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What’s New in Search?: Google’s SMITH vs. BERT

Most SEOs know that Google has a way of quietly rolling out algorithm updates without a big announcement. Early last month, rumor had it that Google was testing out it’s newest natural language processing (NLP) model, SMITH.

Google quickly denied the rumors on Twitter, but still —  those of us trying to rank websites should pay attention to the role SMITH could potentially play in Google’s never-ending quest to improve the quality and relevance of their search results. 

So what is SMITH? Just like BERT helps Google understand words better in the context of sentences, SMITH helps Google understand passages within the context of entire documents.

What does this mean for site owners? Not much is different. If you’re focused on creating the highest-quality content for users, SMITH will simply help Google understand your content more holistically, just like humans do. Here is a breakdown of the essentials.

What you need to know:

How SMITH may impact search:

  • As Google improves its understanding of complete documents, good information architecture will be even more important
  • SMITH will improve the areas of news recommendations, related article recommendations, and document clustering
  • We know that Google already likes long-form content, but when SMITH is live, Google will understand longer content even more effectively

Another interesting feature of SMITH is that it can function as a text predictor. There are other companies that have been making big waves with NLP (think of Open AI’s infamous GPT-3 beta last year). Some of these technologies could help others build their own search engines. Therefore, SMITH is likely just one of many iterations in Google’s long-term goal of maintaining their dominance in NLP and machine learning technology. 

So this month, the mantra should remain the same: Focus on content, focus on quality. Whether or not Google launches SMITH tomorrow (or whether they already did), high-quality websites are the best situated to benefit from the update.

A Guide to SEO HTML Tags

There’s so much more to creating an online presence than simply uploading content onto a webpage. Getting noticed in search results is the best way to grow a business and brand name, and creating good content is a key to ranking for multiple search queries. However, search engine crawlers use HTML tags to read and understand the web pages they index. This means that it is not just your content that is important, but how your content reads on both the frontend and the backend of your website. 

It’s best to think of HTML as Google crawlers’ native language, and this guide will explain how to use your SEO HTML tags to better communicate to Google the relevance of your content to searchers.

ARTICLE CONTENTS:

What are HTML Tags?
Title Tags
Meta Descriptions
Heading Tags
Alt Tags
Robots Tags
Canonical Tags
SEO Benefits of HTML Tags

What Are HTML Tags?

HTML tags are the foundation of any website. They are small snippets of code that are embedded into the back-end of a website, and there are different HTML uses for different components on a webpage. 

A HTML tag is characterized by <> and </> surrounding the word or phrase.

Why Are HTML Tags So Important for SEO?

In order to understand why HTML tags are important for SEO purposes, it is important to understand the fundamentals of how a search engine works. 

Simply put, a search engine’s goal is not only to provide informative answers to its users, but its job is to find relevant and timely content based on the searcher’s query.

There are over 200 ranking factors that go into how a search engine promotes relevant results in their search engine result pages (SERPs). In fact, Google regularly changes its algorithm to improve user experience and the quality of search engine results. Unfortunately, Google keeps these algorithm updates under lock and key, but SEO HTML best practices is a sure-fire method of communicating information about each page so search engines can read your content accordingly.

One incredibly important SEO best practice is investing time and energy into learning exactly how to implement the right HTML tags on the backend of your website.

The HTML process is as follows:

  1. The website owner creates the page’s content.
  2. The website developer implements HTML code into the backend of the website.
  3. The web page is published.
  4. Search engine bots arrive on the page of the website and read the HTML code.
  5. The search engine bots store and index this information about the web page.
  6. When a user searches a keyword phrase that is relevant to what the HTML code communicated to crawlers, the web page has a better chance of showing up in the SERPs.

Not all HTML elements are created equally. There are some that are more important for showing up in search results, and you will create them depending on your target keyword and the specific topic of the given page.

The Most Important HTML Tags for Ranking in Google

Here we explain the most important HTML tags to direct your SEO efforts, and the best practices on how to do so for each.

Page Titles or “Title Tags”

Ask any SEO expert out there and they will say that your page title, or the title tags, are arguably the most important HTML snippet to include on your website. Because after all, if you don’t have a title, how will Google or users know what your page is about? HTML specifically tells Google “hey, here is the title of this page” and once indexed, the title becomes the clickable headline in the SERPs.

The HTML code for a title tag is: <title>your title here</title>

3 Ways to Optimize Page Titles

Technically, Google can choose any snippet of text to be the page title in the SERPs. But in order to ensure Google indexes the proper SEO title, there are certain best practices you should follow for all your title tags.

