It sparked some good conversations, so I thought I would share the WHY and HOW of each of these:
🎯Core Web Vitals
Core Web Vitals are a set of user-centric metrics that measure key aspects of website performance, including loading speed, interactivity, and visual stability. In essence, they are a user focused interpretation of Site Speed.
I’ve never seen evidence Site Speed is a true ranking factor. It seems to be a lot more like a tie breaker. All things being equal, Google prefers faster sites over slower sites, but not over good content or backlinks, etc.
From an SEO standpoint, it’s kind of like outrunning a bear. You don’t need to be the fastest, you just don’t want to be the slowest…
However, with all that being said, Site Speed IS really important. Providing a good user experience by optimizing for speed is good for the user, which is good for your site in the long run.
It’s also good for time on page → more ad revenue. More time on page also → more sales. So yeah, I’m all about focusing on Core Web Vitals this year.
If you don’t want to deal with tweaking and testing a bunch, WP Rocket is a great plugin. It tends to get you most of the way there upon install, and a few tweaks can help even more.
In our audits at 201 Creative, image size tends to be the biggest culprit (by far) – here’s how we control for both the dimensions AND the file size.
Google’s updates are coming in hot and heavy these days. And, search is changing with AI by the minute. Here’s two reasons that those factors point to adding personalization:
- Google is most definitely targeting “thin” review affiliate content. The type that just rephrases the product details listed on Amazon.
- AI will only increase in prevalence, and content is going to start sounding the same (as if it doesn’t already).
How to stand out from AI, while simultaneously avoiding Google’s product review wrath? No one has a crystal ball, but adding personalization is a good place to start.
I’m adding statements like:
- “When I opened this product out of the box… “
- “The first time I started X up…”
- “From my testing…”
- “From the 3 months I’ve used this, I can say…”
- “In my experience…”
You get the picture. It’s not hard to do, but helps convey a better signal.
PS. Pair this one up with unique images of you using the product – BOOM
I’ve been focused on this since the May 2022 update. After that, lots more video started showing up in the SERPs, and articles that had relevant, embedded content seemed to survive better.
Best case scenario? Make your own videos. I’ve been doing this using my iPhone 14. Just make sure to pick up an external mic – sound is the KEY on YouTube. Smartphones like the iPhone 14 have image stabilization so you don’t really need to worry about a gimbal or anything.
If you can’t shoot your own, embed other, popular (and relevant) YouTube videos.
🎯Tighter Internal Linking & Anchor Text
We’re all pretty familiar with how important internal links are. But, it’s also pretty easy to get a little carried away with your internal links.
You also have to pay attention to your internal link anchor text.
Google learns a lot about a specific page by the anchor text in the links that point to it. This means external links AND internal links.
It’s easy to get a bit lazy about your internal link anchor text.
I did an audit on one of my websites at the end of last year and…. Well, some pages had a LOT of internal links that weren’t super highly relevant.
And the more irrelevant the links get, the more generic the anchor text gets. Pretty soon, you’re watering down the topical authority that internal linking can create.
2023 is the year of fewer internal links to articles, but much more focused internal linking. Not only the source link but the anchor text as well. I use Link Whisper for all of my internal linking – it makes it fast and efficient.
Here’s how I used Link Whisper to fix my internal link problem on that website.
You probably knew I would say this one. Granted, my previous career for over a decade was as a professional photographer.
BUT, pro or not, creating unique images is high ROI! Its high ROI because the return far exceeds the investment. In other words, it isn’t hard to crank out a bunch of decent images.
You can take great photos with your phone. It doesn’t take much work to take photos that are “good enough”. It’s super quick.
And that’s all you need – good enough. Unique imagery is preferred by Google for product reviews, it’s a part of the “Experience” portion of E-E-A-T, and it makes such a great connection with your audience.
Not to mention, you can get traffic from it.
I’ll mention it because it’s easy – we made a course to teach you how to take awesome photos for your website. And lots of website builders are saying it helped them a lot!
Alright, self promotion over. But note that I didn’t put images at the top!
🎯Author / Company Validation
If you haven’t listened to the recent interview I did on the Niche Pursuits Podcast with Kyle Roof, stop what you’re doing and go listen.
He outlines a step by step process for adding E-E-A-T signals to your site. Literally, a checklist you can go through.
I realized that I was missing a huge opportunity – I wasn’t “connecting the dots” for Google on my websites.
You need to be using proper schema for your Company information, About page, Author pages, etc. You need a Company address and phone number. Your authors need to have signals showing that they are real people.
Your website needs to be a real business.
🎯Page Level Schema
Speaking of schema…
Schema is a form of structured data markup that can help to improve search rankings and visibility by providing additional context and information to search engines.
It’s basically like speaking the search bot’s language. In many ways, it can give you a leg up, because Google’s bot will better understand your page.
Most SEO plugins (my preferred is Rank Math Pro) add the basics to your blog post. But you can add a lot more:
- FAQ schema for your question and answer sections
- Author schema
- Company schema
- Local schema
- Review schema
- Recipe schema
Keith Mint and I have been playing around with it, tweaking and trying to get a template for making it just right. He sent out an email recently about how he’s doing it with Rank Math. I would start by following his method.
Citations feel a bit like 2015, but they are a great way to build your brand entities for Google to see.
Local citations are nothing more than online mentions of your business’s name, address, and phone number (NAP) on other websites and directories.
Start by ensuring that your NAP information is accurate and consistent across all online listings, including your website, social media profiles, and local directories such as Google Business Profile (yes you should have that set up for your niche website).
Citations are easy and cheap to build, and they help with E-E-A-T.
**I will note, though, that if you don’t build out your company entities on your site, I don’t think Citations will help much. Citations will help substantiate what you’ve already established IMO.
Ok, that’s a lot. I hope this helped give more context into things I’m paying close attention to this year.
And, in closing, this doesn’t mean to ignore some of the standbys in SEO. Keep publishing great content and getting links, along with having a technically sound website!