There’s no doubt that the SEO landscape has changed beyond all recognition over the last decade. Back in the days when Google was much easier to please, keywords were vital to a campaign, all websites had to do was put them in their content and URLs to be rewarded and ranked. However, with the advent of ever changing search algorithms, such as Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird, all designed to enhance the user experience, keywords alone now no longer cut it, and websites have to work an awful lot harder to stand out from the crowd.

So what can you do to improve your site’s SEO in 2015? And do keywords still matter at all? Read on to find out.

 

Get Technical

In order to get ahead in the rankings, your website needs to have good technical health. This means that your site should be well structured, and labeled in a way which allows Google to read it in the best possible light.

Many aspects of technical health cannot be seen by the average visitor, but in order to rank well and get potential customers onto your site, many things need to be implemented behind the scenes.

If you haven’t paid much attention to the more technical parts of your website in the past, then it’s advisable to carry out a full technical audit to see if you have any issues which could be affecting your SEO. If you’d like some assistance with performing a technical audit, check out our blog post, or claim your free site health check from Ricemedia.

 

Look at your links

Link building, i.e. promoting your website on third party sites via a backlink, is a long established aspect of SEO. Along with keywords, link building used to be another easy way to get traffic to your site, but as with many old fashioned SEO methods, things aren’t quite as simple as they used to be.

Since the Penguin algorithm, Google now looks carefully at the type of sites which contain backlinks to your website. Any backlinks coming from high quality well trusted sites will still have a positive effect on your SEO, but any backlinks coming from low quality ‘spammy’ sites will also tar your website with the same brush and negatively impact on its ranking.

Essentially link building is now all about seeking out the highest quality affiliations for your website, but if you want to review existing links, where do you start? You’ll need to perform a backlink audit by using tools such as Majestic to assess the Trust Flow of your site, and any sites that are currently linking to it. If you find any links that you want to remove, you can contact the site owner to request that they take down the link, but if that doesn’t work, you can submit a disavow request to Google, asking them to discredit the link.

 

Keep it fresh

Content marketing is now a really important aspect of SEO. By adding regular, fresh content to your site in the form of a blog or other updates, you are not only inviting Google to continually crawl your site and assess its ranking, but you are also providing more information to visitors and improving their experience, meaning they are more likely to stay on your site and more likely to convert.

Ultimately, the way we search has changed. We are now far more likely to use semantic terms and questions when searching, such as ‘how can I improve my SEO?’ rather than simply ‘SEO’, and content marketing is a great way to answer these questions and deliver highly relevant answers to site visitors. Google introduced the Hummingbird algorithm to address this change and allow matching answers to be ranked more highly.

Your content can have multiple uses, but ultimately its aim is to improve conversions by providing users with the information they need to make their buying decision, and the best part is that Google will reward you for doing so. New content not only allows you to target new customers, but also means that your existing customers are more likely to remain loyal and keep returning to the site. You can find out more about creating content in our blog: how to get the most from your content marketing.

 

Measure up to the competition

If you’re frustrated that your competitors seem to be getting ahead in the search rankings, have you ever stopped to consider what they’re doing that you’re not? Competitor analysis now forms an essential part of any SEO campaign; by exploring the methods of your rivals, you can see which aspects of their strategy may be worth implementing on your own site, and also which methods you should avoid. By analysing your competitors you can also learn more about your audience and how to appeal to them through your content marketing.

 

Can I still use keywords?

Back when keywords formed a primary part of SEO, some websites abused the system by using keyword stuffing to create content that was purely written for search engines and not users. This led to some very poor quality websites ranking highly, resulting in a bad experience for visitors. To crack down on this, Google introduced the Panda algorithm, which rewards high quality unique and useful content, while penalising that which is repetitive and low quality.

Today, keywords can still contribute towards the success of your search campaign, and they are important, but their relationship with SEO is a lot more complicated than it used to be, as they must be used in addition to the other optimisation methods and techniques discussed above.

Consequently, less competitive long-tail keywords are becoming far more important for websites, and offer a much more realistic way to rank for relevant terms. If you want to use keywords to rank well, it really is a case of quality over quantity; consider where you are placing your keywords, rather than how often you are using them, in order to help Google to find the most relevant pages on your site.

We hope this blog has helped you to understand more about how SEO has evolved over recent years, and what you can do to improve your search ranking. If you’d like any assistance with the optimisation of your website, we can perform a full assessment of your site to find out where you can improve, and develop a unique search strategy, tailored to your business objectives.

 

Please get in touch with us to find out how we can help you to get ahead with Google.