HubSpot SEO for Beginners: A Crash Course

Austin Walker Austin Walker
June 18, 2021   |   7 min read time
Topics: hubspot seo

Before you build an SEO strategy in HubSpot, it’s important to understand what factors are the most important.

And in this post, we’ll uncover those factors and why they’re important.

Once you’ve brushed up on these metrics, you’ll be able to build your own strategy and implement it into your HubSpot account.

Let’s jump in.

What is SEO?

SEO stands for search engine optimization.

More often than not, when a user goes to a search engine, they’re looking for the answer to a question. This is the second part of the buyer’s journey.

That’s why within the HubSpot pinwheel, you’ll see “Awareness” as one of the cogs. A user has become aware of their problem, and not we’re utilizing different forms of content to help them become aware of the potential solutions available to them.Hubspot SEO

As a matter of fact, 81% of searches are for a service or product, or more than likely, and answer to the person’s problem.

Yet 56% of these searches end up without someone clicking through to the answer.

Crazy, right?

This is our goal with search engine optimization.

We’re creating content that answers a user’s problem in the best way possible, giving them an amazing experience the whole way through.

It starts with creating a piece of content we feel is valuable, then watching our website statistics for opportunities to improve.

And we want to capture the 44% of clicks already being utilized, and hopefully produce such a great solution for the user, that even the other people that wouldn’t normally click, find us as well.

Sound easy? It’s not.

But with a solid strategy and thinking through the buyer’s journey, as well as creating content that is extremely useful to them, we can create opportunities for ourselves.

Two Types of SEO

There are two types of SEO: black hat and white hat.

Blackhat SEO

Google recognizes that any purposeful manipulation of rankings will result in penalties. In Google Search Console, you can see if they gave a manual penalty for something like link manipulation.

Basically, if you go against search engine guidelines, you’ll receive either a manual or algorithmic penalty.

Keyword Stuffing

In general, this can be understood as adding a keyword so many times that the conversation sounds unnatural.

Redundancies of the keyword can decrease readability and cause for a bad user experience.

Keyword research is important to make sure that you’re providing the right information to the right person, but overusing a keyword won’t do it.

HubSpot won’t necessarily help flag the overuse of keywords within a blog post or article, but here are some tools for optimization.

Cloaking

This one is pretty dirty.

Cloaking is where a content producer will show search engines one thing, and provide something completely different to the user.

Having different content delivered to different target groups is perfectly fine. However, a content producer is attempting to show content completely irrelevant to the keywords they’re cloaking to the search engine.

PBNs

PBNs are Private Blogging Networks. That means there are a bunch of authoritative sites building content and linking to each other.

It can significantly increase rankings for the domain they’re all pointing to. That is, until they’re busted by search engines. And search engines have become very good at spotting PBNs.

Answer: build amazing content and share it within your domain and your network.

Paid Links

Paying a website to backlink to your content. Pure and simple.

This can also include if you’re paying a company to backlink to your website with something in return like free products or services.

This is considered unfair manipulation of PageRank, and when the paid links are finally found (which they will be), there will be a major penalty to your ranking.

Comment Spam

If you have spent any time managing content, then you’ve definitely read and received comments that either have absolutely nothing to do with the content displayed, or you’ve noticed that there may be people commenting about a product or service identical to yours.

This is comment spam.

Commenters are attempting to build backlinks back to products or services they’re representing.

Crawlers find these links quickly and can give algorithmic or manual penalties for these.

Using reCAPTCHA or making “no-follow” links by default can help discourage others from doing this to your comments.

Link Farms

Link farms are similar to PBNs in the fact that the producers of these links have a huge network of websites they own, normally with a very low domain rating.

They’ll create links from these pages using anchor text related to the keyword you’re attempting to rank for.

Search engines have become very quick at recognizing link farms, and penalize those utilizing those farms.

A proper alternative is to create content that has a lot of value and information for your traffic: infographics, statistics, photos that give more context, or case studies.

Conclusion to Blackhat SEO

This is not an all-inclusive list of blackhat SEO techniques, but some of the most popular ways for people to try and manipulate search results.

