Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the top priorities of today’s website owners and digital marketers. It refers to a set of techniques that are used to improve your website’s search engine ranking. In other words, it empowers your website to climb to the top of relevant search engine results pages (SERPs). Apart from increasing organic website traffic, SEO also establishes brand authority and increases online visibility.
The only catch with SEO is that it’s a world that is constantly evolving. Search engines regularly update their algorithms and introduce new guidelines. It is essential to keep adapting your SEO strategy with the changing rules. Even after working for months to develop a powerful SEO strategy, you may have to start from scratch all over again.
However, there are a few SEO techniques that have stood the test of time. Focusing on these tried and tested tactics help create a strong foundation for your SEO strategy. This, in turn, ensures that your website’s search engine ranking remains consistent even when there is a major algorithm update.
It is, however, crucial to understand that not all of these SEO tactics might be applicable to your website. A tenacious SEO strategy is one that is customized according to your website and the type of your business. Nevertheless, following these techniques will likely help your website maintain its position at the top of SERPs.
Here are the five most important SEO recommendations in the ever-evolving world of SEO:
1. Prioritize Structured Data
Structured data refers to code written in a specific format that helps search engines understand what a web page is all about. You can use it to quickly communicate crucial information about your website to search engine spiders. When search engine spiders understand what your website talks about, they will likely feature it in relevant search engine results. Therefore, adding structured data to your website is a critical step of your SEO strategy.
It is worth mentioning that the type of structured data you should use depends on the nature of your website. You can use Schema.org to find the right structured data markup for a particular web page. Once you have identified the right type of code, you have to add it to the source code of the web page. You can also modify the markup based on your preferences.
Irrespective of the type of markup you use, your website will benefit from adding structured data in more than one way. Structured data is a way of conveying detailed information about your website to search engines. This, in turn, lets you control the way your listing appears in search engine results including the title, description, and URL. You can even showcase other details such as reviews and ratings.
Therefore, if you use structured data effectively, you can also increase the click-through rate (CTR) of your search engine listings. Using structured data also increases the likelihood of your website making it to the rich snippets of Google search results. When your website gets featured in the rich snippets sections, it increases your CTR even further. Moreover, it gives you increased visibility over the topmost listings.
Let’s say you run a quick Google search using the keyword “digital marketing strategy”. The screenshot below reveals that none of the top three results make it to the rich snippet. However, the result featured in the rich snippet appears at the top of the page and will likely have the highest CTR.
Image via Google
Therefore, web developers and SEO experts should add the right type of structured data to their website. It is also recommended that you follow Google’s structured data guidelines for the best results. Moreover, you can test the code before implementing it using the Structured Data Testing Tool by Google. You can even take a look at the structured data used by your competitors for more insight.
2. Leverage Title Tags
A title tag is a part of an HTML code that determines the title of a web page. It gives search engine spiders an idea of what information a web page contains. A carefully written title tag also tells a human user what a web page is all about. Therefore, effective use of title tags can have a positive impact on your website’s search engine ranking and CTR.
Despite its importance, a title tag is often one of the most ignored aspects of SEO. While there isn’t a clear formula to write the best title tags, you can follow a few guidelines. Firstly, it is recommended that you limit the length of the title tag to 60 characters. If you exceed this limit, Google will likely clip the title tag and add an ellipsis.
Secondly, you should ensure that the title tag of a particular web page includes that target keyword. This makes it easier and quicker for search engine spiders to understand the content. This, in turn, increases the likelihood of that web page showing up in relevant search results. It is also recommended that you craft the title tag in such a way that the keyword appears towards its beginning.
Keeping the target keyword towards the beginning also helps grab the users’ attention and, therefore, increase the CTR. If your brand is relatively popular, you can even include the brand name in the title tag. However, you should keep the brand name towards the end of the title. Thirdly, you should have a unique title tag for every web page. It tells search engines that your content is unique.
Lastly, you should write the title in a manner that is easily comprehensible for a human user. While it is crucial to optimize title tags for search engines, you should prioritize user experience. It is recommended that you make the title crisp, concise, and error-free. Moreover, it should give a clear idea of the type of content available on the web page.
Unfair practices such as keyword stuffing will give a negative impression to the user. Search engines may even penalize your website. Instead, you must focus on organically integrating the target keyword and its variations in the title.
Depending on the type of web page, you can benefit from adding other details in the title tag. For instance, if a web page deals with seasonal products, you can include a date or year in the title. Likewise, if you have a product or offer page, adding a starting price can help improve the search engine ranking and CTR.
