SEO is not dead. Some people predicted that SEO will die in 2017, but trust me, SEO is still going strong. And it is now more important than ever for bloggers and creatives. In this post, I will discuss 5 SEO practices to take note of in 2017. Why? Because SEO is one of the cheapest ways to drive traffic to your website. Organic search results are one way of ensuring you get traffic to your website without spending any money on ads. According to Forbes, almost “40% of customers find the company through search”. In my humble opinion, it is worth the time and the effort to take note of SEO practices to ensure you are always one-step ahead of your competition!
P.S. I feel like I should warn you, but this post is a long one. But it packs a pretty awesome punch. So grab a cuppa of your favourite drink (a notebook and pen will be beneficial too) and get comfy, because this post will knock your socks off!
Target the right keywords
Forget the myth that only big bloggers can get traffic from search engines. Anyone can get traffic from Google is they understand the basics of SEO and how they can use it to improve their blogs.
Long-tail vs short-tail keywords – this was probably one of the most talked about topics in 2016 (with regards to SEO, of course). What’s the difference between long-tail and short-tail keywords? Long-tail keywords are often between 3 and 5 words, whilst short-tail keywords are mostly 1 – 2 keywords. Short-tail keywords include more common, broader search terms like “cake recipe”. Long-tail keywords are more specific, to the point and more targeted towards your reader. Examples of long-tail keywords are: “easy chocolate cake recipe for kids”. The difference between the two is that the latter is more targeted towards specific audiences, whilst the first one is really just a general search term.
So, what is the “right keywords”? The benefits of targeting long-tail keywords far exceeds the benefits of targeting short-tail keywords. Whilst it is great to rank on the first page of search engines for a short-tail keyword, it is actually more beneficial to target those long-tail keywords. Why? Let me explain it like this: not only are long-tail keywords more targeted towards your audience, but there is also less competition for that keyword (i.e. these keywords are less popular so the competition to rank is much lower) making it easier to rank for a specific long-tail keyword.
The long and short of what I am trying to say is that it is more beneficial for you to target long-tail keywords than it is to target words like “fashion”, “lifestyle” or “beauty”.
Keyword tools you can use to determine which keywords (or variations thereof) to use if you are unsure:
Top tip: Think like your reader when determining which keywords to use. What would they search to find your blog post? Remember, always write for your readers first, and then write for search engines. If your readers like what they see, they will automatically interact with your content more, showing search engines that you deserve to rank for that keyword.
Reduce image size
A few years ago, Google announced that site speed will affect SEO ranking. It is still unclear what exactly Google means when it comes to site speed, but it is always best to stay on the safe side with search engines by ensuring your site loads as quick as possible.
One of the best ways to do this is to ensure you reduce the size of your images before you upload. Loading times are important for your blog for so many reasons. If I visit a website and it takes more than 5 seconds to load the page, then I click of without ever returning again.
Amazon found that if their page loading time slows down by 1 second, . I don’t know about you, but that is a ton of money to lose out on! Why am I telling you this random little nugget of information? Well, if you are using your blog to sell products, your page loading time can affect your sales.
Quite often, a page will load slowly because of the size of the images on the page. And you can reduce the image size without losing out on the quality of the original image. Yup, it is possible. How? It’s quite easy.
If you use Photoshop, simply use the “save for web” function. You can still save your image as a JPG or a PNG using the “save for web” function. All this really does is compress your image to a smaller size so that it loads faster in browsers. If you don’t have Photoshop, you can use any of these free compression tools:
Optimise for mobile
Mobile, I say? Yes, mobile. I am not saying mobile is KING, but I am saying that it is an important contender for that crown. Over 48% of my traffic comes from mobile, with 36% of my traffic coming from desktops, so that is why I focusing on ensuring my website and content look great on mobile and on desktop. How do I do that? When I redesigned my blog, I purchased a mobile-responsive design (whenever someone access my site from their mobile, my theme will automatically convert to a mobile-friendly view). I also don’t have any pop-ups displayed on mobile (read more in point 4), which helps to increase my site-speed. Another thing I made sure to check was that the font, images and links were easy to click. If anything was too small, and users with bigger fingers struggled to use my site, I changed it to make everything easier to access. I designed my website entirely with my reader in mind, ensuring that they have the ultimate user-experience when they browsed imkawebb.com.
