If you don’t focus on search engine optimization (SEO) you aren’t using the most indispensable tool for enhancing your online presence: so, we will assume you are. You’re smart. Even if you only spent a small amount of money training someone in your team to audit and fix up your site, you’re in the SEO game I’m sure.
However, staying up to date with the ever-changing SEO landscape is tricky. Here’s some things I’ve been talking to people about lately.
1st page vs. 2nd page is a 10x traffic difference.
I’m sorry to say it but: ranking on the first page of search engine results is crucial for generating organic traffic. Studies have shown that there is a substantial traffic difference between the first and second pages, with the first page receiving about 10 times more clicks. You must invest the time and effort into optimizing your website to appear on the first page. Moving up a few spots from 10 to 7 won’t yield significant results. The real benefits lie in reaching the top few positions on the search engine results page (SERP). Users tend to click on the top-ranking results more frequently, so aim to surpass your competitors and secure a spot among the top results. If you must sponsor certain searches in the short term while you build a stronger ‘earned’ position? Do it. It’s worth it.
What you see is not what others see, so don’t be fooled by your page’s performance.
Personalization algorithms employed by search engines tailor search results to individual users based on their location, browsing history, and other factors. As a result, your website's performance may vary for different users. Don’t get fooled when you search for yourself: use analytical tools and gather data from various sources to gain a comprehensive understanding of your website's performance. Start by trying an Incognito search and see if you get a different ranking to your usual search.
Pages must be good the first time due to Google spidering interval reducing.
Google's spidering interval has significantly reduced, which means that the first impression of your website matters more than ever. Don’t just get up the MVP and iterate. Get it right for launch.
YMYL (Your Money or Your Life): content needs to be trusted.
If you provide content related to finances, health, safety, or any other subject that directly impacts users' well-being, building trust is of utmost importance. Google places great emphasis on EAT (Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness) for YMYL content. This means that you must demonstrate expertise in the subject matter, establish authority through credentials and external endorsements, and foster trust by providing accurate and reliable information.
Google looks for content writers with real expertise.
To meet the demands of EAT, it is crucial to have content writers who possess expertise, (ideally created from lived experience, see below), in the topics they cover. Google wants to see professionals who have in-depth knowledge that enables them to produce ‘Authentic and Authoritative’ content. Expertise-based content not only helps in SEO but also enhances your brand's reputation as a trusted source of information. Because it’s good.
Experience-based content is preferred.
Part of being expert is having real experience in the field you are writing about. Use examples from your own life and work. The more detail the better. Google is smart enough to recognise this as ‘real’. This also means you must push your talented people forward. By showcasing your talented experts, and their unique perspectives, you can build a strong thought leadership brand that resonates with your audience and creates trust. People trust other ‘real’ people over random copywriters, and establishing your people as the authority in your niche can have a significant impact on your website's SEO.
Get the UX right.
While expertise and experience are important, UX (user experience) plays a significant role in SEO as well. Creating content that focuses on delivering an exceptional user experience can boost your website's rankings. Visually appealing designs, fast loading times, and mobile responsiveness are some key aspects that contribute to a positive user experience. And you know what? Often you can get significant improvements from even small things like adjusting images sizes or adding alt text.
Links within the body of your copy.
Strategic internal linking plays a significant role in SEO. Internal links help search engine crawlers navigate your website, establish connections between different pages, and distribute link equity (the value that passes from a linking page to a page it links to). Incorporate relevant and contextual internal links to enhance the accessibility and discoverability of your content.
Answer 2-3 questions rather than long-form content.
Instead of focusing solely on long-form content, it's becoming increasingly important to address specific questions and provide concise, direct answers. Voice search and featured snippets have gained prominence, emphasizing the need for content that directly addresses user queries. Optimize your content by identifying common questions related to your industry and providing clear and concise answers.
Google might start ignoring nofollow tags.
Nofollow tags were introduced to help website owners indicate to search engines that certain links shouldn't be followed or considered ‘votes’ in favour of the linked content when determining search rankings. There is speculation in the SEO community about Google changing how it treats nofollow tags. I don’t know whether Google will start ignoring them, but I do think a change is coming and anyway, there’s a lot of bad use of nofollow today. Get better at using them, or just don’t use them.
New website? Top volume pages must get 301 redirects.
When launching a new website or redesigning an existing one, it's crucial to prioritize the top-volume pages that generate the most traffic and contribute to your website's visibility. Implementing 301 redirects from the old URLs of these pages to the corresponding new URLs ensures that search engines and users are directed to the updated content. This helps preserve the authority and rankings of these high-value pages during the transition.
Launch all at once.
When unveiling a new website (or even making substantial changes), launch all the updates simultaneously rather than incrementally. By launching all the updates at once, you provide search engines with a clear and unified picture of your website, enabling them to index and rank your content more effectively. And don’t forget that Google is indexing less frequently (for the good of the planet, y’all!)
Google prefers content, so don't drop lots of pages.
I’m not saying don’t periodically assess your website's content but do be cautious when removing or deleting pages. Google tends to favour websites with substantial content (assuming it meets all the criteria we just discussed). Dropping numerous pages abruptly can negatively impact your website's authority and rankings.
Remember this golden rule, passed on to me by the excellent Jez John of Webstars: "You don't have to be the best, just better than your competitors." (Want to get really good SEO work done? Try Webstars – and please tell them I sent you).
Feel free to link the heck out of this article.