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Eight For ’18

A few weeks ago, I spoke with you about Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) and how they are pushing out the traditional list of search matches. This month, I want to describe a few tools and suggestions useful to land on the front of a SERP and stay there.

First, make Google love your site. No matter what else you do, every bit of content on your pages has to be easy to “read.” All your text must be in a simple format, and anything you embed on the page has to be just as simple to identify. The URL has to be an easy thread for Google spiders to pick up and weave into a SERP.

Second, know what your customers are researching and why. Potential customers are looking for answers to questions. It is not enough to match the keyword of the problem they are researching; you also need to have the keywords of the solution as well. Your company can make the finest screw-turning widgets, but if all you have for your keywords is widgets and screws, you are leaving out the answer when someone searches by asking “what are the best widgets for removing left-handed Philips screws?”.

Third, make Google work for you. Type in a keyword search yourself with what you think are the best possible keywords and look at the SERPs. The results tell you what matches up and you can adjust accordingly. You now also have access to the content of the sites which are supposed to provide an answer.

Fourth, create better content than what is on those sites. On page one, the potential customer needs to see their problem stated and then the solution farther down the page. That does not mean filling the page with line after line of information. If you do that, many people start to roll their eyes and go back to the SERP for the next link. If you can do that, not only will the customer continue to your site, he or she shares it on social media as well, increasing your visibility and, hopefully, your customer base.

Fifth, give the content a title and meta description that is just as good. The SERP results show both of these and the URL in the snippet of information on each site. The URL gets cut sometimes, but if you have a title that draws attention and can get the answer into your site’s snippet, then it is much more relevant to a potential customer and the chance of them clicking on your site instead of a competitor greatly increases.

Sixth, get the best use of your question and answer keywords. That means putting them into the text. It is the simplest and quickest way for Google bots to identify that you have all the right keywords. If the only way you display or use them is in an embedded video or some other graphic, then your site may look to the search engine like an empty snowfield with a few lone trees way in the background. That means you are not relevant to the search and may not show up for several or even several dozen pages.

Seventh, go faster and safer! I have said before that Google wants a load time of no more than three seconds. If it takes you longer than that; start moving items like embedded videos to other pages. Your front page, especially, should load faster than you can snap your fingers. You do not have to sacrifice security for this. An HTTPS URL can load just as quickly as an HTTP and Google still focuses on them as a preferred site.

Finally, have a team ready to advertise and amplify. Before you go live, line up the individuals and organizations that can help you get the word out. Each positive mention on social media and friendly websites is seen not just by customers and other people, but by the Google bots as well.

Obviously, this is not an exhaustive list, but it is a great way to get started. Dig into what SERPs can do for you and make 2018 your most successful year yet!