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If you are like most Internet marketers, your Holy Grail will be to get to page 1 of the search results, but you may not have given much thought to what you will do when you actually find yourself there. You may assume you can just relax, enjoy the extra traffic and high conversion rates, and not need to do any more SEO, but this would be a mistake. In fact, if anything, the need for continued optimization is greater, not less — but it may need to be a different sort of optimization.
Why SEO Is Even More Important
The main reason for this, of course, is that the Internet is extraordinarily competitive — your competitors are just as keen as you were to get to page 1, and will be working just as hard to get there as you did. That means you have to work as hard to stay there as you did to get there. If you relax, your competitors will succeed in taking your place.
Another reason is that once you get to page 1, you will have more traffic arriving on your website, and either remaining on it, or leaving straight away. If the latter, this will give the message to the search engines that your website is not providing users with what they were looking for.
In other words, although the basic optimization techniques, such as keyword research, link building and content creation, might have got your site to page 1, other criteria such as user behavior and user experience become much more important in determining whether you stay there. This means you have to develop more advanced SEO strategies than you were using before.
User Behavior And Experience
A good place to start is by analyzing user behavior. One way of doing this is to use the navigation summary provided by Google Analytics, to discover the path your visitors follow when they arrive at your website. For instance, if you discover that most of them go straight to your products page from your home page, this could be an indication that you need more detailed product information on your home page.
In addition, you need to check which traffic sources are delivering the most targeted traffic — for instance, which article site, or which specific content topic. You can then focus on ensuring your pages are as relevant as possible to these specific traffic sources. This will generate increasingly positive user behavior, which in turn will be picked up by the search engines.
One essential element of user experience is site loading speed, which has been part of Google’s ranking algorithm since 2010, in line with the greater emphasis on positive user value. Apart from user experience, there is no doubt that fast loading pages improve indexation, as it means more pages can be indexed in the time allocated by the bots, and this ultimately increases traffic, page views and conversion rates.
Conversely, slow loading pages will have a negative impact, as the rankings will suffer if the engines find it difficult to crawl the pages. In addition, the search engines take account of negative user behavior in respect of slow loading pages. To help you monitor your site’s performance based on visitor experience, there are tools available, such as Synthetic Measurement services, and RUM or Real User Measurement services.
Advanced On-Page Optimization
Other advanced SEO tactics for maintaining your ranking should include more sophisticated on-page optimization. For example, as well as optimizing your content for your actual keywords, you should make full use of synonyms and integrate them into your content as naturally as possible.
You can search for synonyms on Google by inserting the tilde sign before your search term, and this way you can also see how the synonyms rank on your competitors’ web pages. As you use these increasingly in your copy, your site will start ranking highly for more relevant long-tail keywords.
Another effective tactic is to make use of what is termed relevance authority. If you can create some pages that are completely dedicated to defining the keyword for that page, these pages will rank very highly, as the search engines regard them as the most relevant match for the keyword. For instance, if you have a website devoted to guitars, pages completely devoted to definitions of blues guitar, or acoustic guitar, will push your site up the rankings.
You are of course aware that you need to update your content regularly, but remember that this does not just apply to your general site content — there must be regular fresh content on individual pages. This encourages search engines to visit more frequently, which will bring higher rankings.
The less often you update your pages, the less frequently they will visit, and your rankings will slide. As well as adding regular brief updates to individual page content, easy ways to update pages include inviting comments, or adding a twitterfeed.
One thing that will make it easier to keep updating your pages is to ensure your site content is clearly structured and organized, so that it will be quite clear to the search engines which parts of your site are optimized for which keywords. Use a silo structure, so that there is clear navigation from your main content on your home page, to pages optimized for content about secondary keywords.
In the ultra-competitive world of the Internet, it is not enough to get ahead — you need to stay ahead, and to do this, you need to do more than what you have always done. You have to be proactive in predicting what your visitors and search engines will be looking for, and working towards giving them even more than they ask. SEO is about the future, and your website has to be ready to meet the future, or it will not survive.