A website’s ranking within search engine results pages (SERPs) can greatly influence the amount of traffic coming to the site. It’s a simple narrative: People use search engines more frequently than ever to find information (more than 75% of B2B website traffic comes from search) and they expect search engines to serve up the right information in the top positions (65% of clicks happen on positions 1-5). In fact, a common joke among SEO experts is that if you ever want to hide a dead body, the best place to do so is on page two of Google search results. So how do you get your website to appear in one of those coveted top spots on page one? Short answer: Do what Google wants.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of understanding and implementing a range of tactics that search engines deem important. These tactics typically fall within four major categories:
In this guide, we’ll walk through best practices for all four categories to improve your brand’s SERP rankings. (Note: Although there are other search engines out there like Yahoo!, Bing, DuckDuckGo, we’ll be focusing on Google, which accounts for 75% of the search market.)
When writing copy for your website, or any type of content for that matter, ask yourself: Who is my audience? What are they looking for? Why are they looking for it? How can I present it in a way that makes sense for them? In other words, don’t think about what you want on the page, think about what they want. Not only is it good for customers and prospects, but Google likes it too.
Here are a few other ways you can keep your web content focused on your users, and in turn, focused on search engine performance.
Understanding the search habits of page visitors can be a great place to start when determining which keyword, and any related keywords or phrases, to include in your content. You can do this by looking at Google Analytics and Google Keyword Planner, as well as popular suggested search terms and phrases on sites like Google, Twitter, Quora, Reddit and YouTube to get more familiar with what language your audience is using to find relevant content and resources related to your brand’s topics.
With Google Search Console you can also review search query and keyword results to see what words and phrases trigger your brand to appear in search results and whether users are actually clicking through to your site from those phrases or keywords.
Ultimately, if your web page uses a strong keyword, you’re more likely to place highly, see more traffic and serve your audience’s needs.
While the inclusion keywords is important, the placement and frequency of them may be even more so. After all, audiences (and Google Bots) can tell if you’re writing just to fit in a few more keywords, which undermines the quality of your content and harms your placement on SERPs.
The key is to use a focus keyword in key places. At its core, a focus keyword is simply the search term you want your page to show up for in search engine results. A page can always rank for other keywords present on the page as well, but your focus keyword should be the term you want to prioritize the most in order to improve rankings and attract relevant organic search users to your website.
Your focus keyword should be used within the page title, meta description, section headers, file names, image alt text and sprinkled strategically into your page’s content, where relevant. Once your focus keyword is placed in those spots, forget about keywords entirely. Instead, focus on crafting a clear and compelling narrative for the page that ultimately fulfills the needs of new and returning visitors. This ensures your focus keyword fits into the piece naturally.
Google and other search engines have bots that crawl websites and store important information to determine E-E-A-T score, flagging things like keywords and phrases, content publish dates, internal links and more.
Recall that the A in E-E-A-T, authoritativeness, is a major factor Google considers for its rankings. It’s a measure of what the rest of the internet says about a page and is calculated by things like how often the webpage is mentioned through backlinks – instances of other websites linking to your website. But how exactly do you go about earning these backlinks?
Google offers several products that can help sites boost curb appeal and deliver traffic from SERPs. That said, Google’s full product catalog can be overwhelming, so let’s just focus on three of its offerings:
There are many efforts you can undertake to try and boost SEO and improve SERP rankings. These tasks take time and require ongoing attention, so don’t try to tackle them all at once. Create a plan and set measurable and attainable goals.
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