Keyword Optimize

Before you optimize any HTML element, the first step is to identify your focus keyword for the page. Then you will want to put your target keyword into the page title. Not only will this provide informational context for the reader, but will give an additional signal to the search engine crawlers about what each page is about.  

But do be careful about keyword stuffing and overusing keyphrases in your titles. Like with the rest of the content on your page, too many similar keywords in one place will send warning signals to the search engine that you may be spam.

Keep It Short

Google will only show the first 50-60 characters of your SEO page titles. A good title tag will be short and sweet, preventing your title from being cut off and possibly confusing prospective customers. You’ll have a bunch more space in the headline tags and general content to expand.

Set Up Proper Expectations

At the end of the day, you want to be as helpful to your clients as you can. Your website should not only be a representation of your brand, but an informative resource for all website visitors. This means your page titles should be clear, concise, and adequately reflect what the content of the page is about.

So although a unique title that sparks the curiosity of searchers can seem like the right approach, in reality, users are looking to get the answer to their question as quickly as possible. In the long run, clear, relevant page titles will help improve CTR, which can help secure higher rankings for your website overall.

Meta Descriptions

It is best to think of your page’s meta description as being the synopsis on the back of a book. They are short, quick, and easily digestible sentences that explain more in-depth what the page content is about. 

Where a page’s title grabs the attention of the user, a meta description adds more context and background information. 

A meta description is found within the SERPs directly under the page’s clickable URL. Implementing a meta description will provide Google with the right information they need, without Google having to take snippets of text from the same page and creating one themselves. When this happens, your user may not get the most accurate description, and it can cause them to lose interest in your brand name. 

The HTML code for a meta description tag is: <meta name =”description” content “your description”/>

Meta Description and Click-Through-Rates

Data shows that a well-crafted meta description undoubtably entices users to click over to your page. According to Backlinko, website pages with meta descriptions had about a 6% higher CTR than those that did not. 

Now, if you are thinking this isn’t that big of a percentage, consider it this way. If your page shows up 500 times in a Google search per month, that is 30 more clients clicking over to your page than if you didn’t have a simple meta description! Adding a meta description is an easy way to get new customers headed your way.

3 Ways to Optimize Meta Descriptions for SEO

Even if you do have a meta description, there is a small risk that Google will choose another sentence or two from that page that they think is more specific and relevant. But to prevent this, you can follow some SEO best practices.

Use the Same Focus Keyword That Is In the Page Title

You really want to drive home to the search engine spiders and your consumer that your page is about a specific keyword or phrase. Where SEO page titles are used for rankings, meta descriptions are more user-focused. Google does have an expected CTR as a ranking factor, so with this in mind, it is crucial to keep the important keywords consistent throughout all the SEO HTML tags, title tag and meta description included.

Be Mindful of the Length

Just like with SEO titles, you need to watch the length of your meta description. There’s only limited space available in the search engine result pages, so Google has to cut off meta descriptions around 150-160 characters. That’s not to say that you have to match your description up perfectly with the character count, but do your best so the description is easily understood.

Use a Call to Action

Internet users have very short attention spans, so it’s a good idea to remind them of why they need to enter your site! Call to actions don’t have to be overly complex or unique, a simple “learn more here” or “contact us today” can work wonders with your click through rate.

Headlines or “Heading Tags”

Just like having a strategy of choosing what keyphrases you want to incorporate on your page, you have to develop a strategy and a plan for how you structure that information in subheadings. For maximum readability, for both users and search engine crawlers, you cannot just put a ton of information down on a page. There needs to be structure, and that’s where headlines (header tags) or h2 through h6 tags come in. 

Users don’t always read the entire page of content, rather they scroll through the page and see if any of the different sections answer their questions. They’ll browse briefly, read the section that appeals to them the most, then leave to complete another action. And if your page isn’t split into multiple sections and is instead one long winding piece of content, then the user will bounce from your page before they even get to reading.

This is why headlines are so important; they are the foundation to your landing page or blog post’s construction. 

A header tag looks like: <h1>your heading here </h1>

Tips on Using Keywords, Synonyms, or LSI terms in Headlines

So how do you utilize keyphrases in your multiple headlines without keyword stuffing or sounding spammy? The answer comes with LSI keywords.

LSI stands for Latent Semantic Indexing, which are synonyms that are related to the main keyword(s) you are trying to target. Sprinkling LSI keywords throughout your content makes it easier for search engines and users to get a general idea of what your content is about.

