The New SEO Landscape: 15 Key Ways To Stay Ahead in the Digital Space

Search engines and platform algorithms are constantly in flux. In this ever-changing digital landscape, it’s a matter of “get ahead” or “get lost” for marketers and small business owners. No matter how good your product or service is, if no one can find it, then how can you scale?

Algorithms change constantly, sometimes through little tweaks, sometimes through massive, sweeping changes. In 2020 alone, Google made 4,500 changes, including improvements to its user interface and ranking system. The most recent major update was in March 2023.

Even previously flourishing businesses and websites run the risk of falling behind unless they’re on top of the search engine optimization or SEO game.

In this article, we’ll explore 15 new and effective strategies to help you in this fight and ensure that you continuously drive organic traffic to your website.

1. Know Your Keywords

You must know what your audience is searching for to position your content the right way. Many times, this simply comes down to the words or combinations of words you use. Keyword research is the crucial step of identifying and analyzing the specific words and phrases used on search engines like Google.

By optimizing your content, photos and website headlines based on these keywords and phrases, you increase the chances of your website appearing in search engine results pages (SERPs). Plus, the more visitors who find your site via keywords, the more Google will boost it in the search rankings.

How To Conduct Keyword Research

Brainstorm Seed Keywords: Seed keywords are the broad, core topics related to your business. Begin by making a massive master list that includes any keyword or phrase that describes the main points of your website, product, or service.

Use Keyword Research Tools: There are a ton of great tools out there that make keyword research a breeze. Some of the most popular and user-friendly tools include SEMrush, Moz Keyword Explorer and Ahrefs. Enter the seed keywords from your list and see how they’re currently ranking. You can also use these tools to explore variations on the keywords to capture growing search volume.

(Image: SEMrush)

Analyze Search Intent: Consider the intent behind each keyword. Are users looking for information (such as how-to’s or articles), products, or specific services? Not all searches are created equally. Understanding what intent is behind the search will help you create content that matches what visitors are seeking.

Assess Keyword Difficulty: Whether through tools or your own research, it’s crucial to see how your competitors are using keywords. This research will also help you understand keyword difficulty. Keyword difficulty is typically measured on a scale from 0 to 100. The higher the score, the more challenging the competition. 

That means that a higher number of competitors are using that keyword, indicating that “entry” into owning this keyword would be more challenging. We recommend you focus on keywords with moderate difficulty that offer a good balance between a high volume of searches but less competition.

Consider Long-Tail Keywords: As the name suggest, long-tail keywords typically consist of multiple words and tend to be more specific – and therefore less search volume – than single keywords.

For example, the word “Shoes” is quite broad and probably has a lot of competition. On the other hand, the long-tail keyword, “Vintage Nike Sneakers” will have less search volume but be way more targeted to your niche and therefore have higher conversion rates. Using long-tail keywords will help you target a more niche audience and capture highly relevant traffic.

Analyze Competitor Keywords: Analyze the keywords your competitors are targeting. Tools like SEMrush and Ahrefs provide insights into your competitors’ organic and paid keywords. Doing a thorough analysis will help you identify gaps or opportunities in your content while helping you explore ways to keep your content unique.

Refine and Prioritize: Since the algorithm changes frequently, it’s crucial to check in with your keywords on a regular basis. Regular check-ins will help you refine your keyword list based on relevance, search volume, competition and your website’s goals. Prioritize keywords that align closely with your target audience and offer a good balance of search volume and competition.

Create Content Around Keywords: Once you’ve narrowed down your list of long-tail and short-form keywords, create high-quality, informative and engaging content that reflects the user intent. Be sure to incorporate keywords into your content in a natural way, including headings, image alt text and meta tags. Strike the right balance between engaging, organized content and the keywords. Forcing too many keywords into a piece of content will leave it reading robotic.

2. Write High-Quality Content

Content is still King! And it should serve as the cornerstone of any successful SEO strategy. Search engines prioritize websites that provide valuable, relevant and engaging content to users.

While it may be hard to see the immediate pay off, you must devote adequate time into producing  well-researched, informative articles, blog posts, videos and other forms of content that cater to your target audience’s needs.

If this is not for which something that you or your team have time or desire to do, consider hiring a freelance content writer or strategist who can ensure successful execution of your SEO and keyword strategy.

