It’s every business owners dream to get ranked on the first page of Google. Not only does it give your company major clout, it also means you have a better chance of capturing your audience considering websites on the first page receive almost 95 percent of web traffic. There are tons of published rules to improve SEO on your website, however there are certain laws, shall we say, that rank you soonest and make a difference to your website traffic almost immediately.
Google’s ever-evolving algorithm makes it much more difficult to pinpoint exactly what you need to do to improve SEO. Gone are the days where you could simply keyword stuff articles and get ranked highly. Today, keyword stuffing can actually count negatively towards your SEO.
So if you’re frustrated with your lack of SEO success, below are some rules for improving your SEO.
Optimize Your Content for RankBrain
AI is upon us, but not in the way we think. Rather than killer robots, AI has been developed to efficiently organize and analyze data and then make adjustments based on the information. Google has embraced AI with RankBrain. In fact, they announced that it was the third most important ranking factor. But what does it actually do? It’s a lot simpler than you might think.
Essentially, the system measures how users interact with search results and then ranks them. It focuses on two actions:
- Click through rate
- Dwell time on page/site
RankBrain is constantly monitoring people’s interactions with each result and thus makes adjustments constantly. So that means even if you manage to rank initially high on the search engine results page, if people don’t click or you have a high bounce rate on that page, your site will likely get pushed off the front page.
Here’s some tips on how to improve your chances:
- Make sure the keywords you’re using actually pertain to your business and posts.
- Space out your content into easily readable chunks so people spend more time reading.
- Use emotional “hooks” in your title to draw people in and click on your title/link
- Add some power words to grab people’s attention like amazing, secret, instant, etc.
- Test out multiple headlines with different emotional hooks and power words
Create Comprehensive, In-Depth Content
The content that does the best on Google offers long-form, in-depth content. That means you’ll need to do a lot more research if you want to rank ahead of your competitors. While it might take longer to create quality content, you’ll be paid back in high search ranking.
So how can you create comprehensive, in-depth content?
- Increase your word count – Throw out the notion that 300 words is long enough (looking at you Yoast). Sure 300 words is better than 100, but if you want to catch Google’s attention, you should create content that is at least 1,000 words. That might sound like a daunting number, but according to studies, longer articles get shared more and also rank higher in Google.
- Use LSI (latent semantic indexing) keywords – LSI keywords are just as important as your main keyword for improving your SEO. In essence, these are words or phrases that are strongly associated with your topic. Ideally, you should do research on your LSI keyword before you write the article so you can naturally incorporate them in.
Do Keyword Research to Improve SEO on Your Website
Maybe you’re thinking, why wasn’t this higher up on the list? While keywords are still incredibly important for improving your SEO, quality content and user experience now top the list. With that said, that doesn’t give you permission to ignore them altogether. Rather than viewing keywords as a bullet point on your strategy, you need to have a more holistic view and see it as a content creation roadmap.
Picking the best keywords takes some work, but tools like Google Adwords Keyword Planner can provide you with some great insights. Not only does it show you the competition and monthly searches of the keyword you want to rank for, it also provides you with other relevant options that don’t have nearly as much competition.
Make sure you only use keywords that make sense for your business and you can easily implement into your content. You don’t want an awkwardly worded article just to use a keyword.
Make Your Site is Mobile-Friendly
95 percent of Americans own a smartphone. If you’re not optimized for mobile not only are you missing out on regular traffic, you’re also losing points in the SEO game. In 2017, Google announced that they were switching over to mobile-first indexing. In essence, this means that if your site isn’t mobile-friendly then Google will rank you lower on searches.
Luckily, you don’t need to create a separate mobile site for your page. Instead, Google actually recommends going the responsive design route
Once you do have a working responsive design, your life will be a lot easier as you only need to make updates to one site (instead of two if you create a mobile version) and all of the information is the same whether you look at it on your phone, tablet or desktop. It might not seem like a big deal, but with mobile-first indexing, Google views your mobile page as your “true” page. So if you’re hiding any content, it can lead to less organic search traffic.
Load Pages Quickly
Around 47 percent of people expect a page to load in two seconds or less and they’ll have no issues hitting that back button and going to your competitor. And in today’s mobile world, you also need to take into consideration mobile load speed as well. More often than not, users are on public Wi-Fi or broadband, which might not be as fast as typical desktop speeds.
Here are some fairly easy steps you can take to improve your speed:
- Use a CDN (content delivery network) – You might first be wondering, what is a CDN? It’s essentially a group of servers placed around the globe. It manages to deliver static content faster because it finds the server closest to the user, thus reducing latency. It’s likely your web server has an option to integrate CDNs, so take a look at your options and take advantage of it.
- Cache it – Fetching content every single time users go to a page slows down load time. Instead, specify a caching policy for your resources to make sure repeated items get cached to your server.
