In with the new and out with the old. It’s the time of the year to complete a comprehensive spring cleaning of your company’s website. You’ll discover those classic online marketing techniques that require refreshment and dispose of items that have long since served their marketing purpose. Here, we’ll provide a comprehensive checklist of the items that require your immediate attention this spring, as we present our SEO spring cleaning checklist.
Begin with Analytics
Your site’s analytics are a pinpoint data guide to its overall SEO health. They tell you how the site is performing compared with your previously outlined objectives. As you begin the SEO audit process, complete a comprehensive review of your site’s analytics performance. Focus on pages that are receiving many visitors per month and answer the question “Why are these specific pages successful in getting views?”
You should also review your site’s performance across various devices. You might have strong engagement across desktop devices but poor engagement with mobile users. This could reveal the need to commit more resources to mobile site design. By extrapolating from your analytics data, you can gain a foothold from which to move forward in the site audit process.
Craft Fresh Content Regularly
Fresh, high quality and relevant content is ranked highly by Google’s current Panda algorithm. And companies that publish blog posts 15+ times per month generate five times more traffic than companies that don’t blog at all.[i] The first element of your SEO spring clean should be to analyze the type of content your company is creating. Are you getting a response online? It’s important to develop a content calendar that includes themes, topics and events. Content should answer important questions that searchers ask and it should always be relevant to the conversations taking place across the brand’s various online media platforms.
Companies can improve the freshness of their content by deploying company stakeholders within the content creation process. In 2015, your sales team should be able to offer critical insights into the types of questions your customers are asking. And these questions should be answered by compelling blog posts and social media updates. Maintaining a constant conversation with your brand audience will help ensure the site retains a high position in the rankings.
Commit to Social Media Engagement
Social media is now one of the most important ranking signals for growing companies. It’s a part of the reason that social media marketing budgets are projected to double in the next five years.[ii] Your brand should have a dedicated social media team interacting with online followers and sharing branded content that improves the company’s online image. As part of the social media engagement process, your company should be posting inbound links and bringing relevant content to lively social media discussions within your industry. Doing so can improve the business’s reputation as a subject matter authority and drive greater search rankings in the process.
An important element of achieving social media engagement will be proactive monitoring. What are your customers discussing online? What are the trending topics within your marketplace? Analyzing this data and acting upon it with relevant, targeted social media content can significantly improve SEO performance in 2015.
Maximize Site Speed to Ensure User-Friendly Performance
With the Penguin 3.0 algorithm update in 2014, Google made site speed a critical ranking factor.[iii] This move came with the search company placing an increasing focus on user experience. We know that, no matter how good your content is, users won’t wait for sites to load. The average user is becoming accustomed to ultra-fasting loads speeds and if your site stutters, you could lose a valuable customer. Sites that use uncompressed images, and don’t enable caching for users will see significant decreases in ranking in 2015.
Focus on Link Earning Rather than Link Building
Google has long placed an importance on the number backlinks to your website in its rankings. But quantity is now an increasingly irrelevant detail in comparison to quality. This means link-building is a relic of the past and link-earning is a strategy for the long-term future. Growing companies must reach out to the most trusted and respected members of their industry when crafting their link-building strategy. Building a selection of quality links from authoritative websites will empower your organization in moving higher within the rankings. Work on your website’s content and reach out to key influencers within your marketplace to ensure effective future-proof link-earning.
Review On-Page Optimization
On-page optimization is a continual struggle for many growing web brands. The near constant changing of Google’s search engine algorithms has made it difficult for some to know how best to optimize their site. However, there are a number of trends that point the way forward in terms of on-page optimization in 2015. Firstly, we know that keywords no longer have to be verbatim within content as the Hummingbird algorithm is becoming more adept at analyzing semantic search patterns. The keyword “Inbound marketing strategies” is now treated the same as “Inbound marketing strategy” by Google’s search algorithm. But keywords remain important in the context of search relevancy.
Keywords should appear in the site’s page titles, heading and image alt text, as well as appearing naturally through site copy. Remember to keep page title tags under 55 characters to drive clicks from Google. Remember also to maintain heading tags to show the search engine the topic of the content.
Secure and Improve Site Performance with HTTPS
Online security has become a leading consideration for both web users and companies in recent times. And Google is now emphasizing the importance of utilizing HTTPS (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure). Traditional HTTP websites are slowly being phased out and it’s no wonder, with Google making HTTPS an important ranking factor in 2015. By making a commitment to a more secure website and implementing HTTPS, companies can achieve a bump in rankings while protecting customer and site data over the long-term.
Add Flexibility with Mobile Optimization
In May of 2014, mobile platforms including smart phones and tablets surpassed desktop in time spent using digital devices.[iv] And 67% of people now use their mobile phone every day.[v] By now, we know that Google promotes sites that are mobile-friendly within their search rankings. Google is adapting their search algorithms to meet the needs of mobile users with its focus on user intent and conversational search terms. The evolution of Hummingbird and the increase in users with voice-activated search technology on their mobile phone means mobile users must be taken seriously.
Remember that less is now more. Content must be optimized to fit a smaller screen and designers must only show web users what they absolutely need to see on the site. Your site’s calls to action are going to gain in importance during this process. Are you instructing the user on the actions you want them to take? Give clarity and direction to your site content to engage the mobile user. And remember that one third of all searchers are now location based.[vi] This means it’s important to place geographic identifiers within your content to assist in achieving local SEO results.
Change is important to achieving forward momentum in the online marketplace. The ever-shifting SEO landscape is set to experience even further tectonic movement in 2015. Business owners that conduct a sweeping audit of their website now can position their brand at the head of the field, readied and prepared for any future search algorithm changes.