The struggle to stay in organic search results and make your website visible is becoming more of a challenge. SEO continues to grow in significance as search engines become more discerning. So, what do you need to do to improve organic search rankings?

Search engines have evolved

Search is not as straight forward as it used to be. Google (other search engines are available…) have introduced lots of techniques such as Universal Search, Local Search, Personalised Search, Knowledge Graphs and  Voice Search. In addition, there’s the Answer Pack created to be able to answer commonly asked questions that are entered into a search box. Plus, Google now puts greater preference on websites that provide a good user experience and are trusted and secure. Website URLs now need to be HTTPS:// to be considered safer by the search engines.

Never mind the Kardashian’s…keep up with Google

Google changes what it’s looking for all the time as they seek to identify websites with good, quality content. They update their algorithims and release the changes under names such as ‘Panda’,  ‘Penguin’ and  ‘BERT’. These updates affect how metadata is indexed and create a risk of your website potentially no longer being optimised. For example,  a recommended character length might change and suddenly your page title is too long. Therefore, you really need to keep on top of it to stay relevant. SEO is not a once a year project, it should be a continuous effort.  

Smartphones and the impact on Search

Then there’s the continual rise of the smartphone, which has had a profound impact on how people search. Voice Search has taken off with the use of Siri and Voice Assistance and according to research by Statista, 60% of Google searches are done on the mobile phone. That figure will no doubt continue to grow as smartphones get more intelligent. People nowadays have multiple touchpoints and often start their journey on a mobile phone, perhaps switching to a different device later on.

A good user experience on mobile is essential

So having your website optimized for mobile is essential these days and it’s important that your website displays and functions well on mobile or you risk creating a bad user experience. Having to continuously pinch and zoom or pages that are only half displayed soon puts people off! Search engines like Google place a higher relevance on websites that work well on mobile and will penalize those sites that are not mobile-friendly.

Using the right tools

Some businesses don’t take the time to properly understand the tools that the search engines have developed and put out there. Learn how to use them to gain insight. They are there to help analyse search data and make effective decisions!  Google Search Console can provide detail on what pages are being shown, their rankings and the search queries being used and can inform if there is a technical issue, such as a broken link.

Finding the right resource and skills

Having the time, knowledge and right resource to understand and use these tools on a regular basis is important. According to Forbes, businesses in the US will be spending as much as 80 billion on SEO services during 2020. Everybody’s fighting for organic result places, which are moving further and further down the page. It’s very competitive and you may need to be prepared to invest in the right skills if you don’t have them in-house.

Top tips to improve organic search rankings

Paul Lawrence, our SEO expert, shared these top tips on how to improve organic search rankings in our business education podcast series, Digital Know How :

  • Make sure your metadata is indexed correctly. E.g. Don’t use the same page title on every page. Stay within the recommended character length.  Keep your sitemap updated with new pages etc.
  • Keep up with Google algorithms. They change frequently! Follow best practice and use the recommendations for their latest updates https://webmasters.googleblog.com
  • When writing content try to use text that answers commonly asked questions used in search terms. Content should be accurate, good quality and not duplicated
  • Make sure your website is optimised for mobile. No pinching and zooming or half a page displayed! Ranking is penalised if the user experience on mobile is poor
  • Be a secure and trusted website. Use secure transfer protocol, HTTPS:// and make sure it’s updated on every URL of your website
  • Maximise local business searches by listing in Google My Business pages, get your location in the Google Knowledge Graph. This is particularly relevant for  small business, shops and restaurants who need to be found in local searches
  • Learn how to use the tools provided by the search engines. Google Search Console and Google Analytics are key to gain insight, improve indexing, quality and relevance
  • Keep up to date on search engine developments. Follow Google and other search engines on Twitter and watch for news/announcements on sites like Search Engine Journal and Search Engine Land

Keep up your SEO efforts

The key thing is to stay on top of it and keep adding relevant, informative and knowledgeable content that adds value to the user and demonstrates to the search engines that you are a highly authoritative website.


 

If you need help with SEO, Digital Marketing or any other Digital pain points, no matter how big or small, talk to us to find out how we can help.

Clare Carroll
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