5 Essential Strategies for Improving Your SEO
This is it! This is the year you’ve finally decided to get noticed in Google. You’re keen, you’re ready, but there’s just one hurdle left; the insurmountable amount of information available. We get it, it can be confusing, especially if you haven’t done anything like this before. That’s why we’ve condensed all of the information down to the core principles of SEO. The key tactics that will actually move the needle and get your site to the top in 2022.
Implement Content Optimisation Right Away
The first, and most fundamental way to improve your SEO is to optimise your content straight away.
Content optimisation is the process of presenting your content in a way that makes it easier to get noticed by search engines and reach the most people. While the content itself is for your visitors, content optimisation is for the search engines that will bring said visitors to your site. After taking the time to develop high-quality content, optimising it makes sure it’s as SEO-friendly as possible so it has a greater chance of reaching the most people. The great thing about content optimisation is it’s simple: the challenge is getting into the correct mindset and being consistent.
Here are some things to consider when optimising your content:
- Topic: Your pages should present a single, unified topic. If it goes off on a tangent, this tangent should be a summary only and make sense in terms of the central topic for the page. Using keywords here helps, but they should not take away from the readability of the content.
- Headings and subheadings: Organising your content into headings will help your readers read the information more easily. It will also add structure to your pages, making for a tidier, more cohesive website.
- Alternative tags: The ‘Alt’ tag is used for accessibility. To make your site more accessible, it’s important that you describe the image so that everyone can enjoy your content regardless of their ability. If it makes sense to, you can add a keyword here, but do so sparingly and don’t take away from the accessibility component.
- Captions: Using captions helps give the reader more information and helps search engines to crawl your page more effectively.
- Filename: Give the image a name that relates to the image. If it is relevant to do so, use a keyword in the name as well.
- File size: This part is essential. The smaller the file size, the faster your page loads. Try keep images below 100kb. Photoshop is a great tool for this.
- Titles: Page titles are the titles that appear in the search results page. They are different from the ‘Title’ of your content. These should be updated and your focus keyword should be used, so long as you keep it readable.
- Description: Page descriptions, similar to page titles, appear in the search results page. This should be use to engage the reader and give them a reason to click through to your page. You don’t need to use your focus keyword here, but you should make it relevant and engaging.
You don’t need to reserve this for new content. You can go through old content on your website and optimise it using these tactics. The sooner you do this, the sooner the search engines will start to take notice of your in a more favourable light.
Improve User Experience Across Your Website
There is a lot of outdated thinking out there about SEO. While keywords are still important, they aren’t the be-all to end all that they used to be. Google used to rely on keywords to give it an indication of what the page is about. With the introduction of sophisticated artificial intelligence (AI), it is able to determine the context of text with some proficiency.
Instead, the focus has moved to providing an amazing user experience. The better the user experience (UX), the longer the user will stick around, signaling to the search engine that it’s relevant to their search term.
Further, improving your site’s UX isn’t just good for your SEO, it’s great for your business in general. For a start, a well-designed, informative site makes it easier for potential customers to find what they’re looking for – and simplifies their purchasing decisions. This will help you convert more customers and could also increase your average customer value. Better still, if people anticipate a smooth experience on your site, it’ll be easier to encourage them to return, increasing your percentage of repeat customers.
With those huge benefits in mind, here are a few ways of improving your UX:
- Create relevant, well-written content: make it readable and informative, instead of stuffed with keywords.
- Break written content up into smaller sections: with subheadings and media, like images and embedded videos.
- Better navigation: make sure it’s easy to get around your site; make proper use of internal links (this includes topic hubs, which we’ll expand on later).
- Increase your site’s speed: slow sites lose visitors – a great place to start is by compressing images on each page.
- Only link out to high-quality sites.
Optimise For Voice Search
Voice search is rapidly becoming more commonplace for a few reasons. First, there are the huge advancements in voice recognition technology in recent years, and devices like Alexa have made people more comfortable with it. Secondly, COVID has seen more people turn to hands-free technology that limits touching and potential contamination.
Also, there’s the convenience factor: instead of thinking about what to type, you can simply translate your thoughts straight into speech. This is especially helpful when driving so, consequently, voice search is great for local SEO, “[business/place] near me” is a popular use for voice search.
When optimising for voice search, it’s vital to account for the way people speak, compared to the way that they type. This is an important consideration when creating voice-friendly content, as you’ll need to include natural, conversational language. Questions are an excellent example of this, as they’re common in voice searches. This means you need to factor in words like ‘how’, ‘what’, and ‘where’, as well as ‘best’, ‘nearest’ and ‘closest’.