However, it is important to note that LSI keywords are not always synonyms of your keyword, rather LSI keywords are related phrases to your topic. For example, if your keyword is coat, a synonym would be jacket. LSI keywords for coat would be winter, spring, feather down, puffy, warm, light, etc. 

Just as your headlines give structure to the page as a whole, LSI terms give more context to the content. Considering Google takes a look at your entire page before indexing and categorizing it, utilizing LSI keywords and synonyms in your SEO HTML tags will work to drive home the meaning and messaging of your content. 

You can use tools like the LinkGraph landing page optimizer to identify related keyphrases and focus words for your heading tags. Just enter your keywords into the tool, and our software provides a list of keywords that have strong topical relevance to the keyphrase. The dropdown menu will provide you plenty of terms to choose from.

3 Ways to Optimize Headings for SEO

Thinking in terms of how search rankings work is pivotal for creating headlines that convert. Here are three tips on how to optimize your heading tags for SEO purposes.

Don’t Use More Than One H1

There are multiple sizes of header tags you can use: H1, H2, H3, H4, H5, and H6. The higher the number, the smaller the text will be, and the less important it is to use a keyword phrase. Using more than one H1 tag can confuse search engines, as they see the H1s as being the title of the page. 

A quick note: H1 tags are not to be confused with title tags as mentioned above. Title tags are shown in the search engine result pages, whereas H1s are only shown on the web page itself.

Stay Consistent

You should write your headlines so they are consistent and concise. It is always a good practice to write your headlines in a way that if you were to remove all other content, the headings would read like a list.

Write Headings as if They Are Queries

Because headings are noticed and ranked by search engine bots, you should always use this space on your website to your advantage and write content that can help with rankings. Many users enter keyphrases as questions, so headlines that resemble queries a searcher would ask, or a helpful answer to a question, is an optimizing strategy that works well.

Other Important SEO HTML Tags

There are more SEO HTML tags that can also function as a ranking signal. Here’s other important elements of your HTML code to pay attention to.

Alt Tags

An alt tag (alt attribute) is basically an image tag, or your own description or explanation of what the images on your website include or are about. When you think from an SEO perspective, you know that crawlers can’t see your images, so a little bit of alt text is the only way they will understand the relevance of that image to the keyphrases that users enter into their Google search bar.

The goal of alt text is to allow Google to know what the image is about, but also to help the user in case they are visually impaired or the image does not load. There is more to an alt tag than an accessibility factor, however, as alt tags help search engine crawlers read the images themselves and index them. This is why you sometimes see images from multiple brands when you click the “image search” tab during a Google search. 

So as a rule of thumb, make sure to use an alt tag for anything visual on your website.

Robots Tag

A website user has the ability to set up parameters for how search engine bots crawl their website via robots tags. These tags give direction on which pages can be crawled and which should be ignored from an indexing perspective. The nofollow attribute prevents Google crawlers from following internal links to other pages of your site. They are useful if you have some seasonal pages that may not always be relevant, or if you are currently working on updating a webpage.

A robots tag looks like: <meta name=”robots” content=”noindex, nofollow”>

Canonical Tags

Google is very strict when it comes to unique content, and will penalize you if you have duplicate content or thin content on your page. A canonical tag ensures that this doesn’t happen.

A canonical tag is a tag that you can put on a page that labels it as the “master.” Multiple pages like product pages can result in unique URLs, which can confuse search engines on which page to show in the SERPs. You may have multiple pages for many different reasons, but to Google, you need to use source code to tell them which pages to crawl and rank in the search results pages.

Adding a canoncial tag to a page will tell the search engine to ignore any other duplicate content on the website, which will prevent you from being docked in the ratings.

The SEO Benefits of HTML Tags

As mentioned previously, there are plenty of search engine optimization benefits of optimizing the source code of your website. They include:

  • Allowing search engine crawlers to read your pages and index them more efficiently, which boosts your website in search.
  • Helping users see and understand every single piece of content on a page so they see your result as the better match over your competitor.
  • Emphasizing relevant keywords and similar keyphrases.
  • Encourage a higher click through rate from the search engine result pages to your website.

While SEO HTML tags may seem overwhelming to webmasters at first, rest assured with a little practice, they will become much easier to implement. You can add tools like the Yoast SEO premium to your WordPress site to make sure you’re implementing your metadata correctly. In turn, your website will see more keyword rankings, growing your market share with each new post you publish.

