Recently, Ignite Invisibility hosted a webinar on advanced SEO and the top strategies that will help brands rank today. Joining CEO John Lincoln was Alan Bush, VP of Ignite Visibility; Jen Cornwell, Ignite’s Director of Digital Strategy; and Mordy Oberstein, Wix’s Head of SEO Branding.
The strategies we covered came straight from Google’s most recent announcements. Read on to get our take on the latest tips from Google, and which ones we think will make the most impact in the coming year.
This comprehensive list of advanced SEO tips should help you get started on your next campaign.
1. Optimize for Multitask Unified Model (MUM)
This is one of the more challenging steps you’ll need to take with advanced SEO.
Multitask Unified Model, or MUM, gives users the ability to search images instead of text alone. It affects the way users see search results.
As Alan explains in our SEO webinar, MUM is “really the extension of what used to be called BERT… The original thing with BERT is that it was trying to get the intent behind the search rather than just the keywords. MUM is like an amplified version of that and is using even multi-language.”
In short, MUM uses context from other languages to pull results. This means that you get the most relevant results based on the intent behind your search, along with the language you use.
You can optimize for MUM in a couple of key ways. The first is to increase the use of multimedia on content pages, as MUM connects multimedia to search queries, Google Lens, and more. Additionally, you can home in on user intent and develop high-quality content that covers every aspect of a topic.
2. Keep in Mind: URLs Are Case Sensitive
As Google’s John Mueller made clear, URLs are case-sensitive. It’s important to keep this in mind when structuring your URLs.
In our advanced SEO webinar, Alan had this to say about URL structure: “I think it’s really about being uniform with your URL structure. I think John Mueller is not necessarily saying that you have to be capitalized or have to be lowercase. But if you do use those things, keep them uniform . . . It causes canonical issues because they do mean separate things if you capitalize and/or keep one lowercase if you use underscores versus hyphens.”
The best way to keep your URLs uniform is to check your CMS to find out which style it creates automatically and stick with it. You should also use dashes and a directory structure instead of legacy structures.
3. Update Your Sitemap
Another element of your website to focus on is your sitemap.
Google Search Console now makes it easy to develop a website using insights into URLs that Google has discovered and indexed. This is something that John Mueller also recommends.
Your XML sitemap is essentially your website’s table of contents, letting visitors know how to navigate your website and find what they need. However, many websites include pages that simply don’t need to be in the sitemap. This is why you should tighten it up and keep it simple.
In our advanced SEO webinar, Mordy discussed Wix’s success with updating the sitemap. “We automatically generate a new sitemap once it gets to 10,000 or 20,000 URLs,” Mordy revealed. “The whole idea is that you don’t want to make Google crawl through 30 million, or in this case, 1,000 pages.”
Your sitemap should align with the other elements on your website that show what’s available to Google. In addition, update your sitemaps frequently as needed.
If you have a large website, create a sitemap of sitemaps with breakdowns by images, video content, and sections of your website.
4. Leverage the Alignment of Google’s Testing Tools
Google recently released a variety of testing tools. These include testing tools for AMP, mobile-friendliness, Rich Results, and URL inspection.
According to Google, these tools are “fully aligned” with each other after introducing changes to features and design, even though all of these tools had the same engine.
“The tools are going to win the day in the SEO world,” Mordy believes, “and the tools are going to find creative ways to integrate with Google, right. The URL inspection API—there are a ton of things you can do with that. Obviously, the tool Screaming Frog pulled in really quickly. It’ll be interesting to see what happens, you know, in a month, six months from now, when the tools have more time to put some data into it.”
Take the time to run each tool on your website to identify and address any errors without the use of third-party tools, You can familiarize yourself with the tools available and the way they work.
6. Use the URL Inspection Tool to Help Gauge Success
The URL Inspection Tool is the future of indexing in the world of advanced SEO.
Google and Bing both offer their own inspection tool. Bing’s IndexNow tool integrates with the All-in-One SEO Pack.
