So you’ve invested time in the basics of SEO as described in my previous article about Simple Search Engine Optimisation – SEO and now want to take the next step to really ramp up your blog or website SEO?
You’re on the right page, in the following article I’m going to go over some more advanced SEO techniques that will really help boost your ranking and more importantly your CTR.
First off lets have a look at the bridge between basic SEO and Advanced SEO with maybe what we should call Medium SEO. One of the most important actions we can take as marketers is
Focus on Customer experience and engagement.
Search engines are continually changing the way they rank sites, and one of the most recent trends has been to look at engagement and branding signals. What this basically means is does the page the Search Engine links to in the search results provide engaging and useful content for the user. Having inbound links to your web pages used to be a strong indicator for Search Engines but this time is now more. Yes inbound links still are factors, but nowhere near as strong as they used to be.
Relevance is till a strong factor and this has now been built our to include the relevance and quality of a web page or piece of content therefore we need to think about this more then we do about link building. To rank strongly you need to start providing genuinely useful content that engages with your target audience. I touch on this a bit in my article on creating an effective website.
For SEO purposes (and of course in view of turning users into customers) I have 4 points that you need to avoid and should form the bases of assessing your sites effectiveness:
- Avoid low quality content.
- Avoid having unclear or no calls to action.
- Avoid having poor navigation (this includes via mobile device).
- Avoid content that does not serve the user.
To help you avoid these common obstacles it is worth taking time to fully asses your site and to keep assessing it moving forwards. long gone are the days when you launched a website and just left it untended. You need to really get into your analytics and start to understand your customers. What interests them? what Social Media do they use, What demographics or segments are there?
Once you know your audience then you can start to look at how they use your site, and develop effective navigation, remembering the F-pattern and prominent CTAs! Use your analytics and tools like Google Webmaster Tools to identify search terms that are driving users to specific content. Check Page views, unique views, time on site and bounce rate to identify not just your best and most engaging content but also the low quality content. If its not performing then don’t be scared of removing it. Also if something is performing poorly then its a good indicator not to continue with content of that type. Conversely if you have something that is performing well, then it gives you a bases to build out more quality content on a theme that interests your audience.
The move into semantic search
As Search Engines like Google get more advanced, so to do their methods. You may have heard about Google’s Hummingbird update, basically this is semantic search. It uses artificial intelligence in order to understand the search intent and the meaning of the search query rather than just parsing through keywords – a bit like a dictionary. With semantic search when you search, Google returns your results based solely on the text and the keywords that you put in that search.
With semantic search, Google will look into the relationship between the words you type in the search box, how they work together. In fact Google moves away from keywords and starts to look at entities. In Googles terms an entity is any real world item, concept or fact that has a number of pages related to it. An entity can be either businesses, products, movies, authors, people, places, events and many more. Google uses these entities to better understand a users intended search. Let me give you an example of how this works in search. If I’m planning a weekend sightseeing trip to Paris I might want to find out more information about Notre Dame Cathedral, if we approach the search in a structured way that hit all the SEO markers I would probably search “Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris” now what if I had just heard about a famous Cathedral in Paris that should be on my sightseeing list and didn’t know its name? Well this is were semantic search helps now a search for “that famous cathedral in paris” will also work pretty well. That big clock in London? yep that returns Big Ben pages.
Semantic search essentially makes it easier for Google to return relevant pages for even ambiguous search requests.
When you are creating content you really need to think about how your content answers a specific search question. Its no longer about using specific keyword from a list in your content, but much more about answering these specific questions. For example lets take ‘Scuba Diving’ as our keyword group, it is very unlikely users with just ask Google about ‘Scuba Diving’ so as a content writer you will need to ask yourself with every sentence you write, what questions does this answer. You will need to focus strongly on natural language use. The Keywords ‘Scuba Diving’ can make up many questions.
- Where to learn Scuba Diving
- Where to go Scuba Diving
- How much does Scuba Diving cost
- Is Scuba Diving safe
- etc etc
Which one do you want your page to answer?
Advanced SEO – Rich Snippets and Schema markup
One of the ways to take full advantage of semantic search, and old search also is using structured data or rich snippets in your code. What do rich snippets do? Well they help provide more indepth information about a page and its content and how its entities are related. What are rich snippets? Rich snippets are a form of on page mark up that displays extra information on a search result. Check out this infographic that gives you all the important information about rich snippets in a clear and understandable way, and saves me some typing!
Tweak, improve and measure for success
As I’ve mentioned before SEO is not a destination but a journey that continually evolves and needs working on. So once you have completed your review, don’t let it drop, keep checking the analytics, keep reassessing your site and working on enhancing it. Keep checking your website regularly for the following
- HTML/XHTML errors
- CSS errors or problems
- Dead links, page not found 404 error
- Check on Multiple browsers
- Check on Multiple devices