By: John Seroka
According to Accenture, 94 percent of B2B buyers report that they conduct some form of online research before purchasing. And we already know consumers conduct significant online research before purchasing a home.
Almost all businesses in the mortgage, private lending and CREF (commercial real estate finance) industries see the value in ranking high in search engine results. In fact, 75% of clicks at minimum occur on the first page, further reinforcing the importance of SEO (search engine optimization).
And, since Google is where about 90% of searches occur, this is a primary consideration for SEOs.
How can you boost your search rankings in Google?
There are many reasons why your site rankings could be lower than they should be. Some require expert assistance to fix while others don’t.
Here are 6 simple ways to boost your rankings in the short term that don’t require a high level of technological know-how.
1. Update your content for keyword relevancy. Google loves updated content! It shows that you place value in your website’s ability to attract and retain visitors. Regular updates will also prevent your content from becoming stale or even outdated.
People prefer to read the very latest on whatever they’re researching. So, by updating content, your site visitors will have much better user experience. After all, would you rather read a recent article about SEO or one that was written five years ago? Of course, you’d prefer to consume the more recent information, especially on topics like SEO that can change often.
Recently updated information also gets more clicks and reduces bounce rates – two important factors Google uses in its ranking algorithm.
When you update your content, here are some good rules to follow:
a) If you’re updating a blog post, consider tweaking your title to make it more clickable. However, be careful not to over-promise. Over-promising in a title and under-delivering in the blog post, over time, will cause you to lose your audience.
Instead, if you feel you need to make a “bigger” promise, maybe re-write the post or expand on it so that it delivers on the expectation you set in your title.
b) Don’t bother updating the URL on site pages or blog posts after updating content. When you update a URL, you lose all the search juice you built up to that point. Backlinks disappear. And the benefit you receive from updating your content as opposed to writing new content goes out the window.
c) Update the published date of your post. Again, this shows you are keeping your content relevant and timely. It’s an easy way to get more traffic because the next time your site is crawled you will get an automatic boost in the rankings.
Here’s a great article that outlines how to determine which posts to update and how to prioritize them.
2) Fix broken links. Broken links are a drag on your rankings and they’re often found in your older posts.
Broken links tell Google that your site content is old and lacks relevancy. You can check out your website right now for dead links with this broken link checker.
When you go to fix them, most of the time you can conduct a search for the linked item and simply re-link to the new URL.
3) Diversify your media usage in pages and posts. Media diversification is an undervalued component of SEO. Typically, the go-to media are pictures and infographics.
Leverage video, memes, SlideShare presentations, podcasts, tweetable quotes and more in your pages and blog posts to make your content more visually engaging and provide more depth to the topic. And, if you can include two or three different media on a single page to add value, the chances of you retaining your audience and driving likes, shares and backlinks increases exponentially.
Here are some tips from Salesforce on how to structure and add media to your posts.
4) Repurpose old content to get more backlinks. After you update your old content, get creative with how you present it to your audience to achieve even more visibility. As was suggested in #3, here are some alternative media ideas:
a) Turn your post into a podcast
b) Use your post as talking points to start a live stream discussion
c) Produce a video
d) Arrange your information into a SlideShare presentation
e) Create an infographic
There are many other ideas but leveraging just two or three of these will garner a larger audience and generate more backlinks. Keep in mind that people have different format preferences for receiving information, so utilizing several media when producing content is always a smart thing to do.
5) Use headline tags to help page flow and rank keyword importance. Headline tags, H1 – H6, help search engines understand what keywords are important and help visitors scan content, creating a better UX (user experience).
The most important headline tag is H1 and should contain your primary keyword. Your H2 tag should contain the second most important keyword and so on.
Since Google strives to deliver the most relevant content in any given search query, use your headline tags to answer questions that would typically be asked in a search to help Google select the best results.
6) Leverage meta description tags. A meta description tag is the snippet of copy that Google often displays to describe the contents of a page to increase click-through rates. It’s like an advertisement for your page. The optimal length is no more than 160 characters as anything over that will be cut off.
Though meta descriptions don’t have a direct effect on search engine rankings, click-throughs do. So, consider your meta description carefully. If you don’t, it will default to a paragraph of copy within the post.
There are many other factors that affect your ranking, like your page load speed, image sizes, structure and more. However, the six items outlined above are within your immediate control and provide an instant benefit to your site visitors and rankings in the short term.
As a Google user yourself, would you trust a company that has dated information on its site? How do you feel when you click on a broken link? Frustrated? What if you came across a blog post and after clicking on it, you saw it was just a solid wall of content? Of course, these things frustrate all of us. So, don’t put your prospects through it. Update your content, improve its presentation and boost your search engine rankings.