10 GOOGLE SEO BASICS TO AMPLIFY YOUR TRAFFIC IN 2018
Working to improve your SEO rankings can be a mystifying and intimidating process.
Most business owners are experts in their fields, but not experts when it comes to search engine optimization (or SEO).
Often, this means that otherwise strong businesses end up with subpar page ranking and an overall web presence that is lacking.
Forget everything you have read, and let’s get back to the basics.
ONLINE VISIBILITY IS VITAL FOR ANY BUSINESS THESE DAYS
Even if you do not sell products directly over the internet (commonly known as e-commerce), a website representing your business and providing useful information such as contact methods and office hours is essential.
However, a central landing page for potential customers is the bare minimum requirement. Without a bit more effort, search engine users still won’t find your website unless you employ a few handy SEO tricks.
Fortunately, you do not need to be a professional web expert who knows how to SEO Google and improve your Google SEO rank.
Read ahead for ten simple yet useful tactics you can use to improve your ranking and see surprising results.
Once you are comfortable with these methods, you are well on your way to becoming a search engine optimization expert.
1) Optimize for Mobile
Merely having a website for your business is no longer good enough.
Mobile phones and tablets are already the most commonly used devices for web searching, which means your business should have a website optimized for mobile use as well.
If you have built your site using a service like WordPress, Wix, etc., you should be able to quickly optimize your site for the web using their built-in tools.
If not, talk to your web designer about optimization for mobile browsers.
In addition to design and usability changes that make it easier to view and use your website on a smaller touchscreen, having an optimized mobile site can increase your rankings.
Because they load faster on mobile devices, Google tends to rank Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs) higher than non-AMP sites.
2) Understand Google’s Direct Answer Feature
If you have used Google recently to ask a quick question, you may have gotten your answer right there on the results page in a short and tidy list.
Typically, Google will find this information on another website, then display the answer to users right there at the top of the search results. Google has been increasingly delivering solutions to users in this short-hand form whenever appropriate, prioritizing the ability to provide the correct answer as quickly as possible.
This feature is excellent for the user, but perhaps not so ideal for your website’s click-through rate. However, people like getting their answers quickly, thus having your site featured at the top of the search results page paints your business in a favorable light.
Google features answers from sites that it deems to have the best quality content, and favors concise, clear instructions that are typically in a numbered or bulleted list.
With this in mind, you can design your website’s content and tailor it to provide quick answers to the common questions that your customer base is likely to ask. Having your site featured in in a short direct answer (also known as a “snippet”) will lend credibility to your website and your brand.
3) Increase On Page Time By Posting Long-form Content
As mentioned, the downside to Google’s direct answer feature is a decrease in click-through rate of the other results.
If search engine users find their answers right there on the search results page, they have little incentive to click through to your website.
Tailoring content for “snippet” results can help build your brand and increase visibility, but it is important to complement that content with long-form blog posts and articles that cover deeper, more complex topics.
There are varying schools of thought when it comes to the optimal word count for website content, but most sources will recommend at least 1000 words per blog or article.
Content length is not as crucial as content quality, brand reputation, or domain authority, but a study from serpIQ suggests that high-ranking pages correlate with longer average content length.
According to their data, a top-ranked website is likely to average over 2000 words per content piece.
However, it is not all about content length. Skillful on page optimization use is still the lifeblood of SEO.
4) Use Keyword Topical Content to Increase Ranking
Regularly adding content to your website is excellent SEO practice, but you do not want to post content simply for the sake of posting content.
Google will see that your site is active, which is good, but if the content is not topically relevant, it will not do much to increase your page rank.
Thus, you will want to build each post around a “keyword focus topic” which are the search terms for which you would like your page to rank.
Start by researching your focus keyword topic—search for it in Google, and check out the top ranking results.
Take note of what these sites do right, and what they do wrong. When you create your content, improve the existing content so that potential customers have a reason to choose your site over the others.
As mentioned before, long-form content that covers in-depth topics is useful for CTR and page rank. One reason is that it gives you an opportunity to hit your focus keywords as well as other related keywords throughout the body of your text.
