Because more than half of all web traffic first channels through search engines — and 75% of users never click past the search engine’s first page — it’s vital that you have a robust SEO strategy to get your website the visibility it deserves in SERPs.
1. Use keyword variants
Every marketer knows search engines find and rank webpages by scouring the web for keyword phrases. And the more popular a certain search, the more important it is to include exact words and phrases in your content so that your website appears in the SERPs. In the past, keyword phrases used rather stilted language, making it somewhat difficult to balance readability of content with SEO tactics.
Over time, Google has updated how it understands search queries and keywords. Their newest tool, Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers (BERT), is a machine learning tool that helps the search giant better comprehend human language patterns, so users can type more natural keyword phrases and receive their desired search results. Generally speaking, BERT operates by looking for more than the strict search query; instead, it interprets the meaning of the query and searches for all sorts of related phrases.
For you, the introduction of BERT means you should consider including a couple variations of your keyword phrase, ensuring that each inclusion is relevant to the surrounding content.
2. Optimize your images
Few web users are enthused by the sight of an unbroken chunk of text. While longer content tends to be favored by search engine spiders your content shouldn’t look dry or imposing. Instead, you should break up a large amount of text with images, and optimize your images to assist in ranking your webpages for search. There are a few different ways to do this:
Choose the right image file
JPEGs are easily the best image file option in the age of the internet, when you want a high-quality image that loads quickly. PNGs are satisfactory alternatives if you can’t use JPEGs, but you should almost never use GIFs.
Size your image properly
You might be tempted to place the largest possible image and shrink the dimensions in your page’s source code — but doing so will drastically slow down the page’s load time, harming your search rankings and causing users to bounce. Instead, place an appropriate image size and allow users to load a larger image in a pop-up, if necessary.
Name and describe your images
Search engines aren’t very good at identifying what’s in a picture, so they rely on image names, alt text and captions to decipher the visual content. You should make the most of your image’s text components, inserting keywords where possible to give your page the extra SEO push.
It’s not unlikely that Google will soon develop a much smarter image reading tool in the near future, but until then, you should make the most of the text around your images to boost your search rankings.
3. Don’t expect fast and easy results
You can stuff your content with keywords, spam links in comment sections across the web and still fail to rank meaningfully in the SERPs. This is because SEO isn’t easy; if it were, businesses wouldn’t need to hire digital marketing firms and launch massive, long-term campaigns to optimize each and every webpage on their sites. In truth, the fastest SEO results come from hard work and high budgets, not simple hacks.
In fact, in many cases, trying to hack the SERPs will land your website in hot water. Over the years, search engines have identified SEO behaviors that interfere with content readability, and as a result, search engines tend to punish websites for utilizing these tactics. For instance, hiding keywords on webpages, perhaps by coloring the text white to blend in or by placing the text behind images, will get you in serious trouble. The same is true of spamming social media or comments sections with links. Penalties tend to be a lowering in search engine rank or banishment from search engine results altogether — a veritable death sentence for some businesses.
The best hack of all is hiring a knowledgeable SEO firm to assist you in developing a smart and effective SEO campaign. This way, results will come faster, and more importantly, they’ll endure, so you can continue to reap the rewards of your hard work. The truth is that you don’t want to take shortcuts when it comes to any digital marketing scheme, and trying to cheat time and budgets with hacks will only hurt the business in future.