This is a new year, so let me help you start it off right by giving you a list of the most important updates we’ve seen in the world of SEO thus far.
I’ve organized this must-know list of actionable items into ACE: Architecture, Content, and Engagement. Whenever my team and I are hired to give an SEO consultation, we employ our ACE philosophy to perform an SEO audit for our new clients. And in cases where we’re working on long-term digital marketing campaigns for our current clients, the ACE methodology is the process our team follows.
Architecture of a Website
The architecture of a website is information architecture (IA) – basically it’s the underlying technology and how it’s used in order to make the website great.
When a website is built or redesigned, it’s incredibly important to think first about architecture. Why? Because it’s the foundation upon which your entire web presence is built. When my team and I audit a website’s architecture, we look at indexation, information architecture, user experience, and data capture among other aspects.
Overall, the architecture of a website is about making sure you have the tools in place that will allow your Content and Engagement lead to SEO success.
1. Optimize Your Mobile Site Today
New! This is the latest in SEO news: Google has moved to mobile-first indexing. This means your Google rankings on mobile AND on desktop are based on your mobile site.
If your mobile site is significantly different than your desktop site, you may see a drop in your rankings in the future.
But let’s say your mobile site has less content than your desktop site. In this case, you should be a little nervous. I would recommend you go with a responsive approach to solve this issue: Make sure your content is the same on a page-by-page basis from your desktop to your mobile site.
Another idea is to take SEO into account when you decide to make them different. Or even better yet, you should design your website with a mobile first mindset.
2. Speed: Optimize for both Mobile & Desktop
Kinda New! A slow-loading website is more than just annoying. If any of your web pages are loading slowly it will negatively impact your traffic and conversions, which implies less sales and less revenue.
Something as small as a one second delay could decrease your conversions by as much as 7%.
But there is hope. Here’s a few things you can do to ensure that your site is loading in under 2 seconds:
- Make sure each of your images are as small as possible. Shoot for no larger than 100k per image, and then try to get them even smaller.
- Go to your Google Analytics dashboard and find ‘Site Speed’ under the ‘Behavior’ tab
- Take time to test the current speed of your mobile and desktop sites. You can also try Google’s Mobile Friendly Test.
3. HTTPS: Secure Your Site
New! Google is now saying https is a new ranking factor. So sites with https will get a little boost which effectively pushes down non-https sites.
Secure HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTPS) isn’t just the secure version of HTTP, it’s a completely separate communication that works in conjunction with a different protocol known as TSL (Transport Layer Security). And TSL is still commonly referred to as its predecessor SSL (Secure Sockets Layer).
Make sure to do the work of creating a SSL certificate, because the certificate will actually give you the chance of increasing your rankings in Google. Another additional bonus of having https is that you’ll be able to acquire better referral data, so you’ll be able to find out exactly where your traffic is coming from.
Users Rule the Land of Content
Now more than ever, you have to “give visitors the information they’re looking for” says Google.
Google classifies queries from users as 3 types: Do, Know, Go. And all users, no matter what type of user they might be, are looking for content which has the answers to their inquiry and is trustworthy.
4. Align Your Content with User Intent
You’ve done your keyword research and you’ve used those phrases and topics to build content. Next, you launch and market the page, add some links, and kick back to watch the traffic come. But building it doesn’t mean they will come, so don’t end your SEO efforts there.
This is where user intent alignment truly begins: Once you have data from traffic to a page, use that data to help you optimize for how users are actually using the page. Find where your initial optimization is not in line with the intent of your visitors and improve your content for them.
Whatever you do, check the data to see if users are completing their task.
Work to improve task completion by making sure your content will solve the user’s problem immediately and completely. Basically you want to ensure they won’t have to return to Google for help.
Lastly, remember optimization is a process, so continue to measure, tweak your page, and repeat.
5. Create New Content & Update The Old
It’s crucial to create new high quality pages of content on a regular basis. But don’t neglect your existing content.
When creating new content, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is what I’m writing relevant and helpful to my users?
- Have I written enough? (How many words should your content be? It depends but some experts say 700 to 1,000 words is a good range.)
- Is my content’s presentation making my information easy to digest?
Old content should not be written and then just left alone. There’s always something you can do to improve it, but where do you start? Start by finding pages with a lot of impressions and a lower-than-normal click through rate (CTR).
Next, find ways to improve your content to ensure that it satisfies the user’s intent in the quickest way possible. Also you should update your old content by improving your title tags and meta descriptions.
The ‘E’ in SEO Could Stand for Engagement
Even the best Architecture and Content won’t help if you’re not engaging your audience. Think of someone getting engaged: there’s hopefully a strong commitment and trust in that relationship. And that’s what you need to build with your audience.
6. Get Friendly with Testimonials & Review Schema
It’s 2017, but some things never change: Word of mouth is still important. But these days, the modern day word of mouth can be equated to reviews on search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo, and Yelp.
If you’re a business, it’s incredibly important to ask your previous clients or customers to leave a unbiased, honest, and detailed review on one or all of the search engines. Just make sure to tell them not to copy and paste their review, as pasted reviews do not add as much value. You also don’t want offer an incentive for the client to leave a review, as that’s against the rules.
Overall, multiple positive reviews not only help you to rank better on search engines but they also help build trust with potential new clients.
For onsite social proof, display testimonials on your website with review schema and JSON-LD markup. The simplest way I’ve found to implement this process is to use the GetFiveStars plugin. It does a great job of marking up reviews and ratings and displaying them on your site.
7. Get Links from Popular & High-Trust Sites
One way to build trust with search engines is link building. Link building basically entails finding a popular website with authority to link back to your website.
There are many ways to get links, but one DIY link building solution is make an expert roundup and infographic:
- Generate a series of questions to ask professionals in your field.
- Make sure these questions would lead to the creation of a useful piece of content for your audience.
- Make their contribution into a graphic image they can post to their own blog with a link back to you.
Now that you’ve been through 7 of the must know tips for 2017, try to make time to create some actionable and measurable goals for your website. I would recommend making a spreadsheet with a list of items and deadlines.
If you ever feel overwhelmed by SEO or maybe you’re not quite sure what to do next to optimize your site, feel free to give me and my team a call. We’re here to help you with all of your website and SEO needs so that you can focus on your business.