I’ll talk about the following tactics in this post:
- Improve engagement to improve rankings
- Make your existing pages longer
- Focus on YouTube SEO
- Improve site speed
- Focus on topics instead of keywords
- Build backlinks
- Reporting and analytics
- Technical optimization
- Local SEO and Listings
- Guest posting.
Let’s dig in!
1. Improve Engagement to Improve Rankings
Simply put, engagement is the ability to hold a user’s attention. In SEO terms, it is a measure of the amount of time spent on a page.
Although Google hasn’t officially declared it, there is evidence to suggest that this search engine giant does reward sites with strong user engagement with higher page ranking.
Research from SimilarWeb found a positive correlation between engagement metrics and search rankings and a study of 1 million search results by Backlinkofound a similar correlation between bounce rate and rankings.
Google’s reasoning is that if a user spends more time on a page, it’s probably because she found the page useful. And since Google only wants to deliver the best possible results to its users, it will push sites with strong engagement up in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
So how can you improve your site’s engagement?
Here are five tactics you can use to give your existing content a boost in search engines:
A) Format Your Posts for Easier Reading
Good formatting can instantly improve your page’s readability. This, in turn, can improve your engagement rate. According to eye-tracking studies, the following three formatting tactics can help increase your content readability:
- Shorter paragraphs: Limit each paragraph to 2-3 sentences at most. It’s even okay to use one-sentence paragraphs if necessary, but use them sparingly or your post will look like a bullet-pointed blog without the bullets.
- Shorter sentences: Longer sentences are hard to follow onscreen. When possible, break longer sentences into multiple shorter sentences.
- Sub-headers: People don’t read on the web; they scan. To make scanning easier, use plenty of clear and informative sub-headers to guide readers down a page.
- Bullet points: When you have a lot of data — stats, facts, ideas, examples — packed into one paragraph (like this one!), it makes it easier to scan when you list them with bullet points.
Here’s an example of poor formatting:
Knowledge of the existence of the Law of Attraction is a huge benefit in itself. Most people live their entire life and never realize that there thoughts are creating their reality. When one discovers this universal truth the entire world begins to open up. After much hard work and practice you will begin to see life-changing and long -lasting results from utilizing the techniques and strategies taught here. There are many ways to use the law including through daily affirmations, visualizations, goal setting, changing think patterns and of course tapping into the universal storehouse of information.
Here’s an example of the same paragraph, but with good formatting (here are some ways you can improve block of text):
Most people live their entire lives and never realize that their thoughts are creating their reality.
After much hard work and practice you will begin to see life-changing and long -lasting results from utilizing the techniques and strategies taught here.
Here are some ways you can use the law of Attraction to your benefit
- Daily affirmations
- Goal settings
- Changing link patterns
B) Use Bucket Brigades
A “bucket brigade” is a copywriting technique designed to keep capture a reader’s interest and keep them on your page.
It essentially involves breaking an idea into multiple sentences, using a trigger word or phrase (as simple as “Look.” Or as lengthy as “The secret to great copywriting is this”) and then ending the sentence with a colon.
Look at this example from Backlinko:
C) Use Images Throughout Your Content
Including professional, high-quality images (photos, graphs) throughout your content is an easy yet powerful way to increase engagement. For one, images help you show an idea, not just tell it (a picture tells a thousand words, right?).
Secondly, images help you break content into different sections. And finally, people just like pretty pictures.
For example, take a look at how Growth Everywhere uses images to clearly illustrate the step-by-step content in How To Do A Content Cleanup (And Grow Your Organic Traffic):
On Single Grain, charts and screenshots are frequently used to divide up content into separate sections, like this example from The Ultimate Guide to Mobile Advertising:
D) Write in the Inverted Pyramid Style
If you went to journalism school, you know all about the inverted pyramid style of writing:
This method means giving away the most valuable information at the top of the article, and following it up with less important information. If readers tend to scan and rarely make it to the bottom of an article, it makes sense to give them what they want as soon as they land on the page.
E) Improve Your Bounce Rate
Writing well, delivering value, and proper formatting only go so far. Another key part of engagement is lowering your bounce rate, which is the percentage of visitors who land on your website and leave without interacting further.
Bounce rates can be raised by a number of factors, from incorrect implementation to poorly designed landing pages.
More often than not, however, high bounce rates result from poor usability and an awkward user experience (UX). While these problems vary from site to site, they are very easily remedied with several popular online tools, such as:
- Crazyegg – Clever and intuitive, Crazyegg helps subscribers rate and understand user experience with their rich visual aids like heatmaps, scrollmaps, confetti, and overlays.Each of these are graphic representations of one aspect of UX.
For instance, heat maps are colorful representations of where users have clicked on your site, while scrollmaps show you just how far down the page your users scroll before leaving.
With this data, it’s possible to figure out what your best design features (or flaws) are, and correct them accordingly. Here’s an example of a heatmap that shows you where visitors clicked:
- Optimizely – Founded by Dan Stocker, the man behind the digital component of Barack Obama’s highly successful digital campaign of 2008, Optimizely specializes in A/B testing—a scientific, data-driven way to test websites for maximum usability and engagement.
In A/B testing, multiple versions of a web page are randomly shown to users, compared against a control page (generally the existing website), and then analyzed for effect.
The biggest advantage of a proper A/B testing process is that marketers can understand how even the tiniest changes can positively affect their website, such as moving the buy button to the left or changing its color from red to blue.
Take a look at the sample A/B test below from 5 Important Landing Page Elements You Should be A/B Testing:
In this test, hygiene company L’Axelle is trying out different headlines, pitting a comfort-oriented headline against an action-oriented one. The change is subtle, but it’s there.
It’s clear that A/B testing is an integral part of both the copywriting and the UX design process.
The genius of Optimizely is that it massively simplifies something that would otherwise require a team of dedicated, experienced UX designers and researchers to carry out.
- Google Optimize – Along the same lines, Optimize by Google Analytics also assists marketers in improving and maximizing customer engagement and conversion. As a free version of its Optimize 360 program, Google’s Optimize is a streamlined, user-friendly software that simplifies A/B testing and includes advanced modeling to improve engagement and targeted experiences.
But perhaps the biggest draw of Optimize is that it seamlessly integrates with Google Analytics, allowing marketers to further leverage their existing resources.
With Optimize, marketers can use existing Analytics metrics as a starting point, which allows them to rely on a familiar interface as they move on to deeper and more complicated experiments.
Here’s a shot of the Google Optimize user screen. Notice that it givesrecommendations and suggestions for the optimal interface.
- Usertesting.com – While Google Optimize and Optimizely are essentially DIY UX tools for marketers and small business owners, User Testing.com is far more specialized. In its most basic form, User Testing is more of a pure research tool, gathering commentary from target audiences and offering marketers detailed videos of user interaction and behavior.
Pro Plan subscribers, however, have the option of receiving the help of UX professionals who will conduct research, analyze user behavior, and measure and benchmark. In this form, User Testing.com offers customers the benefits of an in-house UX team at a fraction of the cost.
- Don’t Make Me Think – These four tools are some of the best UX testing programs available today. Yet one of the best UX resources isn’t digital, but rather a book: Don’t Make Me Think, a groundbreaking work by UX designer Steve Krug that has sold 100,000 copies over 5 years.Witty, entertaining and down-to-earth, Don’t Make Me Think offers actionable advice and useful mindsets for novices and veterans alike.
With its conversational tone and engaging manner, Krug’s work gets readers into the habit of critically examining and rethinking everything about their websites, including even the tiniest details, like misplaced buttons or unwieldy site maps.