Having quality content is at the cornerstone of strong SEO (search engine optimization). The search engines’ goal is to give their users the best experience, so they pull the pages with the best content and rank those pages higher. While many factors are at play when optimizing content, there are a few practical steps that you can take in order to give your website its best chance at ranking high in a Google search.
1. Optimize for Google’s Answer Box
When searching a question, Google showcases what it deems the best answer in its answer box right at the top of. Google does so in order to help searchers find answers to their questions easily. In order to optimize for the answer box your focus should be on answering questions people are asking and properly formatting listicles.
Answer Specific Questions
It’s important when curating your content to answer specific questions. Focus on key words like who, what, when, where, and why. These words often trigger the answer box to appear.
Completing keyword research to see what your audience is searching will help you narrow down what kinds of questions to answer.
Then, when answering questions, it’s important to remain concise yet thorough, since the answer box only features relatively shorter answers.
Optimize List Content
Listicles are a popular format to use to earn your spot in the answer box. The answer box can utilize a list format to showcase the answer to a question. Your list will then appear bulleted or numbered after the question.
In order for your listicle to be featured, following proper formatting can be helpful. Here are some ways of formatting your listicle:
1. Use proper headings and formatting: The H1 tag for the title should feature what the list is about and each step in the list should feature an H2 tag.
2. Use HTML list element: Make the list’s title an H2 tag and and each step an H3. Then, wrap your items using the HTML list element (UL).
3. Use the list item and named anchors: Utilize the above techniques and then expand on them by adding anchor links to each list element.
4. Use how-to schema: A how-to schema is a form of structured data that tells Google that your content is a list.
2. Improve Internal Linking of Your Important Pages
Internal links help your ranking by letting Google know what your page is about, establishing a hierarchy for the website, and helping users navigate the site. Using descriptive anchor texts and internal links can not only help Google understand your page’s content, but also contextualize the relationship between two pages. This relationship establishes page relevancy.
Being strategic about how you are using links can help you rank. Make a list of your top pages based on strategic importance. Then, create topic clusters by identifying content related to each page. All pages that are related to one subject should link back to one main page on that topic. This establishes authority.
In order to track all these links, try using the links report within Google Search Console. It can track your total number of internal links and top internally linked pages.
3. Check for Orphaned Content
Orphaned content is a page that doesn’t have any internal contextual links from your other pages. The lack of links makes it harder for search engines to find this content.
Consequently, it’s harder for users to find these pages and this means they don’t rank very well.
In order to find orphaned pages, use a tool like SEMrush or Ahrefs, and moving forward always include links when writing new content.
4. Add Alt Text and Captions to Images
One of the most important aspects of an image that Google looks at is its alt text. Alt text is a description of an image in words to assist those who cannot see. Alt text helps Google make sense of the image and understand its relevance to a page. When used properly alt text can help your pages rank higher on Google.
Satisfactory alt text descriptions describe what the image is about in a clear way, without overburdening it with keywords, or leaving out key details.
Although captions on images may not directly impact SEO, they do improve user experience. Therefore, if a visitor spends more time on your site due to this, then your content will be ranked higher.
5. Use Keywords Strategically
Google relies on keywords to determine if your content is relevant. The critical places to include your keywords are in titles and headings. Including keywords in the first 100 words of your content may also be beneficial, as many experts believe Google weighs the beginning of content more heavily when judging its relevance.
Your content should include a healthy mix of primary terms, secondary keywords, and any other related keywords. Primary keywords should be the main focus of the content, whereas secondary keywords are variations of the primary term. Related keywords are simply just terms that are contextually relevant but not the main focus. For example, if you wrote an article on “how to file a personal injury lawsuit” you may use related keywords such as accident, court, and lawyer.
6. Enable Comments
Many people choose to not enable comments on blog posts because they believe it has no real impact on ranking. However, when you think of it logically if someone spends time commenting on a post they are spending more time on your website, and therefore improving your ranking.
Although with comments enabled you will need to spend some time monitoring, the benefits can outweigh the costs. Overtime, the users’ time spent commenting can lead to a higher rank for your website.
7. Improve Readability and Usability
If your content is difficult to read, there’s a great chance visitors won’t stick around and your content will be ranked lower. Ensure you are communicating your ideas concisely by following best practices such as:
- Using short words
- Using short sentences
- Using clear language
Today there are even many readability evaluators to ensure your content is easy to read. They can even point out the parts that are wordy or difficult to read for easy revision.
Ensuring usability is also important to make sure visitors stay on your site and improve ranking. Visitors should be able to easily navigate through your site on different devices without any challenges.
You can check this quickly by viewing your website on different devices, or you can review your website’s Core Web Vitals Report on Google Search Console.
By following these best practices and making the correct revisions to your website your content will be more likely to be found on Google. SEO is an ongoing process to commit to. So, familiarizing yourself with these practices and keeping up with SEO trends can set you up for more success moving forward.
If you need assistance developing a comprehensive SEO strategy that will improve your search visibility and increase the number of visitors to your firm’s website, contact us for assistance.