You can only optimize pages for so long before you must go back and optimize the entire website. Instead of relying on Band-Aids to keep your search engine optimization strong, consider making some holistic changes, and take the next step toward better online visibility.
The Case for Holistic SEO
Search engine optimization is much more than a set of tricks companies use to elevate their brands in search engine rankings. While some tactics do help websites get ahead, truly successful SEO in the modern world means looking at and optimizing every aspect of a website.
Google and other search engines constantly change their algorithms to make search engines smarter. In years past, an SEO professional could use black-hat tactics such as paid link building and keyword stuffing to get ahead. Today, the top search engines ban certain SEO practices and use algorithms smart enough to catch the offending parties.
Using SEO tricks to get ahead is high-risk, low-reward. Companies that use these tactics to move themselves forward may shoot up in rankings over the short term, but they won’t maintain rankings over the long term using this method.
Holistic SEO, on the other hand, is low-risk, high-reward. The holistic approach is about understanding current ranking factors and anticipating future changes. For instance, those who know nothing about SEO practices can still create a high-ranking website if they focus on adding value for their consumers. Holistic SEO means considering the technical backend structure of a site – function, user friendliness, mobility, security, SEO-friendly content, and share-ability. Almost every structure, process, and piece of content is or can influence your overall SEO rank, making a holistic approach one that makes sense.
Creating a Holistic SEO Strategy
A comprehensive SEO strategy includes initial optimization activities as well as a plan for continued maintenance.
- Start with the technical side – A website needs to utilize modern techniques for speed, efficiency, and functionality. Sit down with a web developer and your website analyst and discuss areas where your website needs improvement. Does it take too long for certain pages to load? Does your domain host crash occasionally? Are there key points that users regularly abandon?
- Is the site mobile friendly? Mobile friendliness has and continues to be a strong called out area of focus by the search engines. Whether you provide information through your site or sell a product/service, consider investing in a responsive design that allows accessibility across all devices. Mobile usage continues to grow, so make sure those users get a good impression of your brand with a good, mobile responsive website.
- Security – To build trust and credibility, a website needs strong security. Online security is a major concern for ecommerce vendors, service providers, informational sites and even the search engines themselves. Even if you do not share any sensitive data through a website, hackers who redirect users using your URL or who run malicious scripts can damage any website’s reputation. Consider error message security, SSL certificates, and validation processes. Good internet security protects your company and your visitors while improving SEO.
- Create a great user experience – Google will evaluate your click-through rate, the total time users spend on a site, and internal links to rank a website’s user experience. During this stage, consider setting up test user groups to discover which areas of your website are more click-friendly and which pathways tend to fall behind the others. Think about information dissemination, navigation links, imagery, color usage, and page readability to appeal to visitors and encourage a high click rate.
- Content – Without great content, a website is a shell. The content you produce should provide your audience with value above all things. Optimize basic site content first, focusing on personalizing your story and clearly outlining your value proposition to prospects. Then, move on to additional content development. Focus on telling a story with your blog, adding visual components such as infographics, and using consistent, high-quality internal links when and where applicable.
- Domain links, metadata, and keywords – Many companies focus on content and SEO practices such as link building and keyword presentation at the same time. Instead of trying to create content around high-ranking search terms, create content you know your audience wants to read first. Always include relevant links, metadata, and keywords, and balance audience-driven content with SEO-driven content – the two will often intersect. Find the most popular search phrases in your industry and create content using your unique perspective. The more original your content is, the better.
- Social media mentions and inbound links – After website optimization, work on your reach in the digital world. Focus on sharing your content on social media and use SEO tactics to earn inbound links from other sites. Social media influencers, third-party industry publications, and comment/blog forums are all potential sources of inbound links, which can improve your search engine rankings. Instead of focusing on producing large quantities of content for social media and third-party publications, focus on optimizing a few strategic pieces throughout the year.
Unfortunately, SEO is not a once-and-done strategy. Any successful website uses these steps to continually update and optimize the site structure and content for search engine rankings. Try to include SEO factors as a subset of every marketing campaign or content development project to see long-term, consistent success in search engine results.