Avoid using pop-ups
Ah, the debate that gets everyone’s skin crawling. Pop-ups vs no pop-ups. Where do you stand on this debate? Google recently announced that they are fighting the battle against intrusive pop-ups and that all websites using certain types of pop-ups will be affected negatively in search results. This is not because Google wants to punish us. Oh no. In fact, it is because Google wants to improve the user experience, and intrusive pop-ups got in the way of a good user experience (literally).
Google’s announcement states: “Pages that show intrusive interstitials provide a poorer experience to users than other pages where content is immediately accessible.”
- “Showing a popup that covers the main content, either immediately after the user navigates to a page from the search results, or while they are looking through the page.
- Displaying a standalone interstitial that the user has to dismiss before accessing the main content.
- Using a layout where the above-the-fold portion of the page appears similar to a standalone interstitial, but the original content has been inlined underneath the fold.”
On the other hand, below are some responsible techniques that won’t be affected by this new change in Google’s algorithm:
- “Interstitials that appear to be in response to a legal obligation, such as for cookie usage or for age verification.
- Login dialogs on sites where content is not publicly indexable. For example, this would include private content such as email or un–indexable content that is behind a pay–wall.
- Banners that use a reasonable amount of screen space and are easily dismissible. For example, the app install banners provided by Safari and Chrome are examples of banners that use a reasonable amount of screen space.”
The best thing you can do if you are unsure whether these changes will affect you or not, is to rather be prepared for the worse. If you have any pop-ups you are not legally required to have, get rid of them, especially on mobile. Cookies disclaimer, age verification, etc are legally required pop-ups, so rather keep those up. Consider trying other ways to generate leads, like having a newsletter signup box at the bottom of an awesome piece of content. It’s best to ensure your pop-ups blend in with your content, rather than annoy the user by interrupting their experience. You can also work a signup into the design of your website. Take a look at what Melyssa Griffin did –
There is no annoying pop-up appearing as soon as you land on her page, but rather a signup space that makes out part of her design. It’s only once you click on the blue button that it takes you to a new page with a signup form. No annoying pop-ups interfering with your user experience. Yay!
If you do require pop-ups on your website, rather deactivate it on mobile (and only have it display on desktop).
Refresh old content
I have just recently learnt a new trick that may or may not have helped with improving my SEO. The reason I say “may or may not” is because I have only done this 2 months ago, and I do not have enough evidence just yet to prove that it works 100%. But I am going to tell you about this anyway, because I am kind, and because I can see improvements in my SEO ranking.
(TELL US THE TRICK ALREADY, WOULD YOU?)
The trick, dear reader, is to refresh your old content by doing the following:
Add more content. If you write about a subject where things can often change (like SEO, for example), then you will always have something to add to your content. Add an extra paragraph or two with updated information. And if you have written more blog posts relating to the specific topic, link to it! It shows spiders crawling through your blog post that the specific post contains new information and they can index you accordingly.
Update images. It is always a good idea to update images. Try new headlines, new colours, etc and keep it fresh.
Update the meta description and alt text and add more relevant keywords.
Change the date of your post. So, here’s the actual trick (yay you for making it this far), but it is still in its experimental phase, so bear with me. I’ve recently updated some of my most popular content and I have changed the date to show that this article is “new”. And for the last two months, I have been tracking the post to see whether this improves my organic traffic or now. So far, I have seen a slight improvement, but I am testing it to see whether it is a valuable thing for me to spend my time on or now.
NOTE: What works for me, might not work for you. It is always a good idea to keep track of your “before” stats, so that you can compare whether your date changed actually worked in your favour or not.
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Hi, I’m Imka Webb and I am the owner of Imka Webb Digital Marketing. I live in sunny South Africa with my husband and our beautiful daughter. When I am not helping businesses grow their online presence, I am reading or trying something new in the kitchen. I make a killer meatball and my cupcakes are to die for!