Small businesses, bloggers, and marketers all want their Web pages to rank. Whether you have a little or a lot of experience with Search Engine Optimization (SEO), you probably know that getting your site on that first page of results takes dedication.
Gone are the days of stuffing a page with keywords and gaming the system. What you must know for SEO for the coming year involves changing technology and adopting a more personal approach.
1. Optimize your Mobile Site Immediately
Google’s focus is turning to mobile and that’s not going away. Their Mobile Playbook clearly outlines the steps you should be taking. Websites must function perfectly on phones, tablets, and computers. While some businesses may need designs specific to each device, the overwhelming majority can give priority to mobile-friendly design that also tests well on a computer.
Current operating systems blur the lines between mobile and desktop display, so you can’t go wrong putting mobile optimization above desktop. You can’t expect mobile users to convert while using a broken, partially functioning website that only displays correctly on a desktop browser, but a desktop browser will be flexible enough to handle a website optimized for mobile.
2. Embrace Location-Specific SEO Strategy
People use GPS-enabled smartphones to search for businesses. A Google study found that four of five people conduct local searches. They look for business hours, location, address, and product availability. Of people searching on the go, 56% are looking for local businesses. More than twice as many local searchers made a purchase within a day, compared to non-local searchers.
Regardless of whether it relies heavily on local customers, local SEO impacts your business. Claiming your name and ensuring your contact information is correct means that people who search for you will be able to find you, talk to you, and perhaps become your customer. It also lets your happy customers leave reviews for all to see. Bonus points for adding a high quality photo of your business.
3. Target People, Not Keywords
With the Google shift to secure search, keyword referral data isn’t trackable. Which means you must change the way you develop and track the usefulness of keywords. Communicating with your customers and potential customers is a valuable way to gather quality data about how they are finding you. Moz Academy put together a short lesson with excellent suggestions for developing a keyword strategy to target your potential customers.
For better SEO, analyze your current and future customer base. What do they like? What are their interests? There are a few ways to do this: through your website analytics (track behavior and trends—where are they dropping off?) and by using tags/user-defined fields/social features in your CRM.
4. Organic Still Matters
The first quarter 2014 RKG Digital Marketing Report showed only 30% of site visits occurred via organic search. That’s a marked decline that led many people to believe that organic search is becoming insignificant. However, the number remained steady for more than one year. We also know that the method for collecting this data changed. A whopping 85% of Google search visits were keyword “Not Provided.”
Organic results come from having quality content on your site without shifty SEO tactics. People searching for exactly what you offer find you because your site is an authority on what they need. How could that be insignificant?
5. Include SEO in all your Marketing Efforts
Social media people, public relations people, even your copy editors must all understand why what they’re doing is important to SEO and how important search is to gaining customers. Ways to build this relationship across all marketing efforts will vary depending on the size of your business. Customer relationship management (CRM) software and project management apps can bridge departments and connect project stakeholders. Small business CRM features, such as file sharing and Evernote integration, may be just the right tools to keep your teams on the same page about SEO.
6. Always Be Proactive
You’ve heard of or experienced Google penalties, bad link building, black hat SEO, and the ever-changing best practices for SEO. As Google continues to evolve to provide users the best page results for their needs, one thing remains constant. Really, it comes down to quality. Your site must contain quality content, be easy to use, and answer the question your customer is asking. By taking proactive steps, such as publishing authoritative content and disavowing spammy links, you can help fortify your site against search engine updates that seek to weed out low quality results.
Search engines are concerned with providing the best results to users. They will continue to refine their methods for doing so as long as there are people using the Internet. Be in the places your target audience is, giving them the information they need, on the devices they use. Always strive for quality because that is what search engines work to find.
Diana Doherty is a freelance writer specializing in SEO content, and is a contributor to ChamberofCommerce.com. She loves all things tech, photography, craft, military family life, and business. She earned her BA in English Writing Arts from SUNY Oswego.