The world of Search Engine Optimization is constantly changing, with major search engines regularly updating their search ranking algorithms to provide the best results for their users. It is estimated that 93% of all online experience starts with a search engine. Thus, businesses that fail to take note of these changes and not regularly update their SEO strategy are at a great risk of losing out. The past few months have seen a considerable shift overall in how search engines rank websites in their search results. Marketers will find that SEO practices that worked well in the past are no longer as effective today. Taking insights from some of the industry’s top experts, we have compiled together a definitive list of 8 SEO best practices for this year.
E.A.T stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness. It has been part of the SEO best practices guideline for some years but recently, has become relevant than ever in building a site’s domain authority. No longer can you get away with sloppy content by having high authority backlinks and carefully chosen keywords alone. Search engines today are far smarter and will rank favorably content that is actually written by people who are real experts in their industry.This means that fewer but higher quality content being published per week will better help you rank up than a high quantity of poorly written ones. If you can get content written by real experts for your website, that’s all the better.Of course, this is just the part of the equation. The other implies citations of the content or the author by other authoritative websites. This doesn’t even have to be direct links; a mere mention is enough for the advanced algorithms of search engine giants such as Google and Bing to take notice. Another aspect of E.A.T is transparency. This means giving more information on your website to visitors about you and your business. Such can include contact details, privacy policies and terms of service, references as well as more information on the authors.
2. Visual Searches
Visual search is on the rise. From Google to Microsoft to Amazon, virtually every big player in the IT world are implementing visual searching tools to give their users more leverage in how they find things.Nearly one-third of American consumers have already used visual searches and the proportion is increasingly rapidly. The popularity of visual search is especially significant among the younger audience, with62% of them demanding more visual search options in tech.With the trend still largely in infancy, optimizing your web content for it is bound to give you a considerable early-mover benefit, especially if your business is in such sectors as e-commerce. Again, E.A.T is highly relevant here. The search engine giant, Google, has explicitly stated that it takes into account a website’s domain authority.
Image Meta and Load Speed
But there are also other steps you can take to optimize your website imagery. One of which is to be descriptive and relevant meta for every image. This means incorporating the right keywords in the image text, description and alt-text and ALSO making sure that what is being written actually contextually relates to the image and gives the fullest information about what it is about.How fast your image loads is also a vital factor in how good it can rank. However, don’t go overboard and compromise quality in the process as that is also likely to tank its SEO. Higher-quality images both entice more clicks by search engine users as well as are more easily readable by search engines themselves. Try to strike a good balance between image quality and load speed.
3. Voice Search 2.0
Another new trend is that massively reshaping the SEO landscape is Voice Search 2.0. Back in the old days, voice search basically meant listening to a user and converting their voice into words on a search engine, a mere different means to the same end.What is new about today’s voice search? You may have already used virtual assistant apps such as Alexa, Siri and google assistant. Today’s voice searches are conversational, instead of a whole host of different search results, voice search apps recommend back a single result that it deems to be most relevant. Due to the difference in dynamics of the user interaction, it may not always recommend what is ranking top on a conventional search result.Voice searches are on an exponential rise. On Google’s platform alone, there was a35-fold increase between 2008 and 2016 in the number of voice search queries. Without argument, the figure for today is bound to much, much larger. To improves your content chances of landing in voice searches, you could do the following – incorporate questions and answers, and optimize for feature snippets.
Featured snippets have become a standard in search engine results for some years now and it is estimated that about 4 in 10 of all voice search recommendations are taken directly from featured snippets.To have your content featured, it should already be on the first page for a given query. Against other competitors, you can improve your chances by incorporating what is known as ‘snippet bait’ – a 40-60 words block of content specifically designed to rank as a featured snippet. If you have a lot of snippet baits within your content, your chances increase.
4. Search Intent
Today’s search engine algorithms are powerful enough to not only deduce the relevancy of keywords but also the intent behind them in coming up with search results. For instance, if you were to type ‘SEO Best Practices’ on Google, it will automatically know that your intent is to find a list of the latest techniques and strategies for SEO optimization, which it will show in the search result.You can have the right keywords in place but if the content doesn’t match the search intent, it would simply rank on the first few pages. For many keywords, discovering the search intent is intuitive and you don’t have to think much about what type of content you must write for a keyword.However, in case you are unsure about the search intent got a given keyword, simply search results for it on a search engine and take note of what content type is ranking highly for it. While creating the content, make sure that it completely matches a searcher’s intent and doesn’t deviate from the topic at hand.Nobody likes clickbait, and especially not today’s search engines. In regards to this as well, skip power words in your blog titles as well. They used to be useful but now are increasingly becoming counterproductive.
5. Video Content
If you still haven’t incorporated video content into your website, you are greatly missing out on a huge opportunity. Video content today is one of the most, if not the most, impactful and effective channels to drive organic traffic – this includes search engines. YouTube is not just the largest repository of videos but also a major search engine, on average, attracting 44% of all internet visitors and3 billion searches every month. That’s a lot of exposure that your business would not be getting if it is not engaged on the platform.
