Google’s ranking algorithm can seem intimidating to people who aren’t well versed in the world of SEO and/or digital marketing. While Google does have hundreds, probably even thousands, of ranking factors, there are a few main, high-level aspects you can focus on to help improve your organic search performance. In this post, we’ll share inside tips and lessons from our own experience.
Here are 7 things you should focus on to help improve your SEO and appear higher in search results.
1. Add Informative, Useful Content
The strategy in SEO for content used to focus mostly on just adding more and more relevant content to a landing page. As Google has gotten smarter and is focused ultimately on the end user, they’ve learned to see through the “fluff.” Short and concise useful and informative content is oftentimes better than long, drawn out, redundant content that is harder for the end user to read and pull information from.
2. Take advantage of key opportunities with pages ranking well
Identify existing content that’s ranking on the second or third page of Google’s search results. Content that’s already ranking can be easily optimized for the first page. You can identify these pages with Google Search Console.
3. Create Engaging Content
Engaging content provides value to users, fulfills a potential need (specific information, for example), and speaks to the reader. It’s a step beyond informative, to actually captivating the mindset of the reader. The benefits of engaging content are threefold.
- Keeps users on your landing page or site longer, and helps maintain a low bounce rate. Low bounce rates are known to be a positive ranking signal to Google (Whereas higher bounce rates on pages, or across the site, can be a negative signal to Googlebot and other search engines).
- Encourages users to interact with your site further, helps gain their trust in your brand (this leads to higher returning visitors, indicating to Google that you’re providing what the user is looking for).
- Users are more inclined to share your content on social media, or possibly even link to it (which of course, are also positive ranking signals for Google and other search engines).
4. Freshen Up Old Content with Updated Information
If you have valuable content that has become outdated, revisit it and freshen it up with some added insights, recent data points, or relevant updates. This will allow you to recycle (in a healthy manner), previous content, and show the user that it’s been recently updated. Many users searching for information do take notice of the publication date and will take it into account whether practices have since changed. Further, search engines also will take into account that you’ve since updated content to be more aligned with current best practices and any recent trends or developments. On most CMS platforms, you should be able to also update the publication date of the content.
5. Secure your (entire) site with HTTPs
Besides simply giving users a feeling of trust and security, https:// is now actually essentially required by Google. If your entire site is not encrypted with https, you’re likely to eventually receive some type of penalty by Google.
Further, as per Google Chrome’s July 2018 https update, users will receive a warning when they visit sites that are not https secured. This not only scares users away from your site but will cause your bounce rate to skyrocket, cause indexing issues, ultimately impacting your rankings.
6. Switch to a Mobile First Perspective
In July of 2018, Google began to officially roll out Mobile First Indexing for websites. Mobile first indexing means exactly what it says — Googlebot is switching its focus to the mobile user first. With the number of mobile users on the internet, across pretty much all industries, outnumbering the number of desktop users, Google wants your site to be made literally with the mobile user first in mind.
As your developing or making changes to your website, get in the habit of looking at it through a mobile-first lens, not desktop. If you work primarily on a desktop (or laptop) device, you can use Chrome’s built-in dev tools to simulate a mobile view from several different devices. This can be accessed through the settings in Chrome, or by simply clicking CTRL + Shift + J (this is a very useful keyboard shortcut!)
7. Improve Mobile Speed (and overall site speed)
Site speed is another Google ranking factor, as it greatly affects user accessibility and experience. Mobile speed, specifically, is now even more essential with Google’s Mobile First Indexing update.
When testing your site speed, be sure to test it from a “Fast 3G” connection. According to Google, despite all of our WiFi and LTE connections, “Fast 3G” is still what a majority of users access the internet from, and what they’re likely using to determine your ranking when it comes to mobile speed.
You can simulate and evaluate your mobile speed from a 3G perspective either in Chrome’s DevTools or using a tool like Webpagetest.org.
Improving your site’s SEO and organic visibility can seem overwhelming with hundreds of constantly changing ranking factors to consider. Establishing a Mobile First approach, along with incorporating the concepts we mention here, will put your site in a better position to land higher on the organic SERPs (Search Engine Result Page), resulting in more long-term authority with Google, more sessions, and ultimately, more conversions.