Make it easy for prospects to find your business with an SEO strategy that stays a step ahead.
What a difference a year makes, right? For that matter, think back to just a few months ago. The business landscape has changed tremendously, and unfortunately, many small and medium businesses have been forced to close their doors for good. Those that have survived are still feeling an excruciating weight on their proverbial shoulders as they scratch and claw their way through the global pandemic.
One of the most important contributing factors in staying afloat for a majority of these companies has been through their online sales channels. Those who are going to make it through are the same ones who recognized early the importance of enhancing their digital marketing strategy, improving their online credibility, and making sure their SEO performance and online visibility puts them in the best position possible at the Zero Moment of Truth of the consumer buying journey.
But in this increasingly unpredictable environment, one thing that remains constant as it relates to SEO is change. Through technological advancements to an increasing number of consumer touchpoints to shifts in consumer preferences, it’s imperative for businesses to keep up with what’s new in order to stay in front of the competition.
The following is a look at some of the top current trends in SEO that can strengthen your online presence and make your business more visible on the web.
Invest in the User Experience
In late May 2020, Google announced that the user experience on your site will be an official ranking factor beginning in 2021. That gives your business a half a year to evaluate your pages and make sure the UX is in good shape. Google will be measuring “Core Web Vitals,” which include:
- Largest Contentful Paint measures perceived load speed and marks the point in the page load timeline when the page’s main content has likely loaded.
- First Input Delay measures responsiveness and quantifies the experience users feel when trying to first interact with the page.
- Cumulative Layout Shift measures visual stability and quantifies the amount of unexpected layout shift of visible page content.
This sounds a lot more complex than it is. First, make sure you’re doing what you can to improve page speed, then do some quick research on design best practices focusing on UX. Some of the fixes might not even require a heavy lift.
Simplify, simplify, simplify…
“A good place to start is by keeping your content short and sweet—simplify, simplify, simplify,” says UpCity Senior Director of Customer Experience, Jen Gadus. “If you’re struggling with something, chances are your users will, too.”
The good news is, you don’t have to figure this all out on your own.
“There are some great free resources out there that explain some basic UX principles,” Gadus says. “There are also plenty of free tools that will help you implement quick fixes, like optimizing your images for faster load times.”
Featured Snippets and CTA Placement
Featured Snippets provide a quick answer to a search query at the top of the results page, and above the associated link. Google is now highlighting the text that was part of the Featured Snippet when a user inputs a query and clicks into the site. Additionally, it’s anchoring the user to that part of the page upon entry. This matters because depending on where that copy appears on the page, a great deal of content could be missed, including ads, forms, or calls to action.
As Google continues to get better at answering very specific questions and bringing users to an individual section, businesses must be mindful of where they’re placing their more valuable lead-generating content and drivers. We’re not saying you should emblazon every page with a CTA after each paragraph, but making sure there’s something for a visitor to do at the bottom of a page appears to be as important as making sure it’s there “above the fold.”
If you have access to a keyword tracking tool like Ahrefs—which tracks the Featured Snippets your site is ranking for in search engines—you can also take a look at your site’s most important pages and find out where specific Featured Snippet results are taking searchers to by performing those Google searches yourself. You can then place your most important CTAs or ads near those areas on the page to see if that boosts conversions.
Rating Labels and Local Search Results
Recently it came to light that Google might in fact be testing the addition of a rating label that appears in local searches for businesses. For example, a search for roofers in an area (Chicagoland roofing companies) reveals a list of businesses with the accompanying map. Among the business information that appears, there might also be a label that says “Top-rated roofing and siding company in Chicago by Google users.” Other variations found include #1-rated, #2 rated, and #3 rated.
Google hasn’t rolled this out everywhere, and not much is known about what affects earning these labels at this time, though it’s reported that the total number of reviews isn’t the only thing factoring in.
Even with all the unknowns in these early stages, one thing remains clear: collecting quality reviews is crucial for any business. UpCity is dedicated to helping our partners grow their businesses by providing the support they need to build their online credibility. Gathering high-quality, legitimate reviews plays a very important role in this, and it’s something we’re always happy to assist with.
Begin Optimizing for Voice
Voice search is the next great frontier for SEO, but there seems to be some uncertainty as far as what businesses can do to prepare. Love ’em or hate ’em, mobile and home assistants that allow users to verbally ask a question and get results are here to stay. The puzzle most companies must solve, then, is how to make sure it’s their business that’s showing up at “position zero.” That is, when a person is asking a question into their phone, they’re often met with a single result, or, in many cases, aren’t in a position to scroll through a long list of search results. So, even if you’re ranking high, you might not even get seen.
The logical course of action is to reevaluate your keyword strategy, plan for as many questions as you can that someone might ask when looking for something related to your business, use structured data to help search engines understand what you’re business is all about, and focus on local through your GMB profile.
Keep Fighting the Good Fight
This is a lot, and we’ve truly only scratched the surface, but as long as you stay active in improving your SEO and online visibility, you’re on the right track. No one is going to be able to keep up with every new SEO trend and implement it perfectly; the problems occur, however, when one simply throws their hands in the air and declares they’ve done all they can. Stay vigilant, keep grinding, and if you feel like you need some help boosting your visibility and improving your online credibility in an effort to scale your business, contact us today, or find a partner from our list of top SEO companies in the U.S.