How much do you know about search engine optimization (SEO)? No matter if you have a lot of knowledge or have fallen behind the times, one thing will never change: thanks to many algorithmic changes at Google, you need to be more tuned in than ever before.
On the surface, it is easy to think that you know everything about SEO. All you need is high quality content and a diverse backlink profile, right? While this is a good start, it is far from the only factors that reflect on your rankings. A lot has changed in the past year and there is plenty more to come.
Here are three tips to improve your site’s rankings, subsequently generating more leads.
1. Improve Site Speed
In the past, most people didn’t put a lot of time and effort into this. However, Google has made it known that site speed can and will effect search engine rankings.
In short, the faster your site loads the better chance you have of ranking high. This is far from the only factor to consider, but it is one that you should definitely have in the back of your mind.
Fortunately, site speed is something that you can improve with relative ease.
The first thing you need to do is check how fast your site is currently loading. Some of the better tools include:
These services will give you an idea of what can be changed to improve load times and increase the overall speed of your site.
However, sometimes that isn’t enough. A slow site is often due to its web hosting service. Most insurance agency websites aren’t big enough that they require their own server. Shared web hosting is most often the best option. This means you are sharing a web server with many other customers.
Some hosting companies will allocate too many customers to one server which will result in a slow website. Other times, one customer will have a resource heavy site on the server which will also slow things down for everyone else.
Because of this picking a good shared webhosting provider is critical. I’ve been working with websites for over 10 years now and have seen my fair share of shared hosting accounts. Right now HostGator is the best in business for shared web hosting and is who we use for ILG (I recommend a business account).
2. Focus on User Engagement
Another major factor that Google has started taking into account is user engagement. This is a measurement of what visitors do once they get to your site and is used to determine overall quality.
Before we go any further, check right now to make sure you have installed an analytics program on your website. If you haven’t done so just yet, there is no better time than now. Google Analytics is one of the best, not to mention one of the easiest to use.
Here are several user engagement factors to keep an eye on:
- Bounce rate (most important signal – try to keep your site under 60%)
- Pages per visit
- Time on site
This shift started in early 2011 when Google released their Panda algorithm update. The update was done to incorporate more site quality signals into search results. User engagement plays a big factor in this.
User metrics that have historically been ignored by many can no longer be swept under the rug. You don’t want people visiting one page of your site and then leaving (this is considered a bounce). You want your visitors to move from one page of your site to the next with useful content and a good user interface. Finally, you want every visitor to spend more of time browsing your site. These all go hand in hand so if you focus on implementing features to keep users from bouncing immediately off your site everything else should eventually fall in line.
3. Take Advantage of Social Media
In the past, social media was thought to be “fun but not functional.” Not anymore. Now, the use of social media is an advantage from a search engine ranking aspect and it will only become more important in the future.
As you get started, focus on these three services:
- Google+ (This has taken over Google Places)
Are people talking about you and your website on these social media services? If not, it is time that you change this. Send out interesting and helpful tweets and engage with followers. Make people aware of your Google+ and Facebook pages by incorporating them on your site.
Believe it or not, the following you create on these platforms are a signal of authority and trust to search engines like Google. Additionally, conversations on these platforms integrating content from your site can help build a stronger backlink profile.
The higher your search engine rankings the more traffic you will receive. Search traffic comes with a high level of intent which is excellent for generating more leads.
As you move forward with your SEO and marketing plans, be sure to focus on the three tips above.