Building backlinks, improving your page load speed, optimizing title tags, creating long-form content — you know the usual drill. While following these search engine optimization (SEO) best practices is all well and good, everyone’s doing it. This means when it comes to achieving better rankings on Google, you have no edge over your competition.
Or do you?
You see, there are some lesser-known ways to speed up the process of ranking your website at the top of Google SERPs, that most of your competitors are likely unaware of.
So, without further ado, let’s dive right into four such unconventional yet tried-and-tested techniques:
Focus on Image Search Optimization
Most websites aiming to boost their Google rankings are solely focussed on ranking in the “All” tab. Don’t fall into that category. There’s a lot going on in the nearby tabs as well.
Visual searches are very much on the rise — 62% of Generation Z and Millennial consumers want visual search capabilities. Moreover, in 2018, Google Images accounted for nearly 30% of all internet searches, which means it is very likely your audience
Besides, ranking for image searches is relatively much easier. It is indeed a low hanging fruit from the SEO perspective. So, make sure you strategically use a ton of images on your website by employing the following best practices:
- Upload high-quality unique images only, no tacky stock photos.
- Compress your images using a tool like TinyPNG to increase your site’s load speed.
- Name the image file sensibly so the search engine crawlers can understand it better.
- Write a descriptive alt text to improve usability and further help the search bots.
- Add images to your sitemap to greatly increase the odds of Google bots crawling and indexing your images.
- Create image structured data to help Google display your images as rich results.
Also, while you can (and totally should!) also create videos for marketing your business online, it can be quite demanding in terms of time, effort, and money as compared to image optimization. If you wish to get started with video marketing for further improving your rankings and brand awareness without investing a lot of time and money, consider the following video formats:
- Screencast tutorials, webinars, and presentations
- Behind-the-scenes of your business
- Interviews with experts and thought leaders
- Customer testimonials
Considering the effectiveness of video marketing and how people are devouring video content today, it is a wise move to start creating video content for your website as soon as possible.
And talking about video…
Repurpose Content Into Multiple Formats
Anyone remotely serious about ranking their website on Google knows the importance of blogging and content marketing. But not everyone goes the extra mile to reuse the same piece of content in different formats to extract the most marketing juice out of it.
That’s what content repurposing is — recycling your existing content in other formats such as infographics, videos, ebooks, podcasts, presentations, and what have you — to reach and capture new audiences. SEO is not always about churning out more and more content.
For instance, it is possible that a huge chunk of your target audience prefers watching videos over reading blog posts. So, if you convert your blog posts into, say, vlog type videos, you have the opportunity to earn that audience segment too.
Similarly, you can create infographics from individual blog posts for better shareability and compile articles on a single topic into a downloadable ebook.
Apart from boosting the usability of your content, repurposing allows the same piece of content to rank for different search queries on Google and also on social media platforms such as Pinterest for infographics, Instagram for high-quality photos, LinkedIn for presentations, YouTube (the second most popular search engine) if you venture into videos, and so on. In other words, the search engine visibility of your content (and thus, your website) shoots up as there’s more stuff to be crawled and indexed by the bots.
While on the subject of usability…
Improve Your Website’s Accessibility
One of the most crucial elements that make up for a usable, profitable, and trustworthy business website is accessibility. Essentially, an accessible website is one that accommodates all visitors on all devices irrespective of the physical or mental ability of the user.
Now, like it or not, having an accessible website is mandatory. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to online properties as well, which means your website must be easily usable by people with disabilities (such as the visually impaired). Otherwise, your site’s visitors, disabled or not, can prosecute you for not having an accessible business.
What’s more, accessibility is critical not just to avoid ADA lawsuits but to grow your website and acquire new audiences. One in four adults in the United States live with a disability, and an estimated 26.9 million adult Americans claim that they either have trouble seeing or are unable to see at all.
So, disregarding your site’s accessibility means you are consciously shunning a big portion of potential audience from doing business with you.
To avoid that, here’s what you can do yourself to improve your site’s accessibility:
- Ensure sufficient color contrast on every page of your website.
- Write an alt text for all images.
- Include closed captions for videos.
- Make your website keyboard-friendly.
- Write descriptive anchor texts for hyperlinks.
- Create a logical content hierarchy (using subheadings H2, H3, and so on).
- Add descriptive labels to form elements.
- Publish an accessibility statement clearly declaring your website’s target level of accessibility.
Also, to ease the process, the W3C has published a Web Accessibility Evaluation Tools List which lists out useful tools to check your website’s various accessibility concerns. AccessIbe’s has developed an automatic web accessibility software capable of scanning entire websites and making all of their elements complaint with the WCAG 2.1 (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) published by the World Wide Web consortium.
Now, better accessibility translates to better user experience (UX) for everyone and more credibility as a business, things that Google takes very seriously. So, if your website is highly accessible, it indirectly results in higher rankings in Google SERPs.
Optimize Content for Featured Snippets and “People Also Ask”
Even if you aren’t able to reach the number one spot on Google SERPs, you can outrank the website sitting there. How? By winning the featured snippet.
A featured snippet, also known as “position zero”, shows up as a little box that contains the exact answer to the search query. It is found right above the first organic search result.
The “People Also Ask” (PAA) is a section that contains the most frequently asked questions related to that search query. It can be located anywhere in the SERPs. Google provides answers to these questions by extracting relevant bits of content from various websites, with a link (on the title) at the bottom of the answer.
While most search marketing professionals are well aware of the importance of featured snippets and PAA, few do something about it. Here’s how you can capitalize on this relatively untapped opportunity to rank higher:
- Do keyword research and try to answer all question-type search queries.
- Create more long-form (comprehensive) content and insert more long-tail keywords.
- Aim for the optimal word count (featured snippets are usually around 40-50 words).
- Add an FAQ section in your blog posts.
Furthermore, optimizing your content for featured snippets also helps you rank for mobile voice searches (which 27% of the global online population is using), as voice searches are typically done in a question-like format and featured snippets show up for question-type queries.
Over to You
And that’s a wrap! Truth be told, these techniques are often easily overlooked by even the most seasoned search marketing professionals, which means your website has the upper hand. Armed with this relatively obscure knowledge, now it’s your turn to put these techniques to practice.
Do you have any secret strategies of your known that you swear by and don’t mind sharing? If so, feel free to drop a comment below, you may broaden someone’s horizons!
This is a guest post by Gaurav Belani.
Gaurav Belani is a senior SEO and content marketing analyst at The 20 Media, a content marketing agency that specializes in data-driven SEO. He has more than seven years of experience in digital marketing and loves to read and write about education technology, AI, machine learning, data science, and other emerging technologies. In his spare time, he enjoys watching movies and listening to music. Connect with him on Linkedin and Twitter @belanigaurav.
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