96% of users click on organic search results rather ads which is why being on page one of Google for your specific keywords is vital to your business. However, even if you are on the first page currently you still need to keep up with SEO to maintain your rankings and survive digital marketing. SEO continues to change at warp speed. Some people even say SEO is dead because they cannot keep up. Google constantly improves their algorithm to better predict browsing behavior and expectations so here are some SEO strategies for 2017.
Schema Markup is a markup language that makes it easier for search engines to understand your content making search results more informative thereby increasing click-through rate. According to SearchMetrics, only a shocking 0.3% of websites had schema markup code. If you implement schema on your website today, you will rank about 4 positions higher considering that no one else is doing this.
If a hotel or airline uses schema markup, here is what search results would look like:
Need for Speed
The faster your website loads, the better it will rank with a Google Page Speed score of above 70 optimal for SEO. According to KissMetrics, 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load. Here are some quick tips to speed up your website:
- Minimize HTTP requests by simplifying pages, using CSS instead of images, amalgamating the many CSS files into one and reducing scripts
- Opt for dedicated hosting to reduce server response time
- Enable compression
- Enable browser caching with W3 Total Cache
- Optimize Images (see below)
- Avoid inline CSS and just use one external CSS
- Reduce the number of plugins
- Have your above-fold content load faster
Responsive Design & Mobile Friendliness
In 2015, Google announced that responsive design would be a ranking factor. With over 2 billion smartphone users and over 60% of searches originating from mobile devices, a mobile-friendly website is integral to any SEO strategy.
Yoast SEO is WordPress plugin that allows you to write a custom meta title and description for each page so you control what appears in search results. Yoast also provides a Flesch reading ease score, which grades your content based on its readability. The higher your score the better and a score of 60-70, which is best understood by high school students is acceptable for web copy. Finally, Yoast does calculate keyword density and there is some benefit to mentioning your keyword once or twice, overusing it could penalize you for keyword stuffing. It is more important to write natural copy that engages your target market in mind rather than just mindlessly repeating your keywords.
If you have WordPress 4.2 or greater, your URLs are already SEO-friendly and you will not have to worry about this. If you an older version of WordPress, you can go to “Settings,” “Permalinks” and select “Post name” which means that it will default to your page title with dashes when you do not specify a custom permalink. Permalinks are best when they are short, contain your focus keyword and have a dash between each word.
W3 Total Cache
H1 to H6 are heading tags that help Google understand your content The H1 is the most important and there should only be one H1 so not to dilute its significance. H2s and H3s are like subheadings that separate your content into scannable chunks support your H1. All heading tags should be styled to look more important than body text to help search engines grasp the main topics of your post.
Images should be cropped and optimized for the web in the size that you are using them. If an image is an illustration with limited colors, save it as a png or gif. If your image is a photograph, save it as a jpg. You should name your images by describing them instead of using arbitrary names like image.png. When you insert your image, be sure to specify an ALT tag which tells Google what is in your image which also helps to strengthen your content.
Engaging long form content often earns more backlinks because it is more comprehensive which also makes it great for SEO. Although social media has us believing that no one has the patience for long-form content, it has been proved that high-quality long-form content significantly increased conversions. HubSpot found that posts over 2,000 words earned the most organic traffic. If your content is more informative, visitors spent 40% more time on your page and browsed your website 25% more because they trusted the company more.
Internal links encourage browsing, enable Google find more of your pages, establish the information hierarchy and spread the link juice throughout your website. The ideal website architecture would look like a pyramid with the homepage being on top and linking to say 3-5 internal pages, each of which would link to 3-5 deeper pages.
Studies have shown that external links to relevant authoritative website positively impact your search engine rankings. It is a good idea to link to 1-2 high authority domains but be careful not to overdo it. You should make all external links nofollow links by inserting the rel=”nofollow” attribute to instruct search engines to not transfer any link juice from your site to the external site.
Engage on Social Media
Facebook and Twitter are crawled the same way like any other website so when a page is frequently shared or well liked, Google does rank that website higher. Social profile are one the top search results when you search any brand so having a huge loyal following definitely helps with SEO. Here are some Awesome Social Media Tips.