SEO Tactics to Improve Ranking

Organic Search drives an average of 60.32% of the traffic for the clients that we work with, and organic search is a major source of traffic for most organizations. So much so that virtually all companies have at least a basic awareness of organic search. Typically businesses have some kind of strategy to increase traffic for at least their brand name and core products or services through organic search.

Yet, even as most companies understand the basic requirements for search engine success, they lack a deeper understanding of this critical marketing method. With very few exceptions the primary goal of any SEO tactic is to rank well over time. It's absolutely critical to pay attention to what Google is doing with their algorithm, and there are countless subtle sub factors that contribute to your site’s long-term search engine optimization. The better you understand and incorporate these factors, the easier it is to raise your search rank and keep it there over time. Here are some important SEO subtleties and opportunities that you should pay close attention to:

Mobile SEO

51% of Internet access is happening on a mobile device. As consumers turn to smartphones for a growing portion of their searches, search engines are placing more and more emphasis on these devices. Google, in particular, has recently updated their search algorithm to make mobile searches supreme. This means that no matter how well your site appears for searches on desktop computers, you can miss out on the top spot on mobile devices unless you are prepared for mobile SEO.

The clients we work with receive an average of 21.28% of their site visits from a mobile device. This can be an important source of traffic, one companies should pay attention to, but many companies design and view their sites on desktop computers, so they are less likely to notice how their sites appear on mobile and are missing opportunities for improvement. Here are 3 simple, effective ways to update your site for mobile SEO:

Direct Conversion Mobile conversion services will create a new version of your site suited directly to mobile searches. This method is the simplest and quickest way to get a mobile version of your website if you don’t have one. It does lead to inefficiencies over the long haul because it will creates two version of your site that you will have to maintain separately. There is also strong evidence that search engines will not value this approach over the long term.

Mobile Plugins Many of the leading content management systems offer mobile plugins which can detect the device being used to visit a website. The system then changes the site’s layout in accordance with the device being used, making sure that it always appears in a way that is suited for that device.

Responsively Design The most effective approach is to simply design your site for mobile devices. This means that the design of the page layout and navigation anticipate the device and delivers the optimal digital experience. This requires a little more planning up front, but it will create the most consistent, convenient user experience, and will lead to the largest improvements in SEO over time. This is the approach that we recommend, and Drupal 8 comes responsive “out-of-the-box”.

Year-on-year mobile phone Internet access is growing by +25%. This means that optimizing your site for mobile will have enduring benefits, increasing the user satisfaction and raising your search rank over time.

Future SEO Opportunities

The rise of mobile devices is heavily tied to another key SEO development: voice search. Whereas consumers once typed the vast majority of their queries, a growing number are now using Siri and other voice services to conduct searches. This trend has a direct impact on SEO because users do not use the same vocabulary when speaking as they do when typing. The better you are at anticipating these changes, the higher your site will rank as consumers transition to voice search. In general this is an opportunity that is related to your content strategy:

Natural & Conversational Consumers tend to speak more conversationally when conducting voice searches, compared to the concise ways in which they type out queries in traditional searches. This means that you must include more conversational keywords and phrases. The specific terms you should use depend on your industry and location, but the better you can determine how people talk about your products and services colloquially, the easier it is to find the right keywords.

Precise & Hyperlocal When specifying location on voice searches, users tend to identify specific landmarks, businesses, and neighborhoods. This means that your website will appear higher in their results if you state that you are close to those places for location tagging. Instead of simply saying that your business is “in New York City,” say that it’s “near Lincoln Center” or “in Woodside.”

Stock Up on Synonyms Consumers often switch between different terms and phrases with similar meanings on voice search, and it’s hard to anticipate which specific ones they will use. You should try to include as many alternative phrasings as possible. For example, if you expect consumers to ask their phones “how do I get to X,” for example, you should also include phrases like “directions to X.”

As with written keyword choices, you will likely need to reevaluate your voice search keywords over time. The most common keywords and phrases will change as more people adopt voice search and use it for a larger portion of their online queries. By tracking which keywords are most successful and updating your site accordingly, you can stay ahead of these changes and keep your search rank high over time.

Still a Major SEO Factor

Backlinks continue to be one of the strongest indication of authority to Google. While backlinks aren’t the most important SEO factor, they are a critical component of SEO success.
Google has several algorithm patents designed for calculating a “link score.” The score is calculated by an incoming link’s quality score (aka PageRank) and the number of links to the site. Links from websites that have authority help to indicate that your company’s site is highly relevant. Google, Bing, and other search engines take all of this into account, improving your rank accordingly. So link quantity is an important part of the score.

Building backlinks is an initiative that will be ongoing and isn’t a one time campaign. Here is a great resource from one of the leaders in the space: Neil Patel - Building Backlinks Scalably

Building backlinks is one of the most valuable SEO tactics you can commit to. Start by auditing the links that are already coming into your website. You can do this with one of the best tools on the market - Open Site Explorer. You’ll also want to audit the backlinks your competitors have using this tool.

More SEO Opportunities

Besides strategic approaches like mobile SEO, voice optimization, and backlinking, there are some other simple tactics that can improve organic search ranking over time.

Use Other Types of Content Instead of simply filling your pages with text, include other types of content like, research, white papers, case studies, images, videos, and audio. Ideally, these elements should relate directly to the text on each page and should be included in a way that adds value to the user experience.

Optimize Images Whenever using images, optimize the alt tag attribute. This is the text that appears if the image doesn’t load or if a user hovers over the image. Alternative text makes it easier for search engines to determine what the overall content of the page is.

Spread Out Your Keywords SEO isn’t about using more keywords. It is about using them in the right places. Absolutely include them in the title tag attribute, the headings (H1, H2, etc) and in internal links when it is appropriate and will enhance the user experience. As you stock up on synonyms use them as supporting or secondary keywords in the body of your content.

Search engine optimization is a critical component of digital marketing. The goal is to rank well over time, but it must be human focused, not machine focused. For more information on SEO, digital strategy or creating the best digital experience you can, contact us today.

Main Photo by Ryan Parker on Unsplash