If you work in marketing, build websites, or manage your business’s social media, you’ve probably heard enough about SEO in the last few years to last a lifetime. Search engine optimization is an important — and overly hyped — technique for getting your business’s website to show up high in search rankings and, in turn, have more people aware of who you are and what you do. And while you may have reached your saturation point in hearing about, talking about, and actually practicing SEO, the plain and simple truth is that it still matters. In fact, it matters a lot.
What’s more, SEO has evolved in terms of approach and methodology in the past few years, with web users migrating from desktop and laptop to mobile, and with searches moving from typed to voice commands. What this means for marketers is that the SEO practices you had honed and refined over the past few years need to be updated and refreshed for more contemporary search habits. How can you shore up your SEO efforts so they retain their effectiveness in the shifting search landscape? Here are five tips.
- Do your keyword research. If you know what people are searching for, you can better position your website to come up as a result. Take some time to come up with a list of possible keywords that relate to your company, focusing especially on what’s called long tail keywords, or longer phrases that specifically relate to your business, as more and more web users are searching for specific things rather than more general terms. Once you’ve got your list, type them into Google to see what comes up, and also what other similar keywords people search for (down at the bottom of the page). Then, use a tool like KWFinder, HubSpot’s Keyword Tool, or one of many other keyword research options to find the best keywords for your site.
- Aim for rich answers. Rich answers are featured blurbs at the top of a Google query that answer or address the search. If you can set up your website to provide rich answers, you’ll jump to the top of the search rankings and almost guarantee that searchers will click on your site first. What’s more, anticipating questions and providing potential rich answers is becoming more important as web users search more by voice and less by typing. As for how to do this, it goes back to keyword research and understanding which questions users are searching and then structuring your content accordingly. A common approach is to use the question as a headline on your website and then write a succinct answer in the first paragraph, with further elaboration in the rest of the written content
- Ensure your images are SEO optimized. This largely means using high quality and relevant photos on your website, but it also means images that are sized properly, load quickly, and contain descriptive alt-tags with appropriate keywords. Images that look good to the human eye and to Google’s SEO algorithm will help to boost your results ranking.
- Be a regular guest blogger for businesses with high-ranking websites. At first glance, this may not seem like an SEO strategy, but when you create great content for a quality blog that’s not affiliated with your business, you can include a short (think two or three sentences) author bio and a link to your company’s site. Not only will regular readers of the blog be interested in you and your business, but the link from another quality website will boost your ranking.
- Remember that the principles of good website creation still apply. Sometimes, we can get so caught up in the new approaches that we forget the original practices. These include good design, fast load times, no broken links, high quality content, an engaging UX, and especially mobile-friendly responsive design. All of these factors still count, as they all seem to be high on the list of Google’s SEO priorities.