It can take time to manage an effective SEO strategy, but it is worth putting in the hard yards to push your pages up the search rankings.
According to data from HubSpot, three quarters of users never navigate past page one of SERPs This is why you need to back up your content marketing with general website and SEO optimisation to support better search performance.
Match content with search intent
Content always needs to satiate some sort of user intent, and this extends to search where people will be entering queries with the aim of getting the information they need. Alignin content with that search intent will lead to a notable boost in Google rankings.
There are four basic forms of search intent: informational, transaction, navigational and commercial. Which one of these four intents your content should be optimised for usually depends on the topic and keywords you are targeting.
For example, if you have your sights set on the ‘best cloud computing service’ as keywords, then the content that aligns with that should be commercial rather than transactional, as the user has yet to decide on the service they will buy into and is looking for content that can aid their decision-making.
Transactional intent occurs when a user knows exactly the product or service they want to purchase. In this content, that could be ‘Amazon Web Services pricing’.
Crafting content that feeds into search intent will improve your SEO results, so always consider the wants and needs of your target audience.
Optimise URL structure
URL structure is not something that webmasters and marketers usually consider when attempting to optimise for SEO, but it can make a difference, according to Google.
The tech giant says: “A site’s URL structure should be as simple as possible. Consider organizing your content so that URLs are constructed logically and in a manner that is most intelligible to humans (when possible, readable words rather than long ID numbers).”
There is no clear definition for what constitutes a well-structured URL, but you should try to use shorter web addresses where possible as a Backlinko study found that they are better in the performance stakes than longer ones in SERPs. You should also include target keywords to support your SEO efforts.
The use of ‘stop words’ is also debated by SEO experts. Some believe that getting rid of words such as ‘with’, ‘is’ and ‘a’ can make URLs look cleaner, while others argue that removing them without considering context can lead to URLs being read differently by users. The latter is not preferable for search.
When deciding whether to remove stop words, consider the performance of your URLs. If they are already generating decent levels of traffic, then it may not be wise to change them. Regardless, it is not a good idea to enable the removal of stop words as a default option.
Use internal links to establish a hierarchy
Internal links are great for giving your website structure. This is because they establish an information hierarchy that Google refers to when attempting to understand the content on webpages. Brands have been able to increase organic traffic significantly just by optimising in this area.
Using internal links is one of the easiest SEO best practices to implement. All you have to do is identify a few of your top-ranking pages and then add links from them to other pages on your site that need a bump in visibility.
You can also use online tools to run an internal linking report to see whether your overall link structure is ‘healthy’. This report will identify problems so that you can start fixing them.
Focus on user experience
The importance of page speed has been well documented in recent months following Google’s announcement that it will start using a new ranking signal that takes factors such as loading, interactivity and visual stability into account.
Now is a great time to give your webpages a little TLC. By providing a better user experience, you will benefit in SERPs performance.
There are a few quick tweaks you can implement to improve your website. You can:
- Implement subheadings correctly to enhance accessibility for readers and to help Google understand what your content is about.
- Remove any popups that could be intrusive or annoying for visitors as Google is now penalising sites for this.
- Make good use of white space to aid reading comprehension.
- Use stock images as headers and sprinkle in relevant images to make content visually appealing.
Start using long-form content
Short-form, snackable content will always have a place, especially on social media, but there is growing evidence that long-form articles and blogs are generally better for ranking higher in Google’s search results.
A recent SEMrush study found that long-form content drives a significant uptick in traffic, shares and backlinks.
Fortunately, you don’t have to change your strategy too much to accommodate longer-form output. Start by targeting the publication of one or two 1,000-plus-word articles and see how these perform.
There is no need to rush here. Work with an agency to get the right articles for your business. They should be based on a topic that will allow you to explore things that audiences want to hear about.
While written content is the cornerstone of high-quality output, you still need to support it with technical optimisation to drive organic traffic.
Like page speed, images also have a role to play in SEO. Your images should be optimised to reduce the weight and overall size of pages to improve performance.
You can optimise images by selecting the best file format, compressing your images accordingly, including alt text for images and adopting a ‘lazy load’ technique.
On the latter, Google notes: “When we lazy load images and video, we reduce initial page load time, initial page weight, and system resource usage, all of which have positive impacts on performance.”
SEO is an ongoing process, and by implementing a range of best practices and making small tweaks to your strategies, you can achieve higher rankings in search and reap the rewards that higher visibility, traffic and sales can bring.