Everything You Need to Know About SEO
If your search engine optimization (SEO) plan involves stuffing as many keywords as possible into a blog post in hopes of earning a coveted spot in Google’s search results list, it’s time to try a new strategy. The world of SEO is complex and ever-changing, which means your strategy needs to be in a constant state of development and evaluation. SEO is paramount in reaching your target audience.
With so many SEO techniques recommended by marketing gurus, it can become confusing to decide which methods will give your brand the biggest return for your time investment. If you want to improve your organic search rankings, it’s going to take more than building links and cranking out content. Google uses more than 200 ranking factors to determine your SEO standing, but we’ll focus on the factors that research shows are the most important.
Top SEO Ranking Factors
It turns out, we’re all in a hurry when we’re searching for stuff online. Nearly half (47%) of consumers expect a webpage to load in two seconds or less. If your website is taking a Sunday stroll to completely load, your users aren’t going to stick around, and if they do, they won’t be too happy about it.
A one-second delay in page response can result in a 7% loss in conversions. Your customers aren’t the only ones paying attention to load time. Search engines will drastically cut your organic listing space if your pages are slow. Take inventory of your site speed and use these tips to improve load time:
- Optimize image size (compress images to a smaller size)
- Minimize custom coding
- Keep CMS up to date
- Eliminate or reduce redirects
Keep pace with your users by monitoring your website speed and addressing pages that lag when loading.
2. Build Links
Linking out to other credible webpages gives your website some authority in the eyes of Google and other search engines. When you link users to reliable, relevant content, search engines take note. Don’t think of outbound links as losing traffic but, rather, as a way to benefit your audience. Plus, offering outbound links is the mandated courtesy if you want to gain inbound links. Of the websites that create backlinks, 73.6% have reciprocal links, meaning a portion of the sites they link to also link back to them.
One of the best ways to build inbound links is to share your content with the site you linked in your blog. When you show other brand owners that you’ve linked to their site, they’ll likely be more willing to link to your content, share it on social, or email the article out to their subscriber list.
3. Valuable Content
The folks at Google are smart, like, really smart. So, attempting to manipulate the search engine by using specific keywords is not only outdated, but it can also lead to your website taking some hard hits when it comes to search results ranking. Google algorithms take into consideration the user’s intent, not just the keyword typed into the search bar.
For example, the algorithms are sophisticated enough to know that if you type in the word “McDonald’s,” you’re most likely looking for a McDonald’s restaurant closest to you, not the company’s headquarters in Chicago. You boost your organic search results by writing for humans, not the search engines. When you create valuable, useful content, the search engines will reward you.
4. Customize Meta Descriptions
Meta descriptions are the short paragraphs that appear beneath search engine result URLs. These descriptions should describe the unique content found on a specific page. Avoid using a one-size-fits-all meta description and opt for customized content. Meta descriptions should be 155–160 characters, so it’s important to naturally incorporate your keywords to give the user and search engines the best possible overview of your page’s content.
5. Use Keywords for Images
Just under 20% of Google search queries return an image. How you title and caption the images on your site can have a big impact on your SEO. Optimize your image title, ALT text, and caption to represent the image content in a relevant, clear way.
SEO Best Practices
Improving your organic reach is simpler than you think. Incorporating SEO best practices, supplemented with other marketing strategies, like social media, vanity phone numbers, and video will strengthen your brand’s credibility with Google and other search engines.