SEO today is a massively different game than it was just a few years ago.
RKG senior vice-president of organic search Adam Audette summed this up beautifully when he stated: “The days of SEO being a game outsmarting algorithms are over. Today content strategy and valuable, sustainable strategies are essential, not just tricks and links.”
Today’s SEO battle revolves around much more than content creation, link building strategies, keyword optimization, and the other usual suspects. The ubiquity of social media and mobile devices have effectively changed the way the digital world operates. User experience is now of the utmost importance. The superabundance of content covering every nook and cranny of the Web now demands that each piece generated be the most useful, compelling and high-quality publication possible. The harsh reality is that achieving stellar SEO results gets harder by the day.
Yet beyond the more typical components of SEO, there are still many ways to boost your site’s prominence in the SERPs and gain the “free advertising” that Google has to offer to the top search contenders.
Let’s dive in to five of the valuable, sustainable strategies that truly make a difference in your SEO.
1. Security Never Goes Out of Style
Over the past several years, cyber-security breaches have been wreaking havoc for online corporations and small business owners. In an effort to combat this digital onslaught, Google announced that it would provide a slight boost to sites who employed SSL encryption techniques. The company was forthcoming with this information by stating:
“We’ve been running tests taking into account whether sites use secure, encrypted connections as a signal in our search ranking algorithms. We’ve seen positive results, so we’re starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal. For now it’s only a very lightweight signal…. But over time, we may decide to strengthen it, because we’d like to encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the web.”
Through the utilization of SSL, an encrypted link is developed between the server and the client. Many sites have already doubled-down on this procedure. WordPress, for instance, diligently hammered away at its protection issues by increasing the number of security updates enacted in 2015 twofold when compared to 2013.
Security is of massive importance to you and everyone that passes through your site. Be sure to follow Google’s lead on this and make the switch as soon as possible; you might even see a modest improvement in your SEO score.
2. Commission Caching
Site load time is a major factor in SEO rankings. There are various site elements that can slow down load times such as under optimized images, duplicate plugins, and a plethora of other culprits. One way to combat sluggish speeds is to enable caching on your site’s most frequented pages.
When caching is permitted, a static HTML version of your site is stored on the visitor’s browser. This way, when a visitor returns to your site, reloading the entire page becomes unnecessary. Enabling query and template caching for your site’s content management systems is another useful way to keep speeds up to par.
3. Content Optimization
You have read all about how content needs to be unique and relevant a million times before; but there’s more to perfect content than the just the story it tells.
Content word count has been a much-debated subject over the past few years. Many studies have tried to pin point the optimal number of words and read time as it is well-known that Google prefers long form, comprehensive content. When it comes down the actual digitals, however, Buffer and Medium both produced similar optimal counts, averaging out to about 1,600 words for blog posts. Searchmetrics, on the other hand, found that the average word count of pages in the top 10 results was 1,285. While there is a significant gap in these two numbers, they do share a similar story; blog posts less than 1,000 words are not helping your efforts.
If you really want your content to pack an SEO punch, aim to create longer, more all-inclusive publications that extend past the 1,000-word mark. Do keep in mind, however, that adding in fluff to bolster your count won’t do you any favors either; keep things valuable, relevant, and informative.
4. Social Sharing Made Simple
Social media has also completely altered the online world forever. This irreversible change means that social channels now play an integral role in your SEO strategy as each helps to boost traffic, awareness, and other vital elements of business prosperity. For this reason, it is crucial that social sharing buttons are available on content, infographics, and other useful and sharable materials. Additionally, visitors should have direct links to your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social profiles as a way to enhance credibility and your online followings.
Providing users with these resources makes it incredibly easy to share content, drive more traffic and, ultimately, increase your site’s authority.
5. Favorable Site Structure for Search Engines
Applying these five elements alongside the more frequently covered tactics should help your site in its quest to rise above the rest. One of the most important things to remember when it comes to SEO, however, is that everything is always in transition; nothing is permanent. Always be on the lookout for changes, as they are sure to come and could potentially have major consequences for your site. Just ask those hit with the Panda and Penguin algorithm penalties.
What Web development advice do you have for enhancing SEO? What do you think is the single most important design element for a site to rank well?