Today’s digital businesses depend on their websites’ ability to attract and retain customers in a competitive global market. When you consider that organic search contributes as much as half of an average website’s traffic, that means businesses have to invest quite a bit of time and effort into search engine optimization (SEO). What many businesses don’t realize, however, is that SEO must be an ongoing process to remain effective over time. That’s because Google makes between 500 and 600 changes to its ranking algorithm each year, any of which can affect a website’s performance on search engine results pages (SERP).

To help businesses avoid the negative outcomes associated with failing to update their SEO practices regularly, we’ve prepared a guide about the current best SEO practices, what to avoid, and how to audit a website for problems. Without further ado, let’s dive in.

Auditing for SEO

Since search algorithms are extraordinarily complex, it’s almost impossible to know for sure if everything on a website is optimized in the best possible way for search. There are, however, a variety of broad issues to look for that can hurt a page’s ranking. To find them, start by checking the site using Google’s URL inspection tool. The tool will identify any issues that are preventing the search engine from indexing and properly ranking the website. Begin by fixing any issues identified and then browse every page of your site to look for obvious errors like duplicate content or broken links. After that, it’s a good idea to take advantage of our free website grading tool, which can identify areas of weakness on your current website.

SEO Practices to Avoid

Depending on how long it has been since a website has been optimized, there’s a chance that some of the elements implemented in that process are either no longer relevant or outright harmful by current SEO standards. Make sure the following outdated SEO practices aren’t still in effect:

  • Keyword Stuffing – Pages or content with an obvious overuse of a targeted keyword to feign relevance
  • Keyword Irrelevance – Pages targeting a keyword for which the page content doesn’t align
  • Bought or Bartered Backlinks – Incoming links from sites known to offer paid link placement or reciprocal link arrangements
  • Association With Irrelevant Sites – Backlinks that appear on websites that have little to do with the target site’s content (such as in sponsored content or guest blogs)
  • Keyword Variation Pages – Having duplicative pages targeting slight variations of the same keyword

As we’ve mentioned before, search algorithms change constantly, so this is by no means a complete list. A good rule of thumb to follow is to make sure all pages are designed with users in mind, not search engines. At the end of the day, that is the measure that search engines are seeking to judge.

What SEO Tactics Work

Many of the recent updates to search engine algorithms are focused on satisfying users. To that end, here are some of the optimizations that they’re currently looking for:

  • User Satisfaction – Rankings now weigh the perceived value of websites by metrics like low bounce rates and dwell time (the time a user stays on a result site before returning to search again)
  • Local Search – To deliver the best results, search engines now factor business location relative to the searcher, so address and business information must be current and accurate
  • Mobile Friendly – Search engines prioritize sites with responsive designs that function well on mobile and desktop devices alike
  • Optimized for Voice Search – With the rise of digital assistants, search engines crave results that work well when read aloud
  • Long, High-Quality Content – Search engines regard in-depth content as more valuable since it stands a better chance at helping users who arrived from search pages

In case it isn’t obvious, the key here is once again to orient all website content toward keeping visitors happy. At the end of the day, that’s what companies like Google prioritize above all else.

SEO for Today and Tomorrow

At the end of the day, it is best to sum up the current state of SEO in one way: the user comes first. If it has been a while since your business website has been updated or audited for SEO, contact us today and let our experts conduct a thorough audit and work with you to bring your business website in line with today’s SEO best practices. The search engines will be sure to notice, and your customers will too!