It shouldn’t be news to anyone in the digital marketing world that search engine optimization (SEO) is important. However, the topic of remaining fully optimized is something that regularly needs to be discussed. If you optimized your website when you first built it, that is great, but remaining fully optimized is an ongoing process. As customer needs and expectations change and search engines become “smarter” at understanding websites, SEO trends change as well. What you needed to do five years ago, even one year ago, to rank on the first page of Google is old news.
If you haven’t monitored your SEO lately, or even if you have, here are some key factors you should be focusing on for your website in 2017. If your website is lacking in these areas, it is highly unlikely you will rank well on search engine results pages (SERPs).
Optimize for Mobile
We are fully immersed in the mobile era. Mobile Internet usage has surpassed desktop Internet usage, now accounting for 51% of total time spent, in comparison to 42% of time spent via desktop devices. It is no longer enough to simply create a website that is mobile friendly. Instead, you need a website that is fully responsive via mobile devices, as that is where a large majority of your users will be accessing your site.
“Mobile-friendliness” is in fact a ranking signal that Google considers when determining which websites should show up higher on SERPs. If you have an existing website, consider using Google’s official tool that will check any domain for how mobile friendly it is. Be sure your website gets the all clear, and if any issues are reported, make it a priority to fix them in order to not only please search engines, but also please your audience.
Increase Page Speed
Page speed is another major consideration you need to track in order to keep your audience and search engines happy. Site speed is a ranking factor for SEO purposes, so it is something you need to actively monitor and fix when necessary. You can easily test your page speed by using another convenient tool from Google (pictured above). If you are suffering from a slow load speed, here are some things you can do to improve it:
- Remove unnecessary elements from the page
- Reduce the number of plugins you use
- Reduce the file size of images on your page
- Increase your hosting plan
- Enable caching
Users also really don’t like slow loading websites. In fact, 47% of users expect a website to load in two seconds or less. Start with easy fixes on your website but do what is needed in order to improve your load speed.
Focus on the User Experience
A well designed website will improve just about every aspect of your business. You are sure to increase conversions, rank better on SERPs, make your customers happy, and more. Your customers should always be at the forefront of the decision making process when designing your website and developing your content. With an expertly designed website and great content, your customers are more likely to not just enjoy your content, but share it with others via social media.
Increased social shares results in more traffic flow to your content and can also lead to people linking back to your content which will also further increase traffic. This is not only great for business but also signals to search engines that your website is one that people love. And Google is all about finding the best content and displaying it first to users who are searching for it.
Proper SEO is about so much more than just having tons of keywords present throughout your website. Having high quality content, meaning content that is unique and useful, and a well-designed website that users enjoy navigating are some of the most important things a brand can do to improve their SEO and overall brand perception.
Web users today are very aware of the dangers of online hackers and the risks associated with websites that do not have a secure connection. Switching from HTTP to HTTPS is the best way to ensure a secure connection and put your users’ minds at ease. Google will also reward you in terms of SEO value for making this switch and is slowly making HTTPS a stronger and stronger ranking signal.
Google Chrome is also moving towards displaying all non-HTTPS pages as not secure, as opposed to just pages that collect sensitive information such as passwords or credit card info. To avoid having this marker on your website, make the switch to HTTPS.
Consider Long-Tail Keywords
It can be nearly impossible to rank for single keywords, especially words that are incredibly broad. However, long-tail keywords (which are phrases instead of single words) can be much easier to rank for. These keywords are more descriptive and also increasingly represent what people are actually typing into search engines. By optimizing for these keywords, you not only have a chance at actually ranking high on SERPs, but are also doing a better job of describing your content and presenting it to the right audience.
If you use Google Adwords, you can use their keyword planner to help you determine what keywords you should be using for your website.
Incorporate Structured Data
Finally, including structured data can help search engines to better understand what your website is actually about. Web crawlers are increasing in their intelligence all the time, but still need help understanding content. This is partially accomplished with existing SEO practices you are likely aware of like adding headings and alt tags, but can be taken one step further with structured data.
Getting started with structured data can be a bit more complex than the other items on this list, as it involves dealing with the actual HTML code of your webpages. Google has a helpful free tool that is very useful for getting started with structured data. However, you may still want to rely on an experienced web developer to help you get this done correctly.
Thankfully, our team at Uhsome is comprised of SEO experts that can help ensure your website is always fully optimized and keeping up with all the latest trends and search engine algorithm changes. If you are looking for a team to help improve your SEO, please contact us today.