For many business owners, SEO is a vital long-term investment to grow their business. When executed properly, SEO can attract new customers through high placement on Google search results. So if your business can’t be found using relevant search terms, your competitor is likely taking your place—and, ultimately, your business. But you can help give your business a competitive edge by staying on top of emerging SEO trends. Read our expert tips to make your 2019 SEO strategy the strongest ever:
Tip #1: Create In-Depth Authority Content
Choose a topic that your customers care about and write an in-depth analysis on the topic drawn from your research and expertise. About 2,000 words is the sweet spot for top ranking content in Google search results. We already know that Google prefers a regularly updated site, so 3-4 pieces per week of long, in-depth content is ideal for building domain authority.
One tactic to help make this content creation more manageable is to break your business down into categories of products or services you offer. For example: pants, shirts, dresses and skirts, shoes, and accessories. You create one pillar piece of content about that major category, and then you create supporting pieces of content for each product within that range. If your pillar content is about pants, your supporting content is about dress pants, jeans, sweatpants, and leggings. This also provides an excellent opportunity to increase internal linking.
Tip #2: E-A-T Your Content
“E-A-T” stands for Expertise, Authority, Trust. Use these three principles when creating content for your website. Every piece of content should show off your expertise and authority on the topic, leading readers to trust you over other brands in your space.
In a world where there are over 2 million new blog posts every day on WordPress alone, there’s no room for fluff content that offers no value to your readers.
- Share your expertise through case studies and “behind-the-scenes” looks at what you do every day. Don’t be afraid of giving away all your secrets. Readers will appreciate your openness and honesty, which earns their trust.
- Show that you are an authority in your field. Use active voice when you write, mention how long you’ve been in business, list other authoritative websites that have published your content. Talk about the training and certifications you have, or conferences and other meetings you regularly attend to learn more about your industry.
- Not only do you have to earn reader’s trust, you have to maintain that trust. It’s important to continue the relationship you’ve spent so much time building up after the sale. Send friendly (not pushy) follow up emails with other products they would be interested in, or helpful guides for making the most out of your software or platform.
Tip #3: Get Into the Featured Snippet
Getting into a Featured Snippet is a highly valuable position to be in. But how does one actually GET there? Google chooses this result based on the most authoritative content for that search term.
- Run a Google search for some of your most lucrative and relevant keywords and see which terms display Featured Snippets.
- Notice which of your competitors is ranking in the Featured Snippet, and see what their content is doing.
- Then, develop content to target this top organic ranking. Write about the same things your competitor is writing about, but make it unique to your business. Share your own personal anecdotes, why your product or service outshines the competition, and anything that sets your brand apart from the rest. Remember: E-A-T.
- Finally, take it one step further and add that little bit extra that your competitor didn’t include: link to case studies or testimonials, provide an FAQ, share relevant blogs posts or other supporting content for this topic
Don’t forget to check your competitor’s page for a variety of rankings factors including: domain authority, page authority, mobile optimization, and security. Make sure the page you want to rank in this space outperforms your competitor’s page on these technical aspects.
Tip #4: Remove or Modify Low-Quality Content
There are millions of new pieces of content being created on the internet every single day. Any post or page on your website that doesn’t serve your users is considered a “zombie” page. This can include pages that are short, thin, low-quality, repetitive, etc. Your best course of action is to remove these pages from your site. You can do this in a variety of ways.
- If you have several short blogs or pages on the same topic, combine them all into one long, authoritative, all-inclusive guide. Choose the existing URL with the most SEO value and place the new and improved content on this page. Then, install 301 redirects from all the other URLs to this one.
- Perhaps you have a product or service category with many related products or services under that umbrella. Develop one piece of pillar content for the broad category, and use the targeted products/services as supporting content. Don’t forget internal links!
- On the other hand, if you have some content that can’t be repurposed in any way, it’s best to delete it to avoid loading down your website. You can use 301 or 410 redirects to let Google know how to treat these pages.
The result will be a cleaner, faster, more easily navigable website for yourself, your audience, and Google!
Tip #5: Schedule a Photo Shoot!
Google recognizes that your customers not only prefer, they demand an authentic experience on your website. Your website visitors want to see how your business is unique from your competitors.
For years, SEOs preached the importance of writing content unique for your website. Unique content is how Google, and ultimately your customers, find value from your site. In 2019 and years to follow, AI technology will make the same idea true for your website’s visuals, including photos and videos.
By 2019, over 80% of the internet will be visual. Every day, 2 billion photos are added across the globe. The only way to stand out from the crowd is to use photos you own versus using stock photography.
When AI technology is able to interpret images as well as humans, Google will soon force website owners to use unique photography to meet customer demand. You may already be riding the massive tidal wave of visual content by creating images, infographics, and videos for your business. If not, you may be missing a big opportunity to have your content found by potential customers.