As Google revealed on Twitter, its Inspection Tool offers one of the fastest ways to get an update on crawled and indexed status. This is why you should take these results more seriously if they conflict with Google’s Index Coverage Report.
If your page isn’t showing up in the index, it could be because of multiple factors, including:
- A lack of domain authority
- Links to a single page
- Poor content quality
- Technical issues
- Algorithm updates
One effective solution Alan mentioned internal linking. “Internal linking is the answer we’ve seen, or I’ve seen, start to work when clients are having a hard time getting their features indexed,” he said, “and even just that request inside of Search Console isn’t doing it anymore.”
Also, if you’ve done a migration or launched a new website, understand that it will likely take longer for Google to index your site.
7. Improve Content Over Fixing Technical Errors
Although technical SEO issues are important to identify and fix in advanced SEO strategies, you need to place as much, if not more, emphasis on high-quality content.
Google’s John Mueller recently released a statement discussing that Google focuses more on the relevance of the website overall as opposed to specific issues.
Factors that influence relevance could include usability and the number of ads on a page, along with the quality of content present on the website. If you really want your website to perform well on search engines, you must have great content.
As our group discussed in the advanced SEO webinar, you must focus on giving your audiences top-quality content that offers real value.
Some considerations around content quality include:
- Questions and answers
- Multimedia and images
- Writing quality
- Page usability
- Link spam score
8. Determine How Long to Leave a 301 Redirect in Place
SEO experts often debate this topic. 301 redirects indicate that a URL has permanently moved to another location.
There are certain disagreements over how long you should leave a 301 redirect in place, with opinions varying. People also ask about how many 301 redirects to use, how many wind up slowing things down, when it’s best to do a 302, and when to do a 301, among other issues.
Alan suggested that “you should always clean up your 301s internally in the linking structure of your website. So don’t rely on a redirect to get you there. But the redirection replaces cases of an outsider that come in that needs to go to those locations.”
Alan agrees that it’s best to keep your 301s in place for at least a year. This will help ensure the permanent reflection of changes.
On the other hand, if you’re using something that’s going to revert to a previous location, it’s often better to use a 302.
With the help of an SEO agency or consultant, you can make sure your business properly implements 301s. You should also give special attention to 301 redirects during site migrations when moving content between CMSs, changing a specific segment of the website, or moving pages over.
9. Understand the Effect That Page Experience Has on Desktop
Google has established that interstitials can hurt a website’s ability to rank. This shows how important it is to give your interstitials ample attention.
Alan gave his input regarding disruptive interstitials. “Essentially, if you keep putting things in front of people and tricking them into journaling something else, then you’re going to suffer a penalty,” he explains.
Several years ago, Google released its Fred update, which penalized sites that abused interstitials by firing them after a few seconds, rather than immediately. After waiting a few seconds, the interstitial ad would pop up and the visitor would unintentionally click on it, leading to frustration and distrust of the website.
It’s best to avoid using intrusive interstitials if you’re using them at all. This is crucial for gated content, in which case you should understand how much space your ads take up and which elements they cover on each page.
10. Incorporate PageSpeed Insights into Advanced SEO Practices
Google recently rolled out a new version of its PageSpeed Insights. The update makes for a more intuitive interface, and it covers the Core Web Vital assessment within the tool.
The PageSpeed Insights tool will ultimately help you optimize loading speed for both mobile and desktop websites. According to Alan, “This is the first thing I’m going to do: I’m testing each individual section of the website, meaning not just the homepage but the category page, the subcategory page, the product, blog, etc. I run it through the PageSpeed Insights tool and maybe a couple of other tools that also help.”
One of the key benefits of using Google’s tool is that you have access to mobile and desktop versions. The tool can give you a score and determine where your page speeds stand. Based on the page’s performance, you can make the necessary changes.
11. Make the Topic f Your Page Extraordinarily Clear
Content structure and on-page optimization haven’t gone anywhere.
Regarding keyword placement on your website, John Mueller stated, “I would recommend that if there’s something that you want to tell us that your page is about, to make that as visible as possible.”
