Guest Post - Our host is Pedro Cardoso, here Pedro looks into some of the future signals of Search Engine Optimization.See How To Become a guest author on Spice Up Your Blog.
If you’ve been reading on the best practices of SEO (search engine optimization), there’s a good chance you’ve glimpsed at the industry’s mixed nature: part science, part art and part speculation. There is way too much re-hashed information out there, and the really good advice is often neglected by those not in the know.
Sure enough, content is king, relevancy is paramount, links are important… but there are some other aspects of SEO that will be just as important in the future. Learn to adjust your website today to follow these optimization guidelines, and you’ll be one step ahead of the competition.
Website Loading Speed
Do you know how quickly your website takes to fully load, on average? Have you taken measures to maximize its efficiency and speed? If not, you need to be mindful of it ASAP. Google (and other search engines) have repeatedly announced how website loading speed is an increasingly important consideration in their algorithm. What’s the connection, you may wonder? Simple. Search engines must focus heavily on user satisfaction, and users don’t like waiting for a website to load.
Henceforth, if you want to please the search engines (and get good rankings), you need to make haste and tackle this issue. If your website takes more than 5 seconds to load, you can be certain you’re losing on a lot of impatient visitors. Do whatever it takes to ramp up the loading speed; the quicker the better. You can pursue this goal by installing a cache/minify plugin (if you’re using WP), moving to a dedicated server (if you can afford it), and compressing images. Google has even availed a suite of tools aimed at helping webmasters evaluate and optimize website loading speed; look into it sooner than later.
In a similar reasoning as the previous point - always keep in mind that all search engines have one main focus: user satisfaction. Without users, they don’t have a business – and neither do you. This is something you should always keep in mind; all measures you take to increase user satisfaction will also contribute to improve your search engine rankings. This brings us to the next point, user engagement.
Find ways to make your visitors hang around your website longer; this can be achieved not only by creating amazing content (which is also a necessity), but by undertaking specific optimizations in the site structure and layout. Try adding a “related posts” plugin, or other tactics that encourage visitors to explore your website. The higher your average time/visit and pageviews/visit, the more powerful signs you’ll send to the search engines. And rightfully so: since user engagement is not something that can easily be faked, unlike many other so-called “best practices” of contemporary SEO.
Social Share Activity
With the astounding growth of the SEO industry and the new wave of Internet gold diggers, a phenomenon surfaced that threatens to disrupt the quality of information available in search engines: ranking manipulations. Too many people these days use shady tactics to make their websites show up in the top of search engines, even when the quality of their content is not as good as their promotional skills. As such, it’s not surprising the leading search engines have been adapting their algorithms to place less emphasis on aspects prone to manipulation (such as anchor-text driven link building).
Conversely, it’s only natural that new ranking factors are getting introduced into the equation, especially factors that aren’t as easy to manipulate by webmasters. Such as user engagement (discussed in the previous topic), and – you’ve guessed it social share activity. So, if you want to send the right signals to the search engines, you need to develop strategies that encourage your visitors to actually share your content in their favored social networks. From adding social share buttons at the end of your post to actually taking time to build a brand/presence in the social media, there is much to be done in this aspect. Make sure develop a sound strategy, or you’ll soon be left behind in this age of social media.
Outbound Link Profile
Once upon a time, greedy webmasters assumed all they needed to get their websites to rank was: a)getting as many inbound links (backlinks) as possible, and b) minimizing outbound links in their websites. This reasoning led to the spawning of many shady affiliate websites with thin content and no worthwhile citations. A really bad move, once if you think about it – and many such websites are getting progressively weeded out of the search results!
If you still believe that having too many outbound links will “dilute PageRank” or something to that effect, you need to take a really good look at websites like Wikipedia and BBC online. They don’t exactly skimp on outbound links, now do they? What they do is make sure those links point to reputable resources that add value to their content rather than wasting the visitor’s time. Follow a similar reasoning when you create new content and you’ll be golden.