We're well in to our new year, and we're well into a new game of Search Engine Optimization. Yes indeed, it's time for companies to buckle down and tackle the ever-changing search world to ensure their websites show up when someone searches for their target keywords.
While there are, of course, hundreds of SEO strategies you can use to improve your website SEO, we've chosen these 4 SEO tactics (with the help of Hubspot's recent article) as new ones you can use to start your 2015 strategy off right. Here are 4 SEO tactics you may not be using yet.
1. Embrace Google Hummingbird and Skip Meta Keywords
With Google Hummingbirds's new algorithm, search engines are no longer valuing pages with targeted keywords. Now, Google effectively knows what your webpage is about. It knows your page topics, how unique the content is, and if it is of high quality.
According to Searchmetric's annual white paper, there is now little to no benefit to strategically incorporating keywords throughout different page elements. In fact, sites can often be negatively impacted by this strategy now. Meta keywords now signal many search engines (including Google) that your content is spammy material. Yes, really.
We can even look back as far as 2009 for this knowledge, with Google's Matt Cutts posting on the official Google Blog, "Google doesn’t use the 'keywords' meta tag in our web search ranking." Don't waste your time on something that not only doesn't help, but can hinder your SEO.
To appeal to Google Hummingbird, focus your efforts on producing high quality content of a unique variety. Continue to structure your content with a keyword strategy in mind, but don't oversaturate the inner constructs of your websites with empty keywords for the sake of keywords. In other words, when you say it, mean it. Otherwise, your efforts are fruitless.
2. Don't Keyword Stuff - Use TF-IDF Instead
Like we mentioned in #1, Google is smarter now. It can tell whether or not your keywords in your content actually mean something, or if you're just stuffing them in to try and get a step ahead of your competition. Hubspot lays it out loud and clear here:
"Keyword density is no longer important and you should stop any and all strategies aiming at stuffing keywords into your content."
What should you do instead? Get familiar with a critical concept known as TF-IDF (otherwise known as Term Frequency-Inverse Document Frequency). In more plain terms, this means one of two things:
- Content should include different phrases
- Some of those phrases should appear more frequently than others
Hubspot uses Nintendo as an apt example. A page about Nintendo should include the word Nintendo more frequently than the words Mario and Luigi. However, Mario and Luigi should (most likely, anyway) appear on the page because they are related to the topic of the page.
But lets not over-complicate things. You will likely do these things organically should you be writing with a conscious construction to your content - i.e. topic, intro, supporting information, conclusion. It is more important to focus on, again, not dropping in keywords just because you think you should.
3. Optimize Content for Users (and Ranking)
In order to optimize your content for SEO, there are some rules of thumb you can follow:
- Decide upon a topic for the page/blog post, extensively research it, and write uniquely valuable content based on your research
- Write content that appeals to your target visitor
- Write a minimum of 400 words
- Split the content into shorter paragraphs with 2-4 sentences, or bulleted lists
- Use headlines to visually break up your content
- Create text links within your body content which point to a similar page on the site
- Add a page title which is clear, articulate, and appealing
- Make the page easily sharable on social networks
4. Schema, RDFa, JSON-LD
We know many of you are scratching your head at this title, but these 3 elements of Microdata are intrinsically important to your SEO success.
When you search on Google or Bing, take a closer look at the results. Do you notice any that contain more information than just a title, description, and URL? Those results bring up additional information because the HTML of their website is market up specifically to relay explicit information to search engine crawlers.
Rich snippets like this, according to BuildVisible, are clicked on 25% more frequently. That's a whole lot of bang for your buck!
Make microdata part of every page you create. If this is not something you know how to do specifically, discuss this element with your web designer or digital marketing consultant for more information on how to technically implement this much needed SEO strategy.
BONUS: Maximize Meta Description
Content without meta descriptions don't bode well for your SEO. Meta descriptions are the handy little paragraphs of text that pop up when you share your content on social media sites, or that describe your page when it turns up in search results. Naturally, these paragraphs are massively important to drawing in readers.
Meta descriptions usually come in around 215 total characters. These 215 characters persuade searchers to click through to your content.
Meta descriptions are not specifically a factor in ranking algorithms, though they are a strong conversion factor in putting your SEO to work. Recognize their importance to make best use out of all your hard SEO work.
Questions for us? Need help? We'd love to hear from you! Don't hesitate to send us an email or give us a call.