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If there’s one piece of advice that business owners should follow to win at search engine optimization, it’s this: Stop putting it in a box. More often than not, people assume that ranking in searches only involves simply researching keywords and building links. And yes, they matter, but are just parts of a larger equation, and certainly shouldn’t be your only focus. Ranking higher in Google and attracting qualified and enduring traffic require a mindset shift. This is where holistic SEO comes in.
What is holistic SEO?
The term, broadly, refers to improving every aspect of a website rather than focusing on one, or just a few. Getting all the key elements of SEO correctly not only boosts your brand’s organic search visibility, it also keeps visitors happy and makes them want to do business with you. In order to understand holistic SEO, a business owner should remember Google’s approach with searches, which is to help people access the best information and present it in the most useful way. Therefore, a holistic plan include three tasks: content design, user experience (UX) and semantic structure.
Related: 5 Ways to Make Money With SEO in 2022
1. Content design
It’s no secret that visual content increases the value of a website for users, but when left unoptimized, it can slow down its performance. Here are a few factors to consider:
- Mobile-friendliness. If you haven’t done it yet, be sure to check if your site can be viewed and used easily on smartphones and tablets, as more than half of searches done through Google now come from mobile devices. One way to make your site mobile-friendly is to use clean navigation. Speed is another important aspect to improve, especially given Google’s Core Web Vitals.
- Images. While large and crisp images look great, any browser will need more time to load them, which is why they should be reduced if possible. Using schema markup for products or images also helps improve a website SERP (search engine results pages) presence.
Related: Low-Code and No-Code Design Is the Future of Website Building
2. User experience
Usually referred to as UX, this is a visitor’s perception of a site. If they’re able to find what they’re looking for and meet goals (like making a purchase), this translates to better rankings. Fortunately, there are metrics you can track to determine the quality of these experiences. They include:
- Bounce rate. This describes the percentage of people that leave a page without taking any sort of action. A high bounce rate can mean a lot of things, including the possibility that the site loads slowly or that a web page lacks a call-to-action (CTA).
- Dwell time. This is the amount of time users spend on a page before clicking back to SERPs. One of the keys to increasing this is to make sure that your page has useful and valuable content.
- Core web vitals. Google introduced a set of metrics for user experience that broadly define this new ranking signal, which include Largest Contentful Paint (loading speed), First Input Delay (responsiveness/interactivity) and Cumulative Layout Shift (visual stability). Click on the web vitals link above for more detail.
3. Semantic structure
When it comes to creating content for an audience, it’s easy to miss the meaning behind queries; you might, for example, optimize only for keywords without considering a user’s search path or intent. Understanding why and how people search for what they do and how to optimize for it, a site’s semantic structure will enable you to create better content.
Related: The Top 3 Mistakes Small-Business Owners Make With Their SEO Strategy
Here are some SEO plan tips:
- Cover a topic in depth. Rather than creating shorter articles on individual topics, write comprehensive guides based on broad topics. This makes it easier for readers to get all the information they need at once.
- Write using natural language. This means writing in a conversational way, similar to the way you would speak. Also, aim for shorter sentences that get a point across briskly. If your content isn’t great for readers, it will not be great for search engines.
- Embrace the knowledge graph. Google developed the Knowledge Graph system to help searchers gain access to information quickly by showing it in a panel at the right portion of search results (desktop), so make sure your website schema structure is correct and your content is accurate. Part of your SEO plan should also include increasing authority in your niche, so that Google perceives the content as trustworthy.
Gone are the days of keyword stuffing and over-optimization. Take content design, user experience and semantic structure into account to create a well-rounded SEO strategy and search engine visibility that lasts. Include the tips discussed above on your holistic SEO checklist, and most importantly, do research. SEO takes a lot of work, but it also boils down to more profitability, and making the web a better place.