Our experts at LinkGraph are here to help your business stand out on the Internet. From link building to on-page SEO to keyphrase research, we can address all the important factors needed to get your website ranking and in not a lot of time. Contact us today for additional information about how we can help your brand thrive online.

5 Tips to Elevate your Online Reputation Management Strategy

Nowadays, a business’s online reputation can make or break its success. With a customer’s purchase journey starting and ending on the Internet, it is incredibly important for any business to understand the ins and outs of online reputation management strategy.

But there are a lot of misconceptions of what online reputation management strategy is. It is more than just monitoring online reviews, checking news sites for your brand perception, and investing in public relations. When it comes to your reputation management strategy, every business owner, no matter the size of your company, can benefit from learning the basics.

What is Reputation Management?

Simply put, online reputation management (ORM) is the ongoing process of promoting, maintaining, and cultivating your brand name and its good standing everywhere that it appears online. See it as building your digital image; one that is easy to find, understand, and will resonate with potential customers, regardless of where they come across your brand name.

It may sound easy, but the internet is a big place. Becoming known, recognized, and loved in a sea of competitors that have been around for a while is an uphill battle for any brand. For big brands that are well known, maintaining your reputation in good standing all across the internet is a time-consuming task. Reputation managers do the hard work of helping brands execute reputation management at scale.

Perception is everything when it comes to your digital image. Since you aren’t able to speak directly to all of your consumers and potential customers, it’s important to realize that your internet presence is constantly speaking for you.

Why Do Companies Need a Reputation Management Strategy?

Just a decade ago, the Internet was a very different place. Companies were simply putting up small websites as a way to offer a convenient shopping option for their customers. Businesses were not engaging with people, they rarely had a social media account, and their websites were simple, with only a few pages in their layout. 

Most customers were brand loyal and searched specifically for a certain business name, with little intention of changing their shopping habits and moving on to a competitor. And while this was great for consumers and shoppers alike, when the Internet boomed and more options came on the scene, things changed. Customers started having wandering eyes and wallets with the ever-present goal of finding the best quality item at the best price.

Because internet users now have access to thousands of products and service providers, there is a lot more that goes into the process of choosing your brand over your customers. Potential customers may read reviews of your products and services, check your social media accounts, look for news or articles about your brand name, or even read your Wikipedia page. Potential employees may comment on forums and job review sites about working at your company, and popular bloggers may choose to write unflattering reviews about your brand.

There are so many places on the internet where users may choose to right about you, and if those eventually become search results for your brand name, it has the potential to drastically impact the customer journey in a negative light. Any business owner should consider their brand management strategy as protecting their hard-earned customer satisfaction, boosting their brand reputation, and preventing any permanent damage to online reputation if a crisis unfolds.

If you are about to embark on an ORM strategy, don’t feel overwhelmed. Here are 5 ways to elevate your reputation management strategy.

#1: Audit Your Online Reputation

The first step in your reputation management strategy needs to be to see where you stand currently in terms of both positive and negative coverage and feedback. You do this via an online reputation audit.

Start off by asking yourself the following questions:

  1. How do you want your business to be viewed by people online?
  2. Who is your target audience?
  3. How will you find your target audience? For example, a younger population is more successfully targeted via social media channels.
  4. What details about your business would you like your target audience to know?
  5. Where online do you want to promote your business and its information?
  6. What action do you want your customers to take online. I.e, call you, sign up for a newsletter, and/or make a purchase?

From there, you’ll need to brainstorm any and all search terms your customers are using that you need to monitor. This can include your brand name, your industry, product and service names, sub-brands and/or categories, and geo-targeted phrases. For some extra ideas, you can use a keyword explorer to help you out, as they will provide extra analytic information on which of your branded search terms are actually being used by your potential customers.

The next step is to do some simple social media and search engine searches with these terms to see what customers, current and former employees, industry leaders, and others are saying about you. Setting up a Google Alert for your brand name is an easy way to start keeping track of where you are being talked about on the internet.

Once you compile all of this information, you’ll be able to get a clear impression of your online reputation and what steps need to be taken to positively boost your brand recognition.

#2: Revamp your Online Review Management

One of the major elements of reputation management strategy is online review management. According to BrightLocal, 75% of all online shoppers say they trust online reviews just as much as personal recommendations. Combine that with the fact that a whopping 89% of all shoppers consult customer reviews before converting, then it is fair to say that reviews are an integral part of influencing the customer’s buying journey.

