Boost Rankings: 70 Actionable Steps from Winning Sites

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All the talk of late is around the subject of “where’s examples of recovery from last year’s barrage of updates”? Most notably, the Helpful Content Update. 

And then there’s the announcement about the March 2024 Core Update

We’ve seen some positive movement on some of the sites we work on or advise for, but nothing close to full recovery. But I have sure been paying attention to see if any others have had success. 

There are several studies and breakdowns that have caught my attention of late: 

Each of these studies and breakdowns does an excellent job of digging deep into the details. Nothing fluffy about any of these. 

The problem is that it’s a LOT of information. After reading each of these, I definitely found myself a bit overwhelmed!

So, I set out to create an actionable to–do list. Something that aggregated all of this information from each, and put it all together into an actionable list of things I could do. 

Once I started, I realized that I really should add information from a few other favorites of mine regarding E-E-A-T and Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines. 

And here you have it! 70 actionable steps you can take today, based on analysis of trending data regarding sites that are winning and losing from the last 6 months of Google’s updates (some corollary, some observational).

And, it’s worth saying… bravo to the folks that did this research and analysis. Give them a follow, as they’re sure to continue providing this amazing content in the future: 

What’s interesting is that a LOT of the information on this list is very similar to my HCU Checklist that I put together in October 2023. My checklist gives you 124 perceived factors in Google’s Helpful Content Update. You score each 1-10 to help you evaluate what to improve on. The spreadsheet will automatically calculate which areas of your website need the most work!

I’ve reduced the price of the HCU Checklist by 50% for this week! If you haven’t already grabbed it, it’s a great list of questions you can ask yourself about your website. Then, score each 1-10 to help you evaluate what to improve on. The spreadsheet will automatically calculate which areas of your website need the most work! 5 star rating across almost 50 reviews.

Ok, here’s the list!

User Experience and Site Design

  • Avoid Fixed Ads in the Footer: Negatively affects traffic.
  • Limit Fixed Video Ads: Strong negative correlation with traffic.
  • Ensure a Clear and Visible Logo: Improves recognition and trust.
  • Reconsider Mega Menus at the Page’s Head: Negative impact on traffic.
  • Be Cautious with the Use of Any Mega Menus: Negative correlation, less so in the footer.
  • Avoid Placing Search Functions in the Footer: Negatively associated with traffic.
  • Implement Cookie Consent Banners: Positively correlates with better traffic.
  • Avoid Browser Push Notifications: Linked to lower traffic.
  • Emphasize Simplicity and Usability in Design: Easy navigation is key.
  • Implement User Experience Features: Enhance accessibility of key content.
  • Optimize Site Navigation and UX: Intuitive navigation and clear categories.
  • Ensure your website is fully responsive across all devices: Vital for user engagement.
  • Enhance Site Speed and Security: Use Google PageSpeed Insights and ensure HTTPS.

Content Strategy and Quality

  • Use Original Images Instead of Stock Photos: Enhances authenticity. I have a course that can help, and I’m offering 50% off this week in an effort to make this more accessible to everyone. Use code “hcu”. Yes, it has to be lowercase to work.
  • Incorporate First-Person Pronouns: Personal touch improves performance.
  • Demonstrate First-Hand Experience: Showcases authenticity and expertise.
  • List Essential Trust Elements for Each Article: Why can the reader trust you? Adds credibility.
  • Identify and Answer the Main Reader Question: Directly address user intent. Higher up on the page preferred.
  • Refine Content to Be More Topic-Focused: Sharpens article focus. Watch my in-depth video on how to create topical authority
  • Add Topically Aligned, Non-Keyword Focused Content: Diversifies content strategy.
  • Create Detailed and Comprehensive Reviews: Enhances value and trustworthiness.
  • Demonstrate Expertise: Highlight niche expertise.
  • Develop High-Quality Written Content: Focus on readability and structure.
  • Provide Educational Content Over Hard Selling: Prioritizes informing the audience.
  • Focus on Large Keywords and Long-Tail Strategies: Balances reach and specificity. Watch my detailed training video on how I use Low Fruits to discover long-tail topics to write about. 
  • Incorporate Multimedia Content: Enriches content delivery.
  • Create or link to a YouTube channel: Expands content format.
  • Beyond Keyword Tools: Engage with trending topics.
  • Ensure Content Meets User Needs: Directly answer user queries.
  • Boost Content Quality: Increase depth and use clear structure.
  • Regularly update older content: Keeps information relevant.

