In a world that is all about change and keeping up with the latest technologies, finding ways to stay one step ahead is paramount. Perhaps one of the most cryptic and challenging areas in the world of digital is and always has been search, with algorithms becoming more and more sophisticated all the time. Pair this with increased importance of developing high quality, unique content regularly and you have yourself a challenge. How can you make sure that your website and content is giving you the best opportunity to stand out online, when Google is changing all of the time?
If you haven’t been hiding under a rock for the last 5 years, you are likely to have heard professionals talking about what seems like complex terminology such as meta data, H1 tags, rich snippets, alt tags, structured data, anchor text, link building and so much more, but what does this mean and how do you take some level of control?
The majority of businesses are now discovering the power of great content and so how do you make sure that what you are creating gives you the best opportunities to rank?
Here are a few simple tips to help you get started.
1. Keep it Natural
In the past you are likely to have heard lots of talk of selecting your keyword and making sure they appeared in your page as many times as possible for the best chance of ranking. Although it’s still really important to have a focus for each of your pages, it is even more important to write natural, unique good quality content. Try to avoid large paragraphs of text, instead break your content down into smaller paragraphs, including headings and subheadings. Use your focus keywords, but use them naturally within your sentences.
This is great for search engines but also makes it much easier for your site visitors to digest your content, increasing your chances of click throughs and even conversions.
2. Build the Right Links
Since the first launch of Panda and Penguin around 2011, which were two fundamental algorithm changes by Google, the way websites are ranked and the way we build links from third party sites would never be the same again. Google’s aim was all about making sure that low quality results were not shown above the good quality websites, and links provide a key signal to Google that your website provides a credible source of information. A good quality link is essentially seen as an endorsement from another business.
Link building always used to be about getting as many links from other websites as possible. What this often meant pre-algorithms was that lower quality websites could cheat the system by featuring on lots of lower quality directory websites.
So what now? Link building is still at the core of SEO and digital marketing, but instead of focusing on the quantity of links the focus is on the quality. For most businesses, there are opportunities all the time that could be channelled into valuable links, the key is making sure you don’t miss them. Think news, think events, think guest blogs and think about your partners and the people you work with as a great starting point.
Our recommendation is to develop a link strategy so you don’t miss opportunities for high quality links.
3. Make it Mobile
Mobile is here to stay, more and more of us are glued to our mobile devices on a daily basis, so much so that you simply can’t ignore the need to go mobile. Google will also no longer let you get away with sub-par mobile experiences. Just last year Google released the mobile algorithm Mobilegeddon and with this the emphasis on mobile search and crediting sites that provide the best mobile experience is on.
When you have your website developed, make sure you test carefully on a range of mobile devices. Often what works on one device doesn’t work on another device and so it pays to spend extra time testing. Although It’s also worth noting that it rarely possible to develop a website that will work on every device size, there are simply too many.
The key here is if you haven’t got a mobile website or a good quality mobile website, you really can’t wait any longer.
4. Create your Content Checklist
Consistency is key when it comes to your digital marketing. For every page you create there are a list of things that you need to think about to make sure the content performs as well as possible. Start to build this into your routine, firstly think carefully about your page title, does it clearly explain what the page is about and would your potential customers search for this? Once you have your title start to think about how your content can be broken down and try to include keywords naturally throughout and in headings and sub headings where possible.
Once you have created your content, if you have the capabilities within your website make sure you add meta titles and descriptions which clearly describe your pages. If you have included images make sure they all have alt tags, if you have included links make sure you have used descriptive text when linking and don’t forget to add relevant internal and external links throughout the pages.
5. Make it easy for people to buy
For me this one is key, Google and search is very much about making things easy for your customers. Does your site load fast? Is the content rich? Is there a clear journey through your website?
One of the biggest shortfalls I see with many of today’s websites is the inability to easily buy or sign up. This is about providing clear calls to action on the relevant pages and thinking about each and every journey your customers could take through the website. Would you build a shop without careful planning of the buying journey?
Remember, for search engines it is not all about traffic. In fact high volumes of the wrong traffic or spam traffic can result in reduced rankings. Instead think about who your customers are and what their journey is likely to look like.
Google is not going to stop changing, the key is writing smart and making sure your website is giving you the best opportunity to rank. Our top recommendation is to take some time to get others to review your website and challenge them to make their way through your online buying journey. Why? Quite often you are so used to your website or in the routine of writing in a certain way that you miss some pitfalls which others may pick up.
Knowing your users is critical, because Google is always evolving in line with consumer and business behaviour to ensure that no matter what you search, you are provided with the result you need quickly. Know your customer, know what they might be searching for and you will be one step closer to understanding search.