Tech-savvy Ollie Blackmore share 10 quick and easy SEO hacks that will help satisfy Google’s requirements for sites in 2017.

Are you stuck for ideas when it comes to SEO? Not sure if your website is meeting Google’s best practice? Not to worry. We asked tech-savvy Ollie Blackmore to share 10 quick and easy SEO hacks that will help you satisfy Google’s requirements for sites in 2017. Ollie found a love for computers aged 12 when he created games on his ZX Spectrum. He is now the CEO and founder of multi award-winning creative digital marketing agency Selesti. Ollie has over 20 years’ experience in digital, working with some fantastic well-known brands, charities, local organisations and start-ups.

1. Answer the public

The era of traditional keyword research is over. What matters now is ensuring your content matches the type of questions that people are searching for. After all, if your page isn’t in the right context to suit the user’s needs, they will simply click on a different result in Google. This is where comes in. Simply type in a broad keyword, and using Google’s search data, this nifty tool will categorise search queries by different prepositions, allowing you to discover the motivations and emotions that lead to different search queries. All you need to do next is write articles based on what you find.

2. Unearth search trends with Google Trends

Many industries have seasonal cycles or evolving trends in customer needs. Identifying these can give you a real edge when it comes to your competitors. This is where Google Trends comes in. This tool can show you how search interest changes over time for various search terms and topics. Google Trends can guide your strategy in several ways. If you’re a retailer, for example, you can use it to assess the level of interest in a newly announced product, helping you to decide how much effort to put behind chasing page 1 rankings for this term. Alternatively, you may find that interest in your top selling product or service peaks in Autumn each year, making it clear when you should initiate a strong push on this offering.

3. Migrate to HTTPS
Online privacy and data security is now becoming a bigger concern for consumers, particularly because of recent high-profile hacking and privacy stories in the news. Google knows this, and are leading the charge to get the web encrypted. To encourage this, Google has announced serving your website over an HTTPS connection, rather than unencrypted HTTP, will act as a positive signal for rankings. In fact, having migrated a number of sites from HTTP to HTTPS, we’ve seen some decent ranking improvements as a result!

4. Merge related low-traffic pages

Make your existing content work harder for you this year, rather than spending on more content. If your site has been around for some time, chances are you’ll have lots of pages covering similar topics, whether service pages are very similar to one another, or multiple blog articles on the same topic.

Using Google Analytics, you can uncover any old pages that don’t receive much traffic. Group related pages together, then review these. Consider merging these pages together, updating the pages with new copy if required. Don’t forget to 301 redirect the old related URLs to the one you’ve chosen to replace these!

Find out more about this method at Ahrefs guide to the merger method.

5. Find and eliminate duplicate content

On a similar note, you may have pages that receive lots of traffic but are being cannibalised by other similar pages. A major clue that this is happening is when you notice that two URLs are alternately showing for the same search term. Essentially, Google is unsure which of the two pages is most appropriate for these terms, and a side effect is rankings of the two are likely to be suppressed. Merging these pages, or changing one to focus on a different group of keywords can resolve this. To identify any keyword cannibalisation issues, we use a tool called Linkdex, which identifies any pages that compete against one another for the same terms.

6. Format your content for featured snippets

While browsing Google, chances are you’ve occasionally seen answer boxes at the top of the results, providing a snippet of text and sometimes even an image.

Gaining a result in one of these boxes is lucrative, as they can achieve a click-through rate of up to 80% - over double that of a standard position 1 ranking. To get one, identify the factual questions being asked in Google using Answer the Public, then in your article, provide brief answer in the opening paragraph, then go into a deeper dive later in your post.

7. Boost your site speed with CloudFlare

When it comes to website speed, users are generally a demanding bunch. 47% of users expect a web page to load in two seconds or less, while 40% will abandon a site that doesn’t load within three seconds. One of the quickest and easiest ways to boost your site speed is to use CloudFlare, which is a leading Content Delivery Network. This system lets you tap into their network of high-speed servers, helping to speed up your site. Best of all, they offer a free service that is suitable for most sites!

Once you’ve completed the 5-minute set-up, be sure it’s working correctly. We’ve created a simple tool, Check for CloudFlare, to do this.

8. Avoid redirects on-site

Another aspect of site speed is ensuring your users can go directly to the content they want when they want. That means that links on your site should point directly to the correct URL, rather than going through any redirects, which can slow down page load speed. Using a tool like Screaming Frog, you can crawl your site and identify any of these internal 301 redirects. Then, go into your site’s back end and update these URLs so they point directly to the correct URL, rather than going through a redirect.

9. Review your site’s backlinks

Late last year, Google released its final Penguin update, which looks at the quality of backlinks pointing to your site. If you haven’t done so already, it’s worth reviewing your links to ensure there are no toxic links that could be suppressing your natural rankings. There are several tools you can use for this, such as Kerboo or LinkResearchTools, which analyse a wide range of metrics to identify whether certain links may trip Google’s filter.

10. Collaborate with your PR team

It’s important to ensure your various marketing teams don’t operate in their own silos – these days everything is interconnected, especially when it comes to organic search. A strong technical foundation will get your site to page 2, but for page 1 rankings for your top terms, Google needs to see that your company is a reputable brand, and is genuinely popular in your industry.

That means collaborating with your PR team. Ensure any offline work is having an impact online where possible, for example, brand mentions on newspapers’ online editions, links from local websites, and online coverage of any events you’ve taken part in. Speak to the Marketing teams at any companies you’re affiliated with too. Can you collaborate with them on content, or get featured on their site? And don’t stop at your PR team, either. What connections does your CEO, or other key executives in your organisation, have that could help gain online brand mentions or links?

May 2017