Nailing those top few slots on the search engine results pages (SERPs) is imperative if you want to drive in relevant, converting traffic. But for smaller companies, this seems nearly impossible. After all, competition is tough and search engine algorithms are becoming more sophisticated than ever before – any mistakes in your website content could knock you down in the SERPs.
However, growing the organic presence is a main priority for marketers across all industries. According to HubSpot’s report, SEO is the top concern and focus for most businesses, out-ranking all other marketing-related initiatives.
But growing organic reach through SEO requires a long-term, consistent strategy – and gaining those top spots on the results page should be the ultimate goal. After all, traffic rates decline significantly depending on which position a link takes on the SERPs.
According to SEO Clarity’s research, the CTR for a link in the first position is nearly 400% greater than the fourth result. These rates continue to decline as the results go down the page.
Therefore, getting your site’s content into the top slots is incredibly important – especially for localized audiences. So, how can marketers create website content that earns those top tier spots?
Let’s dive in.
1. Upgrade Your Blogging Platform
The quality of your website’s blogging platform can have an impact on your rankings. Google officially confirmed that web page speed was a ranking factor back in 2010, and in 2018, they rolled out the Speed Update – which also monitored mobile loading speeds.
Marketers are well aware of how the UX influences the success of a business when it comes to online interactions. Factors like speed, mobile optimization, and internal linking matter more than ever – even small glitches can knock you down.
But what is truly interesting is the way in which Google measures this speed. It does not necessarily track how long it takes for the entire page to load. Instead, it measures “document complete” time – which is initially how long it takes before the visitor can interact with the page. So, not all of the content needs to be completely loaded.
Using a strategy known as Lazy Loading can help you to speed up this document complete time by only loading portions of the website the visitor is viewing. This means that your website will gradually load as the person scrolls down, and they never have to wait for portions of the website content to load.
This is especially useful if your website has a lot of high-resolution images or videos which require high bandwidth.
Be sure that you are using the most recent and upgraded versions of your blogging platform. Using the newest versions will typically help to address any former glitches. For instance, one of the latest WordPress update is far faster and also more secure than previous versions. So, by simply updating your blogging platform, you can see instant improvements in these areas.
2. Optimize Website Content for Rich Snippets
There is only one spot that is higher than the first result on the SERPs – and that is position zero, also known as a featured snippet. Google will use this to provide users with a clear and concise answer to their query, and many people really appreciate this feature. But getting your content into this highly coveted spot is tough – there is no sugarcoating it.
It is important to note that rich snippets do not necessarily drive in more traffic to your site. In fact, nearly half of all Google queries result in zero clicks – largely due to results being presented in featured snippets.
But this should not necessarily deter you from creating “snippet bait” content to earn that position zero feature. Snippets are still valuable and it is still connecting you to your audience – plus, other types of featured snippets can influence clicks if customers want to find more information or add an item to their cart.
To qualify for these top spots, you will need to become quite familiar with keyword phrases within your industry. You want to focus specifically on intent and provide sufficient – but succinct information – that your customers are looking for.
Answering frequently asked questions is one way to do this. You should also be structuring your blog’s content so that Google can easily organize it into featured snippets, such as creating listicles.
3. Include Structured Data to Your HTML
There are also ways that you can work behind the scenes to qualify your blog and website content for higher result page spots. This is known as structured data – essentially giving Google more context clues so it can crawl your site and pull information for results.
Your Schema markup is an important starting point that can provide more information to your featured result. For instance, your overall Google star rating can be featured underneath your URL. As all marketers know, ratings and reviews are highly influential on consumer behavior. Seeing that your site has high ratings could drive in more clicks.
There are plenty of tools available to help you with Schema markups as well as dedicated plugins for various platforms.
There are other types of data structures you can use within your website to enhance your content and optimize it for search results. This includes:
- Rich cards for enhancements, specifically on mobile devices
- Knowledge graph for information about your business
- Carousels for multiple rich results in a rotating “carousel” style
By optimizing your structure correctly, you can give Google a lot more information to work with. This increases the likelihood of getting included in these special types of features, pushing your links to the top of the SERPs.
4. Build a Knowledge Base
In addition to answering industry specific-questions for rich snippet spots, you should also create a thorough knowledge base that tackles FAQs related to your company specifically.
This means that customers will not have to go searching through forums or contact customer service for answers. Instead, it will immediately pop up in their Google search.
This works for both B2C and B2B organizations.
For instance, Bombas has done a great job of creating an exhaustive list of pages within their website to address common questions, like the details of their return and exchange policy.
For B2B companies, a knowledge base may touch more on the services provided, pricing structure, or other features. HubSpot has a knowledge base providing step-by-step instructions for various features of their software. As you can see, they have also structured their website content to qualify for featured snippets.
As a San Diego marketing agency, you should be creating a knowledge base to provide more details on each of the services you provide. This can = help you to stand out from competitors who keep this information hidden or only provide it once a client reaches out to a sales rep.
5. Don’t Forget About Media Content
SEO doesn’t just apply to website content and blog posts. All other types of media and marketing content should be optimized for SEO purposes, too.
Video content is commonly featured on the SERPs these days. You can make it even more searchable by transcribing the audio so Google can better identify keywords within the video.
According to a case study, published transcripts for video or audio content (like a podcast episode) had far higher views and click rates than those without. However, it is important to note that you need to create closed captions that are indexable with paginated transcripts.
Open captions coded on video content are not able to be indexed by search engines.
You should also be strategic with creating image tags to help with SEO. This is the perfect opportunity for including target keywords – as long as they are relevant to the image and your website content.
Finally, don’t forget about optimizing social media content, too. While social media does not necessarily improve your site’s overall SEO, some content does pop up on Google searches.
For instance, when you Google “San Diego zoo”, tweets from the San Diego Zoo’s account pop up towards the top of the SERPs, as well as YouTube videos and a link to their Facebook page.
So, if content from their Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube channel matches up to related queries, they could be listed as results. This in turn can drive more traffic to their website.
This is especially important for localized searches. Marketers should take advantage of connecting their social media platforms to their website and indexing content accordingly.
Over to You
Getting your links to the top spot on the SERPs is not something that will necessarily just happen because you put out great content or offer excellent services. It requires strategy, particularly in your content marketing and data structure.
By using these tips, you can optimize your website content as well as the content you create for other clients to drive in more traffic, earn more visibility, and ultimately reach more customers.
Joanna Besley is a Content Marketing Writer for E2M Solutions Inc., whose primary writing focus is on marketing topics and SEO. Outside of work, she enjoys exploring the San Diego area hikes, traveling outside of the country, and trying out new vegan restaurants.