SEO is a broad subject. Just when you think you have a good understanding of all the elements, something new comes along that you haven’t heard of before.
That’s okay for agencies who provide an SEO service. After all, it’s their job. You, on the other hand, don’t have time as you need to run your own business. Therefore, it’s important you focus on a few key areas – areas that are currently important, that won’t take up vast resources, and that will deliver results.
For 2019, here are the SEO ranking factors you should focus on.
Site speed is one of the most important SEO factors you should concentrate on. It is about making sure each page on your website loads as fast as possible.
This is something you may not have considered before, particularly if you think your site loads okay. There are two main reasons should delve into this further, though:
- User expectations – users, really don’t like websites that load slowly. There is research to back this up too. For example, research by Google found that 53 percent of mobile users will leave a website if it takes too long to load. This is bad in itself, but it can also impact your Google rankings by increasing your bounce rate.
- Google’s business interests – the longer it takes your website to load, the more resources Google has to devote to crawling it and discovering all the content. When you multiply this by the hundreds of millions of sites that are on the web, you can start to understand why Google wants to make the internet faster.
The fact is, many websites, even those built by website designers, are inefficient. This means standard speed optimisation techniques can make a significant impact.
The starting point of improving the page speed of your website is to check how fast it is now. You can use Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool for that. It will tell what is working well and where the problems exist.
Content is an issue on many business websites. This applies to content on the website’s pages as well as blog content. One problem that many people neglect to address is the length of content on their pages, i.e. the word count.
A common view is that website visitors don’t want to read lots of text. Therefore, website owners want pages that have minimal information.
From an SEO perspective, however, this is bad. Without text on the page, Google may not understand what it is about.
Also, you miss the opportunity of picking up searches for longtail keywords, i.e. secondary keywords that appear in your text naturally but which you may not have explicitly targeted. You are much more likely to include longtail keywords on your page if the text is longer.
So, instead of making page text short, your objective should be to increase the word count while also making the text easier to read.
This means content optimisation:
- Short sentences
- Generous use of sub-headings
- Frequent bullet-point lists
- Short paragraphs
- Everyday language
The meta tags that are most important to SEO are your page title and meta description. Here are the things you should think about when optimising both these tags:
- Page title – firstly, keep the title to less than 70 characters. You should also include the main keyword of the page, using the keyword as close to the start of the page title as possible. Don’t overstuff with keywords, though – just use the main keyword. Finally, make sure the page title is descriptive, engaging, and relevant to the page.
- Meta description – your meta description can be up to 120 characters, but it shouldn’t be any longer. That’s about two sentences. It should include your keyword, again as close to the start as possible. Plus, it should be interesting, and it should encourage users to click. Remember, the meta description is what users will see on Google’s search results pages. You need to make yours as compelling as possible.
Inbound Link Anchor
You probably already know the importance of inbound links to SEO. You should use 2019 to take your inbound linking strategy a stage further by reviewing and optimising the anchor text you use.
Anchor text is the word or phrase used in the link, i.e. the text that users click on.
So, how do you optimise inbound link anchor text?
Here are four tips:
- Succinct – anchor text should be a handful of words, not a complete sentence and certainly not a paragraph of text.
- Relevant – anchor text should also be relevant to the page it is linking too. Avoid generic anchor text as much as possible.
- Keywords – ideally, anchor text should include keywords relevant to the page they link to. The best results come from the anchor text that contains the page’s main keywords. However, make sure you don’t stuff keywords into the anchor text as it is important it reads and looks natural.
- Variety – Google’s Penguin update started to crack down on websites which had lots of links all using the same anchor text. This is an indication of over-optimisation. So, make sure you use a variety of link anchors.
Moving Forward with SEO in 2019
SEO is a continual process that you must build on over time. The above factors are key additions you should start looking at in 2019.