When you are finished writing a piece, you can use SEO tools such as Yoast SEO to verify optimization.
5) Get Specific With Your Keywords
Keywords fall into one of two categories: long-tail keywords, and short-tail keywords.
Short-tail keywords are broad terms that can return a virtually endless supply of search results, while long-tail keywords specify a much narrower set of results.
An example of a short-tail keyword would be “shoes,” whereas a corresponding long-tail keyword could be “men’s Nike running shoes.”
As you would imagine, there is a lot of competition for short-tail keywords like “shoes” because there are so many different vendors, websites, and advertisements related to the search term.
Focusing on long-tail keywords means you will target less competitive keywords, making it easier for your site to climb the page ranks.
6) Use Google Autocomplete to Refine Your Focus Keywords
As you start typing a search query on Google, it tries to guess the rest of your search.
That is a feature called Google Autocomplete. I can make for some funny, curious, or unusual results. However, these results don’t just pop up from thin air.
Google Autocomplete displays queries from other users that relate to your search terms.
Use this tool to find keywords and variations of keywords related to your topic. J
Just type in a short-tail keyword associated with your targeted term, and let Google show tail keywords or related searches.
7) Carefully Craft Your Title Tags and Headlines
Headlines and article titles are essential tools for driving traffic to your site and increasing your Google page rank.
Coming up with a great title might seem straightforward, but tilting your site is one of the few opportunities to appeal to both the computer algorithm ranking your page, as well as the human user who is deciding whether or not to click on your link.
Crafting a perfect title can be a little bit tricky because you want to appeal to both humans and computers.
Fortunately, there are a few tips to follow that will get you started on the right track.
• Short and sweet: Limit titles to 64 characters or fewer to ensure the title displays on the search results page.
• Address the problem: Include key search terms in the title.
• Motivate the reader: Avoid deceptive headlines and “clickbait,” but try to encourage users to click on your article with a catchy or intriguing headline.
Finally, make sure you title your site correctly within the HTML source code of your website, to ensure that the title displays appropriately on search results.
8) Optimize your URLs
Like titles, URLs are a straightforward but essential way to increase your optimization.
You want to include keywords in the URL if possible. However, you also want to keep URLs on the shorter side.
An easy solution here is to generate URLs automatically based on the title of each post. This method provides a simple built-in solution to ensuring the URLs, titles, and content all target the same focus keywords.
If you already like your title, you will love your URL, too.
However, some sites include extra information in their URLs, such as dates or other metadata.
Strip this information out of your URLs to clean them up, shorten them, and make for a more SEO-friendly experience.
9) Meta Descriptions for Improved Click Thru Rates
Meta descriptions do not directly affect your SEO ranking, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore them.
Meta descriptions are an essential component of your business’ overall web presence and SEO strategy.
Chances are, most search engine users who find your site via a long-tail keyword search will not have been previously familiar with your company.
The meta description is your opportunity to tell them who you are and what type of information, service, or products they will find on your site.
10) Maximize Your Web Visibility
Google has been expanding its reach significantly the past ten years, building hugely successful services such as Google Maps, G+, and YouTube.
Google tends to favor these products and websites whenever they can.
What this means for you is that you should be building your presence on all web platforms, especially the ones that Google owns.
A listing for your business on Google My Business is an absolute must because it will provide potential customers with your business’ contact information and hours of operation. If your company has a physical storefront, you will want to ensure that it appears at the correct location in Google Maps, as well.
Further, you should utilize social media platforms such as YouTube, Google+, and Facebook to represent and promote your business.
A unified online presence across all of these platforms will increase your visibility and present a consistent image for your brand, which in turn will lead to better page ranks.
Hopefully, you found these SEO fundamentals useful and worthwhile.
While these basic tips are an excellent start for improving your website’s page rankings, these tips only scratch the surface of optimizing your Google SEO.
If your web visibility is lacking, now is the time to do something about it.
Rather than try to become an expert yourself, you can always hire one.