Search engine optimization is a task that every small and medium enterprise owner is concerned with. Wanting to set up your website to rank at the top of search results is a constant preoccupation for lead generation. However, with the landscape that Google has created, SEO is less of a task list and more of a mindset.
Implementing a content-driven strategy can transform your business into a niche leader. Find out how to focus your SEO efforts for maximum results.
What’s Different in 2020?
If you’re stuck in the link-building era of the previous years, you need to break free of that mindset. While incoming links are still a good measure of authority, you should focus less on mechanics. Much less.
This doesn’t mean we can/should neglect the SEO nuances of years past. Having a good meta description is still good to have for your posts clickability on the search results page, and your images should have proper alt tags. But you’ll find that switching your focus to user experience and providing value will be of greatest use.
Bert is the Norm
Google’s newest major algorithm update goes by the name of Bert. This update has given Google the ability to rank content based on semantics. Gone are the days of scanning for keyword density and overlooking poorly written posts.
The new update allows Google to read through your content as if a human editor was critiquing your work. This means that your posts are truly ranked for the potential value they offer your audience. In effect, you should be writing content for people looking for information on a pain-point. This comes in stark contrast to previous years when optimizing posts from a sales-minded perspective was preferable.
Success in the New SEO Era
The problem business owners need to overcome in order to be successful with SEO is escaping the old optimization mindset. Achieving great results for your website is less about tactics and more about honing your content-creation philosophy. Having said that, there are still a few technical aspects you should be aware of. Let’s look at the factors that will improve your results in this new search engine optimization era.
1. Be Careful What You E-A-T
Google and other search engines are very mindful of promoting authoritative content. E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness. The concept is particularly important for niches that have anything to do with food, medicine and finances.
As you can understand, promoting content that results in negative experiences in these areas can be very unpleasant and unhealthy. That is why you need to display an ample amount of competence in these subjects in order to have your content rank highly.
The best way to fulfill the E-A-T requirements is to have expert authors associated with your content. Hiring ghostwriters and having them hide behind a pseudonym will not yield the best results. Be transparent with your author credentials and show that you are an authority in your field.
If your business is not in one of these sensitive niches, you should still aim to display competence. Just realize that meeting E-A-T standards is more vital for the general industries mentioned above.
2. Write as You Speak
Google Bert has been in the works for several years before being recently released. This technology is able to parse text and judge its quality in terms of how a human reader would. This means writing content for a robot will not cut it.
Be sure to use long-tail keywords that are relevant to your topic and employ language that is common in your niche. Since your text is being compared against other market players, you want to exhibit the greatest user-friendliness.
3. Account for Mobile Users
Mobile users have been a focus for search engines over the past decade. This is only gaining greater importance as more and more traffic is seen coming from mobile devices. In the fourth quarter of 2019, mobile traffic accounted for approximately 53 percent of internet activity.
Optimizing for mobile devices includes things using a mobile responsive design, optimizing your images for non-desktop devices and using visible buttons and appealing calls to action.
4. Be Voice-Friendly
Along with increased mobile traffic, voice-driven search is also on the rise. People on the go are likely to use a voice-activated command in order to perform a search. Optimizing for voice should include asking and answering questions in a straightforward manner.
Once a question is asked, the search algorithm looks for the best answer for the user. If you are careful to answer questions within your content in a succinct, helpful manner, your pages will be the first to be returned to the user.
5. Optimize for Visual Search
With Google Lens having surpassed one billion uses and platforms like Pinterest getting over 600 million visual searches on a monthly basis, visual search is not something you can afford to neglect.
In case you’re not 100 percent sure what visual search is, you’ll be surprised to know that Google and Bing can identify over a billion objects just by a user scanning them with their mobile. Your audience can search for information on your products just by scanning an object.
If you have a brick and mortar business that sells athletic shoes, users can scan their old pair of sneakers and have a list of options come up. They can then visit your store to pick up their favorite pair of shoes after having ‘window-shopped’ online. Other than for shopping, visual search can be used for getting directions, finding local business reviews, food recipes and a lot more.
To get the best results from visual search, make sure to optimize your images. You want your visual media to include descriptive file names and tags. Finally, make sure to use original, high-quality images. A good camera will go a long way in getting the best out of your images.
6. Quality and Quantity
Business owners that have already been optimizing their websites may consider this point self-evident but it should be made regardless. Writing a great article every two weeks isn’t enough on its own. Your quality content needs to be churned out with a degree of regularity.
If you are passionate and knowledgeable in your niche, you should have no problem coming up with original topics to write about. You can check the highest-ranking competitors in your space to see what a good posting frequency is. If you want to build a loyal following, you’ll have to keep your audience engaged. There’s no substitute for achieving this better than valuable content posted regularly.
Dos and Don’ts
Writing actionable content is the best way to attract users and convert them into paying customers. Keeping your content tailored to your niche’s problems should be your greatest concern.
Do Write Lengthy Articles that Address User Pain-Points
While 300-word posts were once the norm, most niches will require articles that are longer in order to properly address your niche’s interests. Stay on-point and write structured content that adds value to your customers’ lives.
Don’t Ramble on or Go Off-Topic
You don’t need a 10,000-word thesis in order to achieve your goal. Usually, anything between 1,500 to 3,000 words should be fine. Keep in mind that these numbers are not set in stone and search engines do not seem to have hard word limits. Write on focused subjects that don’t veer off-topic and you should be fine.
Do Competitive Research
Knowing what your competitors are doing will help you position yourself within your niche. What kind of language are the other market players using? Are there any keywords that your competitors are not targeting that you could profit from?
Don’t Compare Apples to Oranges
Be sure to keep your competitive research relevant to how it pertains to your website. Don’t attempt to adopt everything that your competition is doing. Find a sub-niche or a different angle to exploit and focus on your strengths.
Take Action Today
Take a look at your business’s website and make a note of the aspects you need to improve on. Now that you know how search engine optimization works in this new era, you can boost your results by making the appropriate modifications.