Search engine optimization (SEO) has been an integral part of running online sites for over two decades. There’s a myriad of tested strategies to boost organic traffic and improve site rankings on search engine results pages (SERPs). Optimizing keywords, creating backlinks, embedding media content, and maximizing user engagement—all are proven effective techniques until now, but they might not yield the same results in the coming years.

According to Webris SEO, Google is in the process of changing their search algorithm yet again, which would affect a lot of ranking factors. So, what does this mean for marketers and site owners? You now need to reassess and transform your existing frameworks to keep up with the changing SEO landscape. It’s time to use smart, albeit less common, search strategies to stay front and center with you prospects and customers.

As the rules of the online search game continue to change, here’s how you should play it to win:

  1. Focus On The Definition

Start off with the simplest, yet one of the most neglected SEO rules: using definition keywords. Why do people Google a certain word or term? Usually, it’s to find out the definition. Google picks up results from pages that contain a clear definition of that word or term, and those pages comprise the top SERPs. When publishing content, it’s important to include a section that gives a straight definition of the topic being discussed. For instance, use “What is link building?” as a subheader then define and elaborate what link building is. A simple addition or tweaking of your content could give your page higher chances of being picked up by search engines the next time someone enters a query about link building. Try typing in “What is transformational marketing?” on Google and here is what comes up:

  1. Speed It Up

A slow-loading page is the bane of any online user. No matter how great and well-optimized your content is, you lose your chance to convert it to profit when your site visitor gets bored and leaves because the page takes too long to load. Utmost importance should be given to responsive web design, especially if your target market includes the younger generation. The ideal loading speed shouldn’t exceed three seconds, even for mobile browsing. To achieve this, remove unnecessary widgets, plug-ins, and third-party scripts that could be slowing down your site. Unless you have age-restricted or data-sensitive content, your page should be free of interstitials or pop-ups. High-resolution images could also affect load times, so it’s best to compress them or use next-generation formats, like JPEG 2000 or JPEG XR. Doing so prevents your site from being bogged down, while still retaining most of the image quality.

  1. Optimize Visual Content

Images, videos, and infographics are excellent drivers of traffic, but only if you make them visible for search engines. People use keywords when searching, so you should optimize your visual content with text. Remember, search engines can’t read images, only words. One way to do it is by adding alt tags that describe or give context to the content. Even if an image fails to load properly on your site, the alt tag will be displayed in its place to provide information. Some examples of what you may use as an alt tag include the content’s name, link, specifications, or source. It also helps to write a caption under every visual element. The longer and more detailed the description is, the better. The caption should always be anchored on relevant keywords to make it friendlier for search engines.

  1. Make URLs Dynamic

A uniform results locator (URL) provides the source of location of your content. Users like URLs that are easy to understand and recall, so does search engines. Some sites use URLs that only contain the article number, but that doesn’t help anyone at all. Instead, use keywords to give users and search engines better visibility and understanding of what your content is about. As much as possible, URLs should be kept short. There’s no need to include ‘stop words,’ such as prepositions, conjunctions, articles, and pronouns. Search engines usually skip these words and only focus on keywords. If it can’t be helped to use long URLs, make sure to use hyphens instead of underscores because search engines can’t read the latter.

  1. Leave A Trail Of Breadcrumbs

Breadcrumbs are text paths that indicate where a user is on your site. It’s usually found at the top of the page or under the navigation bar. For instance, if a user is on the Contact Us page, they will see Home > About > Contact Us as the path. As the name suggests, breadcrumbs allow users to trace their way back to the homepage. This is especially helpful if you have a multi-faceted site that makes it challenging to implement SEO. A little over a year ago, Google started to process breadcrumbs and include them in SERPs. Not only do these text paths make user navigation much easier, but they also help search engines categorize content more efficiently. You should always keep your breadcrumb markup valid in order for search engines to pick up the right results from your site.

  1. Get Rid Of Duplicates

The cybersphere is so huge that it’s sometimes inevitable to have duplicate content—even Google acknowledges this. This happens unintentionally most of the time due to the staggering number of sites and blogs versus the limited number of content that can be published. However, there’s a trend that’s getting increasingly popular these days called content syndication. Many sites try to syndicate their content by giving permission to other sites—often big and authoritative ones—to republish or reference it. Some sites also repost on to their social media channels for maximum reach. Duplication may also happen within your site itself. For instance, if your site has a ‘Featured’ section that shows previews or snippets of full articles, search bots may tag them as duplicate content. Search engines are smart enough to understand the intention behind it, but there’s still a risk of search bots skipping content that appears frequently. If this happens, your content has lower chances of making it to SERPs.

SEO Is Ever-Changing

There’s no such thing as long-term SEO strategies because the game is constantly evolving. Search trends and rules quickly come and go. Still, it doesn’t mean that the game can’t be won. It all boils down to adaptability and having renewed focus on key elements. Remember, you only have six seconds to give people a reason to care, a reason to engage and a reason to buy. But, if they can’t find you, or you’re buried on “page 2”, you won’t even get your six-seconds.