There was a time when managing SEO was a relatively easy experience. Tactics to dominate search were easy to find and many small business owners took full advantage. However, as Google's search algorithms have been refined, white-hat SEO is a necessity and a hard hill to climb.
Building links and entering your business website to directories are no longer strategies that will work. Let's look at how SEO has changed over the past year and what it takes to dominate the first page.
For a long time, on-page SEO consisted of solid title tags, keyword-rich meta descriptions and SEO-friendly URLs. And while those are still factors for success, on-page SEO has become more advanced.
One area Google and other search engines are putting stock in is the mobile-friendliness of your website. A recent study by comScore found that desktop interactions with digital media is falling, while mobile continues to grow year-over-year. This year, Google released an algorithm update penalizing sites that aren't optimized for mobile views. The search giant is also working on a mobile-only indexing system, which means your website could rank differently on mobile devices as compared to a desktop environment.
What Does This Mean for You?
Google is looking at sites and taking into consideration how a user will interact with it. Even if your meta tags and descriptions are clear, if Google deems your site unusable you could see SEO suffer. Make sure to look at the following in addition to mobile-friendliness:
- Site speed
- Internal and external linking
- Optimized images
- Use social sharing buttons
- Increase dwell time and reduce bounce rates with long-form content
People working on SEO were devastated when Google's Matt Cutts announced that guest blogs would no longer be considered a white-hat strategy. Link building was a surefire way to establish authority for your site and climb in the rankings.
Link building isn't dead, it's just changed. Consider the following:
- Local links matter. If your business is in anyway localized, establishing community backlinks should be a priority.
- Directories are still relevant. However, you should be listing your website in niche, relevant directories that are beneficial to your industry.
- Earn your links. While it may be a harder road, creating great content that users actually want to interact with will be better for your website health in the long run.
Scheduling regular link checks and disavowing anything spammy should also be a focus to getting good with Google.
The Bottom Line
SEO isn't an easy road. Conducting an analysis of your on and off-page elements then creating a plan of action should be a priority for any business.