2019 isn’t necessarily about groundbreaking SEO hacks. It’s about continuing to do things well and to improve users’ experiences when interacting with your content.
Your top focus when it comes to perfecting your SEO efforts this year should be user experience. Content is still king, but the amount of content you have is secondary to how useful and accessible that content is.
These seven tips will help you focus on what searchers want, and tailor your content and brand experience – both on and off-page – to fit their needs.
1. Take Speed Seriously
Searchers want to find information quickly, particularly when accessing sites via mobile.
Do the technical things required to make sure your pages load quickly. For example, compressing text and image files can help you speed up page loading time.
And, employing lazy loading (loading content as a browser scrolls through your page versus taking time to load all content when the page is first accessed) can make a significant difference in load speed, which improves accessibility and usability for those visiting your site.
2. Keep Mobile in Mind
Beyond page load times, make it easy to find information on your page. Even if you think you have a killer online presence, take a look at your pages in mobile to make sure the experience carries over.
Is it easy to access pertinent information on a device? Or, is the page crammed with graphics, etc., that make users scroll multiple times to find relevant content?
Mobile friendliness and mobile-first development is just smart business, because so many consumers use their mobile devices as a way to research while making shopping decisions – whether that’s driving while perusing local real estate, scoping out software upgrades or determining the best deal on a bookshelf. The fact that focusing on it benefits your SEO efforts is good sense and an added bonus.
3. Provide Useful Content to Increase Time on Page
Bounce rate is a term that’s familiar to most digital content creators, but a high bounce rate isn’t necessarily an issue if the user has gleaned the information they needed or taken a desired action.
Google has made it known that they favor sites with a high level of expertise, authority and trustworthiness. Instead of worrying about how many pages a user visits, focus on the amount of quality time they spend on a page.
This dwell time is the amount of time a search-engine driven user spends on a page before looking to another search engine result. A higher dwell time means your content is more relevant to its intended audience, which in turn can improve your search rankings.
4. Follow Accessibility Best Practices
Make sure everyone searching your page can use it, regardless of their physical capabilities. You want all customers to be able to access your page.
And, following the WCAG 2.0 accessibility guidelines can also help you to reduce bounce rates, as fewer visitors will leave the site because they’re unable to digest its content.
5. Make Featured Snippets Part of Your Strategy
Focusing on featured snippets can feel a little counterintuitive. If you create content that is relevant and are rewarded with this coveted Position Zero spot, you may not immediately get rewarded with traffic, because you gave the user their answer without generating an actual visit to your page.
However, you’re seen as trustworthy and authoritative, which can pay off because it keeps users coming back to you for additional, deeper information.
And, the same tactics that are useful if you’re shooting for featured snippet coverage (thinking about searcher intent, answering questions users have, creating content that has value) are also beneficial for search engine optimization as a whole.
That leads us to a whole different range of SEO tactics you can use to grow your online visibility.
Off-page SEO is everything you do away from your actual page content to create positive interactions for your brand. It can be as similar as emails that drive site interactions or as diverse as signage and branding in your locations.
Personalizing your emails allows you to drive relevant website visits. As you research and build email lists (use Voila Norbert to collect email addresses in your target audiences), focus on creating email content that connects with specific audiences. A tool like Mailshake can help you create and send personalized email campaigns.
By targeting your emails and creating specific messages for specific audiences, you show prospective clients you have content that matters to them. That, in turn, makes them want to visit your page, learn more and spend longer periods of time on your site – all of which increase your relevancy and their propensity to build a relationship with you.
Your email marketing strategies can contribute to your on-page SEO success as well.
As an example, completing A/B testing of headlines and calls-to-action can help you understand what your customer is thinking and what appeals to them. You can then apply those lessons learned to build pages and content with increased relevance.
7. Cultivate Strong Social Media Connections
Although social media may not directly impact your search rankings, influence and reputation matter. When you’re seen as an influencer and a trusted advisor in your space, you’re able to build relationships and earn the trust that Google values so highly.
Content that you create for your site can be shareable across social media to gain traction and readership. And, conversely, building good relationships on social networks means you’ll increase your site usage because customers and potential customers come to you first when they’re looking for information.
In fact, research shows that 95% of sales prospects are active on social media platforms, and more than half of all B2B buyers search potential business partners/vendors on social media as part of the vetting process.
Conversations on social media can be valuable because they provide good content/SEO strategy ideas. They also create a breadcrumb trail back to your website for prospects who are looking for information and candid communication.
Those same conversations that help you build relationships with customers and leads can become a launching pad for enhancing the content as well.
For example, you may think you have an exceptionally good auto loan landing page. However, if customers continually ask about the difference between prequalification and preapproval, you may be able to use their questions to inform new content that provides answers for searchers as well as for social media connections.
Your best SEO successes in 2019 are like those conversations. They won’t come from a magic formula.
If all this seems overwhelming—take a deep breath. SEO doesn’t have to be complicated. One step at a time can help you gain higher click-through rates, engagement, and of course, rankings. Remember that your top focus when it comes to perfecting your SEO efforts this year should be user experience.
Instead, to do well with SEO, you’ll need to continue to focus on giving your prospects and customers the information they need to be successful. Their success in connecting with your business is key to your overall success, SEO and otherwise, in the future.
What do you have planned when it comes to SEO this year? Feel free to share your plans, tips and tricks in the comments: