As we have reached the second half of 2018, there are more search engine optimization (SEO) strategies than ever before. Some sources will give you a handful of strategies while others will give you hundreds. This is greatly due to the fact that, in addition to individuals having more ways to search, SEO changes more frequently than it did in the past. We’ve narrowed down some of the most effective strategies you should be using for search engine success right now.
1. CREATE BALANCED CONTENT
WRITE FOR SEARCH ENGINES AND HUMANS
This strategy is two-fold. First, your content should be written for both search engines and humans. Why is that? Because search engines, which are a form of artificial intelligence, have gained a greater understanding of user behavior, patterns and trends, and the way people search thanks to RankBrain and contextual or deep learning.
To say search engines are becoming more “contextually intelligent” is to say that instead of simply understanding keywords and links, they now understand and continue to better understand the context of web content, such as web pages and entire websites, as a whole. If you are interested in learning more about this subject, Google partnered with Udacity to provide a free month-long course on deep learning that you can take here.
What Does This Look Like?
Use keywords as well as language, phrases, and terms that speak to the real people you are talking to. Make sure you are publishing rich, quality content around what you do. This practice will help search engines determine the general context of your website and rank your site when and where it is relevant to online searchers.
PUBLISH ACROSS MULTIPLE PLATFORMS
The second way to create balanced content is by sharing high-quality content across multiple platforms online. “Balanced” is a broad term, and in this case, balanced content supports a well-rounded online presence.
What Does This Look Like?
This does not mean posting duplicate content every few hours on every platform. It means creating and sharing high-quality pieces of content on a diverse range of platforms and pages to reach your audience and support your online presence in the “eyes” of search engines.
2. OPTIMIZE FOR QUALITY RESULTS
If you want search engines to index you correctly, you have to make sure that your information is accurate and consistent across all platforms and mediums. On your website, on directory listings, on social media profiles, maps, and everywhere else online. Your online presence spans more than just your website and a few profiles today. Your credibility is connected to your entire online presence.
What Does This Look Like?
Inconsistent and inaccurate information is not going to serve you when it comes to search engines learning about your business and calculating if you should be ranked higher than someone with a solid reputation online. Remember, search engines are always learning. They are programmed and continually learning to provide users with the most relevant and accurate information online.
To ensure you are setting a strong foundation for your online credibility, start with the basics of your business, such as making sure your NAP (name, address, and phone number) are consistent everywhere. These are also the first things to check if you are finding problems with your search results and online presence.
When found, inconsistencies as seemingly small as a wrong phone number on one profile or an incorrect address on another mean enough to search engines that they could lead to much lower rankings than your colleagues and competitors. Keeping your information accurate and up-to-date will help search engines such as Google see your business as more credible and trustworthy.
Other practices include creating content that answers specific questions and gathering and responding to first- and third-party reviews, which we will cover next.
3. GATHER REVIEWS
Reviews have become a crucial part of the consumer process. According to BrightLocal’s 2014 Consumer Review Survey, “88% of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.” Combine a statistic like that with the fact that search engines are evolving more and more to give customers the most relevant, helpful content available and it’s easy to see how reviews have become an important aspect of search engine optimization.
What Does This Look Like?
Gather regular reviews that show you have real people using and benefitting from your services. Reviews often contain keywords, phrases, locations, mentions of specific company or brand names, and other factors that are important when ranking in search results and creating search engine optimized content. Search engines see reviews as both relevant and helpful, so they’ll often show up in search results. Since search engines are more contextually intelligent, they will also pull reviews that are directly relevant to a particular topic or question searched.
4. REMEMBER TECHNICAL DETAILS
In addition to the items listed above, it’s important to remember that there are technical steps you can take that to help ensure quality results show up in search results for your company. The first of which is making sure your site is visible to search engines. This seems like a no-brainer, but there are ways to hide and make your site visible. The best way to ensure your site is visible? Make sure you’re working with a web company with a solid understanding of what they’re doing and best practices for your website.
Titles and Descriptions
The titles you choose for your content (whether web pages, blog posts, or other types of pages on your website) are extremely important – not just in helping you grab your visitors’ attention, but for search engines as well.
Strong, relevant, keyword rich titles will help search engines connect your pages with search queries you want to be associated with. The context of your website as a whole is important, as are each of your pages. When it comes to descriptions in search results.
Other important technical details to consider include page speed, clean code, readability, ensuring your site is SSL secure, and much, much more.
Readability covers the majority of your site’s content and how easy it is to digest as an actual human being reading over it. If search engines can determine the context of a site’s content, they can determine if it’ll be easy enough for a human to read over and understand.
The SSL Protocol has been around since 1994. The purpose of SSL is to encrypt data sent over the internet. According to moz.com: “…Google has publicly stated that SSL is now a ranking signal in Google’s search algorithm. This means that a website with SSL enabled may outrank another site without SSL.”
At the time of this writing, you can tell a site is SSL secure by checking the address bar for a green padlock and https:// before the domain name. Google has announced, however, that it will be evolving its security indicators in Chrome by removing them and, instead, indicating sites that are not secure when applicable. This evolution suggests Google’s vision of an internet where SSL security is the standard. Make sure search engines are not discouraging visitors from viewing your site because it is not SSL secure.
According to a Yoast article from April 2017, “Google’s latest research shows that the chance of a bounce increases 32% when the page load time goes from 1s to 3s. 1s to 5s increases the chance to 90% and if your site takes up to 10s to load, the chance of a bounce increases to 123%.”
When it comes to SEO and search results, you want people to find you, you want people to click on your site, and you want people to stay. Page speed and the amount of time it takes your site to load is very important – not just from your visitors’ perspective, but also search engines and the credibility your site holds.
At the beginning of the year, Google published an article on how, while page speed has been used in desktop ranking for some time, it will be using page speed in mobile search rankings starting in July 2018.
According to a variety of sources today, more than half of all searches are done on mobile now. For a long time, Google’s algorithms have focused on desktop before mobile. With modern changes in user behavior, Google has started to shift to a mobile-first approach.
Make sure the way that your content appears and is indexed on mobile is benefitting you, not hurting you. Make sure your content is optimized for mobile users. Separate mobile sites are a thing of the past and can cause more harm than good now. If your site has a separate mobile site, get rid of it and make sure your site is mobile-friendly and responsive. For even more information on mobile-indexing, read the post “Google’s Mobile-First Indexing” on the BxB Blog.
In the End, Remember…
Search engine optimization is made up of many, many factors. If you’re not sure where to start, look at the pieces you have in place that can be improved, such as your NAP consistency or making sure your website is SSL secure. Pieces like balanced content and gathering review are strategies that can and should be implemented on an ongoing basis and contacting a web company that understands the technical details of SEO can ensure you have a well-rounded SEO strategy in place.
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