Recently I read an interesting article about how search engine algorithms use various signals to detect when new queries have become popular, and how the search results can quickly change in response. See more here. This article got me thinking about how we could ensure our clients are well poised to take advantage of improvements to this algorithm.
If you are a client of ours, you will know that our SEO strategies always include a focus on expanding or creating useful content on our websites. So, while I sat back and contemplated how we could leverage this new information, I realized we don’t have to change a thing to our approach. We just need to continue doing what we have always done for our clients; create excellent content that answers a user’s query.
So how can you ensure that your website is well positioned to take advantage of a changing search engine results page (SERP)?
Create content for a crowded SERP
If you’ve Googled anything recently (because you don’t live under a rock), then you probably noticed it is getting more and more difficult to locate actual website listings in the search results. You may have found what you are looking for buried somewhere among these “helpful” features:
- Google My Business listing
- Local map pack
- Top stories
- Shopping carousel
- Featured snippets
- Rich cards
- Knowledge panels
- Brand panel
- Suggested events
- Answer box
- People also ask
The only way to make your website competitive in this kind of environment is to create content that is structured in a way that makes it more likely to be displayed by the search engines.
Diversify your content to leverage those SERP features
To rank for featured snippets, you need to create optimized content in diverse formats. Often when business websites are created, they follow a basic formula: the homepage, a service page or 2, the “about us” page, and the contact page. Sometimes there is a blog or news feed. Generally, a lot of attention is paid to the aesthetics and user experience (at least we hope it is!), but rarely do new sites naturally have significant content that is likely to appear in a featured snippet or rich result.
To ensure your website is fully leveraging all the available features in the SERP you must create intentional content that is well-optimized for the queries you want to appear for.
Start on your service pages and expand the content to ensure the page gives a full overview of the service provided, as well as answering a range of potential customer questions.
A good rule of thumb for any page you want to rank in the SERP should:
- Have more than 300 words
- Use targeted keywords and related keyword variants
- Use descriptive H1 and H2 heading tags
- Link to other relevant content on the website
To fully take advantage of all the features now available on the SERP, try:
- Providing answers in short, punchy sentences
- Using numbered or bulleted lists
- Adding tables and graphs
- Including a relevant image with descriptive alt text
- Including a Q&A section to the page
- Using structured data
Creating new content with the SERP in mind
Ensuring your existing webpages are well optimized to appear in the search results is important, but to truly get the crowded SERP working to your advantage, you need a content strategy designed to leverage these opportunities.
A well-researched content strategy will identify a range of related keywords and SERP features that are relevant to your business, but not covered by your existing webpages. Once you have identified the content gaps on your website, plan new content strategically to target those results pages.
Often this content includes:
- Additional service pages
- Blogs that answer a question
- Videos (that are transcribed)
- Location and review pages
Take your strategy to the next level by ensuring that any new content you create supports your existing content (by paying attention to your website structure and internal linking).
Diverse but relevant content
By expanding your existing website content and creating additional pages to target the search features you want to rank for, your website will have a greater change of appearing in that crowded SERP.
However, remember to always create content that balances search engine optimization with the needs of the customer. Creating content that is not relevant to your business may generate more website users, but it is unlikely to result in more customers.
A well-thought-out content strategy is the best way to ensure your website leverages all the opportunities to appear in the rapidly changing Google search results. At Ontario SEO, we specialize in creating strategic content that ranks in Google and generates real customers.