Staying Ahead Of The SEO Game
At this stage in the digital marketing game, it’s likely you’ve heard of SEO and even implemented an SEO strategy into your overall marketing plan. Yet, like everything else in 2020, SEO—and the associated tactics—are constantly evolving to meet the rapidly changing realities of the digital marketplace.
A dominant SEO strategy
If you are new to the concept, SEO—or Search Engine Optimization—is the process of “optimizing” the content on your website so that it turns up within the top results of Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs.) Its role in a business’s visibility and in winning business cannot be overstated. There is a wealth of stats to support this claim, including a 2019 Backlink study analyzing over 5 million searches that found an average CTR of 31.7% for the #1 result in a Google Search. And that the #1 search result is 10 times more likely to receive a click than the page in the #10 spot.
The higher your business lands in relevant searches, the more business you are likely to receive. Given the overwhelming dominance of internet search among those seeking out businesses or services, it’s an absolute must that you remain ahead of the competition in this endeavor.
A dominant SEO strategy requires an expert understanding of both how search engines “crawl” and index web pages to deliver the most relevant results possible for their users, and how individuals seek out information on the web. Given the fact that mobile search and AI-assisted search continue to account for a greater share of overall searches, it’s important that your SEO strategy remains fluid and current to account for these new trends, and whatever new ones await just around the corner. Having a trusted, professional SEO team in your corner can literally be the difference between a successful and unsuccessful business in 2020.
Modern Tools for Modern Solutions. Web Site Diagnosis
While Internet search and digital marketing, in general, can sometimes seem like an endless void of unknowns, it’s actually more concrete and strategic than you’d imagine and there are a number of tools—some free, some paid—available to help you hone methods that work best for your business.
Running an audit on your website is a good place to start. This will give a clearer picture of the strengths and weaknesses of your site and will help you identify areas for improvement. Some tools are more comprehensive—like Hubspot’s free Website Grader, which provide a general overview of how your site is performing from a marketing standpoint—and others analyze performance more specifically, like Monitorbacklinks.com, which rates sites linking back to your site and more. There are many options out there; take some time to browse which might be most useful for your business.
Build a Solid Base
To get the most out of the information gathered from your site audit, you will want to make sure that you have the basics buttoned up and that your site is built to deliver the content that users on search engines like Google and Bing are seeking out. Briefly, this means publishing authoritative, well-linked content from a site that is secure and easily navigable.
You will want your site to be easy to navigate both for actual people and to ensure seamless user experience, and for search engines that need to be able to effectively crawl your page and index relevant content. If your page is not well-built, a search engine may not find it, even if the content you provide is pertinent and high-quality.
Consider creating an intuitive navigation guide on the site for users and an XML sitemap for search engines to bolster this effort. Not only will this help all parties find the information they are looking for, but the XML site map also allows Google and other search engines to discover recently published or updated pages more effectively.
Use Keywords Responsibly
Another large part of successful SEO is the proper use of relevant keywords. Keywords are the words and phrases that people most often use in search engine queries, and they help connect the content on your page to the people who are seeking out that information. You will want to use keywords relevant to your business in the content you create, especially in title tags, body copy, URLs, H1 tags, meta descriptions and alt tags. Consider this finding from the aforementioned Backlink study: URLs containing a keyword have a clickthrough rate 45% higher than those that do not…
Be careful, however, not to overdo it and insert so many keywords that it becomes repetitive. “Keyword stuffing” prevents your site from reading naturally, and will also hurt your search rankings as Google and other search engines learn to dock sites that are redundant and deemed less useful.
Security Reigns Supreme
While a lot of the inner workings of search engine algorithms remain a mystery, Google has confirmed that a site’s security does play a role in search performance and ranking. Plus it’s a good look for your brand, as a security breach or leak of customer information is a PR nightmare. This all reinforces the tenet that a comprehensive security strategy should be a part of your overall design. One easy way to improve security right away for Google search is to make sure your site is set up with HTTPS encryption.
To acquire HTTPS encryption, an SSL certificate is needed. This certificate helps authenticate websites and prevent hackers or other actors from viewing or intercepting user data on your site. It also helps boost organic traffic. Free SSL certificate options are available for some sites, while others will need to purchase one, depending on the type of site. In any case, it’s a must-take step in ensuring the security of your site and user data.
Surf Your SERPs
Familiarize yourself with Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) related to your keywords and your business. Take stock of the type of information and content that search engines return for the keywords related to your business and align the content you are creating for your site to satisfy these searches. SERPs will change as Google and other engines continue their efforts to customize search results for their users. As such, you should monitor the evolution of SERPs related to your business and adjust the substance and design of your content accordingly.
Mind the Mobile
For both the sake of SEO and user experience, it is so important that your site is mobile friendly. According to a recent report from Hitwise, nearly 60 percent of all online searches are done on mobile devices. This makes sense, as many reports, including a June 2020 report from Statista, found that over 50% of all web traffic comes from mobile users. There are plenty of reasons to believe that this number will continue to increase.
Because mobile use makes up such a large percentage of traffic, it is crucial that your website is designed to deliver the same enjoyable user experience on mobile as it is for desktop. In addition, Google has acknowledged that its algorithm is built to favor mobile-friendly sites, which obviously has a significant effect on overall SEO performance.
Adjust for AI and Voice Technology
Updates to search engine algorithms, like Google’s artificial intelligence technology Rank Brain, are designed to help search engines refine their results to deliver more useful information to their users’ search queries. Without getting too much into the weeds, these technologies monitor things like post-click actions to get a better sense of user satisfaction with different pages and pieces of content. If a user clicks through a linked piece of content or navigates to the end of a published piece, RankBrain will take notice and recognize the value that the content offers the user driving the search. In turn, this content will be offered in their results more often.
Algorithms for other search engines are continuously being tweaked to do the same. In short, it underscores a key facet of top-notch SEO: consistently publish quality, useful, and often-sought out content with both strong intrasite links and backlinks.
Another tech trend to consider in your SEO strategy is the growing percentage of voice-driven searches, both on smartphones and home-assistant devices like Amazon’s Alexa. Just as you would build content to include keywords likely to be typed in by users seeking out the information your site provides, you will want to build conversational language into your content that will match the prompts of voice-activated searches. FAQ pages and Q&As are good examples of formats that have a conversational style while also providing valuable information.
The staples of solid SEO, like providing a fast, easily navigable and informative digital experience for users on all platforms remain the same in 2020, but the tools and trends in both search habits and search engine algorithms are constantly evolving. To remain ahead of the competition, your SEO strategy must remain ahead of the curve.
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Categorised in: The Shoreline Blog
This post was written by Shoreline Content Team