A search has been entered and the clock is quickly running down as Google’s algorithm gets to work. The stakes are high and the competition is fierce as businesses attempt to outrank their opponents for the coveted ‘top result’. While many will enter their bids, only one can win… welcome to SEO Madness!
When it comes to optimizing your website’s content for SEO, there is no one and done strategy for success. Creating compelling enough content that will rank and drive visitors to take action is a skill that requires practice. To help get your website geared up for the big dance, it’s time to update your playbook and incorporate these 5 content tips to improve your website’s rank on Google:
Tip #1: Strategize A Game Plan
No championship (or search query) has ever been won without a proper SEO strategy in place. Before you can go for gold, you have to understand how Google’s algorithm works. At a high-level view, Google ranks content based on three main factors:
- Expertise– Is the site owner an authority of the subject they are writing about or selling? Google wants to ensure that the information it is providing to visitors is useful and reliable, so it will search websites for the owner’s credibility.
- Pro tip- Boost your website’s expertise by optimizing the ‘About Us’ page to include relevant certifications, awards, or press you (or your team) has received.
- Authoritativeness– How trustworthy and reputable is your website to others? Google will rank content based on how credible your web content is perceived by its users, industry experts, and other sites across the web.
- Pro tip– Having a positive brand reputation online indicates a high level of authority to Google so add any third party reviews, references, and relevant news articles your brand has received.
- Trustworthiness– Can users trust the information and experience provided by your website? Google wants to ensure that they are providing a safe environment for users to search. Thus Google will rank websites accordingly.
- Pro tip– Over 70% of first page results are using an SSL (a secure sockets layer) on their websites. Avoid the “your connection to this site is not fully secure” message and implement a SSL certificate on your site for additional protection and an SEO boost.
Tip #2: Working with the Selection Committee
Once your basic SEO footwork is set, it’s time to turn up the intensity with relevant keywords that will really set your website apart from the competition. When selecting a winning keyword line-up, keep in mind:
- Your audience comes first– Your keyword selection should not be based on what you think will work for search algorithms, but rather, they should reflect the needs of your intended audience. Dive deep into your niche to find a problem they may be struggling with. Choose relevant keywords that will attempt to solve this problem. For example, if your business is selling basketball shoes, instead of using the broad keyword of “basketball shoes” which will cast a wide net of highly competitive sites, consider using a more specific phrase that will actually help your audience like “basketball shoes prices.”
- Lean in on long-tail keywords– If possible, try to incorporate long-tail keywords (three to four word phrases) into your SEO game plan. With generally less competition, these phrases will not only help you rank higher, but will also drive more targeted traffic to your site and increase conversions. Leveraging the “basketball shoes” example above, a great long-tail keyword to consider would be “basketball shoes for sale near me.”
- Don’t overdo it- One serious technical foul to avoid is over-saturating your website with keywords. Google will pick up on any excessive use, which in turn will have an adverse effect on your ranking.
Tip #3: Fast Break with Site Speed
Another make-or-break factor for successful SEO is site speed. If your loading speed is too slow, Google considers this to be a serious turnover that will cost you any shot at a first page result. Slow loading speed may also impact how visitors engage with your site and services. Studies show that 40% of visitors will actually abandon a website if a page takes longer than three seconds to load. To make matters worse, 80% of those visitors will never return to that website again. Remember speed is key, so avoid a bracket breaking bounce rate by optimizing your website to load in under three seconds.
- Pro tip– One of the most common reasons behind slow web page loading times is unoptimized imagery. Too many high-resolution images or PNG files will consume your bandwidth. To increase site speed, keep images under 1MB and utilize the smaller JPEG files when possible.
Tip #4: Metadata Is Your MVP
When it comes to SEO Madness, every detail matters especially when it comes to your website’s metadata. Metadata is the first thing your audience sees when Google ranks your page, however, it is often the most neglected aspect of SEO. Although limited to 160 characters, the quality of that descriptive snippet directly impacts how your web pages are ranked and your click-through rate. In order to write ‘winning’ metadata descriptions, Google suggests the following:
- Get descriptive– Your metadata should clearly define what your website is about. When drafting your description front-load it with relevant keywords and answer the questions Who? What? When? Where? How?
- Be unique– A bracket buster that many brands make is the use of duplicate metadata descriptions for multiple pages on the same website. Google will immediately flag this and rank both pages lower. In order to avoid this technical foul, be sure to take the time to write individual metadata descriptions for the various pages of your site.
- Keep it concise– Google will truncate metadata descriptions over 160 characters. Try to keep your descriptions long enough to get the point across to your audience without getting cut off.
Tip #5: Featured Snippet Is Your Secret Weapon
Featured snippets appear above Google’s top organic result and receive 2x higher click-through rates than the pages served. This coveted ‘Position 0’ acts as a secret weapon for brands to drive significant organic traffic to their sites, without having to rank in the #1 position. In order to take advantage of this feature, you will need to provide clear answers to questions on your website. These answers can come in the form of an FAQ or blog post, but you will want to keep your audience in mind and craft your responses in everyday language.
Now that you’ve got a slam dunk SEO strategy in place, it’s time to put your playbook in action. SEO Madness can be intimidating, so if you’re in need of some additional coaching, let’s talk!