Just because you may have some negative reviews doesn’t mean that all is lost. By investing in a revamp of your online review management, you can make it easier for your customers to leave a review, therefore making a better user experience, and hopefully, a positive review of your services.

Some questions to consider when thinking about where your online reputation stands on major third-party review sites:

  • Do the positive reviews outnumber the negative reviews? 
  • Have you responded to these reviews, and if so, did the client end up happy and satisfied in the end? 
  • Are there any themes in your negative reviews such as lack of customer service, slow shipping times, or faulty website? 
  • Where are these reviews? Are they on your social channels, your website, your Google My Business listing, or third-party review sites like Yelp?
  • Are the reviews recent? Or are a bulk of them from a few years ago?
  • Do the reviews look like they have come from actual customers? A way you can check this is to look at the spelling of the review itself, as well as the poster’s name and picture. Most shoppers have online profiles with actual pictures of them and their names instead of an avatar and a screenname. If you are noticing a lot of random reviews filled with spelling mistakes by users without pictures, chances are, these could be bots and need to be addressed as so.

Here are some important details to include when you revamp your reviews and use them to your advantage.

Always, always respond to negative reviews.

Customers want to know that there is a face behind the screen. More often than not, when they leave a negative review, they would like to come to a solution with the business owner, so don’t ignore them. Make sure to respond!

Customer frustrations can easily be caused by a misunderstanding or something else trivial and small, so if you had the opportunity to change just one person’s experience, wouldn’t you want to? 

Reach out to the poster, be authentic and genuine, and offer a solution that makes both you and them happy. Remember, a negative review can easily be turned positive when you use a little elbow grease.

Make it easy for you to be contacted.

Customers don’t want to add to their negative experience by having to search high and low for a way to contact you. So make sure to claim every listing your business is listed on, including Google My Business, Yelp, and social media, so your customers know it is you they are communicating with.

Additionally, put your contact info at the top and bottom of every page, and include your phone number, a specific email address, and brick-and-mortar physical address everywhere you can. You can even implement a chat widget on your website for faster, instant communication. Doing so makes you look and feel approachable.

Ask for reviews.

Sometimes, all you have to do is ask!

Search Engine Land found that 70% of customers will leave a review when explicitly asked to do so. So why not take advantage of this? Better yet, you can offer an incentive for writing a review, such as a free product or a coupon for a future service. This is one of the best ways to improve your reviews on sites like Yelp, Google My Business, and other popular review platforms. Doing this can really help you create an organic, or natural, pattern of reviews coming in.

#3: Earn more Positive Media with PR, Content Strategy, and Guest Blogging

There’s more to your brand’s online reputation than positive reviews and negative reviews, and it is crucial that you create positive messaging to the best of your ability. Content is king when it comes to digital marketing, and it is vital for your content messaging to be strong, consistent, and unique from your competitors. 

The whole point of content development is to not only provide useful, valuable information to potential users, but to rank in search engine results for the keywords those users rely on to get more information about your brand, products, or services. Developing a content strategy isn’t all that hard, and the benefits not only extend to online reputation management, but to your keyword rankings, website traffic, and overall brand awareness.

Earning more positive media coverage, guest blogging, and contributing content is great way to get more positive digital locations ranking on page 1 for your branded searches. If you place content on high domain authority sites, they may stick around in the search results for years promoting your brand in a positive light. Not only does more off-site content promote your company as industry experts, it also puts your business in front of potential partners who are in your same niche and industry. 

Sometimes, building relationships within your niche is all that you need to become a respected business, and in doing this, you set yourself apart from your competition as someone willing to work together for both of your businesses’s successes.

#4: Launch Link Building Campaigns to Improve Rankings of Positive Press Coverage

So once you have your positive content and press, you can help put the spotlight on those digital locations through fundamental building blocks of SEO like link building. Most websites focus on building links back to their website to improve their overall site authority, but when you get a great article about your business, you can also build links to improve its appearances in the SERPs.

This is a great strategy in particular for those brands who experience a barrage of negative press coverage due to a crisis or mishap. If these negative reviews, articles, or blogs are suddenly showing up for your branded searches, getting to work building links to your more positive digital locations can help knock those negative articles off page 1.

The more links you can build, the better, which is why a link building agency like ours that operates at scale can also provide SEO reputation services. We build links the right way, and we do so quickly.