Tired of banging your head up against the wall, trying to figure out what is wrong about your website? Grab a Website Review, where my team and I personally review your website. We have dozens of 5 star reviews on this service!

SEO and Technical Adjustments

  • Reduce the Number of Ads: Linked to better traffic.
  • Limit the Number of Affiliate Links: Less is more for traffic.
  • Reconsider Linking to Privacy Policies: Surprisingly, has a negative impact. Deep dive Cyrus’s examples of potentially why this is.
  • Review and Adjust Ad Placement: Check ad quantity on desktop and mobile.
  • Audit Content for Indexing Issues: Use Google Search Console.
  • Improve Internal Linking: Builds topical clusters. Watch my comprehensive video on how to use Link Whisper for better internal linking
  • Prune Empty or Small Category and Tag Pages: Cleans up site structure.
  • Wait for Google to Re-crawl and Re-evaluate Your Site: Allow time for changes to reflect.
  • Set Up Official Site Name and Increase Navigational Searches: Follows Google’s guidelines.
  • Invest in Web Development and Aesthetic Design: Enhances functionality and appeal.
  • Schema Markup Integration: Improves SEO through structured data. Highlights author expertise. Watch my comprehensive schema video to see examples. 
  • External Link Acquisition: Strengthens site authority.
  • Technical SEO Adjustments: Supports content and site structure optimizations.

Trust and Authority

  • Include Contact Information in the Footer / On Every Page: Builds trust.
  • Make Author Names Clickable: Link to detailed bios.
  • Craft Detailed Author Bios: Showcases expertise.
  • Display an Author Box With Every Article: Adds authority.
  • Develop High-Quality Written Content: Emphasize content quality.
  • Offer Technical and In-depth Analysis: Showcases expertise.
  • Enhance Your About Page: Share mission and team bios.
  • Product Review Transparency: Clarify review processes.
  • Official Pages: Include necessary legal disclosures.
  • Overhaul Author Pages: Offer detailed author information.
  • Utilize ReviewedBy Schema: For content reviewed by experts.
  • Collect Qualified Authors: Enhances site expertise.
  • Convey Experience in Content: Reflect firsthand knowledge.
  • Incorporate Unindexed Media: Use unique images for authenticity.
  • Improve Website’s E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness): Showcase credentials and achievements.
  • Increase Transparency: Clearly display contact and business information.
  • Build and Showcase Reputation: List awards and participations.

Watch my tutorial on a quick, 30 second method to see if Google trusts your website!

Engagement and Community

  • Encourage Discussion and Community: Enable and seed article comments.
  • Engage Community Through Comments: Promotes discussions.
  • Leverage Social Media Subtly: Engages audience on relevant platforms.
  • Offer Interactive Content Features: Use quizzes and custom widgets.
  • Active Engagement with Audience: Encourage user interaction.
  • Monitor User Behavior and Feedback: Use analytics and feedback for improvements.
  • Focus on Quality Backlinks: Prioritizes reputable guest post opportunities.

Jared’s #1 Recommendation

  • Take Action: There is no way you made it through this entire list saying “yep, my website does that perfect” to each and every one of them. Find where your website can be improved and get started today. Take action!

There’s a bit of overlap on this list, but not much. And, again, this isn’t a list for HCU recovery… this is a list of things found in sites that are performing well. Make sure you understand the difference in those two things. 

As I shared last week on this Niche Pursuits podcast episode, many of these items are easy changes. For example, most ad providers allow you to reduce ad density and adjust placements with a click of a button. 

As a reminder, I’ve reduced the price of the HCU Checklist by 50% for this week! If you haven’t already grabbed it, it’s a great list of questions you can ask yourself about your website. Then, score each 1-10 to help you evaluate what to improve on. The spreadsheet will automatically calculate which areas of your website need the most work! 5 star rating across almost 50 reviews. 

Good luck!

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Jared Bauman

Jared Bauman is the Co-Founder of 201 Creative, and is a 20+ year entrepreneur who has started and sold several companies. He is the host of the popular Niche Pursuits podcast and a contributing author to Search Engine Land.

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