SEO or search engine optimization is constantly changing. How does a website owner stay on top of SEO strategies that might help boost organic rankings?
There are best practices that should be followed and reviewed on a regular basis. Let’s take a look 8 strategies to help maximize our SEO efforts going forward.
8 SEO Strategies to Supercharge Your Organic Rankings
- Make sure your website is mobile-friendly.
With the growing number of people using their mobile devices to search the Internet, a mobile-friendly website can no longer be a luxury. If you have been putting off a mobile-friendly website, now is the time to take it off the back burner.
Google has made it crystal clear: if you want your website to place in mobile search results, it must be mobile-friendly.
- Responsive Design:
It has been said that websites need to “Go Responsive of Go Home”.
What is responsive design? Responsive web design is the technique of crafting a website so that it “responds” to any device that it is viewed in from a Smartphone and tablet to a desktop computer. Responsive design is Google’s recommended design pattern.
- Mobile Friendly Google Labels:
In November 2014, Google announced in the Google Webmaster blog post, Helping users find mobile-friendly pages, that “to make it easier for people to find the information that they’re looking for, we’re adding a “mobile-friendly” label to our mobile search results.” In the same report, Google announced that they were “experimenting with using the mobile-friendly criteria as a ranking signal.”
- Google’s warning: Fix mobile usability issues.
In January 2015, Google began sending mobile usability warnings to a huge number of website owners/webmasters with non-mobile friendly sites through Google Search Console. Google sent emails with a warning to “Fix mobile usability issues” and “These pages will not be seen as mobile-friendly by Google Search, and will therefore be displayed and ranked appropriately for Smartphone users.”
- Responsive Design:
- Maximize Your Content Marketing
You’ve heard it before that content is king. Going forward, content marketing will be more important than ever.
What is content marketing? According to the Content Marketing Institute,
“Content marketing is the marketing and business process for creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”
Macaroni and CheeseSEO and content marketing are like macaroni and cheese. Together, you have a dynamic combination.Click To Tweet
SEO and content marketing are like macaroni and cheese. Each one alone is delicious, but when you bring them together, you have a dynamic combination.
Why is the recipe of using SEO and content marketing so appealing? Because high quality, frequent unique content of substance will act as a digital magnet to draw links and social media shares that will ultimately increase rankings.
How Important is Content Length?
A study by serpIQ indicated that among the first page results on Google, the higher results had more word count. The study analyzed the top 10 search results for over 20,000 keywords. The results showed that average top ten results all had over 2,000 words.
It also showed that the higher the word count, the higher the ranking. For example, the #1 average position for keywords analyzed had over 2,450 words and the #10 average position had over 2,000 words.
The final conclusion of serpIQ’s study was that it appears that for most SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages), 1500 words would be a good target. This is not a concrete rule as each of us will need to “adjust this target to fit the niche.”
I can almost hear some people groaning. There has been a lot of discussion over the length of an article. Some people have said that if you can say what you want to say in a 500-word article, then 500 words should be enough. On the flip side, 2,000 words may not be enough to cover a subject.
The important point to take away is that research has shown that longer quality content appears to be ranked higher in the SERPs.
There are other considerations like the quality and uniqueness of that content, and if your goal is to be found in the search engines, than high quality and unique content of substance should be on the top of your list.
High-quality content of substance will attract links and social shares. One study as reported by Neil Patel of Quick Sprout shows that:
“Content rich sites generate 97% more links and more incoming links will increase rankings.”
Another study by Neil Patel showed that:
“Content that is greater than 1,500 words on average receives 68.1% more tweets and 22.6% more Facebook likes.”
- Maximize for Local Search
In July 2014, Google quietly rolled out a local search algorithm update that was coined, Pigeon, by Search Engine Land. If you have a business that you would like to be found locally for on Google, then it is essential that you maximize your local search listing.
When optimizing for local search results, you will need to look at the big picture. Factors for your local search optimization arsenal include, but are not limited to:
- Google+ Page optimized for local signals.
- Provide amazing and value content that is optimized for local signals.
- Consistent NAP (name, address and phone number).
- Consistent NAP on External Sites
- Positive Google reviews
- Concentrate on Earning Quality Links
The quest for quality incoming links as opposed to the quantity of links is not new news. High-quality relevant incoming links have been identified as one of the top ranking signals that Google uses.
However, earning high-quality “real links” is growing increasingly harder. How do you earn quality links? There are a number of ways to build quality links over time. Here are a few tips:
- Concentrate on earning quality over quantity.
A link from a high-quality website in your niche will far outweigh hundreds of links from nonrelated low quality websites.
- Produce high-quality content.
People will want to link to your content when you provide high-quality content. A blog is the perfect vehicle to do this.
Simply put: high-quality content attracts high-quality links.
