Although most website owners are aware that SEO is essential if they want their site to rank well in search engine results, keeping up to date with the ways in which SEO should be done and then putting it into practice can be a time-consuming task. Search engines are constantly refining their algorithms in order to produce ever better results for their users and this means the SEO goalposts are constantly on the move. To help you stay up to date, here are the latest major developments in search engine optimisation.
Optimising for search intent
Search engines’ main priority is to give users the content they want to find. Doing this means they are using more sophisticated ways to understand the intent of the user when they carry out a search. When someone types in ‘paracetamol’, for example, the search engine will try to work out whether they are looking to buy paracetamol or whether they want to find information about it. This might seem impossible from a one-word search; however, by using all the information they have on that user, recent search history, browsing habits and so forth, and by comparison to other users, their incredibly sophisticated algorithms can ascertain intent to a far better degree.
What does this mean for website optimisation? It means you have to undertake a new form of keyword research looking for the intent of users when they use the keywords you want to rank for. Only when you understand what their intent is (to buy, to find information, etc.) can you create the content to match. Indeed, you should do this for all the content on your site, not just the things you publish in the future.
Redefining domain authority
Domain authority has always been based on the quality of the content that a website provides. Once upon a time, search engines’ main measure of this was by the number of reputable websites that linked to it. Quality backlinks were priority number one.
Today, as search engines find more sophisticated ways to judge the quality of the content, the emphasis is on, to quote Google, ‘identifying pages that demonstrate expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness on a given topic.’ Expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness, often referred to by the acronym EAT, are therefore the new main priority when it comes to domain authority.
What does this mean in practical terms? It means your content has to illustrate expertise in your field and that any posts you publish need to be accredited to someone within your organisation with authority in that area, preferably people who can prove their trustworthiness by having their expertise mentioned on other leading websites (an actual link is not necessary). In other words, even if you have someone else write the content, the author by-line needs to be attributed to a recognised expert. Indeed, going much further, the website as a whole should be seen to specialise in its chosen topic.
Do backlinks still really matter? Yes – as long as they are from quality sites relevant to your own area. They help with what is known as PageRank and are taken by search engines as proof that the information your site provides is trustworthy.
Optimising for image searches
Image searches have begun to take off in a big way and websites which haven’t yet begun to optimise for them should do so. Why? Because tech native generations find it very user-friendly to take a picture of something rather than type in a search term and with Google Lens being able to identify over a billion items already, the technology is increasingly being used.
Websites should make sure that every image has a filename that reflects its subject matter (IMG001.jpg won’t suffice) and an alt-tag that describes the picture. Aside from that, domain authority is also a key factor in whether your images will be ranked. A picture of an owl from the RSPB will likely rank higher than one a blogger has taken on a day trip to an owl sanctuary. More up to date photos from sites that regularly post fresh content will also rank better, especially if the photograph is a featured image on a page.
Optimising for voice searches
The growth of Google’s Search Assistant and the increasing numbers of Google Home devices means Google, in particular, is increasingly focussed on voice search. Chances are, it will be difficult for your content to feature in spoken search results, as Google will prioritise the top ranking sites. However, to give your content a better chance, you should consider putting questions and answers in your content, and to frame the questions in the way someone would ask them when speaking out loud.
As Google uses featured snippets in its voice search results, this is another area where you should concentrate. In particular, you need to include keywords in the snippet and these should be keywords that the page actually ranks for. In other words, if there are keywords you want to rank for but don’t, don’t use these in the snippet unless they are part of a long-tail keyphrase.
Doing well in organic searches is getting increasingly harder, especially as even the top results now get pushed aside by adverts, answer boxes and lists of related questions. Because of this, the developments in SEO mentioned here are all the more important to help you rank better. Hopefully, you will find the information of value to you.
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