I know, I know! I’m harping on this topic but, frankly one of the most confounding aspects for anyone managing their own or a client’s website is the problem of staying on top of the algorithm changes and expert suggestions for improving SEO. For this designer, whose specialty is not SEO, the donkey and carrot aspect of chasing the perfect optimization for my clients is nearly a full time job! If you’re managing your own website it can be a nightmare. You can (and probably should) hire an SEO firm, but if you’re a startup or small firm the cost can be prohibitive. So I’ve compiled a list of expert opinions that I’ve gathered and am putting to use.
For 2015 and beyond, I believe that the most important thing is CONTENT, with more specific content becoming more and more important. According to one expert, with whom I agree, use your content to teach, not just to sound like an expert, but to give readers something they can take away. Beyond that, here is a brief list of important things to consider and strategies that experts consider important going forward:
- Track user interface and find ways to increase their time on your site. Google looks at that as well as how many people leave quickly (bounce rate) to judge content quality.
- Do not let your content go stale. Keep it up to date and add new content often (as often as you can, but at least weekly)
- Make sure that your content is thorough and complete. As one expert put it, “meaty.” Don’t skip on the details.
- It’s critical to have a mobile friendly site. The technical term for this is “Responsive.” Your web developer can help you with this
- Stay away from bias. Lay all your cards on the table in your content. Search engines are looking for objective honesty and will get better and better at finding it.
- Mix up your method of delivery to keep your content fresh and interesting. Multimedia is also becoming more of a SEO factor of quality content.
- Use Hummingbird-friendly keywords on your pages. Per “guest” expert in an article on Search Engine Watch “Hummingbird brought a change in the way Google parses queries. Instead of matching up separate keywords to pages, it’s now looking for actual search intent.”
- Keywords (or in reality key phrases) while no longer used for ranking, still are important, keep them as specific to your niche as you can. Make them more conversational. With the above mentioned algorithm change came the ability for users to ask specific questions, that you must answer specifically to get the user to your site.
- Use the following categories to create content and keyword them accordingly: informational (educational content), navigational (branding content), and transactional (purchase interests-should lead to a key phrased page with purchasing type words).
- Check and fix any broken links and 404 errors, which can harm ranking.
- I’ve often stated that inbound links help your ranking, but that they must be relevant. Now it’s very important that, not only are they relevant, but that you don’t have too many. It’s better to have a few really important relevant links (from professional organizations, from articles you’ve written, from partners and vendors) than a bunch of barely relatable links.
- Focus on Fewer, Hard-Earned Links
It’s much better to have multiple links from several niche authority sites than hundreds of single links from second-rate sites. You can build these three ways:
- Editorial Links: These are the gold standard for links, coming from mentions of your company by the media, as well as via op-ed or thought-leadership articles you write and publish on third-party sites. To succeed with the latter, you must understand the site’s audience, find a topic that’s interesting and not too promotional, and, when it’s published, share it on social media.
- Co-Citation: Each time your brand or a link to your site appears along with competitors or similar Web resources, it serves as a hint to Google that your firm and those other companies are related. If the competitors are already authoritative in your business niche, your site for Google now also seems a weighty niche representative. One tactic to achieve co-citations is to perform a Google search for lists such as top 10 [generic term for your business], or best [generic term for your product] of 2013. If your business isn’t there, reach out to the publishers and ask them to put you on the list. Be sure to make the case for why you should be included, and make it easy for them to do so by writing suggested copy that aligns with the rest of the list.
- Broken Link-Building: This is a laborious but very useful tactic in which you hunt for broken links on those authoritative niche sites, and propose that the publishers substitute your link instead. Start by reverse-engineering competitors’ backlink profiles to see which niche resources link to them. Next, check all the links on those resources to find broken ones.
- Focus on Fewer, Hard-Earned Links
- I will talk about this in greater detail in an later post but consider purchasing a security certificate for your site. (HTTPS) Google is only giving secure sites a 1% ranking increase at this time, but plans are in the works to increase the pressure on website owners to secure their sites.
These tips are sensible and reasonably simple, but can be time consuming for most website owners. There are quite a few SEO experts out there who can help you as can most web developers and designers.
What have you found to be the most helpful for your ranking? I’d love to hear your opinions!
My expert sources for this post: http://www.thesaleslion.com/future-google-seo-2015/ and