#5: Hire an SEO Reputation Management Agency

As a business owner, it can be exhausting staying up-to-date with all the digital marketing trends out there. You have a business to run, and sometimes don’t have the extra time (or energy!) to ensure all of your marketing needs are met, including your online reputation management. This is where LinkGraph can come in: We can handle all of the heavy lifting for you. 

We understand completely how one negative review can throw a wrench into your entire digital image. There’s a lot at stake when it comes to ensuring your business and brand shines online, and a professional reputation management agency has all the tools in place so you don’t have to add this worry to your daily business thoughts and concerns.

Plus, we will incorporate your online reputation management strategy into your overarching SEO and digital marketing goals. Our team will constantly monitor your brand’s online presence across all digital locations while incorporating SEO best practices.

At the end of the day, our goal is to set your brand and business up for success, and to show off your company in a professional and successful way. Schedule a free SEO consultation with one of our experts to learn more about how we can help elevate your reputation management strategy.

8 Ways to Improve SEO Performance in 2021

As your business enters another year, your team has likely settled in on new sales goals and KPIs. Your SEO performance should be no different, because increasing site rankings, organic traffic, and clicks are prerequisites for meeting your sales and revenue targets. 

SEO is a long-game, and the only way to see your organic traffic continuously improve is to keep refining your SEO strategy. If you want to build upon last year’s search engine results, use these 8 strategies to get even better rankings for the search terms that bring your website the most qualified clicks.

#1: Check your Keyword Targets

Keyword research shouldn’t just happen at the outset of your SEO campaigns. Site owners need to occasionally revisit their keyword targets to see whether they are still the right keywords to go after. With more businesses expanding their online services and web visibility due to coronavirus lockdowns in 2020, it’s likely you have new SERP competition in 2021.

Take a closer look at your current keyword rankings and where your organic traffic is coming from. It’s possible that your original keyword targets have grown more competitive, or other companies have knocked your URL off the first page of organic search results for keywords you previously dominated. It may be time to take a different approach and find the specific keywords that present more ranking, traffic, or conversion opportunities.

It’s also possible that specific pages are performing better than you expected, or your website is ranking for search queries that are driving more qualified clicks to your website. If this is the case, focus on reinforcing the performance of those pages with backlink building, on-page optimizations, conversion-optimized CTAs, and more strategic internal linking structure.

Understanding which keywords are proving the most and least profitable for your brand is the first step to improving your SEO strategy in 2021. Identify the best performing pages on your website and capitalizing off the traffic they bring is key to elevating your website’s performance.

How to Improve your SEO Performance with Keyword Research

  • Review the top-ranking websites for your keyword targets. If it is unlikely you can compete, consider targeting less competitive keywords
  • Identify the pages on your website that are ranking well, and reinforce their quality with on-page optimization, conversion optimized design, and strategic internal linking
  • For pages that aren’t ranking well, re-optimize that content for different keyword targets. If the web page is getting no traffic or under-performing, consider making strategic revisions or deleting it altogether

#2: Optimize (or Re-Optimize) your Landing Page Content

On-page SEO involves more than just adding keywords into your title tags and heading tags. If you really want to elevate your SEO performance, your landing pages need to be high-quality, which requires original, in-depth, long-form, visually engaging content that performs well on desktop and mobile devices.

Putting some of your SEO effort into making your existing landing pages even more comprehensive is a great way to achieve even more SEO success this year. Focus on both the pages that are already performing well and those that are struggling to earn impressions. You may be able to improve your rankings by making your content more in-depth and comprehensive.

Take a fresh look at the click-through-rate (CTR) of your best performing pages as well. Are the meta descriptions written in a way that entices the users to click? If not, a quick revision could help improve organic sessions on those pages. The HTML elements of your site (also referred to as technical SEO) need to be properly optimized as well if you want to show up in the search engine results pages.

You can use a tool like the LinkGraph landing page optimizer to improve the topical depth and relevance of your landing pages and web content. Our software scans the top ranking search results for your target keyword and identifies the relevant keyword phrases and topics that you should include in your site content. Try to get your content score over 80 to get better rankings.

How to Improve your SEO Performance with Content Optimization

  • Increase the topical depth and comprehensiveness of your landing pages 
  • Add rich media, interactive elements, and jump links to improve user experience
  • Use LinkGraph’s Landing Page Optimizer tool to identify the necessary Focus Terms, or synonyms and related topics that Google associates with your target keyword
  • Read our content optimization ebook to learn more about improving your on-page SEO

#3: Rev Up your Page Speed and Page Load Times

Google’s Page Experience Update will no doubt be the biggest change for search in 2021. Expected to roll out in the beginning of the year, the page experience provided by a website will be an official ranking factor in Google’s algorithm. Factors like page speed, user experience (UX), load times, and cumulative layout shift will be determining factors in whether search engines rank your website over your competitors in the search results.

