5 practical STEPS to improve your SEO
Richard Conway shares his best advice for driving customers to your website via Google search. With more than 3,000 updates annually, the Google search algorithm is always being refined and tweaked to optimise performance. While most of these changes are small, Google sometimes releases big updates which can significantly impact search results. It can be […]
Richard Conway shares his best advice for driving customers to your website via Google search.
With more than 3,000 updates annually, the Google search algorithm is always being refined and tweaked to optimise performance. While most of these changes are small, Google sometimes releases big updates which can significantly impact search results.
It can be difficult for small businesses to stay on top of all of these changing factors. So this article aims to distil what I see as the most important things that small businesses can do in 2020 to drive customers to their website via Google search.
Work towards making yourself an industry authority. You want to be quoted by other trusted websites and be interviewed in blogs, podcasts, newspapers, etc. The best way to achieve this is by producing high quality content yourself; research papers, white papers, industry news.
I have personally been doing this for a number of years, writing regular columns for various magazines and industry publications, including this one! I have had a book published by Penguin Random House, and I’m regularly interviewed and featured in the news. This means any new content I write on our company website is deemed as authoritative by Google, and therefore ranks well in the search results.
Think about the amount of video content you consume yourself. Cisco estimates that by 2021 a staggering 80 percent of all traffic online will be made up by video. Google has even started showing video content in its featured snippets above the organic results — commonly called position zero.
In order to best utilise video for search, you need to ensure the video is correctly optimised. There are plenty of resources online to tell you how to do this, but there are a few main things to consider. Be sure you have a title, description and tags associated with the video, and provide a video transcript if you can. Making sure all these boxes are ticked goes a long way in Google’s eyes.
Next, be sure to promote and grow your YouTube channel, and embed video as appropriate within content on your blog to help it draw in more views.
Voice Search and Featured Snippets
Although these are different, I have grouped them together because optimising for Featured Snippets is likely to improve your voice SEO significantly. As mentioned above, Featured Snippets are position zero in Google’s search results. They’re usually generated by Google from third party content to directly answer a user’s question.
In order for Google to display your content in a featured snippet, it is important to structure it correctly – framing your headings as questions or phrases and then answering them with lists or bullet points is a great way to do this. Google will match the search query to your header, see the bullet points beneath it, and pull them through to position zero to answer the user’s query.
It’s also critical that your website already ranks on the first page of Google for that particular query, and ideally your answers should be between 40 and 60 words.
The reason this helps your voice SEO is simple; people use complete sentences when Googling via voice search, instead of just a few keywords. Optimising your content to answer direct questions is the best way to accommodate voice search.
Backlinks and Content
Without a doubt the two factors that have the biggest impact on search rankings and your website traffic are content and backlinks. Both backlinks and content are inextricably connected – high quality, well distributed content is still the best way to obtain high quality backlinks.
For example, my company, Pure SEO, recently partnered with another SEO agency in Europe called Whites Agency. Together we undertook the first ever big-data analysis of SEO in relation to the online clothing industry in New Zealand. Even though the research paper was very technical in nature, it was picked up and distributed by the New Zealand Marketing Association and Idealog. Both of these sites linked back to where the content was hosted on our website, adding two valuable links to our backlink profile.
A small business could do something similar on a smaller scale. A good plan to start with might be interviewing someone significant in your industry for your blog, and asking them to link back to the interview.
The fundamentals of SEO are still as important today as they’ve ever been. Make sure you undertake good keyword research, and fully understand the search intent of your customers. Every page on your website should have a unique meta title tag, which should contain relevant keyword phrases, and should be kept to 60 characters or under (technically, Google’s limit is 600 pixels).
Every page should also have a unique meta description. The meta description should be about 160 characters long, relevant to the page, and should entice the searcher to click on your website, rather than anyone else’s. Keep your site structure simple, and try to place relevant keywords in your URLs.
The shifting sands of Google will continue to undulate over the coming year, but the important thing to always keep in mind is Google’s motivation. They will always be thinking about how to best serve their customers – the people who are searching. Anything you implement on your website must be done with this in mind; will this piece of content be valuable to a searcher, or is it overtly salesy?
Look at everything you do through the eyes of a user, and you’ll find Google working for you.