragraph.
- Use Bolding or Italics when appropriate.
Here's the deal: to rank in 2021, Off-Page SEO is also an important piece of the puzzle. So, our next chapter covers the nitty-gritty of link building.
If you're struggling to rank in Google despite pouring all your energy into your content, your off-page SEO could be the problem.
To outrank your competition, you'll need to establish site authority by:
- Earning links from authoritative websites.
- Building your brand.
- Nurturing an audience to amplify your content.
This section will teach you how.
What is Off-Page SEO?
Off-page SEO covers activities that don't happen directly on your website yet increase your site's search rankings. It's about improving the perception of your site's quality for users and search engines.
Off-page SEO includes:
- Building Backlinks.
- Domain Authority.
- Local SEO.
- Social Media Shares.
Getting links from reputable and trustworthy sites, brand mentions, content shares, online reviews, votes of confidence all help your business.
Off-page SEO helps Google to see your website as credible, authoritative, and trustworthy. It's the megaphone that helps promote your brand and website.
The most significant off-page SEO factor is the number and quality of backlinks to your website. Link building, or building backlinks, should be the core of your SEO strategy as it's one of Google's top 3 ranking signals.
Backlinks are links from one website to a page on another site. Google's PageRank algorithm uses the quality and number of backlinks as a ranking signal.
Google understands backlinks as a vote or recommendation. If another site links to yours, Google believes that your content is trustworthy, and with each link received, your site gains authority.
For example, if two websites have similar quality content, the site with more high-value backlinks will usually rank higher. Think of backlinks as votes for a specific page. Without building backlinks, you'll struggle to rank for competitive search terms.
The old practice of buying backlinks no longer works, and you could incur a penalty that results in the complete removal of your website from Google. Building natural, valuable backlinks takes time, but remember to get started with link building first; you'll need helpful content to share.
What sites link to me now?
The best backlinks are ones that search engines already know about. Google Search Console link report can be useful for showing who is linking to you now.
What's a valuable backlink link?
Sites that are relevant to your target audience but have a higher Google rank than you do now provide the most valuable backlinks.
Doing this will put you in front of your target audience on a site they already know and trust. Your presence on a domain with authority signals to Google that you are a trustworthy site as well.
The signals to look for are:
1) Topical Relevance
The linking page should be about a similar topic as the page it links to, but not from a direct competitor.
2) Domain and Page Authority
A backlink from a high-authority page is more valuable than one from a low-authority page. A link from the New York Times would be better than a backlink from your friend's blog. PageRank is Google’s system of counting and scoring backlinks.
Typically, trustworthy sites link to other trustworthy sites, and spammy sites link to other spammy sites. So, beware of those spam emails promoting backlinks.
How to work out Page Authority?
Google used to list public PageRank scores, but in 2016 they discontinued it. This means there's no official metric by Google, but these free tools can help with estimation:
- Domain Authority (DA): measures the strength of the entire site's backlinks.
- Page Authority (PA): predicts the ranking strength of a single page.
Ahrefs’ Backlink Checker
Ahrefs' Backlink Checker scores:
- Domain Rating (DR): measures the quantity and quality of the entire site's backlinks.
- URL Rating (UR): rates a specific page's backlinks.
From the results above, we can see that their scoring metrics are different for the same page. So, avoid cross comparing SEO tool scores. Stick with one when determining link authority.
Your aim is to find sites in a similar niche that are not direct competitors to you and have a higher score than your site.
3) Unique Domains
Getting backlinks from multiple different sites is also vital for SEO. One study demonstrates a clear correlation between the number of domains that link to you and higher rankings. So, domain diversity should also be part of your strategy.
4) Nofollow links
If the link has a <rel="nofollow"> attribute, it tells search engines not to follow that link. So, Google doesn't pass authority to the linked page. We should use nofollow links for:
- Links in comments: it helps fight comment spam.
- Links to websites you would not want to endorse.
- Affiliate and sponsored links: Buying backlinks violates Google's rules. Using the Nofollow attribute doesn't.
Facebook, Twitter, Yelp are places to add links to your website because they can help potential clients find your website, but they don't count as votes for your website.
So, for your link-building strategy, prioritize getting followed outbound links. To save outreach time, install NoFollow, a free chrome extension, to highlight if the site uses nofollow links on a page.
A healthy link profile will have a balance of nofollow and follow backlinks in its link profile. Plus, there's still benefit in nofollow links as they can:
- Drive referral traffic - which can have a positive indirect effect on SEO.
- Serve as a hint. In 2019, Google would treat nofollow links as hints to better analyze and understand them.
5) Anchor Text
Anchor text is the clickable words used to hyperlink pages. It helps spiders to know what the linked page is about.