Tip #6: Make Your Best Content Visual
If you’re looking for a way to take your content to the next level, try converting your most popular content into a video or an infographic. As the internet will be 80% visual in 2019, people are looking for visual content to engage with. Making it visual is a great way to get your followers to re-engage with your best content, and can open up interesting new ways to present the information.
Studies show that people recall up to 65% of visual information for three days, higher than the recall for a text blog. People also share infographics three times more than any other type of content. As people’s attention spans get shorter, you need to provide information that’s easily and quickly digestible.
Tip #7: Maximize Your Quality Content For Backlinks
If you focus on creating evergreen, high-quality content you have a powerful asset that can be used as a guest posting opportunity to promote your website!
Guest posting is a great way to get high authority backlinks pointing to your website—which Google likes. In fact, 99.2% of all top 50 results had at least one external link pointing to the website.
After you develop quality content you need to determine where your guest post can best be utilized for maximum viewership. You don’t want to waste your content on spammy directories, link farming sites, or websites with low domain authority.
First of all, that will not put you in front of your target audience. Secondly, Google will penalize you for having terrible backlinks (more on that later). You want to be published on websites that are:
- Relevant to your business
- Publishes high-quality content
- Has a high domain authority
For example, getting a link on a high-ranking website signals to Google that your website is an authority, reliable, and its users would gain the most knowledge in your industry from it.
Tip #8: Steal Your Competitors Links
Starting the backlink process can be intimidating. The internet is vast. Where do you start? That’s actually an easy enough question to answer—you start with your competitors.
Find out who your competitors are using as backlinks – and then target those! Do your research. The more backlinks you can steal from your competitors the better. Can mimic their backlink strategy and surpass them.
Make a list of the top-ranking domains that are giving your competitors backlinks and examine if the content of these publications fits with your specific product or service.
As you review your competitor’s content, consider the following points:
- What kinds of content are attracting attention?
- Listicles? Long form blog posts?
- What approach to images does the competitor take?
- Are they using infographics?
- Does the popular content follow any trends?
- Do they all have a similar word count?
Armed with this information you’ll be able to start stealing backlinks from your competitors and giving yourself a serious edge!
Tip #9: Disavow Toxic Backlinks – The Nosedive Effect
When doing research for backlinks it’s important not to blindly go after every single link your competitors have. Why? Because they could have toxic backlinks.
Not all links are created equal. Some can do actual damage to your SERP ranking. You might think: but the more links I have pointing to my site, the better, right? Well, that depends. In Google’s eyes, quality will always be more important than quantity. If you have a ton of quality backlinks: good job! Google will reward you for your efforts. However, the goal is not to create backlinks for the sake of backlinks.
Think of having too many toxic backlinks the same as keyword stuffing. When you participate in keyword stuffing, Google recognizes you are not serving the user. Your endgame is only for a higher ranking and not to provide an optimal experience. So, they will ding your rankings. The same logic applies to backlinks.
A few years ago, Google realized some websites were creating backlinks through sketchy directories, leaving their website link in comments, and paying for links on other sites. Ultimately, this created an unfriendly user experience. So, they updated their algorithm so backlinks that were toxic were not rewarded. Webmasters now have to earn their backlinks through you guessed it – quality content.
So what does this mean for you? If your website has a backlink with low domain authority and hasn’t been updated since 2009, chances are it’ll hurt you. Non-removal of toxic backlinks can also invite a Penguin penalty.
Tip #10: Submit Your Site to Google Search Console
In 2019, Search Console is bringing users a completely redesigned product to help manage your site’s presence on Google Search. The new Search Console rebuilt from the ground up to provide the tools and insights that webmasters and SEOs have been asking for.
By submitting your site to Google Search Console, you can make sure your site adheres to Google’s ever-fluctuating ranking algorithm. A qualified SEO can submit your sitemap to Google and monitor Google’s indexation and crawl of the existing format and submit new page content in real-time.
An SEO can also review Google’s technical audit requirements, and your site’s backlink profile on a real-time basis to ensure your website has a bullet-proof SEO strategy.
BONUS Tip: Start a Podcast Or Video Blog
Podcasting has hit a boom over the last couple of years, following the release of the hit crime drama “Serial.” As of December 2018, 50% of all homes listen to podcasts. Podcasting is a great way to make your content engaging and personal. And, podcasting has lower production requirements than shooting videos. With a good microphone and an RSS feed, you can create in-depth content that potential customers can listen to anywhere: most people listen to podcasts via an app on their mobile devices, so you can be in their pocket wherever they are.
Video blogs offer a similar opportunity for personalized content. Most people prefer to watch something online than to read it, so your videos will likely pull better engagement numbers. 51% of marketing professionals name video like the kind of content with the best ROI. It also adds a human touch that’s hard to get from a blog: people can see and hear you, and get to know a face behind the company name.
This article was originally published on the AIS Media SEO blog.