- Optimize Images – You can easily reduce the size of your images in various programs. This includes your logo and images on your posts. The best part is that you don’t need to reupload all your images if you use WordPress as there are a variety of plugins you can use to optimize images.
- Switch to a fast host – Godaddy and even Bluehost might be affordable, but they also tend to be slower. If you have a decent amount of traffic, it’s about time you switch over to a more professional server like SingleHop or LiquidWeb.
Get Some Backlinks
Even with great keywords your site won’t rank if you don’t have any authority. That’s where backlinks come into play. Back in the day, people used some black hat techniques to get backlinks, but today the Google algorithm has gotten much smarter and now looks at the quality of the referring page.
So how can you get these backlinks?
- Editorial/organic – these come from sites that reference your content in their own. Maybe an article you wrote provided research to supplement the argument of the author.
- Outreach – you contact other sites for links. This can happen in a lot of ways. Maybe you reach out to an authority in your field with your article because it agrees/disagrees with one of their pieces. If they find it valuable, they’ll link to it. Always make sure to follow up and thank them for the link.
- Guest posting – this requires you to write new content for a third-party site. While it requires more of your time, it’s a great way to reach your audience and get some links back to your site.
Remove Deadlinks and Duplicate Content
Deadlinks and duplicate content are the bane of your site.
Why is that?
Deadlinks can either be pages that no longer exist or broken directs to resources that don’t exist. Both lead to the same thing – a poor user experience. More importantly, deadlinks also prevent search engines from crawling your content. While it isn’t hard to find and fix all the broken links, it does take time. While there are tools that can help you find broken links, it’s up to you to fix them. Depending on how many you have, this could take a couple minutes to a couple hours.
Duplicate content, on the other hand, is exactly what it sounds like – content that appears the same on different pages. There might be instances where it isn’t exactly the same, but if it’s similar enough, this can confuse search engines as they cannot determine which one they should display. For this reason, search engines penalize sites that have duplicate content by not showing any pages in the search results.
While the relationship between social media signals and SEO isn’t clear cut, it does exist. While Google might claim there is no direct correlation, Bing does use social likes and shares as a factor.
But going back to Google, if there’s no direct correlation then what is the connection? Essentially, the more shares you get the more visibility your article/site gets. And the more people share it, the more likely someone will link back to it because it has gone “viral.” As we noted above, backlinks are a huge SEO ranking factor.
There’s no secret sauce to getting more shares on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, etc. Instead, it takes quite a bit of trial-and-error. Maybe posting to your company’s Facebook page doesn’t gain you any traction, but posting a Facebook group will. Things like changing the hashtags you use on Twitter, joining various subreddit groups and getting involved and so on can help increase the odds of getting more interaction.
Perhaps the biggest takeaway is to have a consistent posting schedule and make sure to post eye-catching images and headlines.
Track Your Data
You can improve your SEO if you don’t pay attention to the data. Maybe some keywords you thought were going to work are a flop and others you didn’t expect have led to first page search results. If you don’t track your data, you won’t know which one of your approaches are working or how to improve.
In order to get a clear idea of your SEO performance, you’ll need to figure out your key performance indicators (KPI). These include:
- Keyword ranking – These reveal by how much your target keywords have dropped or improved since you started. You can keep track with tools like Pro Rank Tracker and Keyword Tracker.
- Leads – Conversions are ultimately your end goal in a business, but these only measure sales or revenue. Visitors might want to take other actions before becoming a customer. More often than not that means signing up for your newsletter. What does leads have to do with SEO? In essence, the number of leads you get correlates to your SEO performance. In fact, Google Analytics measures your leads or conversions from SEO.
- Bounce Rate – If a lot of people are leaving your site after visiting a single page, it likely means the keywords you’re using don’t match up to their expectations. Take a look at the pages that have the highest bounce rate and see what keyword people are coming in from and see if you can’t adjust it.
Consider Voice Search and Digital Assistants
20 percent of searches come from voice queries. With digital assistants and voice recognition software improving every year, it’s only a matter of time before this becomes the default way to search. With this in mind, it’s important to really understand how people search and what exactly they’re looking for. Content marketers and SEO experts have long touted the long tail keywords, but it’s becoming more important as people now want to find something that exactly matches their search. In fact, RankBrain already is taking long tail queries into account when ranking sites.
Get Started Now
If you haven’t taken SEO seriously, now is the time. The longer you wait, the harder it will be for your site to rank and the more keywords your competitors will take. It might be daunting, but it’s necessary for a successful business in today’s world. While Google’s algorithm will likely change somewhat every year, if you’re not keeping an eye out on the trends today, you’ll absolutely feel the pain in the upcoming years.
Want to improve SEO on your website? Do you have other tips? Let us know!