For digital publishers, SEO is the process of getting more readers for their magazines, whether it is for the latest news or evergreen content. The prime goal is to improve the click-through rate on organic search engine results.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a sequence of improvements the online visibility of a website in a web search engine’s unpaid results (also called “natural”, “organic”, or “earned” results). In general, the higher your website is ranking on the search results page, the more people have a chance to see it.
How high your website ranks depends on many factors: rules and algorithms of how search engine works, keywords typed into Google, terms that people look for and the language they use, etc. As you see, it’s a complex mechanism.
Even if your website appears on the first page of search results, the click-through rate can continue to be low – CTR under 4% means that you get really small traffic, which is probably reflected on your business statistics and… revenues.
How to change it?
Forget about SEO you’ve known so far.
Yes, you read that right. Forget about clichéd golden SEO rules you’ve seen on the internet many times and focus on optimization techniques which will result in attracting better-targeted visitors to your website keeping the high position in SERPs.
If you want to know how to make your website visible and often-clicked, you’ve come to the right place.
Higher means better?
Well, not exactly.
The process of optimization is a game of getting the users’ attention, among thousands of different search results which they received. Online publishing businesses have to employ different tactics to increase their chances of being noticed in search results pages. It’s nothing else than the art of standing out from the crowd.
According to Ezoic research, SEO process understood as building high-quality traffic is the priority for publishers in 2019.
In the question about the highest priorities for publishers in 2019, over 50% of the respondents selected “SEO” or “Audience growth and marketing”. It highlights how important the ability to increase the audience is. What’s more, the two above-mentioned issues will grow in popularity among publishers who also want to reduce reliance on exterior platforms for the majority of their traffic.
Stand out in the search results
Whenever you need something – information, a product, a review – what’s the first thing you usually do? You probably type your query into a search engine, right? Well, 93% of online experiences begin that way. After getting results, the next step is a click on one (or more) of them.
Let’s stay here a bit longer. What elements or circumstances determine your choice of a particular link?
In the further part of this article, we will identify the factors which we believe affect the click decision-making process. Our goal is to point out specific techniques which provide the publishers with a high position in SERPs and high CTR at the same time.
– What about paid search?
It will make your website visible at the top of search results as long as you pay for it. But organic search is more cost-effective in the long run and offers better value in search marketing. Natural traffic brings in highly-targeted, regular and more engaged visitors to your website, giving you higher credibility and a competitive edge.
SEO has ~20X more traffic opportunity than PPC on both mobile and desktop – it has been proved by Moz, the company providing inbound marketing and marketing analytics software subscriptions.
Activities leading to search position improvement can be divided into two categories:
- optimizations which directly affect the position in SERPs,
- changes influencing the behavior of people who see a list of search results.
Only combining one with the other brings valuable and long-term effects without spending money. What is more, such changes as title tags modification give immediate results.
Title tags first impression
It’s basically the result of a search – the first contact between the brand and the seekers. A title tag is a major part in the decision making the process, often determining whether people will click on your result or not, so it’s necessary to optimize it well – only then your website can rise to the top of the search engine results. It’s how the beginning of every relationship works – the first impression matters!
Title tags give a strong signal what the page is about, and provide better understanding of the website content, for both people and search engines bots. Making the tags catchy and distinctive leads to a high position in SERPs and improves the chance that people click on it.
Think about those title tags as direct messages dedicated to your ideal customers. To increase the number of clicks, create them in accordance with a few rules:
- Title tags are the essence of your pages. They should include specific information about what people will find on the website after they click.
- The sum of all characters including spaces should not exceed 90 characters. If your title is too long, search engines may cut it off.
- Title tags have to include keywords – the more frontal their position, the better. However, overdoing them is unnecessary and counterproductive.
Why do I use the plural form – “title tags” – everywhere? It’s for a good reason.
Every page on your website is unique and your title tags should reflect that. Make sure you customize the title tags on each page of your website so that they accurately describe what’s on that specific page. Ryan Stewart from Webris recommends using a slightly different tactics in creating title tags for home and landing pages:
Home page: Brand Name + Primary Keyword + Secondary Keyword
Landing pages: Primary Keyword + Secondary Keyword + Brand Name
The pro tip to boost your visibility among the rest of the search results is to use special characters – # – & : % – which drastically help to break up the visual monotony of the SERPs. From a technical point of view, it won’t influence a position in a search engine but will provide distinction among the competitors.
In order to execute these tactics successfully, firstly you need to identify the keywords relevant to your brand, and the keywords people usually search for. The key is to understand the needs of the seekers, the language they use and the type of content they look for. Talk with your customers, take a look at forums or social media groups.
You can customize search engine campaigns starting your own keyword research with a tool called Keyword Planner by Google. It’s great for both paid and organic search and completely free to use. Then, you can test a different one, like Keyword Explorer created by SEO experts from Moz.
Hint: If you want to attract clicks from well-targeted visitors who know what they’re looking for, focus on long-tail keywords. They are more precise and will increase the number of customers who are deeper in the sales funnel.
