Get The Basics Right
Each page should include your target keyword(s) in:
- The page title
- H1 & H2 headings
- Image alt tags
- A few times in the body text
- The meta description; whilst the presence of your keyword(s) in the meta description has no bearing on SEO performance, it’s still a good idea to have it in there as the words contained within the user’s search query will be highlighted in bold within the description.
High Quality Content Is Everything
Onsite content is the single most important factor that determines rankings in organic search. When somebody searches for something in a search engine, this is known as a search query. Whether they’ve typed a phrase, such as ‘used car dealers’ or explicitly asked a question, such as ‘how did World War II begin?’, a search engine will attempt to source the best answer to these queries.
Now, suppose Google finds 2 websites that both supply answers to the latter query but website (a) answers the question with a single brief paragraph while website (b) offers a comprehensive explanation, spanning hundreds of words and provides links to various other pages that are all highly relevant to the original query. Which website do you think Google is most likely to rank in the top position? Website (b) will almost always rank higher than website (a).
The only exception to this would be if website (a) had managed to attract a considerable amount of high quality backlinks. Given the fact that high authority sites only tend to link to high quality pages, this scenario is highly unlikely, however.
The content must be well-written, relevant to the original query and be of a suitable length. It’s often considered ‘good SEO practice’ to have at least 300 words per page, but understand that there’s no such thing as too much content. You will never be penalised for having an excessive amount of copy. High quality, high quantity content is looked upon favourably by all search engines and you will be richly rewarded for it.
Backlinks Are as Valuable as Ever
In the past, it was possible to manipulate your rankings simply by obtaining a large quantity of poor quality external links (backlinks). Now it’s not the case. Just as it is with onsite content, a strong emphasis is placed on the quality of your backlinks. Backlinks are most beneficial for rankings when they are from an authoritative source that is relevant to your content that they are linking to. Link diversity is also important. Multiple backlinks from the same domain are less valuable than ones that originate from different sources.
So how do you secure high quality backlinks for your website?
- Publish captivating articles about interesting topics on your blog and promote them on social media; great articles that are well publicised will encourage a high level of user engagement and increases the chances of someone referencing your article and providing a subsequent backlink
- Create quality articles and seek to get them published on prominent websites
- Design an infographic that contains compelling information about a particular topic; infographics are a powerful way to attract backlinks as they allow you to display a lot of important facts in a short amount of time. People are much more likely to absorb all the info on your infographic than they are to read through your entire article, word for word
Optimise for Mobile Devices
According to an article by Stone Temple, 56% of all internet users access the internet with a mobile device and this stat is increasing in favour of mobile, all the time. Depending on the stats retrieved for your website from Google Analytics, it may be even more skewed towards mobile than this. For this reason, it’s essential that all websites are optimised for mobile devices.
Here’s a checklist that lists the ways of best optimising your site for mobile:
- Ensure your website is responsive and displaying correctly on mobile screens of all sizes (tablets, smartphones); this means no zooming required, a user interface that is mobile-friendly and allows for quick and easy access to all pages. Usability is especially important for e-commerce sites, where a poorly optimised site will be horrible to navigate on a mobile device
- Avoid using Adobe Flash; this content does not display on mobile platforms and is often even blocked by desktop users by default who use ad blocker plugins for their web browser
- Be certain that your website is suitably fast for mobile; use Google’s mobile speed tester
HTTPS is the secure version of HTTP, which adds encryption to all data sent and received from the website you are connected to. Although mandatory for e-commerce sites, Google now recommends the adoption of HTTPS by all websites and is now a rankings factor. If your website doesn’t have HTTPS implemented but you’d like to switch over, get in touch with your web host provider.
Loading Times Matter
Nobody enjoys waiting forever for pages to load and neither does Google. Slow websites affect user experience and result in higher bounce rates (bounce rate refers to the number visitors who exit your website after only viewing a single page). Loading times are now a Google rankings factor. So how can you speed up your website?
- Optimise the size of your images
- Enable web page compression
- Use browser caching
- Limit the amount of plugins
- Avoid redirects where possible
Be sure to use Google’s PageSpeed tool to measure your site’s current performance
Acquire Featured Snippets
Even if you’re unfamiliar with the term ‘Featured Snippets’ (also known as Google’s Rich Answers, Rich Answer Box), you’ve no doubt seen them countless times before. When you enter a query into Google search, the standard list of 10 organic results is displayed, but you will also sometimes see an additional result displayed at the very top of the page. This is a featured snippet.
The featured snippet includes a short answer to your original query, along with a link to the website that the snippet is sourced from. Not surprisingly, getting your website to appear as the featured snippet for a particular query can be highly lucrative.
So how do you get your website to appear in a Featured Snippet?
Whilst there’s no guaranteed method of being listed in the Featured Snippet, there are ways in which you can improve your chances:
- Have a high organic ranking for the query (top 5)
- Provide a comprehensive, well written and well-structured answer to the query
- Ensure that the query is included as a heading on your page and is accompanied by a concise answer that is contained with a single paragraph. This will be used as the snippet by Google
- Be willing to try different things; if your site is ranking well in organic search for a particular query and you believe that everything is correctly structured on your page, don’t be afraid to made adjustments to the arrangement of the content. A good of rule of thumb is to replicate the format of the existing featured snippet. If the current snippet is displayed in bulleted points but your own answer is contained within a paragraph, try converting it to bulleted points as well
A local citation refers to any web page that contains your business name, address and phone number (NAP). They help local residents uncover your business, learn more about your operation and are an important factor for helping your business rank in Google local search listings. Google local listings give you an extra opportunity to obtain visitors from organic search. Citations can be created by submitting your business details to local directories, industry specific sites, social media business pages and any other page that allows you to list your business details.
Where your business ranks in Google local search listings depends on a number of factors:
- The number of citations your business has
- The consistency of your citations – it’s important to ensure that your submissions contain the same NAP details on each site
- The authority of the websites that your citations are listed on
It’s a good idea to examine all of your existing citations and check that your business details are correct. A quick way to do this is to simply type the name of your business into a search engine and see which sites it appears on. A lot of the prominent directories will typically appear towards the top of the search listings, so you won’t have trouble inspecting your citations.