It’s clear to anyone outside of a cave that the world changes faster than ever these days—and for better or worse, these changes include search engines. As search giants like Google have countless staff members dedicated towards adapting to our changing world all the time by growing and evolving in service of its customers, small businesses trying to get noticed will have to keep up with the latest emergent technologies and trends in order to stay ahead.
To make sure that you’re on top of these trends, we’ve put together this helpful guide so that you can best optimize your site for search engines—because in case you haven’t noticed, search engine optimization means something significantly different today than it used to.
Include More Video Content
People prefer watching to reading because it’s quicker, more engaging and allows them to multitask. In case you haven’t noticed, every traditionally text-focused site nowadays has video components—and for good reason! It’s not just people who prefer videos, search engines do too. The majority of Google searches are videos, and pages that include them are far more likely to get higher rankings and click-through rates. Moreover, the popularity of YouTube, Snapchat, Vine and other video apps or sites has proven that users’ appetite for video content is only increasing.
When making video content for your site, just remember these golden rules: 1) More short and sweet videos to allow for today’s short attention spans are always better than fewer long videos that may lose people, 2) Never post anything that you feel isn’t up to the caliber of the rest of your site—it’s probably not worth having video on your site if it means diminishing your overall brand.
Prioritize Mobile-Optimization and Assist Digital Assistants
Given the exponential proliferation of smartphones and tablets, it’s not surprising that mobile searches finally surpassed desktop searches for the first time this year. This trend is bound to continue, to the extent that creating a more mobile-friendly site is arguably even more important than making your site desktop-friendly. In fact, search-giant Google has recently announced that desktop-specific sites are no longer necessary—and with digital assistants like Siri doing all the work for us these days, they could be right. To read more on this topic, check out our recent blog on the importance of mobile responsive websites here.
Why type in something yourself when your handy dandy digital assistant can do it for you? Siri, Cortana, Echo and Google Now are getting smarter all the time and more used than ever before. Now what does this mean for your site? Well, unless you want to completely miss out on this hugely growing marketing opportunity for your content, you’re going to need to make it easily searchable by Siri and friends.
The best way to do that is by using long-tail keywords, which people are more likely to speak than the kind of conventional keywords people often type. These are usually 3 to 4 keyword phrases that are very specifically targeted towards what people are searching. Fortunately, this usually just amounts to being descriptive—people are usually searching for exactly what it is they’re going to buy.
Ask yourself a question: when you’re researching a given topic on the internet, how many websites do you want to visit? Would you prefer to spend lots of time picking up scattered information from a variety of different sites, or would you rather find one thoroughly researched, definitive source that has already amassed all the information you could possibly ever want on a topic? The obvious answer to this question explains why Wikis have become so popular.
Aggregating content can be an incredibly powerful tool in that it is extremely efficient (because you’re effectively using or creating an algorithm or program to collect content for you) and has the potential to provide your website visitors with the resources of the entire internet, However, aggregation should never entirely substitute for curating content, because you’ll also want to make sure that your site has its own unique content attributes and because you won’t want your automated aggregator to accidentally pick up anything irrelevant, inappropriate, plagiarized, or unwanted in any other way.
Stay Connected on Social Media
Like everyone else, Google recognizes the value of social media—and already has deals with Twitter and Facebook to include social media posts with your search results. This increasing interconnection between search engines and social media means that you need to make sure to keep your accounts active and engaging in order to draw followers from search rankings and keep them by steadily providing quality content.
Write Longer Articles
The logic for this one is simple: longer articles mean more keywords to optimize for search engines. However, this doesn’t mean adding more filler. If your articles are longer but redundant, people will become bored and leave the site. After enough long and repetitive articles, your site may get a reputation for being depthless clickbait. On the other hand, if your articles are longer but still interesting, then it means that people will want to spend more time on your site reading these articles, and become more likely to engage with your other content. Thus, by including material that is both thoughtful and substantial, you can both gain and keep more new readers.
Localize Your Searches
Though people often think of the internet primarily as a means of facilitating global connections, it’s also useful and popular for its ability to easily connect a person to nearby people, products, services, or businesses that they may not have otherwise discovered (see: Yelp.) It follows then that a huge proportion (50%, according to business2community.com) of the searches people make on the internet are made in the hopes of finding local results.
Google (with its expanded local indexing) and Apple (with Apple Watch) are getting hip to this, and you should too—by including plenty of local keywords and making sure that your business is listed on Yelp, Google Maps and anything similar. Even if you’re not a business with a storefront or publicly-accessible office, these tools can help you to appear in these kinds of localized searches that are becoming more important every year. After all, the internet can’t help connect you to your local community if you don’t let it know that you exist.
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