Since the advent of search engines, the importance of SEO has only increased.
It’s important for every company to get the word out about their business while reaching an audience that matters. What business wouldn’t want to be found on the coveted page one, position one ranking in Google? However, SEO changes every single time Google tweaks its algorithm.
In order to stay ahead in the competition, you have to be aware of the challenges faced in the industry.
So let’s take a look at some primary SEO challenges that your business will likely face and how to overcome them.
Leaving social media out of your SEO strategy
It’s a hot topic: Do social media metrics — from followers to shares — actually affect search rankings?
I happen to believe that Facebook likes and Twitter followers do not affect search rankings. That said, while social shares may not directly influence rankings, your social profiles definitely impact the content of your search results.
From credible backlinks to viral social sharing of blog posts, social media profiles are often amongst the top results in search listings for brand names.
This means that marketers cannot discount social’s impact on SEO. And when was the last time you Googled a company’s social channel? I did just tonight. People don’t just go to Google to look stuff up — they also use social media channels to find what they’re looking for.
Therefore, a solid presence on social media is very important for your SEO strategy. Unfortunately, many marketers find it difficult to combine SEO efforts with social.
But it’s not really that hard.
If you want to build a natural backlink profile, start by becoming active on various social channels where your target audience hangs out. Make an effort to grow your follower base on Facebook, Twitter and others that are relevant to your business.
However, just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Don’t create profiles on sites with low-quality followers. And don’t spread yourself too thin trying to keep up with competitors. Because it’s better to be on a few, quality social sites than to have an inactive account on all channels.
For one, you’re doing yourself no favors with increasing your ranking and if a user does find your profile, they will judge you based on your lack of content there.
Building individual web pages for individual keywords
Speaking of keywords, another smarmy tactic employed in SEO is dedicating a single page to target a specific variation of a keyword. While it’s true that this strategy worked for a very long time, ultimately you’re sacrificing usability.
Thanks to Google updates such as Hummingbird — where a whole sentence or context meaning query is taken into account — the search engine giant has a more topic-matching approach with their algorithm. As such, you no longer want to have separate pages for each keyword, but rather one page targeting them all.
I’m not saying that targeting relevant keywords is no longer useful. To this day, it’s almost impossible to find what you’re looking for online without using keywords. However, you should focus on offering highly valuable content rather than keyword-specific website content. High-quality website content still has clear keyword SEO strategy.
Easier said than done, right?
Especially if you are a business that sells similar products that don’t require distinctly different descriptions. You can’t just fall for the copy and paste option because Google will penalize sites with duplicate content. Each page on your site must have its own unique content. Instead, fit keywords intelligently into the content, headline, page title, meta description, etc.
And if you are that business from above? Simply combine similar products into a single page. It saves you time and resources and keeps Google’s Panda at bay.
Using all the keywords
It’s been said from day one: keyword stuffing is the devil. However, one trick to getting around this spammy, black-hat tactic was to fill meta-description and headers with keywords.
But think about it: When you’re searching for content, would you rather click on a link associated with the meta description ‘concerts, spring concerts, live concerts, concerts in the park’ or would ‘Live concerts in the park during the spring’ interest you more?
It’s a no brainer.
To this day no one has demonstrated the perfect keyword density percentage. That said, you run the risk of triggering keyword penalty filters if you stuff a page or descriptions. Not to mention users who come upon that page are going to associate negative context to that description.
So how do you overcome this challenge?
Essentially you’re trying to create a message that intrigues people and makes them click. Make it more natural, focusing less on the raw keywords. Emphasizing just a few key elements is a far more effective approach and helps websites rank over time.
Research by Google found that four out of five consumers conduct local searches on mobile search engines. Additionally, 18 percent of people conducting a local search made a purchase (as compared to a mere seven percent who conducted a non-local search).
These stats show that local SEO is crucial in marketing. Yet, too many businesses are underutilizing it.
But optimizing for local search can be difficult. Thankfully, if you understand the basic factors that play into your local ranking, then you’re already miles ahead of your competition.
There are three main factors that affect local SEO:
- Relevance: Google needs to understand your business so it can match your listing to relevant search terms. Provide detailed and complete info about your business.
- Distance: If the user hasn’t specified a location, Google will take into account whatever it knows about their location.
- Prominence: If your business is well-known offline, Google will take that into account. It will also factor in the information it has from across the web, such as links and articles.
It’s imperative you fill out as much information into the Google’s My Businessso the information they have is as accurate as possible.
Relying solely on search
SEO isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s hard work that changes frequently. It’s a methodology. And even if you’ve covered all your bases and you are diligent in your audits and updates, you can still fight an uphill battle.
For one, keywords place you right next to your competitors. And if those competitors are ranking even an iota ahead of you then you’ve already lost.
So what’s a marketer to do?
Simply put — use your domain name to optimize your brand.
We all know the importance of choosing a domain name that is memorable, but what if you could also choose one that immediately creates a greater connection to users and maximizes your visibility for branded queries?
Well, some of the world’s biggest brands now have that opportunity.
Organizations that applied for a branded domain extension or ‘.brand’ can now create domain names that include their brand name in the URL. Some are already taking advantage of this, with sites like global.canon and store.microsoft — even some from Google itself, such as design.google and ai.google.
By capitalizing on your brand name you’re positively affecting search engine optimization in three critical ways:
- Drive direct traffic
- Google indirectly includes it in the algorithm
- It draws links better than non-branded content
In SEO, it’s our job to spot opportunities and pounce on them. As such, you cannot ignore the benefits of branded queries and the ultimate impact that having a branded domain has on your website ranking.
Ignoring the power of mobile
It’s a common phrase: “mobile matters”. But does your website reflect that?
From typos to shorter queries to speaking their search instead of typing, there are two basic factors when it comes to mobile search:
- Mobile users interact with content differently than non-mobile users
- Mobile and desktop keyword researches are separate
As such, you must optimize your content specifically for each.
As for the first, there are a few simple, yet practical, things you can do to optimize your content for mobile.
- Use a large, comfortable font for the body of your content so users don’t have to squint.
- Don’t make your headline font so big it covers the entire screen.
- Use plenty of white space in your content.
So now that your readers can, well, read your content, how do they find it?
Again, you cannot simply optimize according to traditional keyword searches. Instead think about keyword research terms of mobile search practices such as:
- Conversational phrases
- Full sentences
Putting it all together
You don’t have to spend money on an SEO expert to dramatically improve your search visibility. Simple steps and staying up-to-date on changes can achieve major SEO success.
Originally published at thenextweb.com.