Staying aware of the latest SEO trends and best practices helps you meet the requirements that search engines use to rank websites allowing your site to appear higher on the search engine results pages (SERPs). What strategies will help you influence the SERPs and earn more revenue in 2023? What are SEO best practices? Read on to find out.
What Is Search Engine Optimization?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the quality and quantity of traffic to your website through search engines. It's the science of augmenting a website to increase visibility when users search for products/services. More visibility translates to more business. SEO targets unpaid traffic rather than direct traffic or paid traffic. Search engine optimization is generally measured by the placement/ranking of a site on search engine results pages (SERPs). It's important for SEO to support the image and trustworthiness of your brand, aid in developing a stronger connection with your audience and help you convert high-quality leads into loyal customers. Between 70% and 80% of search users are focused on organic search results, and 51% of overall traffic to business websites comes from organic search. Considering how many leads this amounts to, it's easy to see why SEO is the highest inbound marketing priority for 50% of marketers.
What Are SEO Best Practices?
SEO best practices are tasks designed to help improve your website's ranking on the SERPs. Common SEO best practices include on-site optimization, researching keywords, and building backlinks to a site. Only .63% of Google searchers ever click on something from the second page of search results. This is why it's so essential to rank on the first page of Google.You can put your best foot forward by following SEO best practices. However, search engine optimization best practices change over time. What might have worked five years ago isn't necessarily a best practice today. Following are some best practices you need to know.
- Know your keywords: Keywords are the words and phrases that people type into search engines to find what they're looking for. Keyword research is the first step in improving SEO. Discover what words your target market is using in relation to the product/service your company provides. This can be accomplished through the use of keyword research tools (Soolve, Jaaxy, Google Search Console, Ahrefs Keywords, SECockpit, Google Keyword Planner, etc.). Incorporate keywords into your content, meaningfully. Let them inform your subheadings, page titles and long-tail keyword choices. Find related, supporting keywords and include them in your content.
- Create quality content: Quality content increases your ranking. It needs to be engaging, answer your customer's questions, provide insights, educate and contain keywords. Incorporate your keywords near the top of your page as this holds more weight with Google. Strive to solve problems, share learnings and challenge misconceptions. Offer new angles, data and perspectives. Make sure your content is error, grammar and spelling free. Use short paragraphs, mixed sentence length, sub-headings, bullet points, images and screenshots. Prevent overwhelm by breaking up large chunks of text with supporting media (photos, videos, graphs). Refresh old posts with updated information and extra content.
- Pay attention to images: When you land on a website that uses dated images it's easy to question the quality of the rest of its content. By using better images, you increase user trust and ensure your website is appealing and well-branded. Visual examples are also a great way to use images to your advantage. The smaller the image the better. Utilize image compression tools. Add alt text to describe your visuals to search engine crawlers. Keep it under 125 characters. Include one main keyword for context.
- Earn authoritative backlinks: Backlinks are votes of confidence received from other reputable sites. The more you have, the higher Google ranks your website. Focus your efforts on building high-quality backlinks. Build them naturally or opt for the paid route (launch outreach campaigns to win backlinks).
- Create an internal linking strategy: An internal link is a reference to another page on the same site and is implemented via page navigation. Internal linking is related to content on your web pages. It helps Google acquire a picture of your site structure; determining page rank and authority. Research the current state of your internal links. Go down your list of related content and interlink it with your hub/pillar pages where it makes sense. Use relevant anchor text to add your link.
- Align content with search intent: Search/user intent is the purpose behind a query. Understanding and satisfying search intent is critical. Consider what searchers want to learn about, what page they wish to find, if they're ready to purchase and what specific product/service will satisfy their need(s). Provide appropriate content.
- Write compelling title tags and meta descriptions: Title tags are clickable headlines that appear in SERPs, signalling to Google what your page is about. They give users a quick insight into the content and are the primary information that searchers use to decide which result to click. Keep them between 50 to 60 characters, include target keywords, match search intent, and make them descriptive and precise. Meta tags are used to describe the content of a page. They're displayed below the title and URL of your page in the SERP and inform and interest users with a short, relevant summary of the page. Make your summary accurate and succinct, between 155 and 160 characters. Use keywords and match search intent.
- Use keywords in your URLs: Focus your URL (uniform resource locator) on the most common and most searched keywords. Construct them logically and in a manner intelligible to users. Make them short.
- Improve UX (user experience): Search engines place emphasis on sites that deliver quality user experiences across platforms and devices. Your website should be quick to load, easy to use and intuitive to navigate. Each link should work, taking your visitors to the information they're looking for.
- Use headers & subheadings: Good use of headers & subheadings (H1, H2, H3) helps Google understand your content and makes your text more accessible to readers
- Make your site mobile-friendly: Mobile friendliness is critical when it comes to UX as Google uses mobile-first indexing. You can use Google's mobile-friendly test to see how your site performs.
- Improve your navigation: One of the best ways to improve site navigation is to revise your main menu. Does it have any categories that could be subcategories? Does it include any categories that could be removed? The easier it is to navigate your website, the longer your visitors will stay and browse. The goal is to create a welcoming experience for both new and repeat users.
- Improve site speed: Nobody likes to wait on websites that take forever to load. A slow website increases your bounce rate and lowers your number of sessions. Take the time to optimize your blog posts for speed and make sure your technical SEO is in good order. Compress images when possible, use caching plugins and test your loading speed with free tools like PageSpeed Insights to monitor your progress. Speed can make or break your site's performance in search results.
- Lazy-load your images: Lazy loading defers the loading of non-critical resources (images, videos, etc.) when loading a page. These elements are only loaded when a user needs them, reducing initial page load time, initial page weight and system resources. This improves performance.
- Watch for broken links: Broken links happen for a variety of reasons. You don't want them lingering in your content. Consider revisiting older content to check for broken links. Fixing broken links improves the user experience and is also something search engines look at as part of their greater ranking algorithm.
- Consider voice search: 27% of the online global population is using voice search on mobile. Since voice search and text search are used differently, you need to optimize for voice search.
- Utilize local listings: 46% of all searches on Google are from people looking for local information. This includes local shops, opening hours, telephone numbers and addresses. Search engines rely on these data aggregators. If you have a brick-and-mortar business you need to list with internet directories (Yellow pages, Google my business, Yelp, etc). Be sure to include important details like extra locations, your latest opening hours and what forms of payment are acceptable.
- Measure SEO performance: To understand what content has appealed to your customers/clients, what portion of your website has UX issues, which page has the most/least visits, which SEO changes resulted in higher rankings and what style of keyword you should focus on, you need to monitor, report and analyze your results.
- Update your XML sitemap: If your website has gone through a number of changes, update your XML sitemap so crawlers can index your website more efficiently. This ensures search engines discover all your content.
- Hire an expert: To ensure your SEO is truly optimized, hire a digital marketing agency. They can audit your site, determine how it is performing, provide you with a prioritized list of action items and help you implement them. They can analyze results and make appropriate changes. A digital marketing company can take you to the next level of SEO optimization.
SEO is important for businesses in any industry. To avoid getting left behind, stay on top of the latest SEO trends and best practices. Keep your strategies flexible and be prepared to change to meet the requirements of a constantly evolving search environment.
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