Jill Kurtz, Owner, Kurtz Digital Strategy
You want your business to appear in searches when your target customer is looking for you or your services. Paying attention to search engine optimization (SEO) fundamentals will make that happen.
Like other online activities, SEO needs its own marketing strategy. You need to have a plan for ongoing activities to monitor and improve your SEO.
Search Result Pages Have Changed
A keyword or phrase that cranks first organically is no longer the top result seen by searchers. Google has changed search engine results pages so that organic results are no longer at the top.
Today’s results pages can have one or more of these elements before any organic results:
- Google Ads – paid placements at the top of the page. There can be none, one or several, depending on the keyword searched.
- Featured snippets – summaries for the searcher’s query that appear just below the ads
- People also ask – a feature that includes related queries to the original search phrase
- Knowledge Graph – boxes that include data ranging from companies to celebrities on the right of search results page
- Local packs – several local listings appear together, often under a map marking the location of each one
- Carousel listings – interactive visual display of results for things like movies, songs and restaurants
- Image packs – often a single row of images appearing on the results page
- Sitelinks – multiple links to subpages within the website result visible below the primary website
- Reviews with star ratings
In addition to these items, organic results are now longer. This pushes even the second result down further on the page or even to the next page.
Create Your SEO Marketing Strategy
You can manage and improve your regular organic results.
First, set your target. Unless you are a very large business, you cannot rank well for every keyword related to your business. You need to target your efforts.
Narrow to less than five keywords and phrases. You want to pick them based on their relevance to your business. Verify that they are actually searched, but do not have high competition.
Look at how your website ranks for your keywords today. Set realistic expectations. Your best chance of success is in taking words you already rank for and optimizing to rank better.
For every word or phrase you want to target, you need this at your website:
- A web page with a title that has the keyword
- A page URL with the keyword
- Content that features the keyword
Create Page Titles for SEO
Keywords should be at the beginning of SEO page titles. (These are the titles that appear on search results pages.)
Many companies have their name at the start of the title, followed by the name of the page. Flip this. The first words tell search engines what to rank the page for.
Work Keywords into Your Content
You need to strike a balance with page design, clarity, and SEO strategy. You don’t want to ruin content by putting keywords everywhere and ruining flow and meaning. Find opportunities to naturally work in your primary keywords and close variations:
- Headlines and subheads
- Image captions
- Image names
- Image alt text
- Use for link text
- Expand page content
Set a schedule to revisit and revise content regularly. Search engines generally rank older content lower than newer content.
Leverage Factors Beyond Content
Website design, technical considerations, and sufficient responses to questions (i.e., voice search) can all help your keywords rank better. Important factors to consider include:
- Links to your site from other sites
- Functionality on mobile devices
- Page load speed
- Voice search
- HTTPS encryption
Use Strategy to Stay in the Game
SEO is not easy or fast. You’ll always have an organic presence. It’s just a matter of how good your visibility is. You need to stay attentive to the details to do better than the competition.