Search engine optimization has changed dramatically since its early days, when it mostly meant stuffing your keywords into your text (search engine optimization blogs about search engine optimization search engine optimization near me how to do search engine optimization what is search engine optimization). Google’s algorithm has long since caught on to that kind of thing, forcing search engine optimizers to employ more sophisticated tactics. So what kind of SEO works in 2022?
- Write for humans first, search engines second.
This might just be the number one rule of SEO, and it’s more true in 2022 than ever. Google gets smarter every day. It’s probably smart enough to take over the world now, which means picking up writing that’s purely for search engines is as easy as finding the closest place to order Thai food.
So what’s the best way to outsmart Skynet Google? Well, that’s a trick question, because there’s not. The only real way to stay off Google’s bad list is to create quality content that actual human beings would want to read. (Need some tips on good copywriting? Here’s a resource.)
- Ensure a good user experience.
Generally, people’s attention spans aren’t long enough to stick with a page that’s hard to navigate, and that bounce rate isn’t great for SEO.
And not only will good UX help your users have a better time and actually consume your content, but the same seamlessness will also allow Google’s crawlers to get a good look at your page and better determine its page rankings.
Make sure you’re using short, easy-to-read paragraphs. Oh—and it’s 2020. Optimize for mobile or don’t even try.
- Don’t forget keywords.
Don’t just blast keywords all over your site, hoping somewhere in the mix one of them will stick. That’s about as effective as the bad guys in any given action movie who fire a small country’s worth of bullets at the hero and still somehow manage to hit just the ground at his feet. That’s so 2010, but that doesn’t mean keywords aren’t relevant anymore. In fact, they’re more relevant than ever. You just have to be strategic about them.
Do your keyword research, use a variety of keywords, and make sure you’re using them in a way that sounds like actual people would talk.
- And don’t forget metadata, either.
Someone once said that metadata is like the shopfront for your site. What’s metadata? It’s the headline and description a user sees on a search engine results page (SERP), enticing a user to click. Google also uses metadata when it scans websites to find the ones that match search queries. By including keywords in your metadata, you can further increase its relevance.
- Know the importance of links.
Links matter: both internal ones and external ones. Internal links are straightforward: they link to your own site, helping distribute traffic across pages evenly.
External links are a little harder. Those are the ones that go from other sites to your site. Obviously, you don’t have direct control over who links to your site, so you have to go about getting those links the old-fashioned way: by creating engaging content that people want to link to as they reference your work.
You can also just reach out to others to trade links, but guest blogging, answering questions on sites like Quora, or creating shareable content also help. Don’t neglect industry contacts or LinkedIn, either.
- Remove anything that slows down your site.
Let’s refer back to item 2 for a moment. Nobody like a bad UX: not real people or our search engine overlords. A page that takes a long time to load will frustrate people and send them looking for the next page on the search engine listing, and Google knows it.
So what can you do to speed up your site? Make your images are optimized and compressed, for one thing. Delete old or defunct plugins and clean up your code. Also, make sure your subfolders make sense. If you’re the type that gets a rush from putting file folders in the proper order, that should make you happy.
Lastly, if you have some fancy feature that looks really cool but drags down the loading speed of your site (remember when every other site had Flash or parallax scrolling?), consider killing it.
- Pay attention to Google.
Google’s algorithm, like any good AI that may someday decide it wants to enslave humanity, is always adapting. Updates and changes can be as frequent as they are unexpected, and how sites fare often depends on how well they conform to Google’s whims. Keep updated by following industry websites, forums, and other sources of information, and stay plugged into Google’s own Search Console Community. Just as in any rapidly evolving industry, it pays to stay informed.