Whether you are a young entrepreneur, a seasoned business owner, or you have just been hired as a marketing professional straight out of college, the truth is that you may be approaching Search Engine Optimization (SEO) the wrong way. If your goal is to do the least amount of work for the greatest immediate return, you won’t see the results you are hoping for. Instead, it’s important to understand that SEO is a long-term investment of time, effort, and money. If you invest big, you will benefit from large returns for years to come.
Although there are search engines online aside from Google (such as Bing, Yahoo, and DuckDuckGo), Google is the most used search engine in the world. (Its popularity is apparent when you consider that “Google” has become a verb – “just Google it!”) While you might feel like you are missing opportunities by ignoring these smaller search engines, Google’s sheer volume makes it clear that your SEO efforts should be focused on Google rankings.
According to comScore’s most recent search engine rankings, “Google Sites led the explicit core search market in 2016 with 64 percent of search queries conducted.”
- Google sites: 64 percent
- Microsoft sites: 21.4 percent
- Yahoo sites: 12.2 percent
- Ask Network: 1.6 percent
- AOL: 0.9 percent
The Big G
Google’s goal is to show the most relevant search results for any query a user enters. The results are generated through proprietary algorithms (computer logic and coding) that rank results based on keywords, longevity on the web, and several other factors. To maximize customer satisfaction with search results, Google frequently updates their ranking algorithms. This means that businesses in the digital marketplace cannot become complacent; you must always be ready to update your digital content to improve your rankings. Keep reading to find out what you can do to rank well with Google and increase visits to your website.
Website Health & Google’s Trust
Not only do you need to stay on top of Google’s changing algorithms every year, but you must also keep your website healthy and secure. When your website is down or is labeled on Google as being infected with malware, it costs you money and rank. If Google doesn’t trust your website, it won’t rank it. End of story (and your web traffic!).
How can you keep your website healthy? First, make sure your website is built by a professional web developer (like Array Digital) and hosted by a trusted web hosting company. Second, make sure you have a continual support plan with a provider who will:
- monitor your website’s security
- enable HTTPS (SSL certificates)
- create daily or monthly backups
- update plugins and software on a monthly basis
- alert you if your website is down
- provide a weekly or monthly health report
- protect your investment and gain Google’s trust
Mobile Responsive Websites and Mobile-First Indexing
Today, everyone relies on their cell phones for information at their fingertips, which means that a mobile responsive website is a necessity. Nearly 60 percent of web searches now originate from mobile devices.
If your website is already mobile responsive, that’s a great step. But have you heard about mobile-first indexing? It may sound similar, but this is a new change that is coming soon. Google’s ranking system currently prioritizes the desktop version of a page. This can be a problem from an SEO standpoint, especially if the mobile version of a page differs from the desktop version in terms of content and user experience. In November 2016, Google started experimenting with mobile-first indexing. Their algorithm will increasingly use the mobile version of a website to rank its pages, instead of focusing only on the desktop content.
To get the most out of Google’s mobile-first indexing, make sure the content and links on the mobile site are similar enough to the desktop version for Google to consume the proper content, and rank your site as well as it did by crawling your desktop version.
Content Is Still King
Consistently solid content can send you up to the top of Google’s Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). There are several important factors to consider when creating quality content that improves your ranking.
Bigger is better! Studies show the average content length of each of the top 10 results of the searches performed was more than 2,000 words. Search engines seem to love long content. 2,000 words is about four single-spaced pages, so it requires a bit of time, patience, and focus to create quality content of this length. But don’t get discouraged or overwhelmed – just start writing, and try your best to produce clear content that will appeal to your target audience. If you have the budget, you can hire freelance writers to create web content for you. As a point of reference for length, this article is just over 1000 words.
Keywords and Synonyms
Keywords are important, but don’t overstuff keywords in your content in an effort to rank well. This will upset Google’s Penguin algorithm, which can decrease your ranks. You will want to use exact match keywords in your articles, as well as Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords or synonyms. LSI is an algorithm used by search engines to detect words similar to the main keywords in the content. For example, if your keyword is “professional,” good synonyms to use could be “competent,” “efficient,” or “experienced.”
Use Internal Links
Use internal links in your content. These links allow users to navigate a website easily, help establish information hierarchy, and help spread ranking power around your website.
Include optimized images with alt text. Images and photos will help your reader better understand your article or content. A picture may be “worth a thousand words,” but alt text can enhance the power of that picture when users are searching for specific terms on Google.
Your Next Steps
If you are serious about making your business a success, invest in SEO. Spend the time and effort that is needed to provide great content that is easily crawlable, and make sure it gets plenty of links from top ranking sites. If you cannot afford to hire a full-time expert in-house, contact a local trusted company, like Array Digital, to begin drafting your roadmap to SEO success.