SEO Isn't Dead: Here Are 5 Advanced SEO Techniques
There's been a lot of noise on the Internet about how that SEO is dead.
But this is nowhere near actuality. It's either the so-called “SEO gurus” saying this is outrightly destitute of working SEO knowledge or are trying to drive attention for their SEO sales. To put it straight, SEO is *not* dead. What might be dead instead is the way some people still do SEO.
For instance, if you're still approaching SEO by stuffing mediocre content with hundreds of keywords and then sitting back and hoping your site will rise to #1 on Google, you are dead wrong. This sort of cookie-cutter, ghosty approach to SEO rarely works in today’s search landscape. Search engines keep updating their algorithms now and then.
For example, Google changes its search engine algorithm roughly 500 - 600 times per year.
With these frequent updates, the SEO techniques that worked wonders yesteryears, or even months ago, may no longer be in vogue today. Thus, they can't sustain your business as before. Trying to outsmart the search engines is no longer feasible for most. So practically, SEO in the traditional sense is dead. But SEO as a marketing practice is generally still very much alive but in an evolved form. What you need to do now is to approach SEO differently than you did last summer.
And today, we are putting together five breathing, super-effective SEO techniques you can use right now to improve your rankings and eventually increase your search traffic, leads, and revenue. So stop putting up with ancient, inoperative SEO tactics. Read on to find out what works today!
1. Google RankBrain
Not long ago, Google rolled out a new algorithm named “RankBrain.”
As it stands, RankBrain has proven to be a biggie in the search space, and marketers are becoming wary of this. Why? Because it is Google’s first artificial intelligence algorithm.
RankBrain is a component of Google's core algorithm which uses machine learning to analyse content and determine the best search results to display. It works by learning what a page is about and how the content of that page relates to keywords users enter into Google and then measuring how users interact with the results.
So essentially, your ranking is determined by how relevant your content is and how well users find it helpful. While awesome content, backlinks, and other traditional ranking factors are still very crucial, RankBrain is quickly killing it. Google even mentioned that RankBrain had become one of their top three ranking signals, with links and content being the other two.
So if you want to rank today, it's only wise if you take RankBrain seriously by optimising your site for it.
i. Improve your organic click-through rate (CTR).
Google RankBrain wants to see lots of people clicking on your site in the SERPs. Optimising your title tags and meta description is one way to improve your CTR. We talked about this in this post. For one, you can add numbers to your title and description tag. Research shows that people online are more likely to click on content that contains a number.
ii. Improve your Dwell Time
RankBrain also wants to see people engaged with your content. So if users keep bouncing back from your content after a few seconds, RankBrain will think searchers aren't happy with it. The result? RankBrain will drop your page. Conversely, if users stay longer on your content pages (AKA Dwell Time), you've hit gold.
Where to start?
Write compelling introductions that haul readers in.
I also recommend breaking up the blocks of text in your content into smaller chunks for easy readability, like you're seeing in this post.
2. Semantic Search
Remember Google Hummingbird?
That brightly-coloured sophisticated algorithm that got SEOs on their feet talking?
The big G rolled out a robust search algorithm two years ago. Before the roll-out, Google used to analyse only particular keywords per content page. But this new algorithm changed everything. With it, Google could analyse and understand the general context of the page's topic, not only keywords.
This is what is called “Semantic Search.”
Semantic Search refers to the effort by search engines to do a better job of understanding natural language queries. In other words, it's the ability of search engines to understand topics and rank search results accordingly.
With Hummingbird, this was like a major shift in the search landscape. And Semantic Search is still one of Google’s strongest ranking tacks today.
Semantic Search is fastly replacing traditional keyword research. And you know how important keyword research has been over the years, right?
So, how can you optimise your content for Semantic Search?
Here’s what to do:
Step #1: Optimize your page around your target keyword like you usually would. Once you do that, you're ready for the next step.
Step #2: Cover subtopics related to your target keyword. This helps Google grasp what your page is all about, other than your keyword.
How can you find related subtopics?
There are several tools online for that, like this one called LSIGraph:
LSIGraph shows you subtopics and terms related to the target keyword you typed into it. Once you correlate these subtopics with the main keyword in your content, it’ll be optimised for Semantic Search.
3. Create Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)
The web has evolved to the point where mobile has now become mainstream. Just to help you understand this better: 40 per cent of visitors will skip to a different search result if the first is not mobile-friendly.