Optimize for YouTube
To optimize your video content for YouTube searches, began by generating a list of video keyword ideas. You don’t exactly need a dedicated tool for the purpose, YouTube’s search suggestion feature itself is great for the job.From the list, fit the ones into your video’s title, tags, and description that have less competition. You can judge this by just putting the keyword on the YouTube search and noting down the number of results. You would want a balance between too few and too many. In addition, search for your keywords on Google as well as see which ones land you results where a good chunk of the first page results are videos; highly recommended to add these keywords.The type of video you post matters even more. You should aim for one that manages to capture the audience’s attention within the first seven seconds – that’s the average time for people to make up their minds on whether to watch a video or leave. The longer you can retain a viewer, the better your video will rank on YouTube.Also strongly encourage your viewers to leave a comment, like and subscribe. You might have already noticed a lot of big YouTubers regularly saying this at the end of their videos. This is because any type of positive engagement is highly prized by YouTube algorithms, which may also result in the video showing up on people’s recommendations.
Incorporate Video into Your Content
Even for regular SEO for web pages and blog posts, videos are highly relevant. Incorporating a relevant video in your blog post can lead to a lower bounce rate and a higher time spent by the user on it; on average, people spend twice as long on the page with a video than one without it. This is tremendously good for SEO and can help you improve your search rankings by a huge margin. In fact, including video on your page drives a157 percent increase in organic traffic from SERPs.
Recently, Google announced a new feature for its search engine called Featured Video Snippet. It highlights a part of the video on your webpage that it thinks Google thinks is relevant to a user’s search query. You can improve the chances of your video becoming featured and thus, massively increase your traffic by following these two SEO best practices for videos.First, make sure to organize your video into discreet sections to make it easier for search engines to understand the content and recognize parts that may be relevant to a search query. Second, upload a transcript for each of your videos so that both your audience as well as the search engine better understands what is being said within a video.
6. Update Your Old Content
Want a quick and dirty way to quickly improve your search ranking this year? Simply update your old site content. There could be a lot to improve upon, the figures and data could have changed, new updates that need mentioning or it could be you just improving the overall quality of the content.
Adding Visual Data
One practice you should do for all your old content (as well as new if you haven’t already) is to incorporate visual data where ever possible. With many helpful online resources such asCanva, making compelling visuals is incredibly easy and massively improves the look and quality of your content. A great thing about visual content is that you can regularly recycle the same content for a number of different blogs, social media posts and even in other visual content such as infographics.
Update Old URLs
There could also be old URLs that you can improve by making them keyword-rich. For instance, if an article is about best SEO practices and tips for beginners, instead of yoursite.com/024 or yoursite.com/seo-tips, consider using the full keyword to improve ranking, yoursite.com/best-seo-practices-and-tips-for-beginners. An authoritative report that analyzed over 5 million Google search results found that keyword-rich URLs were found to get45% more clicks vs. URLs that didn’t contain a keyword.Regularly doing these minor but needed changes help keep your old content ‘fresh’, something that search engines put a high emphasis on when ranking websites. SEO optimized through this approach, as well such as keeping the content relevant with time, better helps in meeting the content requirements for E.A.T.
7. Encourage Engagement
In a lot of searches, you might have come across posts from Reddit, Quora or other forums, even though their content isn’t optimized for search engines. The key variable here for the high ranking? It’s high engagement. If a certain post or website is seeing lots of engagement in the form of comments, upvotes, shares, etc., they are likely to be seen as highly relevant for a particular topic by a search engine.There are a lot of ways you can improve the audience’s engagement level on the website. You can make it easier for them to share your content for which lots of digital tools and services are available. You can encourage them to take part in a discussion in the comments in which the author themselves should play an active part in keeping the conversation going. Similar to those implemented on social media, you can also include reactions or upvote buttons on your posts to encourage more engagement.
8. Deal with Trash Content
Over time, virtually every site accumulates pages, videos and blog posts that are of little value, generate little traffic and feature a high bounce rate. In other words, it is simply trash content. If there is too much trash content on your website, it’s SEO can suffer tremendously even if your newer posts are consistently of better quality. Do a thorough review of your web content, discover the ones that aren’t performing as well and either remove them completely or consolidate their useful bits into in-depth guides and blog posts. Multiple web posts that virtually say and answer the same thing can also be classified as trash content and potentially harm your SEO. Sure, you might have created them to answer similar but slightly different queries in hopes of gaining more search traffic for a particular topic. This doesn’t work unfortunately in 2020. Instead, consider combining them into a single cornerstone article, which aims to provide the best and most complete knowledge for a given topic. Add helpful navigation in the content so that readers can easily jump to the section most relevant to them. This is your new text content. You can modify this text, add more paragraph, change font style or add images by clicking the edit button.
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