Search engine optimisation, or SEO, is a constantly evolving art form. Despite any claims made by black hat SEO organisations, there can be no guarantee that a brand will appear on the first page of search results. Nor is there any certainty that current techniques will continue to be as effective in the future. Google and Bing are constantly updating their search ranking algorithms to deliver more relevant and accurate results, so consequently, SEO success is often fleeting, requiring constant fettling to maintain current positions in ranking results.
As of May 2019, these ten activities will help to maximise online content rankings:
1. Undertake keyword analysis.
Search engines prefer exact phrase matches, so use platforms like Google Analytics to see what audiences are hunting for. Add keywords and long tails to show expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.
2. Optimise for voice searches, too.
Smart speakers and virtual assistants are increasingly powering vocal search results, which tend to use more conversational terminology than typed entries. This is becoming a crucial element of SEO success.
Create a News or Blog page for posting relevant updates. Add lengthy content on a weekly basis, with each post incorporating a key search term several times. Add captions and metadata, and optimise readability with free utilities like Flesch-Kincaid readers.
4. Invest in an SEO management tool.
These are readily available; WordPress admins might want to consider installing the Yoast plugin. It gives SEO content a traffic light rating, clearly highlighting where improvements are needed.
5. Realise the full potential of metadata.
As well as basic editorial content, websites offer plenty of scope for keyword incorporation. Examples include URLs, title and header tags, subheadings and featured snippets, photo captions, and sitemaps.
6. Increase external links.
Analysis of one million Google search results has revealed the number of inbound links affects ranking position more than anything else. Build in extra links across social platforms, message boards, and friendly third-party sites.
7. Keep audiences on-site.
Search engines monitor how long audiences spend on each site. More dwell time implies content worth reading, so maintaining readers’ interest is crucial. Keep people engaged with internal links, listicles, and infographics.
8. Design for mobile.
M. variants and sites designed to suit desktop users will achieve lower rankings in Google and Bing results. Mobile sites are now scanned and ranked as a company’s primary site since most web traffic these days is displayed on mobile.
9. Reduce page loading times.
This is another factor that contributes to SEO success. Use lazy loading to ensure content only displays as the page scrolls down, and compress every image. Avoid auto-playing video content, using trustworthy firms like UK2 for hosting.
10. Be HTTPS secure.
SEO success depends on security, and HTTP-only sites may be flagged as potentially dangerous or even downgraded by Google and Bing. Installing an SSL certificate is fiddly, but it demonstrates a commitment to keeping people safe.
Avoiding SEO failure
Equally, SEO success hinges on avoiding and eliminating negative elements, like deleting unnecessary or irrelevant content. This might include outdated press releases, 100-word blog posts or links to deleted pages. Search engines disregard and downgrade duplicate content, so never publish something that’s already been published elsewhere.
Historic SEO techniques may now be counter-productive, such as keyword stuffing and listing your site on low-grade link farms. Quality often outweighs quantity, so a single backlink from a key influencer will outweigh a dozen inbound links from low-value domains. Equally, avoid choosing spammy generic TLDs like .men or .club. Stick to classic country code TLDs (co.uk, .com) or industry-specific gTLDs (.coffee, .hotel).