If you’re working to get more traffic to your site, never try to cheat search engines. It may cause for a penalty that completely disqualifies your website for any traffic.

Whitehat SEO

Essentially, whitehat SEO is creating an amazing experience for web users through the development of extremely valuable content.

And what is meant by this?

With Blackhat SEO techniques, we learned about really sneaky ways that optimizers were attempting to manipulate search engines, right?

Well, in this case, whitehat is going to be developing content that naturally piques the interest of the user in order to prompt them to click.

Think of it as a reward system from search engines. If you develop amazing content that not only gives them a great experience from a content standpoint, but also from a technical standpoint, you'll be rewarded with better results.

Here are some examples of whitehat SEO techniques:

Unique and Valuable Content

This is by far the most important aspect of doing SEO right.

The internet is driven by users looking for answers to questions or looking for something entertaining, to say the least.

Creating unique and valuable content helps to increase trust in your website, along with whichever search engine sent them there.

Creating videos, blog posts, infographics, or other types of content that help to give a user the best experience possible helps increase your rankings.

You can check out Brian Dean's definitive guide to white hat SEO that can help you find out how to generate the right types of content.

Create an Amazing User Experience

User experience goes beyond just what we see when we upload a web page.

In 2021, 56% of all web searches are taking place on mobile. So, we need to not only have an interface on our website that is mobile-friendly, but it also has to load extremely quickly.

Users on any device will close a window or leave a page entirely if it doesn't load in 2 seconds or less.

Meaning, all those high-definition photos you took in Belize probably need to come down. You want to have properly sized images for pagespeed. Another quick win for optimizing page speed - rather than large .gif files, you may want to use video formats for animated content.

Google's new Page Experience update will actually be penalizing websites that aren't creating a fast experience for mobile and desktop users.

Constantly Optimize and Make Adjustments

Optimization is a continuous process.

Much like learning, your website constantly needs to evolve in order to give the best experience to users. Seeing what links are being clicked, which aren't, what content isn't being touched and which are.

All these experiences go back into the overall experience for the user.

You can use tools like Crazy Egg or Hotjar in order to get the information you need in order to make decisions and adjustments on your website.

Conclusion

This form of optimization has one simple rule: create content for humans, not robots.

Search engines essentially want us to provide the best experience possible so that they can drive users to that content. In return, their traffic will keep coming back and using them.

Which means they make more money.

On-Page SEO

This is what the user sees and experiences.

When making adjustments to any on-page elements, you're optimizing things that your audience can see:

  • Page Content
  • Page Title
  • Header
  • Meta Description
  • Image Alt-text
  • Structure of the site
  • URLs
  • Links

It's easy to spend a lot of time making adjustments and tweaks to things that don't matter - especially if you're updating SEO for your clients. That's where a lot of research comes in handy for what search engines are looking for.

As well as having Hotjar or CrazyEgg, because you can monitor what users are intrigued with on your site, as well as see what they're not so happy about.

Technical SEO

These are the things that can't be seen, that continue to make the user's experience even better.

In HubSpot development, this is the aspect they work in most:

  • Mobile Responsiveness
  • Site Speed
  • Structured Markup
  • Domain Health
  • HTML
  • Minifying

When using HubSpot, one of the best parts of having a website built on the platform, is that you don't necessarily have to be a developer in order to manage these technical aspects.

There are certainly more advanced technical SEO options that may require help, but the HubSpot CMS is a great option to keep it simple.

Off-Page SEO

Off-Page SEO basically covers what the last two didn't.

These elements are a little more difficult to control since the effect they have on the site isn't necessarily impacted by the work that a content developer will do.

These are things like:

  • External Backlinking
  • Social Shares
  • Guest Author
  • Broken Link Building
  • Forums
  • Commenting
  • Brand Mentions

So although a content developer may publish content, reach out to potential linkreators, and even post social messages, they can only control the voice but not how often it may be shared.

Neil Patel has an amazing resource outlining off-page SEO and how to help yourself do better.

Conclusion

Search engine optimization does not have to be difficult, and it's sometimes misunderstood to be extremely complicated.

Understanding what can be the most valuable content produced for an audience is the best way to manage SEO, as well as having a well-structured website to help communicate it as well.


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