3. Keep Your Web Pages Fresh
Search engines strive to deliver the best search experience to their users. That is why they tend to prefer web pages that are new or constantly updated. It is, therefore, crucial to audit your existing content now and then to identify outdated elements such as statistics and examples. Once you identify the outdated content, you should replace it with the latest data and case studies.
Apart from maintaining page freshness, it also helps make your content more relevant to visitors. When search engine spiders sense this, they reward your website with a prominent position in relevant SERPs. It is also essential to renew your keyword research once every few months.
You can take this up a notch by adding a date to your web pages whenever possible. Some pages, such as blog posts and news articles, often feature a date in their template. However, you could also add the date to other web pages such as events and offers. In addition to improving your website’s search engine ranking, this practice also boosts your CTR. Take a look at the screenshot below:
Image via Google
4. Don’t Ignore Internal Linking
Internal link refers to a hyperlink that points to another page on the same website. It could be a link on the homepage of your website that points to the latest blog post. It could also point to various category and sub-category pages. When used effectively, internal linking improves your site architecture and makes it easily navigable.
This, in turn, makes it easier for a human visitor to find relevant information on your website. Moreover, internal linking helps search engine spiders crawl from one web page to another. You can use it to point search engine spiders to the most important and valuable web pages. This, in turn, ensures that these pages are properly indexed and features in relevant search results.
Internal linking also facilitates the flow of link equity (or ranking power) from one web page to another. Despite its significance, internal linking continues to be one of the most misused SEO tactics. Website owners often add too many internal links to their home page. Another common mistake is to not add any internal links to an important web page, making it virtually inaccessible for search engine spiders.
While there is no hard and fast rule for internal linking, you can follow a few best practices. For instance, you should avoid linking all the category pages to the homepage of your website. While it might improve the user experience, it will reduce the link equity that flows from the home page to each category page.
Instead, you should only link the most important category pages. These could be the pages that drive many conversions and contribute to your revenue. You could also link to the web pages that are more likely to rank for a given set of keywords. Internal links can boost your website rankings. Here you can see the impact of Internal linking in the below screenshot:
Image source: LoudGrowth
website rankings boost when we interlink some important webpages of that site. Likewise, if your website has a blog, the home page should feature a link to the latest blog post. Likewise, you can include links to the most important blog posts such as cornerstone content and guides. You can also add such links in your existing blog posts to improve site architecture even further. Make sure you optimize the anchor text with the right keywords while adding these internal links.
5. Leverage Backlinks
Backlinks continue to be one of the most critical search ranking factors. When a web page attracts a significant number of authentic and high-quality backlinks, it acts as a vote of confidence. It tells search engine spiders that the web page is perceived as a trusted and valuable source of information. This, in turn, has a positive impact on its search engine ranking.
While strengthening your website’s inbound link profile is important, you should refrain from unethical practices such as buying backlinks. Search engine spiders can easily see through these low-quality and spammy backlinks. Therefore, you will likely put your website at the risk of getting penalized and even banned from search engines altogether.
Instead, you should focus on developing a strategy to attract genuine and high-quality backlinks from credible sources. Guest posting is one of the most effective ways of adding trustworthy backlinks to your website. Likewise, you can check out high-authority blogs that are related to your niche and identify broken link opportunities.
Once you identify a broken link, you can connect with the author or admin of the blog and point out the broken link. You can go a step further and replace the non-functional link with a relevant page from your website. You should also analyze your competitors’ inbound link profiles and identify the websites that are linking to them.
It is worth mentioning here that creating unique, insightful, and shareable content is instrumental for building backlinks. If your content is boring and redundant, other web pages may not want to use it as a source of information. On the other hand, if your content provides valuable insights and ideas, other authors and website owners will likely share it with their readers.
Apart from traditional blog posts, you can use other forms of content such as e-books, whitepapers, infographics, etc. The key is to ensure that your content is compelling and provides fresh insights. While this might be an expensive and time-consuming process, it will benefit your SEO strategy in the long run. If you don’t have the budget to hire dedicated content creators, you can always work with remotely-located freelancers on a contractual basis.
SEO is one of the most effective ways of building brand awareness, reputation, and authority. It helps drive more qualified visitors to your website, thereby improving conversions and revenue. However, the rules of SEO are constantly changing due to new guidelines and algorithm updates.
It is, therefore, crucial to follow a few practices that will help maintain your website’s search engine ranking despite all the changes. Internal linking, structured data, and title tags help search engine spiders crawl through your website and understand what a web page is all about. Updating your content and keeping the web pages fresh is equally crucial. Lastly, you should publish top-notch content that can help you attract authentic backlinks from trusted sources.
Have you used any SEO strategies to cope with the ever-changing rules and guidelines? Share your views in the comments section