Have you been keeping up with the changes Google has been making in search engine optimization (SEO)? The more you understand and implement SEO, the higher your site can rank in search engine results pages (SERPS). This can increase your site traffic, conversions and revenue.
The following are six areas of SEO you should be paying attention to:
Core web vitals
Your site’s core vitals impact how high it ranks in SERPs. The following web page experience metrics are the ones Google considers the most important:
- Largest contentful paint (LCP) measures when the main page content is displayed on the screen. This is the time during the page load when the largest page element is rendered. Contentful means that text, an image or other content was created instead of an empty box.
- First input delay (FID) typically is created by the images and scripts that download in a non-orderly manner. This disordered coding causes the web page download to excessively pause, then start, then pause. The unresponsive behavior impacts visitors’ ability to interact with your page.
- Cumulative layout shift (CLS) is calculated by adding up all layout shifts not caused by user interaction. This analyzes the proportion of the viewpoint that was impacted by layout shifts and the movement distance of the elements that were moved.
Google includes these core web vitals in its overall evaluation of your page experience. Loading, interactivity and visual stability impact your page’s rank.
How can you improve your site’s core vital scores?
- Open the Google Search Console and click Core Web Vitals. See how the pages on your site are performing.
- Focus on the poor URLs. Google tends to punish poor URLs more than elevate good URLs.
- How you get any URLs out of the red depends on the core vital you want to improve. For instance, if you have a poor CLS score, you want to improve the stability of the pages as they load.
Google Passage Ranking and Content Formatting
Google’s search terminology Passages lets the search engine independently rank certain sections, or passages, of a page. This means you can optimize your web pages to help them rank higher in SERPS.
Passage analyzes specific, relevant sections of a page to determine how to rank the page. This is kind of like an elevated version of Featured Snippets.
The algorithm helps Google AI better understand the context of the information in order to more directly answer a search query. Google can locate a highly specific sentence, paragraph or section of content within a web page to answer a long-tail keyword or question. The search engine then understands it can show the web page in results for the keyword or question.
Keep in mind that Google still evaluates the entire page. As long as your pages are optimized and organized, Passages simply gives your pages more chances to rank. So, backlinks, on-page SEO, UX (user experience) signals and other page-level ranking factors still apply.
How should your content be organized?
Because Google tends to look at each section like a mini web page, you should divide your content into sections. Each section should have an H3 subheading and a specific subtopic. Then, Google can treat the content below each subheading as a mini page and rank it accordingly.
You also should focus on long-form content. Google might parse your content into 5, 50 or 100 unique passages that may rank in SERPs.
Again, you want to generate backlinks and social shares as well.
Featured Snippets are short snippets of text that appear at the top of Google’s search results to quickly answer a searcher’s query. Because Featured Snippets are taking away lots of clicks from the #1 spot in SERPs, you want your pages to be included in the Featured Snippets. Here are some tips:
- Look for Featured Snippet opportunities
Research the keywords you already rank for and the keywords that have a Featured Snippet. Almost all of the Featured Snippets are from pages that rank on the first page for the term. This means that if you don’t already rank in the top 10, you won’t rank in the Featured Snippet spot. You may want to use the Ahrefs Organic Keywords report to find the keywords you rank for that also have a Featured Snippet.
- Include snippet bait on your page.
These are 40- to 60-word blocks of content designed to rank in the Featured Snippet spot. Most Featured Snippets are this length.
- Format your content for other types of Featured Snippets.
The majority of Featured Snippets are organized as Paragraph Snippets. Some of the search query trigger words include does, cost, different, much, what, can, average and plus. Google highlights such keywords within a block of text.
You also can rank for List Snippets by using H2 or H3 subheaders for each item on your list. Some trigger words include best, improve, workouts, types, ways and recipe. You may want to modify the HTML code for your list and have the content wrapped in a paragraph tag to win the Snippets.
You can create a table that Google can pull data from to rank in Table Snippets. Some trigger words include rates, fixed, salary, sizes, prices and highest. Be sure to include your keywords in your table headers, then add your content and data.
