As much as we'd love to say that improving your search engine rankings is easy, it's not. Search engine optimization (SEO) takes hard work, dedication, and some skill.
There's a fine line between ethical (white hat) SEO techniques and unethical (black hat) SEO techniques; if you are not careful, you can end up doing your website more harm than good.
So, to help you get started, here are eight ethical ways to improve your search engine rankings.
1. Create unique and engaging content
The saying "content is king" gets thrown around a lot, but content is king only if it's unique, engaging, and relevant content that provides value to your website visitors.
Creating content with a purpose, rather than simply content stuffed with keywords, is the best way to improve your search engine rankings. It will attract visitors back to your website and show search engines that you are an expert in your industry, in turn leading to higher rankings.
2. Optimize your website and blog images
Images are great for adding visual appeal to your website and blog content, but they can also contribute to your SEO. Giving your images relevant titles and using keywords within the alt tags is the best way to get to get them ranking in image searches.
3. Create video content
Brands often use video content to increase customer engagement and generate conversions, but video is also beneficial for boosting search rankings.
If you create a captivating title and description featuring your keywords, your video will stand a good chance at rankings in relevant searches.
The great thing about videos is that they really stand out on search results pages and therefore generate more click-throughs.
4. Optimize your content with long tail keywords
With more and more people speaking their searches using their smartphones, it's become increasingly important for businesses to optimize their content for long tail keywords—keyword phrases over three words in length that more specifically relate to your business than do shorter, more general phrases.
Including long tail keywords in your content signal to search engines that those phrases are relevant to your website; as a result, you will rank on search engine results pages for related queries.
5. Improve your site speed
How fast your website loads can also have a big impact on your search rankings. If it takes more than 2-3 seconds to load, users are likely to click off and look elsewhere for the information they need, causing your bounce rate to skyrocket.
A high bounce rate suggests you are not meeting site visitors' needs and can lead to a drop in your search rankings.
Getting rid of unnecessary widgets and cleaning up your website code will help to speed up your site and lead to better search engine rankings.
6. Build natural and relevant backlinks to your site
When building links to your website from other sites, there's a right way and a wrong way. The reason so many websites get penalized by Google for link-building is that they build spammy rather than quality backlinks.
If you want to ensure links to your website benefit its SEO rather than destroy it, you need to make sure you are building them only from high-quality websites that are relevant to your business (same industry, same audience).
The links from those sites to your site should provide readers with added value. Keep in mind that it's more about the quality of links to your website, and less about the number of links.
7. Ensure your site is mobile-friendly
Google has updated its algorithm to punish non-mobile-friendly websites. One more (big) reason you need to make sure that your website is optimized for viewing on mobile and tablet devices.
The best way to deliver a great online experience to the ever-increasing number of mobile users is to invest in a responsive design.
Offering a great mobile experience will keep your bounce rate low and help you earn better search engine rankings.
8. Play by the rules
Our final tip is that you play by Google's rules. Don't think you won't get caught. Even if your wrongdoings aren't immediately identified, they will come back to bite you in the future!
You won't get anywhere by taking shortcuts. The only way to increase your rankings and achieve long-term results for your business is to implement ethical, white hat SEO techniques that keep you in Google's good books.
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Our top piece of advice is to keep your site visitors in mind at all times: As long as you are optimizing your website, creating content, and building links in ways that are valuable to Web users, you won't go wrong.
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