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How has SEO changed?

In the tech world, and the world in general, stereotypes are very harmful. It’s even more applicable to dynamic environments. The ever-changing nature of technology means that you often have to discard what has been engraved in your mind.

So what is the most common SEO stereotype?

SEO does not mean optimising for search engines

“How?”, you’ll ask. “It’s literally in the name – search engine optimisation!”

SEO used to be all about “hiding” keywords – in the image alt text, in metadata, in blocks of text visitors would barely ever see. It was all about tricking search engines into thinking your website is the best. Not anymore.

That’s because search engines are just means to an end. Their goal is to deliver the best results to their visitors – that’s how they make money. Ultimately, this means you should optimise for your target audience.

6 tips to improve SEO without blogging and writing content

1. Improve your page speed

Why? Just ask yourself this one, simple question: am I the only one on the Internet offering a specific service or selling this product?

If the answer is no, then how long do you think would it take for your customers to find an alternative when they encounter friction on your website? Probably less than loading your own site.

On the Internet, competition is just one click away.

Based on data from Google, more than half of your visitors will abandon your site if it takes over 3 seconds to load. That’s because it’s easy for them to find an alternative.

So what can you do about it? First, run a free page speed test. Google’s PageSpeed Insights and GTmetrix are popular, easy-to-use choices. After that, it all depends on the answers.

Sometimes you’ll gain a ton of performance by simply optimising images. Online image compressors like Optimizilla will allow you to decrease the file size of your images by as much as 90% with no visible quality loss.

If you can’t replace your images yourself or don’t understand the other issues flagged by the tool you’ve used, you must contact a web agency. Most of the time, fixing these issues won’t take more than a day’s worth of work.

But in some cases, there’s one underlying issue that can be quite expensive – the hosting. While they’ve come a long way and you rarely see glaring performance differences between reputable hosting platforms, your website can still be slowed down by a lack of a Content Delivery Network (CDN) or servers in the wrong part of the world.

2. Use Google Analytics

No, really. Do it. It looks scary, but you’ll find your way around it. It’s enough if you browse the basic reports and look for a couple of key metrics:

  • Landing pages – this will help you identify the extremes in your organic traffic. If your popular pages are underwhelming, perhaps they need optimisation? And on the other end, pages that barely get any traffic might drag you back. Consider setting them to “noindex”, updating the content or removing them altogether.
  • Bounce rate – use it in combination with traffic to identify pages that make visitors leave right away.
  • Average time on page
  • Average session duration
  • Pages per session

A quick look at these statistics will be a good baseline. From there, you can move to optimise these pages.

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3. Optimise for conversions

Gathering feedback from your visitors and testing improvements is crucial for all aspects of your website. Aside from the obvious direct benefit of increasing sales, this will also improve your SEO.

Google has access to an abundance of performance metrics about your site, many of which are available in your Google Analytics. They can easily tell how often visitors leave your website without a single interaction by monitoring the bounce rate on every page. If you’re looking to rank high for a specific keyword using a page that has a 95% bounce rate, you can imagine that it won’t happen.

So what can you do about it?

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to list universal and easy fixes here. You can use services like Hotjar (which has a free plan) and CrazyEgg (free trial) to learn how your visitors browse your site – generate heatmaps of their clicks and mouse movement, scroll maps to see whether they reach the important elements on a page and create surveys to gather feedback.

If you’re not familiar with conversion rate optimisation (CRO), we have a handy guide to A/B testing for low-traffic websites. It’s a good start, even if your website racks thousands of visits each month.

And while optimising content is an effective CRO strategy, most of the time you won’t need to do it. Reordering sections of your page, and moving buttons to more popular areas on the website are just two examples of how to increase engagement on a page.

4. Identify broken backlinks

If one of your actions from the steps above was to delete a page, you’re likely to create a broken backlink. This happens when another website is still linking to your deleted page. They have no way of knowing that you’ve deleted that page, so potential visitors will see a 404 page. If it’s their first encounter with your brand, it will definitely leave a mark – a negative one.

How to identify broken backlinks

If your marketing team doesn’t use an SEO tool internally, you can easily access the links from Google Search Console. Simply go to “Coverage” and you’ll see a list of errors. The one you’re looking for is “Submitted URL not found (404)”. Identify these links and create a 301 redirect.

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure

In case you’re wondering “why should I bother” and the above explanation is not enough, there’s another reason. SEO specialists actively look for broken backlinks of their clients’ competitors to fill the gap.

They will be quick to message the owner of the website with a broken backlink to let them know about it and suggest a replacement. Yes, you’ve guessed it right – that replacement will link to your competition.

5. Investigate your internal link structure

Unlike backlinks, internal links are not on a pedestal – but they can be incredibly important. If your important pages are deep in the website structure, it will affect your Page Authority and make it rank lower.

6. Get an SSL certificate

If you’re looking for evidence that SSL certificates help SEO, just remember that Google’s own browser goes above and beyond to flag these sites as not secure. It doesn’t have to be a direct ranking factor – a hard-to-miss message that you’ve landed on a website that is potentially not safe will scare away your visitors – increasing your bounce rate. That’s not to say a lack of SSL certificates always means trouble, but for the average person, this will be enough to leave your website.

The only way to rank in Google is to listen to your audience

This is the ultimate takeaway from the article. We’re not looking at optimising for machines anymore – that hasn’t been the case for years now. Quality content is always the key, but it’s not always the issue.

Originally published Jan 22, 2021 2:07:14 PM, updated June 17 2022.

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