Google again is crystal clear with the company’s thoughts on link building:
“The best way to get other sites to create high-quality, relevant links to yours is to create unique, relevant content that can naturally gain popularity in the Internet community. Creating good content pays off: Links are usually editorial votes given by choice, and the more useful content you have, the greater the chances someone else will find that content valuable to their readers and link to it”.
- Guest blog on high-quality and relevant websites.
There was a growing concern that all guest blogging when Google’s Matt Cutts stated: “Okay, I’m calling it: if you’re using guest blogging as a way to gain links in 2014, you should probably stop.”
In April 2014, Matt recanted and stated, “Guest blogging is okay again. My Bad”
“Guest blogging can be good for your brand and reputation if you do it the right way.”
The big key for guest blogging according to Eric: “You have to have the right mindset for how you go about doing it.” He explains,
“If you start with the frame of mind to build your brand and your reputation and go after the top sites in your space and try to get published on those – that is a very solid strategy for any business today.”
- Concentrate on earning quality over quantity.
- Maximize Your Website’s Speed
When it comes to your website’s download time, speed matters. This is one of the few ranking factors that Google has publicly announced. Going forward, your website’s page speed will be growing in importance as Google puts more and more emphasis on the user experience.
How do you speed up a website?
Here are a few considerations that you can use to speed up your website:
- Check your speed.
Google provides its own PageSpeed Insights testing tool and Lighthouse. It analyzes a web page’s content for both a desktop and mobile device and then provides suggestions on how to increase the speed.
- Analyze your current content.
Is an embedded video slowing down the speed of a web page? How about a home page slider? Or, perhaps a plugin is slowing down your website.
- Cache Plugins
If you have a WordPress driven website and/or blog, there are caching plugins that will help speed including W3 Total Cache (free version available) and WP Rocket (premium).
- Check your speed.
- Make the Most of Your Page Title Optimization
Do you include important keywords in your page or post’s title? Google may be giving more weight to keywords that are placed at the beginning of your title. For example, if your post is about “sports injury prevention”, then a title with those keywords, in the beginning, will have more weight.
- Instead of: “How to Decrease Sports Injuries with 8 Amazing Tips”
- Consider: “Sports Injury Prevention: 8 Strategies to Stay in the Game”
Additionally, a keyword rich title is important, but as Rand Fishkin states,
“A click-worthy title is actually worth a lot more than just a perfectly keyword-targeted title.”
- Reduce Your Site’s Bounce Rate
While there is speculation about Bounce Rate, Google may take notice is someone lands on one of your web pages and then “bounces away” without visiting other pages of your website. This “pogo-sticking” may be a negative signal to Google that we know the company is measuring.
Google’s definition of Bounce Rate states,
“Bounce Rate is the percentage of single-page sessions (i.e. sessions in which the person left your site from the entrance page without interacting with the page).”
To check your website’s Bounce Rate, you will need a Google Analytics account. Look for the “Bounce Rate” percentage in your dashboard.
How do you reduce Bounce Rate?
While some bouncing is inevitable, a few tips to reduce the bounce rate on your website include:
- Give them a reason to stay.
Site usability is one of the major causes of higher bounce rates. Providing an optimal user experience including great content above the fold will help give your visitors a reason to stay. In addition, an easy to use navigation and CTA (calls to action), and a compelling design will also help.
- Give them something to click.
This is a simple but often overlooked tactic. For example, our friends at B Squared Online Media made some changes on their website’s home page. As a result, this tweak reduced the bounce rate by 25%.
How? They tweaked the opening paragraph and added CTA (call to action) to each picture above the fold.
- Optimize your website’s mobile experience.
As was previously stated, a mobile-friendly website is important for SEO. A mobile friendly responsive site will also help to reduce Bounce Rate.
How many times have you searched for something on your smartphone and then clicked away because the page was too small to read and navigate? Be sure that the font on smartphones can be easily seen and that links are not too close together.
- Give them a reason to stay.
- Secure Your Website (HTTPS)
In August 2014, the search engine giant announced Google’s New HTTPS Ranking Signal. According to Google’s Online Security Blog,
“For now it’s only a very lightweight signal—affecting fewer than 1% of global queries, and carrying less weight than other signals such as high-quality content—while we give webmasters time to switch to HTTPS.”
Note that Google gave us time to switch to HTTPS. If you haven’t had an SSL installed on your website, do so now. For more, please see Chrome’s Non HTTPS Not Secure Warning – What You Need to Know.
In conclusion, search engine optimization has definitely changed over the years. It continues to change and evolve. It may be frustrating trying to determine what the top ranking factors are out of Google’s over 200 factors. However, it does help to evaluate what the current SEO best practices are and what we know will help.
Over to You
What do you think are the top SEO strategies to help boost your site’s organic search engine rankings? Please share your thoughts below.