Search engine optimization can be one of the more overwhelming elements of marketing. The rules of the game are constantly evolving, and the possibilities for SEO success are never-ending. Don’t try to tackle every single tactic, though. Instead, lay a strong foundation by following these three cardinal rules for SEO marketing experts.
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SEO Strategy 1: Help Google Find Your Site
Engaging, well-crafted content and design are essential for a great website. But if there isn’t an easy way for Google to find your site, no one else will be able to find it either. Don’t neglect the small back-end tweaks that can make a big difference in your search results.
To start, run a link audit using a website crawler. Depending on how long it’s been since you last updated your website, you may have broken links, old pages that need updating, or incorrect redirects. Even though Google won’t penalize your site for having broken links, your goal is to have a site that is as efficient as possible for Google to crawl. That means updating old content and links regularly.
Engaging, well-crafted content and design are essential for a great website. But if there isn’t an easy way for Google to find your site, no one else will be able to find it, either.
A number of other simple tactics will help make your site easier for Google to find as well. If you haven’t already, register your site with Google Search Console. Previously known as Webmaster Tools, this free service allows you to submit your site and sitemap to Google for indexing. You can then check backlinks to your site, review search queries that lead traffic to your site, and more.
SEO Pro Tip
Regularly review your website for links that need updating. We recommend using a web crawler every six months to find and fix broken links. Don’t forget to review redirect links on a regular basis, too.
SEO Strategy 2: Optimize for Searchers and Bots Alike
For site design, (user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) must work together to be effective. Both are crucial if you want your site to look good and function seamlessly. In the world of SEO, you must balance user experience strategy with technical SEO tactics to appeal to both searchers and bots.
User experience strategists focus on searchers—people who are googling information—while technical SEO marketing experts focus on bots, namely Googlebot. While it may seem the two have fundamentally different needs, you can implement a few tactics to optimize for both types of users. Start with your site speed and mobile view.
Effective SEO strategy means balancing user experience strategy with technical SEO tactics to appeal to both searchers and bots.
Potential customers and Google both want your web pages to load quickly. As of 2018, Google made page speed essential for optimal mobile search ranking, and for good reason: searchers expect websites to load immediately and may become suspicious of those that lag. Ensure your website is speedy by resizing and compressing images. Then enable GZIP compression, which compresses your site’s files before passing them along to the browser. These two small fixes can help your site run significantly faster.
In addition to boosting your site speed, make sure your website is designed with mobile view in mind, as nearly two-thirds of site traffic in the US comes from mobile devices. Start simple by reviewing the mobile version of your site to ensure it has high-quality content and that images and videos are in an indexable format.
SEO Pro Tip
If you have the resources, consider turning your mobile site into a Progressive Web App. These sites function like native applications, providing users with a fast, reliable, app-like experience. They require more developer resources, but when done correctly, they can offer a significantly improved mobile user experience.
SEO Strategy 3: Create Meaning and Context for Algorithms
As intelligent as Google is, it’s still a bot. It simply can’t understand the meaning of your content the way humans can. However, you can help these bots better understand your site pages by streamlining the structure of your content and code. The cleaner the organization, the easier it is for Google to crawl your site and understand its purpose.
Start by reviewing your XML sitemap. This page provides search engines with a map of your site’s layout and metadata. With this information, they can index your website better, potentially leading to higher rankings. Prioritize your highest-quality pages that include unique content and images, and leave out any “noindex” URLs. Just as you want to keep files small to optimize load times, follow the same practice for your sitemap.
Google is smart, but it’s still a bot. Help it better understand and index your site by streamlining the structure of your content and code.
Additionally, pay particular attention to your metadata, which includes meta descriptions, title tags, meta tags, and structured data markup. Make sure your target keywords are in your title tags—without keyword stuffing. Create a unique title tag and description for each page, and ensure they accurately describe the information searchers can expect to find on that page.
SEO Pro Tip
Remember, while searchers won’t see your HTML code, they will see your title tags and meta descriptions, as they appear in search engine results. Your meta tags aren’t visible to searchers, either, but bots read them to understand what your site is about. Ensure they are just as well crafted and relevant as your other content.
Next Steps to Creating a Successful SEO Strategy
Following effective SEO strategies is essential for increasing search ranking and site traffic. These three principles will guide you in the right direction toward creating more intelligent customer experiences. If you’re ready for more technical instruction, download our Ultimate Guide to Technical SEO for more tactics and a deeper dive into each principle.