- Ensure your website is responsive
The first port of call when seeking to maximise SEO is of course your website. In the past two years the mobile phone has pulled ahead of desktop and laptop computers as the device of choice for internet browsing. Hence it is critical that you ensure all aspects of your website are responsive and capable of adapting to the screen of the user; specifically it should be able to adapt to smartphones as well as desktops. Touch compatibility, media display, loading time and a URL that allows seamless alternating between different devices are just a few web design areas that need to be perfected for the ideal mobile friendly site.
By focusing on responsiveness, you will not only gain an advantage over competitors who reacted slowly to the increased mobile demand but will also retain a large proportion of visitors who now use their smartphones as their sole devices. According to a detailed study by Google from late 2016, this percentage is almost 50% of all users.
It is well known that Google and other major search engines place responsive websites results higher in rankings, particularly on mobile phone searches. Easy navigation and reading with a minimum of resizing, scrolling and redirecting also helps to prolong reader’s engagement time with the content, another important metric for search engines.
- Publish a blog
In terms of content, the general consensus as of 2018 is that depth of information covered is as important as breadth. Users want to be able to get detailed answers and descriptions rather than outlines relating to their search queries. Search engines are keyed in to this and as such prioritise websites with a wider range of related content. Herein lies the reason why a blog should be a priority for anyone seeking to better their SEO: it is a valuable tool to promote your brand, improve your reputation and draw increased traffic.
When creating a post, it is crucial to maintain a balance between cramming in as many keywords as possible and paying them no attention whatsoever. The former action actually impacts your rankings negatively as Google recognises it as ‘keyword stuffing’. Also for the reader, adding in keywords at the end for optimisation makes for a poor reading experience. Ideally, you should seek out 1 or 2 long-tail keywords that are highly relevant to the content and sit easily with the writing style. These are best included in the following parts of your blog:
- Title (within the first 65 words);
- Body and headers (once again with the natural flow of the writing);
- Description (if present).
A simple tip to grow your average dwell time per visitor is to incorporate internal links to other related content on your website within your blog. Finally, remember that images can be just as important as text, and should be optimised as well by changing the alt text; for example, IMG3348494 can be easily changed to ‘children-in-a-classroom’. The overall effect on SEO will not be as much as the writing though.
- Utilise social media
Even if your website is visually stunning and comprehensive, it does not provide any guarantee of increased visitor traffic. Social media platforms nowadays provide search engines within themselves – a large and growing proportion of internet users use them daily to find and follow brands, media personalities, businesses, etc. Although social media links may not be a definite ranking factor when it comes to search engine results, there is definitely a strong correlation between share, like and follower numbers and growth in visitor traffic. Plainly speaking, the higher these numbers are, the more people will see your content and want to link to it or visit your website. As users are free to follow and share the content they are interested in, your website popularity and conversion rates have far more growth potential. Social media provides you with a ready-made potential audience; all you have to do is reach out and grab their attention.
Effective social media management requires strategy and commitment to build a solid follower base. It involves posting high-quality content regularly and engaging directly with users, for instance via competitions, giveaways, dedicated hashtags or sponsoring social media influencers with a similar target audience to that of your business.
Over time followers will likely associate your brand or website with certain keywords or phrases, which when used in searches will increase association and raise your rankings for that particular term.
- Exploit video
YouTube is another platform that should not be overlooked (remember Google own it). Searches on its website tend to be less commercially related, but it is still valuable as a source of PR. As the largest video sharing network online at the moment, publishing promotional materials on YouTube can lead to further opportunities to link your website or content. This leads us to the fact that a study by Cisco demonstrates that by 2021, online video will make up a full 80% of all online traffic! Despite the fact that the volume of video content is more than ever before, there is still a steadily growing demand. Views of such promotional content are likely to be higher and result in increased conversion rates. Updates to Google have begun to include YouTube results in image and text search results, meaning that video creators can further promote their online presence.
Incorporating video into the content of your website, such as a blog insert, holds reader’s attention and can substantially raise average dwell time. This in turn improves SEO by indicating to search engines that your content is engaging.
- Optimize for voice search
With the widespread introduction of ‘intelligent’ digital assistants – such as Siri, Cortana and Alexa, to name just a few – the popularity of voice searching has gone up immensely. The rising trend of phrasing queries in natural language, as though having a conversation, seems set to continue in 2018. To optimise search engine rankings for this, it is essential to update content to include some full-length question and answers, long-tail keywords and naturally flowing sentences. If done well this could even lead to your content comprising a snippet or answer box as the first-ranked result on search engines like Google.