A word of advice. Many companies and websites are swarming to create AI-generated content. But be careful with ChatGPT and other AI writing tools. Regardless of how easy it is to have a blog written in 30 seconds, search engines are cracking down on this content and favoring unique, original work.

If you use ChatGPT to generate your website’s content or blog writing, then you run the risk of producing duplicate or plagiarized content, which can have a negative impact on your search rankings and credibility. Once the search engines view you as a bot or copying content, it takes even longer to reverse this trend.

Maintaining a consistent brand voice and messaging across your website is crucial for brand identity. There is so much information on the internet and your target audience is smart and discerning. 

They know what makes authentic content and are quick to click away from boring or robotic words. ChatGPT may not accurately capture your brand’s unique personality and tone, potentially resulting in a disconnect between your brand and the content.

3. Voice Search Optimization

With newly created voice-activated assistants like Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant, ensuring your content is voice search optimized is becoming essential. Rather than typing when they’re on the go, more people are simply speaking their search commands into the browser.

Voice searches are often longer and conversational by nature, creating more opportunity to factor in long-tail keywords and natural language in your content. Providing concise, direct answers to commonly asked questions through voice can also improve your chances of appearing in voice search results.

4. Optimize for Mobile

55% of website traffic now comes from mobile devices.

Search behavior is no longer limited to people sitting at their desktops. Today’s internet users want quick results to shopping or informational opportunities when they’re on the go. Therefore, a fast-loading, mobile optimized website is no longer a “nice to have,” it’s a need to have.

Search engines prioritize mobile-friendly websites, and failure to create an easy experience on a smartphone can lead to poor user experience and lower search rankings.

Ensure your website is responsive and loads quickly on mobile devices to provide a seamless browsing experience. Don’t skip this step. More and more companies these days are actually doing mobile-first builds. That is to say, they design the mobile version of their website before regular computer browser.

5. Enhance the User Experience

Search engines prioritize websites that provide excellent user experience. Today’s internet user is inundated with high-quality, well-designed website and landing pages. When there are endless options out there, few will stick around for a slow, poorly-designed website.

That’s why a well-designed, visually-appealing and easy-to-navigate website should be a critical part of your SEO strategy.

Use intuitive menus, clear call-to-action buttons and relevant internal linking to enhance user experience and encourage visitors to explore your site further. Plus, the longer users stay on your website (clicking, scrolling and reading), the higher your website will rank.

6. Build Backlinks

A backlink is how websites and sources of information talk to each other. For example, a travel blogger may have backlinks to various products or other external websites that are relevant to the travel content. Backlinks to and from reputable websites are important for both web and blog content.   

Backlinks are essentially a vote of confidence or endorsement from one site to another, indicating to search engines that the linked-to website is trustworthy, valuable and worthy of citation. 

Backlinking doesn’t have to happen by chance. Develop a backlink building strategy that focuses on acquiring high-quality links from relevant and authoritative sources.

Part of your backlink strategy could include guest blogging, influencer outreach and building relationships with industry leaders. Remember, it’s not just about quantity; the quality and relevance of backlinks matter.

For example, Brian Dean from Backlinkio was able to increase his website traffic by 110% in two weeks thanks to his “skyscraper technique.”

The skyscraper technique involves identifying content that’s getting a lot of links[GKG2] , write a better and more comprehensive version that outperforms the existing content (remember, don’t plagiarize). Then, reach out to those who link to the original content asking if they’d link to your, even better, content.

7.  Engage on Social Media

Social media platforms offer an excellent opportunity to drive traffic and engage with your audience. Overall, sharing between digital platforms functions like a cycle, and it’s best to have various platforms that talk to one another, providing a seamless experience from one platform to another.

Begin by staring a strong social media presence that speaks to the subject of your website or business. Share external content regularly while ensuring it works your existing posts or subject matter. On the website side, encourage further sharing by putting social sharing buttons on your website.

Establish a credible brand by engaging regularly with your website visitors and followers. This includes, responding to comments, participating in discussions and sharing valuable insights. 

These social strategies increase brand visibility and potentially generate backlinks and social signals that positively impact your SEO efforts. While some are hesitant to jump on social media to promote their website or business, it’s an integral part of a well-rounded SEO strategy.

