Things have changed.
Google’s today’s search ranking algorithms are far away from the ones used just a couple years ago both in terms of complexity and optimization techniques required to get the results.
AI is something you won’t surprise anyone with. It’s being used more and more in a wide array of industries.
Finally it’s found its way to search ranking.
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With AI Google learned how to think like a human (almost) when dealing with search queries.
First, it operates more in concepts and topics rather than individual keywords. The scope of the ranking inputs only increased.
Second, the most emphasis is now placed on user experience and how people interact with your website.
Don’t get me wrong, backlinks are still important and probably always will be. But two other metrics became more prominent lately.
These are organic CTR and dwell time / bounce rate. The last two essentially show the same thing. We’ll get to that in a second.
Organic CTR is pretty straight forward – it’s the percentage of people who clicked on the link to your website when they performed a search.
The more people click, the more appealing that search result becomes in the eyes of Google’s algorithm and… you guessed it – that website moves up in the search results.
Dwell time is a bit more tricky. It’s the time the users spent on your website after leaving the search results page.
It’s another way of telling Google how relevant and useful your website is.
If the user has left the page seconds later after opening it that means there’s nothing that they found important on that page.
If they bounced off immediately that means the website is straight up terrible. Absolutely irrelevant or displays no trust whatsoever.
That’s the worst thing ever.
So the goal is to increase dwell time and decrease bounce rate. These two metrics are in reverse relationship. In simple terms the longer dwell time the less bounce rate.
Organic CTR optimization
CTR is a fundamental metric when it comes to digital advertising. This applies both to paid and organic mediums.
It’s the most basic yet reliable way of deciding whether a certain marketing piece is performing well be it an ad, a landing page or a search result.
Your best bet is to optimize it to maximum in order not only to get a greater share of search traffic, but to rank higher as we just discussed.
Numbers in the headline
Heard of Buzzfeed?
It’s one of the most visited entertainment websites in the US and the entire world. One of the reasons they became so popular is the content structure they used a lot.
It’s called listicle.
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It’s a way of structuring an article so it forms a numbered list with details. Hence the name.
But the main benefit aside from the content’s higher engagement rate is the headline that contains a number.
According to the research headline with a number gets 73% more clicks.
That’s exactly what we’re looking for. The content we used was primarily listicles, so Google favored these links compared to the others.
Not all words created equal. Most are just regular ones that hardly anyone pays attention to. Read the sentence and get the meaning, nothing more.
But there’s a special category of words that produces an emotional response.
It could be very subtle, but it’s still something that makes the eyes stay focused on a little bit longer and ultimately this elevated interest results in a click.
These are so-called “power words”. It’s a term that’s widely used in copywriting.
But they could be used literally everywhere.
One of our clients increased the conversion rate by 13% simply by adding power words to their call to action.
By placing such words in the headline you make the user’s eyes glue to them, which ramps up the CTR and improves your search position.
Increasing dwell time
Once you got them to click, now it’s time to make them stay. And that’s harder.
Your content should be on point.
Informative and entertaining at the same time.
No one wants to read a boring wall of text. And no one will.
Remember, your competitors are just 2 clicks away from your website – one to close the tab and another to open the next website. Only milliseconds passed and they’re gone.
Lots of content
When people search for information they typically look for answers to many closely related questions.
That’s why Google’s RankBrain approach to indexing pages better reflects human behavior.
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When you open up a website to get one answer, you may stumble upon the answer for the other question you already had in mind on that topic. And then you may find even more useful info you didn’t think about right off the bat.
Google takes that into account. That’s why what you have on your website besides the landing post matters now even more.
As a result of continuously interacting with your website, the visitors spend more time clicking around and reading multiple articles.
This gives a huge boost in rankings.
The quality of the content is the foundation of your SEO success. But the way it’s presented is equally important.
If the post looks like a text from a book with long paragraphs the person who sees that would bounce off even if the quality of the information is great.
Why is that?
It’s all about behavior patterns and expectations. During browsing people expect the content to be easily readable and split up in smaller chunks.
The attention has significantly decreased over time so we need to adjust accordingly.
The easiest yet one of the most effective ways to increase readability.
Try to have no more than 2-3 sentences in each paragraph. If the sentence is long enough keep it as a separate paragraph.
Add some break short sentences sparingly to visually divide the text.
Like this line.
Switching between long phrases and short ones gives the text rhythm which makes it more easy to read.
Bold, italic and uppercase
These are very basic text decorations available in any text editor. But not so many content creators take additional 5-10 minutes to properly format the text before hitting “Publish”.
Using bold on important words or the entire sentences makes it easier to scan through the text.
It creates a sequence of visual fixations that helps to keep the attention of the visitor and not leave the page early.
Bold tags still play a big role even in today’s SEO strategy.
So it’s important to use them not only for enhancing user experience, but for indexing the page correctly as well.
Same story goes for italic, but it’s less for SEO and more to add variability to the way the text looks.
Users get bored easily.
So if something catches their attention, even that small as the next paragraph text in a different style, chances are they’re going to spend a little more time on the page.
UPPERCASED words are used pretty rarely, but could serve as a good addition to emphasizing the most important ideas.
But be careful. Words in all caps perceived as someone is raising their voice. So use it occasionally and only on single words or very short phrases.