An ideal strategy is to conduct thorough research into the kind of voice queries your target market makes, considering the following:
What type of questions are people asking?
What words are used in those questions?
What answers are performing well and being displayed as voice search results?
Do they have a conversational style?
When you’ve answered the above questions, you’re better positioned to create content that’s optimised for voice searches. Here’s an example of a simple content strategy that’s been adopted successfully by many websites:
- Create content with a title that asks a common question.
- Early in the content, provide a clear answer to the question.
- Use the rest of the content to delve further into the topic.
- You can also create an FAQ containing the questions asked most frequently via voice search.
Design For Mobile-First
In late 2020, an Australian consumer survey conducted by Statista found that 47% of consumers used a smartphone to make a purchase. Oberlo found in 2021 that 56% of people used smartphones to search. The number of people using mobiles to search and purchase is increasing year after year, meaning a responsive website is now more important than ever.
As a result, Google has instituted a ‘mobile first’ approach to indexing content, which means they’ve started to display the mobile version of a site in SERPs instead of its desktop version.
Whereas before, having a mobile-friendly version of your site was wise because it made for a better, more convenient experience for visitors on mobile devices, now it’s essential.
Moreover, making sure your site displays correctly on mobile devices is essential for your brand and reputation in your market. A lousy-looking, hard-to-use site creates an awful first impression, has a significant impact on the user experience, and won’t create the trust necessary for a person to purchase from you.
Consequently, people will leave your website, your conversion rates will diminish and your ranking in search will drop. Your prospects will just take their business to one of your competitors who has a functional mobile site.
While it may be difficult for you to make your own site to be mobile-friendly if it isn’t already, there are changes that you can make that will go a long way.
Here are some of the things you can do to make your site more mobile-friendly:
- Avoid large chunks of text: break them up with subheadings.
- Shorten forms: make as short as possible – people won’t fill them in.
- Make images as “light” as possible: reduce the file size, and where possible, reduce the resolution of the image.
- Use a good font size (12-14px) and use a colour that stands out from your background easily.
To test whether your website is mobile-friendly visit https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly
Focus On Topic Hubs Instead of Keywords
A topic hub is a collection of related content that comes together to cover a broad subject area. Topic hubs are so effective because as well as including the necessary keywords, each piece of content provides contextual support for other pieces within the hub. Topic hubs also create a solid internal linking framework to help users, and search engine crawlers, find more content.
Best of all, the more you cover a particular topic, the more you are seen as an authority on that topic. A topic hub has three components:
- Pillar Content: A piece of long-form content, that’s between 3,000 and 5,000 words long. While it generally covers all aspects of a given topic, it still leaves plenty of scope for spoke content to answer.
- Spoke Content: Also known as spokes or spoke content, each piece of spoke content tackles subtopics from the pillar page, with each focusing on a specific keyword.
- Links: these connect the pillar and spoke content. As well as the pillar containing links to each piece of spoke content, the spoke content should link back to the pillar and to each other, where possible.
For example, you have an online store that sells house plants. It’s a pretty expansive subject, right? So, you could easily write a 3000-5000 “ultimate guide to house plants” post as your pillar. Within that post, you’d have a variety of subsections, such as “how to take care of a house plant”, “types of house plants”, etc., going into a certain amount on each subject. Within each subsection, you’d have a link to another post, the spoke content, that covers it in greater detail.
Further, just as we suggested for content optimisation, it’s wise to review your existing content and rearrange it into topic hubs.
Always keep in mind that SEO is a long-term strategy: it takes a while to get going but the benefits when it does are immense. As a result, it can be hard to get your SEO strategy spot on first time – it’s totally natural that it’s going to need a little tweaking. The 5 strategies explored in this post are an excellent place to start improving your SEO efforts and could be just the boost your strategy needs to reach that next level.
Now, if you want to build on your newly acquired knowledge, take a look at our comprehensive “What is SEO?” post.
If you want some hands-on advice about improving your current SEO strategy – or have yet to develop one for your business – get in touch and we’d be happy to help.
Steve Jaenke has been involved in the digital world for over 2 decades. Seeing the power of SEO early in the market he pivoted his business to focus on assisting SME to understand and leverage the power of Google. He is a recurrent judge for the Australian Web Awards awards.