8. Improve Your Page Loading Speed

As we previously mentioned, today’s internet users don’t have a lot of patience for slow, poorly-designed websites. Plus, the longer a visitor stays on your page, the more it sends a signal to search engines that your page is interesting. That’s why, page load speed is a critical factor in both user experience and search engine rankings.

Optimize your website’s performance by compressing images, minifying CSS and JavaScript files and leveraging browser caching. There are a plethora of both obvious and subtle methods for increasing website speed. Dive into some of the topics we’ve mentioned here or if you have the budget, reach out to an expert in the space.

Since websites can crash or need reinstallation on occasion, regularly monitor and optimize your website’s load speed to ensure fast and smooth browsing for your visitors. We recommend scheduling regular check ins along with keyword audits to stay ahead of the competition.

9. Optimize Your Featured Snippets

Featured snippets are the summarized answers displayed right at the top of search engine results pages, such as Google. Here’s an example:

optimize your featured snippets

If you optimize your content so that it appears as a featured snippet, you can increase your visibility and your click-through rates. Find out more about how to do this here.

10. Local SEO

If you have a physical presence or cater to a specific geographical area, it is absolutely essential you optimize for local SEO. 

Depending on your area and business, you may be able to rank higher on search engines. In some communities and cities, local businesses are slower to adopt SEO practices. See how your competitor are ranking to assess your unique opportunity.

To begin, create and optimize your Google Business Profile, include relevant local keywords in your content, and encourage customer reviews.

local seo gbp

This will help your business appear in local search results and increase your visibility within your target region.

11. Regularly Update and Refresh Content

The average page in the top 10 on Google is 2+ years old. (Ahrefs)

This is because search engines value fresh , up-to-date content. Make sure you regularly refresh your content by adding new information, statistics, or case studies, and improving the overall quality of your content. 

New, exciting, and relevant content with current backlinks are more likely to rank on page #1.

12. Monitor and Analyze Performance

Remember, you can’t improve on what you don’t fully understand. Tracking data, performance and usage statistics will help you regularly identify any gaps or opportunities. Tools like Google Analytics are user friendly and provide a variety of customizable dashboards.   

Google Analytics lets you track key metrics such as organic traffic, bounce rate, time on site and conversions.

 This data will help you identify areas for improvement and make informed decisions to optimize your SEO strategy.

13. Secure Your Website With HTTPS

Have you ever tried to click onto a website only for Google to warn you that it might not be safe? More often than not, the websites are lacking a HTTPS. Website security is a critical consideration for SEO. 

Switching to Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) encrypts data exchanged between your website and users, providing a secure browsing experience. This will not only keep website users secure but communicate to search engines that your site is trustworthy.

Here’s an example of a site that is secured (see the little padlock on the left!)

https seoblog

 Search engines prioritize secure websites and using HTTPS can positively impact your search rankings.

 While this may seem daunting if you’re not technical, you can typically obtain an SSL certificate from your hosting provider.

14. Keep Up With Algorithm Updates

Search engine algorithms are constantly evolving and staying informed about the latest updates is crucial. Sometimes it’s just a small, easy tweak that can make a huge difference.

The good news is, there are a myriad of well-researched resources for you. Follow reputable SEO blogs, attend industry conferences, and join relevant online communities to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and algorithm changes.

This knowledge will help you adapt your SEO strategy to stay ahead of the competition. If it’s in the budget, consider hiring a SEO consultant once a year to audit your website against best practices.

15. Experiment and Adapt

Algorithms are constantly changing based on new technology and cultural shifts. Likewise, SEO is an ever-changing field, and what works today may not work tomorrow. Therefore, it’s best to embrace a mindset of experimentation and adaptability.

Continuously test new strategies, monitor their effectiveness and be ready to pivot if necessary. The ability to adapt to new trends and technologies will ensure you stay ahead in the SEO revolution and be early to take advantage of new trends and tools.

Conclusion

SEO is a long-term game, and results are hardly immediate. But just like anything, you will see the fruits of your labor. Stay persistent, monitor your progress and adapt your strategy as needed.

With the right approach, you can position your business at the forefront of the SEO revolution and reap the benefits of increased visibility, traffic and conversions. 

With an adaptable, ongoing SEO strategy in place, you not only have the ability to get more customers or website visitors, but scale your business as well.

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