In today’s highly competitive digital marketing landscape, where the majority of businesses are investing in some form of digital marketing, getting yourself noticed is a real challenge. Namely, statistics show that 47% of internet users hit one of the first three listings, while 75% of them would never scroll past the first page on Google. Therefore, if you don’t make it to the top in the SERPs, you basically don’t exist.
Here are a few effective SEO techniques that can boost your business’ visibility.
Improve User-Friendliness to Boost Engagement
When ranking sites, Google combines a wide range of algorithms and ranking factors. The reason for that is obvious- it strives to provide its users with pleasant, relevant, and safe search results. And, the example of RankBrain backs me up on that.
Rolled out in 2015, RankBrain is one of Google’s major ranking signals. It uses a plethora of metrics, most important of which are the click-through rate and dwell time. These are both engagement metrics, the ones that show how relevant and friendly your website is to your visitors.
For example, if a visitor skips your site in the SERPs or leaves it right after landing on it, this is a major indicator that something’s wrong with your site. On the other hand, if a user chooses your site over your rivals’ and spends more than 5 minutes reading your content and moving from one page to another, this tells Google that your site is valuable to its visitors and it will rank it higher.
To boost user satisfaction and get them to stay longer on your pages, start with the some basic UX elements, such as the website speed, a logical navigation menu, the position and design of CTA buttons, fonts, and visual elements. Also, make your content reader-friendly:
- Break longer posts into easily readable paragraphs.
- Use bulleted points and subheads.
- Simplify your sentences to make them easier to follow.
- Enrich textual content with visuals.
- Experiment with different forms of interactive content like quizzes, infographics, and videos to boost user engagement.
Keep your Customers in Mind when Conducting Keyword Research
Keyword research is the backbone of SEO. All your on-site and off-site SEO efforts are revolving around it. However, the way we conduct it has changed a lot.
We’re living in the customer-centric era
- In his recent guide, Backlinko’s Brian Dean claims that smart keyword research doesn’t start with Google Keyword Planner. Instead, you should first focus on identifying niche topics and building buyer personas.
- Online Marketing Gurus, an SEO Gold Coast company, has recently published the ultimate SEO checklist, claiming that marketers need to target the keywords their potential customers really use when searching for their products and services.
- Rand Fishkin points out that, we should create content around related topics and semantically connected keywords.
Apart from Google Keyword Planner, you can also leverage basic Google search, Reddit, Wikipedia table of contents, and different niche-specific forums, which help you understand your target audience’s demands and serve as amazing sources of organic, long-tail keywords. Remember, in the era of user-centered voice searches, tailoring your keywords to searcher intent will give you a notable competitive advantage.
Invest in Local SEO to Drive Relevant Traffic
For small, local businesses, appearing in front of the right customers and driving relevant traffic to their site is critical. This is why they need to invest heavily in local SEO.
For starters, place your business on all major business listings. Google My Business is, according to Moz, the most important, as it can impact your rankings significantly. Some other popular customer review sites are:
- Amazon Customer Reviews
- Angie’s List
- Better Business Bureau
Just make sure that the information you add to these sites is consistent and regularly updated.
Second, focus more on on-site optimization. Add your location keywords to your meta tags, URLs, and blog posts. Also, make sure your site is mobile-friendly. Studies claim that nearly one -third of all search queries are location-based.
Third, focus on the content you publish. Use tools like BuzzSumo or Google Trends to find the hottest topics in your niche and turn them into insightful, engaging, and valuable articles. Track the local news and make sure you cover major local events and trends on your blog.
Finally, expand your blogging efforts to guest blogging. Write PR texts and guest articles and publish them on popular local sites in your industry. This will make you more visible to your local customers and boost their awareness or your brand.
Focus on the Quality of Backlinks, not Quantity
There are numerous ways to build links, from broken link building to link reclamation. However, guest blogging is still the foundation of building quality links. This is why it needs to be done strategically. Stuffing your content with keywords and spammy links and publishing it overnight on suspicious sites can only get you blacklisted.
Once you’ve done your research and made a list of potential link building prospects, you need to assess them to see whether they’re worth your attention. First, you need to see whether they’re writing about the topics that are relevant to you. Metrics like comments per post, social shares, DA, PA, the number of articles they post weekly will tell you how reputable a blogger is and how successfully they engage their readers. Pay attention to the overall design and appeal of the site. Check its anchor texts, meta descriptions, and the number of ads and popups. If you notice that these elements are too spammy, you shouldn’t risk publishing on a site that may ruin your online credibility.
As for your guest articles, they don’t exist just for the sake of link building. They should bring a true value to a reader, get more eyeballs on your content, and present you as an authoritative online resource. Analyze the blog carefully, check their writer guidelines, see what content types and topics resonate with their audiences best, and adapt your writing to their needs. These posts will boost user engagement, earn loads of organic backlinks and shares, and eventually, improve your marketing ROI.
Remove Technical Issues that May Harm User Experience
Now that you’ve done your keyword research, started writing awesome content and building high-quality backlinks, you need to focus on fixing and preventing technical issues on your site. Here are a few things you need to pay attention to:
- Switch from HTTP to HTTPS.
HTTPS is a safer version of HTTP, as it provides an additional layer of encryption. As Google Chrome has already started marking sites with HTTP as unsafe, this may compromise your online reputation. Logically, once they see the “not safe” warning on your site, most of your visitors will run away without converting.
Most importantly, as SSL certificates bring a greater user safety and boost their experiences, Google has made it one of its minor ranking signals. This is yet another reason to make moving to HTTPS your priority.
- Boost your website speed.
Slow-loading sites are killing user satisfaction. Even though customers expect a site to load in less than 2 seconds, this is not what they usually get. Research says that 73% of mobile searchers say that they’ve encountered a website that was too slow to load. And, unsurprisingly, most of these visitors will leave your site immediately.
There are numerous ways to improve your website speed. For starters, invest in a solid content delivery network, start compressing your images to make them easier to load, allow caching, and remove redirects and auto-playing audio and video content.
To increase mobile users’ experiences, you could also use Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs). These are basically stripped-down forms of websites that are created to deliver seamless user experiences and load impressively fast. According to some recent analyses, AMPs load 4 times faster than their regular counterparts.
- Check your website forms.
Forms on your website are a key lead generation tactic. Precisely because of that, you need to make sure they’re working perfectly and optimize them. Start with a simple, single-column layout to make them friendly to mobile users. Also, place your form above the fold to make it easier to spot, include minimize the number of form fields, and leave only those that are critical to you. You should also include strong calls to action and provide customer testimonials to encourage lead generation.
- Fix 404 errors to improve user experience.
The reasons for 404 errors are multiple, such as faulty URLs and site errors. For example, “Access denied” is a type of a URL error that means that your site cannot be crawled. DNS errors are major, as they mean that your site has problems with its domain name system.
Your goal is to identify these broken links on your site and fix them. One of the best starting points for you may be Google Search Console that lets you identify your broken links in its crawl reports, under “Diagnostics.”
Over to You
To get the most out of your SEO efforts, you need to keep user experience in mind. Any of the strategies we mentioned above, from keyword research to guest posting, is meant to boost your potential customers’ browsing experience. Of course, your customers’ demands rise as the trends in the SEO industry change and, to get a competitive advantage, you need to adapt to them fast.
How do you use SEO to boost your small business’ exposure?