The different anchor types include:
- Brand name: "iamrobert".
- Exact match: "SEO keyword guide".
- Partial match: "beginner SEO tutorial".
- Generic: "read more".
- Naked URL: https://www.iamrobert.com/blog/seo-keyword-research.
In general, when you want to rank for a specific keyword, you want that anchor text containing the keyword. One industry study shows an exact or partial match to your web page's overall topic correlates with improving ranking.
It's essential to diversify your anchor texts by using different anchor types, so Google views your links as natural and not manipulative. Brand-heavy anchor text is a sure bet that your link profile is genuine.
Good vs Bad Links:
This table will help you estimate the backlink’s value, and if is worth chasing.
Domain Authority Score
Content not yet a year old
Content older than a year
Content is relevant
Content is not relevant
Relevant keyword in URL
Relevant keyword in title
Location of link on the page
Closer to the top
Closer to the bottom
Reciprocal link (Do you link to this website also?)
Avoid Link Schemes
Dodgy link building is the easiest way to destroy your website's search engine visibility.
Google Penguin algorithms penalize sites that attempt to manipulate rankings by paying for links or building links with keyword-rich anchor text.
If you do hire an SEO agency, ensure you understand very clearly the work they are doing. If they are building backlinks, ensure they follow Google's guidelines and techniques aren't link schemes.
Avoid Low-Quality Business Directories
Many Taiwan digital marketing companies promote how they will add your site to a business directory. These are often low-quality and spammy.
If you want to list your site on a directory, be very selective and check its reputation. Think:
- Is it well known?
- Do you expect to get referral traffic?
- Is it relevant to my business?
- Does it review submissions?
- Does it rank on the first page for your keyword?
So, before agreeing, if the answers are mostly "No," the link is probably low quality and could be spammy. It's an old-school technique that no longer works.
How to build backlinks?
You're producing high-quality content and want to promote your content. There are several organic approaches you can take that produce results, such as:
1) Build Linkable assets:
Ultimate lists, infographics, original research, free tools – all of these things build link-worthy content.
2) Guest Posts
It means authoring an article for someone else's site. The published post contains a backlink to your site, and they get free content. Win-win.
The best guest blogging sites will:
- Reach your target audience.
- Large, engaged audience.
- An online authority that shows up in organic search.
- Content with topics that relate to your business.
6 Steps to Choose a Guest Blogging Platform:
- Find a Relevant Niche. Use search to help you find ones that are relevant to you. For example: "your niche" + "write for us."
- Check the site to see it matches your brand. Read their guest post guidelines and check existing articles for brand fit.
- Verify it's a follow link in the author's bio.
- Verify Moz's domain's authority score.
- Qualify the site traffic with an SEO tool. Ubersuggest or Spyfu (US/UK).
- Contact the site owner with your guest post pitch.
3) Local SEO (GMB & Citations)
Local SEO can help build trust and credibility.
Set up Google My Business (GMB) as this helps your brand appear as a rich result in search.
Check online reviews and listings on:
Plus, other review sites help boost local SEO because they revolve around your location.
NAP stands for Name, Address & Phone Number. NAP citations mention your business online. Ensure your NAP details are accurate and consistent across all platforms. However, it can be difficult with a bilingual company name.
4) Stalk your competitors.
Backlink data is publicly available through SEO tools. Discover your competitors' best backlinks and extract the ones that are the most relevant. For example, perhaps a site has created a list of the top manufacturers in your industry, but your company isn't on it. Reach out to that site. Make a case for inclusion.
5) Other awesome strategies.
- Featured in industry trade publications.
- Feature on DesignRush directory that lists b2b firms.
- Seeking out contacts in your industry who'd be happy to share your content.
- Guest Speaker on a podcast.
- Participating in an industry community such as a forum.
- Hosting events (in person or virtual).
- Help A Reporter Out [HARO]: get featured in niche articles that require expert insights.
- Press Releases.
- Social media marketing (nofollow): promote content, join discussions and comment on relevant posts.
- Forums and Q&A sites (nofollow): engage in conversations on sites like Quora or Reddit. A well-placed link that adds value can drive a lot of traffic over time but avoid mindless spam at all costs.
Pro Tip: Download this free definitive guide to link building with over 184 techniques.
Off-page search engine optimization is deeper than just building links. It's about building a brand, trust, and authority.
Now, it’s your turn
Follow our advice, and your site will begin to outrank the competition.
If you’re looking to learn more about SEO, we have the following beginner guides:
- Keyword Research (start with this).
- On-Page SEO.
If you looking to take your site’s SEO to the next level, then contact us.