Google is on a mission to provide “relevant and reliable” information to users every time a search query is entered. If your webpages fail to live up to meet its standards, there is no middle ground – they will not feature in search engine results pages (SERPs) and your website rankings could suffer as a result.
Fortunately, it is not a lost cause if you are struggling right now. You can make changes and implement a new SEO strategy that will get you moving onwards and upwards in a quest for the holy grail of a number one ranking in search.
Write more content
There has been a debate about the quality and quantity of content in recent years and how best to balance the two. Being able to deliver high-quality articles or blogs is obviously the goal, but if you are not backing them up with a compelling body of work or accurate web copy, your performance in SERPs can fade.
The solution is to mark up more content for Google to index and rank. Google will always be happy to put your content front and centre in search if it satisfies search intent and offers value. By following SEO best practices, the more content you can create, the better your rankings will be.
Organic search will be a premium during the next few months as marketers attempt to optimise budgets. Being able to distribute cost-effective content, en masse, will lead to more natural search traffic, which could help you to move from the second page of SERPs to a top 10 listing or better.
Even articles that include a litany of references to your products and services – something that generally goes against the customer-centric idea of content marketing – can meet Google’s quality standards when supplemented by tips and advice that address customer pain points or issues.
Be helpful, be relevant
If you have recently conducted a content gap analysis and have identified a list of relevant keywords and topics, you should be able to work with a third-party agency to come up with a mix of content formats that will boost your SEO efforts.
You could, for example, create a 1,000 or 1,500-word editorial and link to it from your webpages and mention stats, data and findings in subsequent thought leadership articles. In the current marketing climate, evergreen content and FAQs pages should also be near the top of your hit list. Being helpful and relevant will trump everything else as audiences make sense of the coronavirus and how it could impact their lives moving forward.
Long form wins out
This trend has been prevalent for so long now that it may as well be a hard, fast rule for SEO success. Long-form content really works when trying to improve rankings in SERPs. While going all out and producing a 3,000-word piece may be a step too far depending on the circumstances, try to increase your word counts where possible.
The main reason for this is Google’s desire to serve up content that matches a user’s search intent. Google’s algorithm favours content that can answer all potential queries and questions in a single piece rather than offering up a range of pages piecemeal.
Content Marketing Institute often publishes articles that are around 1,000 words or longer, and through this commitment to long form, it has been able to secure top 10 rankings for more than 100 keywords or phrases.
Fix anything that’s not ranking
Not all web copy ranks well. In fact, research shows that a staggering 90.63% of all the pages on the web don’t generate an ounce of traffic. You are more than likely to have pages that are not delivering any returns in search. Now is the time to revisit them, determine the problem that is preventing them from ranking, and update them accordingly.
Begin your analysis by asking yourself whether the content is too short. Compare your pages to competing websites targeting the same keyword or phrase and see whether a more in-depth and detailed page might work better. Other potential problems could include content headers that are not keyword rich, a lack of quality backlinks, targeted keywords that are simply too competitive, and content that is no longer relevant or outdated.
After making the changes, it may take a month or two for Google to take the new signals into account and for the backlinks to start working in order for pages to move up the rankings. Try to prioritise more important changes when fixing things as updating every single page is not often feasible. If a page is not working at all, consider removing it entirely and creating new content from scratch.
Review internal links
Links are fundamental to Google’s algorithm and are another piece of the SEO puzzle. Building backlinks and internal links will make it easier for you to rank for target keywords and promote pages on your site that need more reviews. If you already have a few links in place, add new internal links rather than removing them.
Internal links improve your site architecture and support link equity across similar websites. Google often displays websites with sitelinks in search rankings, which makes it easier for users to navigate to the pages directly. These sites also have a more visible and stronger presence in SERPs. The main takeaway, then, is to review your internal links regularly.
Optimise image usage
Images also play a part in supporting the context of search queries. There is no definitive rule for how Google displays images as it varies across desktop and mobile. However, images do make up around a fifth of a webpage’s ‘weight’, according to HTTP Archive, and can have a direct impact on page load speed and site performance. It is in your best interests to optimise your pages as just a three-second or longer load time can lead to a 40% abandonment rate.
To improve your chances of ranking, follow a few SEO best practices for images. You should attempt to resize them and select the right compression rate, add captions to offer relevant information, use dashes to break up keywords in the names of files, and write descriptive alt text.
With all of the above in place, you can expect to see your Google rankings improve demonstrably over the coming weeks and months.