Search engine optimization—or SEO—can make or break your company’s website. Strong SEO strategies ensure a high ranking when users come looking for your product or service, while weak SEO destines you to be banished to the backwaters of the internet. If your content wasn’t written with SEO in mind, or if your strategies haven’t been recently updated, you could be losing traffic. Now is the time to get savvy about making SEO work for you.
SEO simply means editing your content in a way that increases your ranking in search engine results. Although different search engines use different algorithms when generating results, SEO strategies are usually created with Google in mind, as almost 70% of searches originate on that site.
Starting in 2011 with the major Panda shake-up, Google has rolled out a series of algorithm updates designed to provide users with better search results. These changes targeted SEO strategies that delivered poor user experiences and hit sites that used techniques like keyword stuffing and high ad-to-content ratios hard. Google has continued to refine these algorithms to drive SEO practices that produce user-friendly and relevant search results.
Black Hat or White Hat?
In 2015, SEO success all comes down to wearing the right hat. Black hat SEO strategies are heavily penalized by Google because they create poor user outcomes. The content on black hat sites is written with search engines—rather than users—in mind, and is frequently stuffed with keywords in an attempt to trigger high rankings. Cluttered, ad-heavy sites also fall into the black hat category. Sites that use this approach to SEO now rank lower and may be entirely banned from results.
White hat strategies, on the other hand, are used by sites that are designed for a human audience—not just an algorithm. These sites are frequently updated with fresh content and have a clutter-free, easy-to-navigate design. If you build an SEO plan focused on creating a site that is useful to your audience, you will be rewarded with higher rankings, and thus, more traffic.
In 2015, 64% of Americans have smartphones, and 10% of people in that group lack at-home high-speed internet access. With more and more people relying on their smartphones for internet searches, mobile-friendly sites have gone white hat.
For better SEO results, make sure your site has mobile functionality. Use compressed images and drop media and plug-ins that aren’t absolutely necessary. Make navigation easy on mobile interfaces and ensure text size is large enough for easy reading. Fast loading times for both mobile and computer-based users will also boost your search engine ranking.
Winning the SEO Ranking Game
Rounding out your SEO plan with the small details is what will separate your site from competitors and earn you top-tier rankings. Although relevant keywords certainly have a role to play in your content, err on the side of keeping your copy conversational. Google’s sensitive algorithm knows when you’re cramming in keywords unnaturally and will penalize you for it.
Heading tags, titles, and URLs should be descriptive and help users navigate your site. Social media activity drives people to your site, and your presence—including on Google+—connects you to your audience and increases your search ranking. Generate conversation about your business, since mentions—whether they link to you or not—are recognized by Google as a sign of your relevance to readers.
Being SEO-friendly is an ongoing process. Be sure to regularly groom your content to meet the latest trends, and you’ll stay in a coveted spot near the top of that all-important results page. If you would like to learn about Student Experts’ SEO content services, contact us online or at (520) 344-4672.