The performance and usability of your website is key to whether users will find your content valuable. Nobody likes a slow website, and long page load times and slow site speed can leave users feeling frustrated, an experience you don’t want any potential customers to associate with your brand. Slow page loads undercut your SEO efforts, decreasing total sessions, raising bounce rate, and negatively impacting other engagement metrics.

You can access key metrics about your site’s performance in both your Google Analytics and Google Search Console accounts. Google Analytics will provide important SEO KPIs like bounce rate, pageviews, average time spent on a given page, and more. These helpful metrics offer insight into user engagement on your website and how organic visitors may be experiencing your webpages and website design.

In your GSC account, you will find information about your website’s Core Web Vitals, or the key metrics Google uses to evaluate your website’s overall page experience. Google will identify these important metrics for both mobile and desktop versions of your website. If you don’t address the issues or improve on the best practices of page experience, your website could suffer a keyword rankings drop after the Page Experience Update is live.

Some site owners assume that increasing web page load times and speed can only be done by developers, but there are some simple optimizations that any site owner can easily implement on their own to improve their website’s performance. The best way to really diagnose the performance problems of your website is to get a complete SEO audit, but in the meantime, Google Search Console and the PageSpeed Insights tools will offer suggestions for how to improve on these key performance indicators.

How to Improve SEO Performance with Page Experience

  • Audit your page experience in Google Analytics, Google Search Console, PageSpeed Insights, or schedule a full UI/UX or SEO audit
  • Work with your web developer or a SEO agency to implement page experience optimizations prior to Google’s algorithm update
  • Read this blog post for key tips on how to make your website faster

#4: Level Up your Analytics

In order to increase your organic search traffic, you have to have a nuanced understanding of your search KPIs and how your website is performing right now. In order to improve your SEO strategy, you need concrete performance metrics from which to measure the success of your SEO campaigns.

Metrics like pageviews, keyword positions, conversion rates, and organic sessions provide loads of insights about the strengths and weaknesses of your website. If you’re not tracking your SEO performance in tools like Google Search Console and your site traffic in Google Analytics, you’re missing valuable data points from which to measure the effectiveness of the optimizations you make to your site.

LinkGraph’s GSC Insights will help you understand your SEO performance at a more granular level. With more advanced data visualizations, you can see which individual pages, page groupings, or keyword groupings are driving the most traffic to your site. Unlike other software like Ahrefs, Moz, and Semrush that have back-dated rankings, our dashboard gives you insights into the day-to-day fluctuations in your site’s performance. 

With more granular insights and real-time metrics, marketers and SEOs can have a more comprehensive picture of SEO performance. With more advanced keyword tracking, it’s also easier to quantify the ROI of your SEO campaigns, particularly for new websites. For digital marketers who need to show the value of search engine optimization to executive leadership, the right tracking tools show how cost-effective SEO is to a company’s bottom line.

How to Improve SEO Performance with Better Analytics

  • Sign up for a Google Analytics Account and Google Search Console to start tracking your search KPIs
  • Request Access to LinkGraph’s GSC Insights and get even more advanced keyword tracking data
  • For B2Bs and B2Cs, link your Google accounts to your CRM platforms to track leads that come from organic search traffic

#5: Audit your Backlink Profile More Often

A URL’s backlink profile reveals a lot about the site owner’s off-site SEO strategy. A site owner who doesn’t monitor backlinks for linking site quality, anchor text diversity, and relevance will struggle to raise their overall site authority in the eyes of search engines. Google ranks websites that are well-trusted by other webmasters and users on the internet. One of the best ways to see quick SEO results is to focus on backlinks.

If you don’t monitor backlinks on a regular basis, it’s possible that your backlink profile has become populated with toxic or spammy links from low-quality sites. Use a SEO tool like our backlink analyzer to identify those questionable new links and generate the text for a disavow file. There is no way to remove those hyperlinks to your site, but a Disavow file tells Google not to count them toward their ranking algorithm.

Not all backlinks have the same value. Those from sites with higher Domain Authority and strong SEO metrics themselves will have the biggest impact. Performing a backlink audit every quarter can help you stay on top of your new links and ensure that your links are always working for you, not against you.