Long-form content with at least 1,500 words has been proven to be more engaging, shareable and better for SEO than short-form content. Here are some benefits of posting long-form content on your site:
Longer content creates higher search rankings. Studies show that longer content tends to dominate page one of search engine rankings. This means that Google prefers content-rich sites over less informative sites.
Longer content earns more backlinks. Long-form content tends to be more useful and comprehensive and provides more value than short-form content. This is because users prefer to have everything they need in one place rather than search for bits of information on multiple pages. As a result, long-form content is likely to provide the answers that users are searching for. Having quality backlinks significantly increases your search ranking because of the value it provides readers.
Longer content gets more social shares. Social media users tend to value and share content that is both useful and comprehensive. These factors typically involve a higher word count.
Google’s Rank Brain gives long-form content good search positioning. The algorithm is used to sort search results and better understand search queries. The primary function is to measure user satisfaction. The more satisfied users are with the content they click on, the higher the rank in SERPs. Greater satisfaction tends to come from longer-form content than shorter-form content.
How can you effectively create long-form content?
- Break up your paragraphs into sections. Keep your paragraphs no longer than three sentences to optimize for readability.
- Segment your main ideas. Include H2, H3 and H4 subheaders to guide the reader through the subjects of your sections.
- Keep your thoughts organized. Make sure your content has a logical flow with a beginning, middle and end.
- Mention why each section matters. This keeps readers engaged and wanting to find out more.
- Maintain a conversational tone. This helps maintain interest in the information.
- Use visuals to break up long sections of text. Images, videos, blockquotes or anchor text draw readers back if they start to lose interest.
Domain authority and Google’s EAT
Domain authority is a search engine ranking score that predicts how likely a website is to rank in SERPs. The scores range from 1 to 100, with higher scores being more likely to rank.
Domain authority is calculated by evaluating dozens of factors, such as linking root domains and total number of links, into one score. This number is used to compare websites or to track the rating strength of a site over time. So, if your site’s domain authority score is higher than a competitor’s domain authority score, your site should rank higher in a SERP.
Your domain authority score likely will fluctuate as more, fewer or different data points become available and are included in the calculations. This is why you should use domain authority as a comparative metric rather than an absolute one.
Google’s most recent Quality Rater Guidelines focus on Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness (EAT). Although EAT has been part of the guidelines for many years, it now is a more impactful impact on your domain authority than before.
How can your site increase its EAT?
- Share content created by experts in your industry. Google wants to feature content written by established professionals in your field.
- Get external websites to agree with the information you share. Being cited on other trusted websites shows you are an expert in your field.
- Associate your whole site with a specific topic. This promotes off-site mentions from other authorities in your industry.
Using local SEO lets Google position your business in front of potential customers in your area.
- 46% of Google searches are for local businesses
- 12% of customers look for local business information every day
- 72% of searchers visit a local store or company within 24 hours of the search
How are local search results different from other search results?
- Local results appear only for searches with local intent, such as “restaurant near me.”
- The results are specific to a relevant location.
- Local results deliver specific information so users quickly can find the information they need.
- The results target smartphone users because local searches typically occur on mobile devices.
How does Google typically display local search results?
A SERP for a local search does not contain links to any content. Instead, the results include a list of relevant businesses in the area and a map with their locations. The results also show each business name, description, image, opening hours, star reviews, address, phone number and website address. This helps customers decide which businesses to engage with and helps Google decide how to rank the businesses.
What are some local search ranking factors?
- Google analyzes local websites and focuses on a business’s proximity to a searcher’s location. Because most users want businesses near them, the closest businesses are ranked first.
- Keywords also are a factor in local SEO. This is why your company’s name, address and phone number (NAP) should be on your site for on-page optimization. This helps Google assess your location and rank it according to the relevance of a searcher’s intent and location.
- Links, reviews and citations, or references to your business’s address or phone number, increase your authority. This helps your site rank higher in local searches.
- The information included in Google My Business plays a significant role in local search rankings.
Does your SEO need improvement?
Let BARQAR’s team of creative strategists and designers construct a compelling, engaging experience that helps you rank higher in search engines. Get started with us today!