Several businesses believe that achieving a prominent organic search ranking on Google is the holy grail of digital marketing. This is hardly surprising when you consider the following statistics:
- 5 percent: The average traffic share generated by the sites listed on the first Google search results page
- 51 percent of all website traffic comes from organic search
- 5 percent: The average traffic share the first Google organic search result gets
Unfortunately, Google isn’t exactly forthcoming with SEO tips and tricks whenever it releases a ranking algorithm update. In fact, SEO specialists are left to make assumptions about how to tweak their strategies to please Google’s all-powerful bots.
But that doesn’t mean to say the basics of good SEO change every time Google decides to implement an update. The following timeless tips can always be adhered to; no matter what Google says.
- Optimise image alt text
Despite the fact that Google has been exploring the idea of machine learning to understand what an image is and what it means – the primary function of image alt text – you should still be optimising this on-page essential at all times.
After all, you’ve got nothing to lose with good image alt texts, especially since AI-fuelled algorithms are probably five to ten years away. Correct image descriptions will make your site more accessible too.
- Prioritise authoritative content
Seeing as one of Google’s main objectives with all of its algorithm updates is to return user queries with credible pages published by trustworthy sources, you should always work to create authoritative content.
Think about your average user and try to provide them with easily consumable content, which references information that supports your claims. Don’t forget to include a few key takeaways either.
- Get an SSL certificate
Technically, you don’t need HTTPS to be indexed by Google, but you should still get an SSL certificate anyway. Google has said that HTTPS is a lightweight ranking factor, with John Mueller, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, confirming this back in January 2019.
Not only will the blaring red symbol and ‘Not Secure’ label do you no favours with Google, it could also mean people leaving your site and going back to the SERPs – metrics that are bound to adversely affect your ranking.
- Create long-form content
John Mueller once said: “Some pages have a lot of words that say nothing, word count is not indicative of quality.” What’s more, Google does not necessarily rank content based on word count alone.
However, a recent content research case study by Backlinko revealed: “Long-form content gets an average of 77.2% more links than short articles. Therefore, long-form content appears to be ideal for backlink acquisition.” In turn, this should provide you with improved organic search results.
- Target LSI keywords
“Latent Semantic Indexing keywords do not directly impact your search rankings,” says Manish Dudharejia, Co-Founder and President of E2M Solutions Inc. “However, taking your time to meticulously choose LSI keywords can help in covering necessary information related to the keywords and phrases you originally targeted.”
As a result, you should get rankings for relevant search terms and avoid keyword stuffing penalties from Google. Choose not to use LSI keywords and Google will find it harder to pinpoint SEO correlations and overlap between the content on your website.
- Implement AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages)
Similar to word count, Google’s ranking algorithm doesn’t take AMP into consideration. But on account of the rising number of mobile searches taking place these days, AMP should be an indispensable part of your SEO strategy.
Nearly 31 million domains adopted AMP within the past year, as SEO moves increasingly away from desktop and onto mobile. Don’t be left behind and start implementing AMP now.
- Ignore domain name keywords
Even though using keywords in your domain name can potentially play a role in how your website ranks, it is a risk that Google has cracked down on the past due to abuse from SEO ‘specialists’. As always, you need to bare in mind user intent, which may or may not be relevant to exact match domains.
In some instances, including keywords in your domain name can provide Google with clues as to what your site is all about, along with guiding users to the answers they require. Then again, with certain queries Google will know that the user is looking for resources such as directories, guides or instructions. This makes any domain keyword efforts null and void.