Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is still the most effective – and the most widely-used – digital marketing instrument on the market.
More traffic comes from search engines, so it is only natural that optimizing your site for search engines becomes the method for tapping into that potential. In fact, over 60% of web traffic to websites and platforms comes from search engines.
As SEO becomes more popular among digital marketers and site owners, it also becomes more difficult to do. In the past year alone, there were some big changes made to search engine algorithms and the way websites are ranked. Those changes made site owners compete even harder for a spot on the first page of search results. It is a competitive landscape indeed.
So, what can you do to stay ahead of the competition in 2019? Stepping up your game is a must, and the tips and tricks we are about to discuss in this article will help you get started.
While SEO may appear as a single digital marketing instrument, it is actually a complex instrument to use. You have to do keyword research, decide on SEO goals and keywords to target, work on optimizing your site and its tags, build relationships and generate backlinks. Well, to keep it short, you have a lot to do!
Trying to do everything by yourself is not a viable strategy, especially in a landscape as competitive as it is today. 2019 is the perfect time to start delegating some of your SEO work to professionals; particularly to professionals in very specific fields.
This is how digital agencies now operate. Instead of one SEO expert, they have specialists in keyword research and analysis, someone capable of handling link audits, SEO content writers, and more. For example, MAD SEO, the best when it comes to a San Diego SEO expert, started structuring their team this way to boost their overall effectiveness.
You won’t even have to worry about the cost of getting professional help. For starters, the services available are very affordable. You can also expect a relatively high return on investment. There is also the option to offload only some of the SEO work, allowing you to save even more.
Produce for Humans
In the old days, a lot of site owners optimize their content for search engine crawlers. Keyword stuffing and carefully measuring the keyword density were big trends in SEO until very recently. These tactics, however, aren’t how you want to do SEO today. The human element in SEO is more important than ever – we will discuss this more later.
Rather than writing for the sake of search engine optimization, you now need to create content that engages the viewers and delivers real value to them. The process begins with understanding the audience groups you want to target, and then tailoring your content to meet their needs. The more value you can deliver, the better your content will be.
Higher quality content appears higher in search engine results pages, or SERPs. When your content is good, it is more likely to be read by users, which means search engines will prioritize it over other pages. At the same time, higher quality content also creates better context. Context and relevance are key metrics in today’s SEO landscape.
Deliver Good User Experience
As mentioned before, the human element is now very important in SEO. Search engines aren’t just crawling your site for keywords. They are measuring more than 200 metrics to determine whether your site is the right one to present to search users. Among the metrics that search engines take into consideration is user experience.
User experience can be defined through several key metrics, starting with time on site (the time users spend browsing your website), and bounce rate. More search engines use eye tracking and hotspots to measure user behavior. The metrics are expanding, and the ways search engines can understand (and measure) user experience are expanding with them.
This is where optimizing your site for good UX, writing high-quality content, and actually delivering value to the users really matters. When users find your site easy to use and valuable to read, they will spend more time on your site, return to your site more often, and even bring more users to the site. Google, Bing, and other search engines are capable enough to recognize these metrics.
Yes, some keyword targeting is still needed, but that doesn’t mean you have to write with keywords in mind. Quality and relevance are the most important elements to add to your content today. Focus on delivering a good user experience first and optimize later.
If you are using any form of analytics, you have a wealth of data to process into valuable insights. Focus on search traffic and learn more – so much more – about users who found your site via search engines. There is a lot to learn from the data you already have; unfortunately, this is a step that many site owners still neglect.
For example, you can look into the keywords your audience used when they discovered your site. Google Analytics offer deeper insights than that, allowing you to learn more about keywords associated with your site in general.
The same can be said for the traffic. Which pages did they land on? Did they leave after reading one article? How far down the article did they go? These are important questions that help you recognize parts of the site that need optimizing. When incoming users bounce after one page, you know you need to improve the way other content is suggested to users.
For increasing time-on-site, on the other hand, you can start producing longer content and making the entire site more readable. Use tools like hotspot tracking to know how to structure the page. You need to make sure that the most attractive elements are positioned correctly on the page.
Off-site SEO is just as important as on-site SEO, but many still approach the strategy as a way to generate backlinks. Off-site SEO is richer than that. Similar to how you need to write for humans, your off-site SEO goals should be to build genuine relationships.
Have you received an email saying that you have dead links and that the sender can help you fix them by offering their own URLs? These kinds of SEO emails are annoying, aren’t they? Do you really want to build your backlink and SEO prowess that way?
Similar to on-site content, relevance and context are the two most important things to keep in mind when doing off-site SEO. To be relevant and contextual, you can’t post a single article and forget about it – usually while hoping the backlink will give you the boost you need to succeed.
You have to be willing to put in the work and build genuine relationships with external sites. Exchange guest posts, leave comments, have long and contextual discussions, and discuss relevant topics to make the backlinks you generate more valuable.
Never Forget Social Media
Just because your social media posts do not appear in search results, doesn’t mean they are not important. Social media is an inseparable part of today’s SEO. That is why SEO and social media marketing must always go hand in hand because they support each other.
The impact that social media has on your SEO performance isn’t limited to what you post on your own social media pages either. When users share your articles to their social media accounts, they are practically helping you do off-site SEO. All you need to do is make the process of sharing articles and other content on your site easier.
We – and UI/UX design in general – can help you with that. The placement of your social share buttons and how they provide feedback when used are the things that need to be tweaked to boost social shares. You also want to make sure the social share buttons work well on mobile devices.
Speaking of mobile devices, optimizing your site for mobile search is also a must in 2019. Yes, search engines actually rank websites differently on mobile devices depending on how those sites are set up. If you have non-responsive site, one that doesn’t work really well on mobile devices, then you will rank lower on mobile search results compared to the desktop ones.
The site needs to be as fast, as responsible, as easy to use, and as fluid on mobile devices as it is on desktop computers. Actually, that may not be accurate. It needs to be BETTER on mobile devices, especially since close to 80% of internet traffic comes from mobile devices. Remember that the metrics we discussed earlier (i.e. time on site, bounce rate, etc.) are also tracked differently on mobile devices.
These tactics and tips will help you stay ahead of the competition when it comes to SEO. The market is becoming more and more competitive. It is time to bring in the experts to help you optimize your website. It is also time to pamper the users more with great content and an even better user experience. It is time to step up your SEO game.