With over 160 billion search queries every month, Google can make or break your business. Business owners go to sleep at night dreaming of reaching the coveted top spot. Those at the top continuously work hard to keep you from taking over. They spend a huge portion of their revenue on paid advertising and SEO because it pays off.
The top websites take a whopping 36.4% of all traffic. If you optimize your website for these SEO ranking signals, you will outrank your competitors and convert more customers than you ever dreamed of.
1. Search intent
Search intent is what a user wants to get from a web search. While searches are associated with keywords, it’s crucial that you optimize for the intent behind the keyword.
With the RankBrain and Hummingbird algorithms, Google search engine interprets and displays results that best meet the search intent of the user.
Google aims to provide the best result for a search query. Hence, only relevant pages that satisfy search intent will get a high position.
According to SEMrush, these are the main types of search intents
Go somewhere – When the user is looking for a specific site or web page.
Know something – The answer to a question. Usually includes questions that begin with “where is”, “how to” and “what is”.
Do something – This includes email signup, purchases, lead generation, phone calls and store visits.
Not pay – “Freebie keywords” for finding free services, products or resources.
Optimizing for search intent
To understand keyword intent, experiment with different queries and determine the search intent. If the pages do not match the search intent, it is not the right page to optimise for the keyword. Look for a page that fits. Beef up the content with relevant information the user wants.
Your headline or subheadings should begin with “how to”, “what is”, “the meaning of”, and other related interrogatives.
A few tips for including search intent in your business include
Navigational – Create landing pages for your product and services. Optimise your landing pages by including your product and brand name in the HTML headers, title tags and meta descriptions.
Informational – Provide information that solves problems for your target audience. It’s a great way to generate and convert leads while establishing your brand as a leading authority in your field.
Transactional – Create landing pages where prospects and customers can make a purchase directly from the landing page.
Freebies – If you offer a free resource of demo version for your product, create landing pages to lure prospects and get value from your visitors. You’re generating leads and increasing brand awareness.
2. Great content
High-quality content and rankings go hand-in-hand. People visit your website to see your content and get the information they came for.
- 80% of business decision-makers would rather get their information from an article than an advert.
- 78% of consumers believe that brands who provide custom content have a genuine desire to build a relationship with them. 90% of online consumers find custom content useful.
- People know a sales pitch when they see it. 71% of readers are turned off by a sales pitch.
Your content shouldn’t look like an advert. Creating content without any value will hurt your brand. Google’s Fred and Panda algorithm updates take care of this problem. This article contains a checklist of tips for writing SEO-friendly content.
- Add the main keyword in the page title of the headline
- Include the keyword once in the body of the work.
- Write with a natural voice, just as a person would read
- Your URL should not contain capital letters, underscores and special characters. Keep it short.
- Use relevant images.
- Encourage visitors to spend more time on your content by linking internally to relevant pieces.
- Include external links from high authority websites. It adds relevance and trust to your content.
- Add social sharing buttons to give users the ability to share your content across Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. There are thousands of free WordPress plug-ins for this purpose.
Backlinks remain the second most important Google ranking factor in 2019. It shows Google that your website is relevant and high-quality. Google pays attention to websites with quality backlinks than those who don’t.
Google checks backlinks based on the number of links you have, the authority of the linking pages and the diversity of your backlinks. According to Brian Dean, Backlinks from an old domain are more powerful than a new domain. Links from competitors in your niche also have more SERP value.
Spy on your competitor’s linking profile. Compare and see where links intersect. It offers more insight to build a better linking profile for your website. This is my in-depth article on link building.
4. Page Speed
User experience is crucial to how a visitor perceives your website. Google Speed Update made page speed a ranking factor. Fast loading websites are a strong indication of good user experience.
Search engine bots use your page HTML code to estimate site speed. Google also uses Chrome user data to estimate page loading time.
Fast pages are those that load in three seconds or less. It varies according to the website purpose and type of visitors. For instance, Google states that e-commerce websites should load in two seconds.
Uncompressed images are the major reason for a slow loading page. For instance, you download a stock image that is 10.6 MB in size. You also upload 5 similar images with the same size to your web page. That’s over 50 MB of data to download.
While some websites need these complex media to operate, compressing your images improves page speed. Good tools to explore include tinypng.com and compressor.io. I use the premium version of Batch Picture Resizer.
The use of smartphones has increased. Statista predicted that mobile users will increase to 4.68 billion in 2019. Statista also noted that 52.2% of all website traffic was from mobile phones.
Today, responsive design is the benchmark for designing websites. It is also the recommended format from Google. Responsive design helps Google algorithms to properly index your web pages. Considering that most online users are mobile, a mobile-first index is essential to your search rankings and online success.
Tips for designing a mobile-friendly website
- Size matters. Optimize fonts and buttons. Mobile fonts size should be 14px or more for easy viewing. Use larger buttons to ensure the user doesn’t hit the wrong button or miss a piece of information.
- Be responsive. Follow a unified approach for a cohesive experience for mobile and desktop users. A responsive website doesn’t need a unique mobile URL. It’s also easier to manage.
- Make it easy for users to find the information they are looking for. When creating an FAQ, think of the questions users might have.
- Avoid flash. It’s bad for SEO and slows down your website.
- Include the viewport meta tag to ensure the width of your web pages adjusts to the user’s screen.
- Add a desktop view button for users who prefer the desktop version of the website.
6. Local SEO
WordStream recommends these tips to improve your local SEO
- Claim your business on Google My Business. Verify your listing. Include updated information, operation hours and encourage customer reviews.
- Create local content for your audience
- Use local keywords
- Create a location-centric About Us page
- List your business on online business directories such as Foursquare and Yelp
- Create dedicated webpages for your product or services
7. Voice search
Your content must be optimized for voice search if you want to increase your ranking and visibility on search engines.
- Aim for featured snippets.
- Use Answer The Public to find questions. Create engaging copies that answer the question concisely.
- Focus on Long tail phrases and keywords
- Anticipate questions users ask in conversations
- Optimize for local SEO
8. Click-Through Rate
There is a direct link between your rankings and CTR. It’s a strong relevance signal for Google. CTR is calculated by dividing the number of clicks from your website search results by the number of views. High CTR rates translate into a higher ranking.
Use the Search Analytics report on the Google Search Console to understand what people click on the SERPS. Review high ranking pages with low CTR. You might need to work on your meta descriptions and title tags.
9. Domain security – HTTPS
Domain security became a ranking factor in 2014. Security is a top priority for Google. They advise that websites, where people enter data, should have an HTTP protocol.
When users enter a website without an HTTPS protocol, they receive a warning on Chrome that your website is insecure. You’ll need an SSL certificate from an authorized merchant.
Roughly 60% of websites that appear on the first page of a Google search ranking are at least three years old. An Ahrefs study of two million websites revealed that young websites have minimal chances of getting to the top spot.
Exact-match domains that are valuable, relevant and high-quality will get a ranking boost. Factors affecting your website authority include social shares, inbound links and off-page SEO signals.
Use Moz’s Open Site Explorer to check your page authority, domain authority, new links and established links.
While you’re optimising for the technical stuff, don’t forget simple things like good grammar and meta descriptions. There are 200 Google ranking factors. Probably more. To improve your SEO ranking signals and revenue, focus on improving user experience. Get backlinks from authority sites and create relevant content.
Need help creating a content marketing strategy or writing high-quality blog posts? Give us a call today or send us an email.