Today SEO is about a lot more than keywords and code; making it a lot more accessible to us creatives.
Sure, at a foundational level, the right words, code and technical aspects need to be in place. But in all honesty, when I’m working on SEO for wedding pros, I often find that the reasons they aren’t ranking have little to do with crawl errors.
Here are 5 non-technical areas you can focus on to improve your ranking potential right now.
#1 – Design
Believe it or not, design matters. How clean, current and compelling your website is can make a big impact on your SEO. Here’s why:
Google Rank Brain.
Google’s new machine learning tool is handling some of the heavy lifting for them. It pays attention to which search results get clicked on how long people stay on that website after clicking. If users seem to like what they see (as indicated by them sticking around for a while), that signal works in favor for that site and can have a positive influence on rankings.
The nicer your site is to visit, the more likely people will stay – which means higher rankings.
On the other hand, an outdated website that is busy, disorganized, overwhelming or just plain unappealing can bounce visitors away in the blink of an eye, which can push that site’s rankings down.
One of the simplest ways to inspire visitors to stay is to present them with a visually appealing website design that is enjoyable to experience and compels them to stick around.
Positive design elements could include:
- An attractive graphic “look” of your website
- Plenty of negative space so content doesn’t look busy and overwhelming
- Clean layouts that have a scannable flow
- Common sense navigation that doesn’t make visitors think too hard
- Multi-media that enhances the user experience and gives them something to consume
#2 – Be The Best Answer
When it was founded, Google set a precedent to always give users the best answer possible and this has been a guiding principle for how it ranks sites ever since.
So if you want to keep Google happy, just focus on keeping its users happy.
One of the easiest ways to do so is by making your web pages and posts the very best answer visitors can find. When you page gives people exactly what they’re looking for, they’ll stay on your page longer, which sends a signal to Google that they like your answer best.
Think about the main keywords you’re targeting on your page or post (the ones you want to rank for). There is an “intent” behind that keyword – a reason someone is typing it into Google. They may have a question, curiosity, purchasing need etc. Either way, the “intent” behind why they are using that keyword should guide your content development.
Review the page you’re trying to rank and consider this:
- If someone were to type in the keyword I’m targeting on my page and land on my content, would this page make sense? Would it answer their query completely?
- Does my content give visitors a reason to stay for more than a few seconds? Am I engaging them with extras, like graphics, charts, gorgeous images, entertaining videos or other media that would pull them in?
- Does my page cover every angle? Does it fully address the question behind the keyword? Does it bring a fresh perspective to the topic and offer something valuable to the visitor?
- If your content isn’t the best answer, people won’t be interested in it and they will leave that page quickly to look for a better answer.
To outrank other listings in Google, you need to be the better result – the better answer,
#3 – Link to the Pages You Want to Rank
Be very aware of which pages you link to within your site. Even as someone very practiced at SEO I sometimes catching myself overlooking this, but it’s huge.
Search engine crawlers follow the links on your site like a road map. They get a sense of which pages are the most important when they see a lot of other pages linking back to it.
So if there are a few important pages on your site that you’re trying to rank, make sure you link to them from your Home page and other internal pages. Drop links to these pages in blog posts too. Make sure you’re linking to the pages you want to rank the most in your site to ensure they are the ones getting the most attention and “credit”.
#4 – Answer Popular Questions
Ranking is way harder today than it was 5-10 years ago. I’ve been practicing it for that long and the change is very clear.
That’s why you don’t always want to go after the basic keywords that every other wedding blog is targeting, like “wedding invitation etiquette.” You’ll be competing with big-time publishers that have entire departments working to get their content ranked and promoted.
Instead, try to go after the “long tail” – keyword phrases that have 5 or more words in them. They tend to have less traffic, but they are also less competitive. On the upside, it’s usually easier to write content for long tail keywords because they are so hyper-specific you can stay focused on the topic and be extremely thorough.
Think about specific questions clients and prospects tend to ask you. This can be great inspiration for finding hidden long tail keywords.
Another trick is to check out Google’s “People also ask” section. This lists other common questions related to a given keyword. (My example is for the keyword “wedding invitation etiquette.” Answer any of these questions better than others and you’ll be inching your way toward higher rankings in no time.
#5 – Promote Your Best Content
It’s ironic really. Most people try to rank their pages and posts in Google to get some exposure. But, in reality, it usually works in the opposite way.
You typically need to start building buzz around your content first, before Google will rank you.
The more people share, talk about and link to your content throughout the web, the higher Google will rank it.
It all goes back to that idea of being the best result.
When your content has a lot of buzz around it, Google will get a sense that it’s popular and be more inclined to rank it (assuming that other users will appreciate it too).
So don’t spend all your time and energy simply creating phenomenal answers – promote that content too! It’s truly the key to raising your rankings long term.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kathy is the founder of Bride Appeal, where she takes the overwhelm out of SEO, sales and website conversion so wedding businesses can thrive online. Connect with Kathy and turn more curious visitors into paying clients at http://brideappeal.com.