Technical optimizations – can the search engine read your site and would a user have a good user experience on it?
In order for a user to have a good experience on your site, and for the search engine to know what the site is even about, your technical SEO has to be solid. Having clean code, optimized images and tags, proper indexation and sitemaps, is key for the search engines to be able to “read” it properly. Decent page speed is a must to avoid constant impatient bounces – a big red flag. The tags on-site are not just there to be stuffed with keywords, but to allow the search engines to understand what your site contains, and what information it provides to a user. These are the basics of SEO, but they will always be an extremely important foundation to build any sort of organic visibility.
Content onsite – what is your site even about and does it have strong, relevant content?
This is a big one – and why the old ways of shoveling on keyword-stuffed, overspun content are long gone. It is incredibly important to have relevant, user-friendly content on your site. Ask yourself as you land on the homepage, does this page do a good job of saying what my business or brand actually does? It is your digital storefront and should give a clear indication of what you’re all about, and what a customer can do on your site.
Writing content for users is also key. The search engines are getting smarter and smarter at recognizing unnatural-sounding text or manipulative duplication, and they’re only going to get better at it. Rather than finding new ways to ‘trick’ the search engines, just focus on writing compelling, useful, unique content for your audience. Tell them about your product or service, answer FAQs fully, and consider the other information you can provide that is relevant to your wider audience. Ask yourself, if I am the leader in my industry or niche and hence deserving of the top organic rankings, what content can I provide that cements my position as a thought-leader here?
This is not only essential for SEO but also significantly improves your conversion rates when you focus on what you are relevant for.
Backlink portfolio – does the rest of your industry think you are relevant?
This is probably the most misunderstood part of SEO. Yes – the search engines look at the links pointing to your site to understand how integral to your industry or popular you are, but it is quality over quantity that is essential – and that makes sense as we return to our focus on relevance. Similar to content above, the search engines are only going to get better at identifying unnatural, manipulated links, so future-proof yourself against the next catastrophic algorithm update by focusing on earning backlinks rather than “building” them. For sure, strong content pieces such as resource centers, infographics and contemporaneous blogs can help earn links back to your site, but this third pillar of SEO requires a more proactive approach, and is the most integrated with other digital channels. Leverage your social presence to share content, weave infographics into your email series, engage other thought-leaders in your space to debate, interview or partner with. If number 2 is content, then number 3 is very much content marketing.
Finishing up with a side note on backlinks, which brings us full circle back to technical SEO, make sure that your internal linking makes sense to funnel that equity to the right pages, and that any broken pages receiving links are properly redirected. Help the search engines understand why and where you are relevant.