Conquer the New World of SEO
By Cathy Miglorie Catozzi
Everyone knows that search engine optimization (SEO) is important for website performance. Once upon a time, good SEO strategy meant adding a plethora of keywords into all website content. But in 2019, the world of search is a completely different game. Here are a few simple strategies to help increase website visibility and improve ranking in this new world of SEO.
Optimize your titles and headings. Start with the basics. Page titles are among the most important on-page SEO factors. Prefixed with the <title> tag, it is typically displayed at the top of a listing in the search results. Before publishing new content, make sure the content has a unique and relevant title tag that accurately describes the content and targets the proper keywords.
Prioritize pages in website navigation. Navigation is the most important structural element on the entire website. Offering the main links to other website pages, the menu should appear at the very top of the page, which automatically gives those links a lot of weight. Optimize the link pages for some of the most important keywords right from the navigation menu. And because the navigation menu is found on every page on the website, it makes those link pages look very important in Google’s eyes.
Install an SSL certificate. With the recent upsurge in cybercrime – data breaches and system hacks – Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) has become an important Google ranking factor. As of July 2018, Google marks all HTTP sites as "not secure," meaning visitors to the site are reminded that the site is not secure, potentially affecting the website’s credibility. Switching to HTTPS by adding an SSL certificate on your site establishes an encrypted link between the server and the client, authenticating the website’s identity and keeping it secure. And HTTPS is found to have a reasonably strong correlation with first page Google rankings.
Secure the Googles Maps listing for the business. Claiming ownership of the Google Maps listing provides greater value for a website. Correcting and adding relevant information to the listing helps it rank better. Chances are, the business may already be listed in Google Maps. If this is the case, claim ownership by clicking on the "Own This Business?" link to verify and add information. If a "Google My Business" listing doesn’t exist, make one right away. It’s easy to do and completely free. Go to www.google.com/business/.
Create internal links between pages on the website. Internal links are hyperlinks between two pages of the same website. An internal linking strategy can really boost ranking power because it does two things: it helps search engines understand the structure of the website, and it helps users navigate the website. Visitors stay on the site longer when relevant content is found through links that can then be followed within the site. This leads to a better user experience with the website, which is a ranking factor for Google.
Optimize for mobile search. Whether a website is mobile friendly or not directly impacts SEO. Google looks at hundreds of ranking signals when deciding how to rank a website on its search engine, and mobile usability is currently the third most important of all these factors, according to the Webmaster Central Blog. Google is taking a very proactive approach when it comes to mobile friendly web design, and announced in March 2018 that it would crawl and index the mobile version of websites before the desktop version.
While Google will still look at the desktop version to rank pages if a mobile version does not exist, page ranking will suffer in the long run. Pages will not display properly for users on mobile devices, or they will be difficult to navigate, read and use, giving a poor user experience, which dings the website’s ranking.
OK, Google, where is my local lighting showroom? Expect voice search to play a continued role in shaping search rankings. To rank for voice search queries, pages must be mobile friendly. Google will not pull voice search answers from sites lacking in this area. And, most voice searches are local. According to Bright Local’s Voice Search for Local Business Study, on a daily basis, 46 percent of those who search via voice are looking for local businesses.
Rank for questions as well as answers. Create high-quality FAQ pages for the site. Compile the most common questions along with their answers to improve search rankings. Be the expert and delight the customer by creatively answering their questions while improving site ranking at the same time.