How to find the right keywords in a few easy steps?
Publishers often ask themselves which keywords will help them with SEO optimization. The answer is closer than they might think, and I’ll prove it in a little while. The point is to have a little peek at the competition. And this is where Google Keyword Planner takes the first chair. Thanks to this tool you can see which keywords your competitors use for their web positioning strategy. The goal is to borrow their ideas, even for a while.
Start Keyword Planner.
Click on “Find new keywords” and then type in the competitive website’s address.
To set an example, we’ll check how popular are search results related to Apple News on Apple website. That’s why we type the following URL into search toolbar: www.apple.com
Then, we click “get started” and receive the entire list of keywords ideas with a graphical representation of the current search trend, and the number of searches, which gives us an overview of the popularity of the phrase.
The list of phrases obtained in this way can be downloaded by clicking the “Download Keywords Ideas” button.
The downloaded .csv file can be imported into Excel where you can manage a list of keywords, e.g sort them by the number of searches.
Thanks to this quick and easy way, you can have an excellent anchor point to create a high-quality list of keywords for your business.
The main advantage of title tag changes is immediacy of its influence on website rankings – both declines and hikes. That’s why all modifications require tracking. It’s important to measure the impact of the title changes on your own site.
– Do meta-descriptions impact the position in SERPs too?
Meta descriptions are not factored into Google’s ranking algorithms, however, they have an impact on a page’s CTR which can increase the page’s ability to rank. As well as title tags, meta-descriptions also allow people and search engines to better understand the content of the page. This brief summary of a web page functions as an advertising copy and its goal is to encourage people to click.
Hint: Google and other search engines bold keywords in the meta-description when they match search queries. It can catch attention. Match your descriptions to search terms as closely as possible to maximize click-through rates on search engine result pages.
As with title tags, it’s important that meta descriptions on each of your pages are unique, and adjust to the page’s content. Adapt backlinks to content concerns as well.
Backlinks – clean them up
If many websites link to yours, the clear signal is sent to search engines:
“Hey, Google, look how many pages link to this website, it’s something valuable! Let’s put it higher.”
Backlinks from other websites have a huge influence on historical page ranks. If relevant websites link to your pages, your brand receives “special points” from Google. The result is that during the searching process your domain gets higher rankings.
– What does “relevant websites” mean?
Let’s assume that you run a sports magazine and you’ve got a lot of backlinks from websites dedicated to fashion. This is the moment when Google says:
“Something is wrong. I haven’t already trust you!”
And then it removes your website from the Google index or devalues your rankings.
When the algorithm finds that your website has a lot of backlinks from places which are unrelated to your topic, your page’s potential will be reduced. Backlinks which lead to your website from spammy or low-quality pages are called bad and hurt your domain. Links should always come from topically similar websites. For a sports magazine, a good backlink is from a website about football.
To get searches trust and, as a result, appear higher in SERPs, it’s necessary to find and remove bad backlinks linking to your website. You can do it thanks to Google Search Console. This tool is a free service that helps you monitor, maintain, and troubleshoot your site’s presence in Google Search results. After connecting it with Google Analytics, you will receive very important data about site search, phrases, keywords, positions, etc.
– Is it possible to be very high in SERPs without backlinks?
Yes, although it’s still related to links.
Building a strong structure of internal links increases a chance to be higher in search engines. The way it works is that subpages with strong content, searched by long-tail keywords are arranged in structures that go from the detailed to the general. Look at this table:
The idea is that every subpage type 1 collects value from many smaller, more detailed subpages (type 2 and 3). When subpage type 1 links to the home page, Google receives a signal that there are many interesting subpages about your topic that pass the value of the main page.
This website structure builds a trust connection between the search engine and your pages which become reliable and worthy of attention. There’s one more thing which can deepen it.
Brand awareness gets you higher
Imagine that you’re searching for some product. One of the results is a brand you know/heard about, another is a brand you don’t have any connection with. Which one would you click?
It doesn’t matter how familiar you are with the first brand – you will click it, because of some little piece of information about this brand in the back of your mind. Your role as a publisher is to make sure that people have this piece of information about your business in their minds.
When you create great content and run a readable magazine, the internet starts talking about you. Every positive opinion about your brand has a big influence on your search position.
How does it work?
The better opinions you have, the more people look for you and the higher Google puts your website. Building brand recognition thanks to social media such as Twitter or Facebook (depending on the target group) works in a similar way. People see a great, branded video on their newsfeed and then look for it in a search engine. Consequently, Google gets a strong signal that people look at this brand, so it can be something really important and valuable.
A while ago, to stay on the market, the publishers had to build trust only in people. Today they should do it also with Google.
Optimizing title tags and meta-descriptions, taking care of backlinks’ quality and building appropriate website structure are ways to deal with the second issue. Stunning and long-term effects can be achieved when you improve both of them. There’s one magical, strong force which no algorithm update can change – having readers on your side.