So with more mobile-first trends looming, Google created Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), an open-source framework for creating super-fast mobile pages.
AMP has expanded beyond mostly just article pages to more complex pages like forms and eCommerce pages.
Why create AMP pages, and how can it help your SEO?
For one, AMP improves the mobile experience, improving on-site metrics like dwell time.
For two, AMP improves site load time (its main aim).
Google loves and rewards fast-loading sites by moving them to the top rankings, and that's why you should pay attention to AMP. Beyond mobile becoming the primary device used in accessing the Internet, Google also transitioned to a mobile-first index. This means they want to index and rank your site based on mobile-friendly it is.
4. Users’ “Contextual Needs”.
Years ago, search engines paid little attention to users’ intent. So they served up results that best-matched keyword sources typed into them. But a lot has changed, and their objective now is to understand the users' intentions. This includes but is not limited to:
What users are looking for exactly
What users expect
Which search results would best answer the user query.
They want to fulfil these intents full-out. For example, Google now shows “rich snippets” at the top of some SERPs, which contains direct answers to users’ queries. With all these modifications, you would have to do more if you want your pages to rank on the first page. In other words, it’s not enough to create content just around an idea that popped up in your head while in the shower. You need to look at the context around your content.
What do users need?
72 percent of marketers say the single most effective SEO tactic is relevant content creation… ...which means if you're not ready to create effective content, you might as well count yourself out. You must consider what your users are looking for rather than imagining different ways that users might phrase a search query.
How can you do this? Here we go:
Step #1: Know your target audience
To begin with, how can you create something for people you have no idea who is?
So the first step is to find out about your target audience. This will give you a holistic idea of who they are, what they may be looking for, their location, age, interests, etc.
That's usually the first step to great content.
Step #2: Find out what your target audience needs
After discovering WHO they are, the next step is finding exactly what they want. The biggest mistake here would be to sit back and say:
“Oh well, I already know ‘em. So I'll just guess this is what they should be interested in.”
Successful SEO doesn't work that way. Successful SEO isn't guesswork. Successful SEO is mostly about figuring out what your users want and then delivering it intentionally. The better you can meet your audience’s needs with your content, the higher the chances they will click your headlines and engage with your content, which means better performance on SERPs.
How to find what you target audience needs?
You can also mine the search queries users enter into Google. Several tools out there collect information from the autosuggest feature in Google and can give you an idea of what your target audience might be looking for. Übersuggest, KeywordTool.io, and AnswerThePublic are some useful ones.
5. Update and Intensify Existing Content
It's common for a publisher to forget about a piece of content after clicking publish and doing a bit of promotion. They'll often head out to create their next content without paying much attention to the old ones.
These guys usually do not realise the potential of their site’s existing content. But tell you what, if your blog has some content sitting on it already, you have an untapped gold mine.
Updating and republishing old blog posts can increase traffic by more than 100 per cent. Brian Dean of Backlinko.com saw a 111.37 per cent increase in traffic after updating one of his blog posts.
Undoubtedly, you've created some posts that are generating organic traffic already. You have to intensify those posts to produce even more results. Start by making a list of your top-performing content. To do this, go to Google Analytics and click on the “Behavior” tab on the left. Then click on “Site Content” and “All Pages” to view the best performing posts from three to six months ago.
Once you identify your best performing posts, you'd want to update them to become even better.
Here are some ideas on how to update your content:
Rewrite the headline
Add new customer testimonials or notable mentions
Update old data/add new data
Update old images
Make the post longer
Like it or not, an increased amount of searches are being performed day in and day out. Statistics show that this is in the region of 3.5 billion daily searches on Google alone. Again, Search Engine Journal reports that 93 per cent of all traffic comes from searches.
And as for purchases, 78 per cent of people in the United States use the web to research products and services before buying.
If anything, these numbers should tell you but one thing:
SEO. Is. Not. Dead.
However, unfortunately, we can't say the same for SEO techniques that worked years ago. So if you'd like to rank on the first page, you need to push for new designs that are getting results today. And that's what you've seen in this guide. Getting to page one of the search results becomes more vital when you realise that 75 per cent of users don’t click past the first page. We also know that the first three organic search results get 60 per cent of all traffic from a web search.
What are you going to do? Stay stuck with worn-out SEO techniques? Or join the SEO revolution? Start by finding the right tools to measure your SEO to know where you are! Read more about SEO on SmallSEOTools SEO Blog.