How to Improve SEO Performance with Backlink Audits

  • Perform a backlink audit once a quarter to make sure your website isn’t keeping company with questionable web properties
  • Use a Backlink Anaysis tool to identify toxic or spammy websites that are linking to yours
  • Generate and submit a Disavow file in your Google Search Console account to reduce the impact of low-quality links

#6: Create Blog Content that Targets Long-Tail Keywords

As more companies invest in SEO, keywords continue to grow more competitive in both organic search and Google Ads campaigns. Keywords with high levels of user intent are most likely dominated by well-established websites with huge backlink profiles. Long-tail keywords, however, are usually less competitive, and provide an opportunity for your website to rank for more relevant keyword phrases in your industry niche.

Long-tail keywords may not represent searchers who are looking to make a purchase right now, but they are users who may be searching for new information related to your industry that your brand has authority and expertise in. Getting blog content ranking for those keywords can be a great content marketing strategy that drives those users back to your website when they are ready to make a purchase decision.

Take for example a company that sells and installs closet systems. Most likely, that site owner would target “closet systems,” for their homepage and primary category pages. However, long-tail phrases like those listed below could also bring qualified traffic to their website.

These terms may have lower search volume, but creating an informative, useful blog post about the varying features, benefits, or costs of these different types of closet systems will simultaneously increase keyword rankings and build brand reputation.

There are so many ways that potential customers may search for the products or services your brand name offers. The benefit of blogs extend beyond just traffic. Having more landing pages on your site has shown to increase conversions. More quality content with natural internal linking gives more reasons for searchers to scroll and browse through your website.

How to Improve SEO Performance with Blog Content

  • Identify the relevant, long-tail search phrases in your industry
  • Create high-quality, informative, original content that is optimized for those long-tail keywords
  • Include internal links in your blogs to other relevant pieces of content on your website
  • Include relevant CTAs, scrolling CTAs, or a chat bot on your blog to increase conversions and transform organic traffic into leads or revenue

#7: Build Backlinks like a Boss

Creating backlinks to your url is key to elevate your site’s performance in Google. Backlinks are Google’s #1 ranking factor, and the more authoritative websites that link to yours, the more likely search engines are to trust and rank your web pages.

If you follow suggestion #7, you should have plenty of high-quality content assets on your site that are worthy of linking to. As you earn more keyword rankings and organic traffic, backlinks will come more naturally, but it’s important to perform manual outreach and seek out link building opportunities both in and outside your network. It’s possible that those top ranking websites in the search results have thousands of referring domains, meaning building links should be a consistent item on your SEO to-do list.

If you’re not sure where to try and earn links from, look to your competitor’s backlink profiles to see where they earn their links. Reach out to those same webmasters and see if they would be willing to link to your content. Or, offer to contribute content that serves the needs of their target audience (and includes links back to your site).

Other link building opportunities like guest blogs, local citations, contributor articles, interviews, podcasts, public relations campaigns and other strategies can help you build off-site signals.

How to Improve SEO Performance with Link Building Campaigns

  • Identify the high-quality content assets on your site that are worthy of links
  • Create original content that includes links to those landing pages. Use natural anchor text that has contextual relevance to your content
  • Outreach to other site owners and webmasters in your industry and pitch your original content
  • Read our link building ebook for more ideas on Google-compliant link building strategies

#8: Start A/B Testing your Optimizations

To truly take your SEO strategy to the next level, you have to take a nuanced approach to the changes you make to your website and how you measure their impact. A/B Testing is a great way to make gradual optimizations to your site and measure whether they have a strong correlation with better impressions, search traffic, keyword rankings, or organic sessions.

There are so many website elements that can be A/B tested, like title tags, meta descriptions, internal links, site structure, CTAs, fonts, and even colors. To perform a successful A/B test, you need to have clearly defined variants and the proper staging environment to test out two separate pages. Make sure to use canonical tags when testing out pages so Google doesn’t see the pages as duplicate content and penalize your website as a result.

SEO A/B testing is a more advanced SEO strategy, so if you are new to SEO, work with skilled SEOs, marketers, or an SEO agency before diving in head first. If you use a tool like the LinkGraph GSC dashboard, you will get daily rankings updates to measure which variant of your A/B test produces better SEO results.

How to Improve SEO Performance with A/B Testing

  • Choose two clearly defined variants that you want to test (e.g. two meta descriptions, two page titles, two heading tags, etc.)
  • Add rel=canonical link attributes to avoid a duplicate content penalty
  • Measure your A/B variants in GSC Insights