Beyond Pay Per Click: 9 Other Ways to Increase Search Engine Optimization
It always surprises us when marketing-savvy business owners don’t know what SEO means. After all, Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is now one of the most important and influential tools in any marketer’s arsenal. While statistics vary widely, it’s safe to assume that at least half of shoppers start researching products online before buying. And that number is sure to spike for big-ticket items like insurance, appliances, cars, or vacations.
It also surprises us when clients think that SEO is just another word for pay-per-click ads. While Google ads are one way to improve SEO, there are lots of other ways to get your website to appear more often in searches.
That’s why we’ve put together a list of nine ways to increase SEO (and not one of them includes pay-per-click ads).
ONE: Regularly Write Original Content for the Website
Good website content is an excellent way to communicate credibility and trustworthiness to site visitors. But did you know it’s also a way to drive more prospects to the site?
Google’s search engine algorithms know how to identify the original content and penalize sites for featuring duplicated or plagiarized content. Google also prefers sites that continually update their content, so it makes sense to add and edit website pages and blogs regularly.
Search engines don’t like misspellings, typos, and broken links, so it’s important to proof your work, check your links, and recheck links periodically to make sure they continue to work. Tools like Grammarly and Semrush can make these tasks much more manageable.
Search engine algorithms also evaluate the context and syntax of the content. They look beyond keywords and assess the words around the keyword to determine meaning. For example, is your site talking about “Cars” the Disney movie, “Cars” the 80s band, “Cars” that drive on the road, or railroad “Cars”?
To provide relevant search results, search engines review all the content on a given page to determine which type of site it is, its relevance, and its quality. This is called LSI, and it’s a critical consideration in any SEO effort. Finally, search engines like more text, and there is some evidence that pages with more words rank higher. Longer text blocks make it easier for search engines to understand the site, to categorize it, and to provide accurate descriptions. Sites with very little text will have to find other ways to improve search rankings.
TWO: Optimize Your Page Title
Some marketers have been concerned about Google's recent update that can change page titles. But Search Engine Marketing reports that Google will use the content of existing page titles, especially important keywords, even if that keyword isn’t featured in Google’s replacement title.
So even if Google replaces your page title in results, the original page title is still vital for SEO. However, Google’s replacement policy should be interpreted as a clue about the importance of accuracy. Here are a few tips for creating the most effective page title:
Make sure your page title is a clear and honest description of the page’s content.
Include a target keyword.
Try to create a name that makes the page unique. So instead of naming a page “About Us,” consider something special to your firm, such as “XYZ Inc About Us History KeyEmployees.”
Don’t repeat page titles. Remember, you’re trying to be special and unique while also helping users find the best page. Duplicated page names get in the way of these goals.
THREE: Create Short, Descriptive URLs
Websites often auto-create URLs for new pages. However, those computer-generated names can be full of symbols and numbers. They are rarely short and easy to read.
That’s why it makes sense to take at the beginning to create a clear, concise, descriptive URL to help search engines understand what your page is about. Additionally, these appear in the URL bar at the top of the page, so a short, clear title is another way to communicate credibility and professionalism to site visitors.
Creating an effective URL isn’t too complicated. Use a keyword, make it easy to read, replace spaces with dashes, and keep it short. Sixty characters or less is preferred.
FOUR: Don’t Skimp on Headlines and Subheads
Google gives more emphasis and weight to headlines and subheads compared to text. Here are a few tips for creating SEO-friendly headlines and subheads
Don’t skimp. Break up content frequently with subheads. You may notice this practice in play in this blog.
Use keywords in your headline and subheads, but don’t use the same ones repeatedly. Once or twice in a headline and subhead is enough. Using the same term repeatedly may be flagged as keyword stuffing, and Google penalizes sites for that.
Don’t get cute or use puns. Remember that Google uses headlines and subheads as guidelines for content. So, while using clever wordplay might be fun, it won’t help SEO.
FIVE: Make Sure Your Site Loads VERY Quickly
Ever since mobile site traffic began surpassing desktop internet usage, search engines have been very particular about site loading times. That’s because mobile devices accept less bandwidth. As a result, a site that seems fine on a desktop can be torture to load onto a smartphone.
Additionally, if a page loads too slowly, users will leave the site in frustration, increasing your bounce rate (and lowering your site’s ability to communicate to prospects). That’s why Google has created Google PageSpeed Insights. It’s a free tool to help marketers test desktop and mobile page speed.
If your page loads too slowly, look for elements that might be increasing your load time. For example, do you have unnecessary plugins added to your page? Try removing them to increase your page’s speed.
Increasing site speed may require the help of a professional. If your site is slow, contact us, and we can help you pinpoint problems and make recommendations on how to speed it up.
SIX: Include Internal Links on Every Page
Search engines use crawlers or bots to index each page on your website. These bits of code will come in through a random page and start indexing content. Once a page has been indexed, it will use the link within the text to move to the next page. But if your page doesn’t feature any internal links, the code thinks it’s done and leaves the page.
Including internal links (links to other pages on your website) is a way to allow bots to index more information. The goal is to avoid “orphan pages,” or pages that have no incoming, internal links. Instead, each page should include at least one internal link, and every page on the site should have at least one internal link pointing toward it. Read more about orphan pages and internal pages here.
SEVEN: Include External Links
External links take the user off your site. While that may seem like a bad strategy, including external links is a way to show Google that you are not fencing people in and are encouraging them to use high-quality resources to learn more about your topic.
At Cup O Content, we encourage clients to add external links to original research whenever using numbers or research findings. Always include the source of quotes. Avoid low-quality sources. And when creating links, make sure the link opens as a new page to avoid taking visitors completely off your site.
EIGHT: Don’t Forget About Graphics and Video
We’ve talked a lot about the role of text, but did you know graphics and videos can also help your site’s SEO? Google likes images and videos and rewards sites that use them correctly. For example, it’s important to name every image. Remember that people can search for images, so add some keywords to the photo or video name to make it more searchable.
Websites will also ask you to provide optional descriptive alt text for each image. Alt text makes the site accessible for all screen readers and offers opportunities to integrate more supporting keywords into the site’s coding.
Want more detailed tips about image optimization? Check out this blog from semrush.
NINE: Post on Social to Drive Inbound Links
Many agencies talk about building inbound links, but they don’t tell you that inbound links are only valuable if they’re from relevant or highly credible sources. So embedding your link on a “link farm” site isn’t going to do much for your SEO.
Instead, we suggest creating regular posts on your social media platforms and linking back to site content. Google recognizes inbound links from social as valid external links, so it helps SEO. And maintaining a vibrant social media presence on platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter is also an excellent way to promote your product and services continually.
And finally, paid social media ads and boosted posts are a smart way to drive even more clicks to your site, increasing visibility and SEO.
Want to learn more about SEO? Feel free to contact us, or check out these articles from Cup O Content: