Google published a set of best practice guidelines which although did not give any indication of how they would rank sites in their search engine, it gave a rule set for what things would contribute to this.
A site should be user-friendly, easy to navigate, fast and mobile optimised. In 2018, Google are going to insist that all sites operate securely with an SSL certificate. Other technical aspects such as clean well written code, use of sitemaps and structured data tags are all deemed good practice. Friendly page URL’s are almost standard.
Three pillars of best practices for SEO:
1. Technical – The technical build of your site.
2. Relevance – Content on your site
3. Authority – How you market your site
It is understood that Google can only index the actual words that are on a website page, so it is still important to ensure that your website headings are both user friendly and meaningful but also contain the words your deem to be important to rank for. It is important to ensure you key headings are not in images which will not be indexed potentially.
Analysis into keywords where competitors are not ranking is still common practice, as this can inform your content strategy and can provide you with pages that are likely to rank higher due to less competition. In highly competitive sectors these opportunities are few and far between.
There are a plethora of other items like registering the site with Google Search, submitting sitemaps, including google for jobs markup. Registering a business with Google Maps can help local businesses.
If you are redesigning and re-building a website it is important to ensure all previous pages on the old site redirect to the pages on your new site. This will help maintain your Google search positions and will prevent users from getting a ‘404 page not found’ when trying to access the old URLs. For large new websites this process is referred to as an SEO migration strategy.
Due to the difficulty in breaking into the top search results now that many larger sites are dominating them, many older SEO agencies have switched their attention to conversion optimisation. This is the process of ensuring that the users who do come to your website are more likely to convert. This is an area which is still very much in your control and is less likely to change. A small change in your conversion rate, can earn you more money or generate more leads.
Your SEO strategy should be part of your overall website strategy, specifically your content strategy. Ensuring your website is built to the latest HTML5 standards in a clean and fast manner with a simple and easy to user navigation is probably just as important spending hours considering the keywords on the page. If the site is not built well the words won’t matter. Also, remember there is no magic bullet for achieving a ranking position and organic search results can take months to see fruition. The positions change all the time, so relying on SEO for inbound traffic is not a sensible strategy and hence should be complemented with other campaigns such as paid, social media, email and display advertising.