To ensure proper keyword placement, make sure keywords appear in your title, headings, subheadings, and captions for images.
Title tags used to be the most important items to target with a primary keyword topic, but it’s become equally important to target headings and align them with title tags.
When looking at the page, visitors should have a clear idea of what the topic is as soon as they start reading.
12. Answer Common Questions from the Perspective of End Users
As you develop content for your website, make sure it answers questions that end-users likely have. Your content should also target the Google Answer box.
You can find out what questions your audience is asking by conducting research and including these questions in your content strategy. This will help increase click-through rates and increase your chances of getting into position zero on Google.
Be sure to outline your content well, make page content readable to Google, and keep your answers concise enough to appear in the Google Answer box.
13. Optimize for Voice Search
We also reviewed the steps to take to optimize for voice search.
Voice search will appeal to many users who use Amazon Alexa and other platforms to perform voice searches.
During the SEO webinar, Mordy suggested, “If your page represents a, you know, something that’s very ‘feature snippetable’—for lack of a better word—then there’s an opportunity that if you add the markup to it, then this could be an opportunity for you to get some notoriety, some traffic for yourself.”
Using Speakable Markup on your pages, you can specify what you would like spoken from a page.
14. Leverage the Power of Video Optimization
Today, video comprises around 40-50% of content that Google retrieves for results. It’s more important than ever.
Jen discussed the importance of video optimization. “It’s really important to think about repurposing your videos and how you integrate them into the user experience, and whether that’s including them on other channels, but making sure they live on your website and then making sure they live on platforms like YouTube.”
You can take certain steps in content creation, such as:
- Focusing on a niche
- Developing content regularly
- Creating videos on all searchable content
- Linking content together on YouTube
15. Design a Visually Appealing and Presentable Website
Your website should also feature an excellent design that’s aesthetically pleasing and easy to navigate.
The layout of your website can actually affect SEO and cause your rankings to rise or fall. The best way to optimize your website’s design is to look at it from the visitor’s standpoint.
Some specific items to look for include:
- Spelling errors
- Too many or unclear CTAs
- Multiple ads
- Mobile design
- Inconsistent branding
- Multiple popups
- Pages without a clear purpose
16. Improve Long-Form Content by Going After Passage Indexing
As Jen explained, “this is just another thing where Google’s gotten really smart about what content you have and how it wants to index it so you don’t have tons of control over how you get served. It’s really just about whether or not you’re providing the information that Google is going to think is valuable.”
You can optimize your content for passage indexing by taking a couple of key steps. First, include words that people often use and associate with keywords and phrases you focus on in your content.
In addition, have headings with obvious topics or questions and be sure to answer those questions directly underneath within around 70 characters.
17. Eliminate Spelling and Grammar Errors
Another big step to improving the quality of content is to reduce spelling and grammar errors as much as possible. Good spelling and grammar will leave a good first impression among visitors.
18. Improve Core Web Vitals
Using the PageSpeed Insights tool, understand how you perform for these three key metrics: Largest Contentful Paint, First Input Delay, and Cumulative Layout Shift.
19. Align Heading Tags with Titles
As discussed earlier, make sure your heading tags work with your titles. Heading tags are becoming more prominent and showing up more in search results.
20. Understand How International SEO Affects Google
Companies with international audiences require different pages for various countries and languages. This is something that Google understands and treats differently from national and local SEO.
You can optimize your pages for international SEO by setting canonical pages for each language or country. For instance, you can have a page in English and another version in Spanish.
21. Understand that Google is Profiling Everything
Google has profiled everything since the Medic update rolled out in 2018. In doing so, Google gains a complete picture of websites.
For instance, if you’re a medical site and offer health information, you may confuse Google by having internal links that go to product pages, featuring too many ads, or having popups that lead to products. As a result, Google might be unsure if this site is an information source or a business selling products.
To prevent this confusion, make sure your content is of great quality and makes your intent incredibly clear. Stop thinking about content as a “ranking factor” and consider how authorities in your industry handle the topics you cover.
22. Whatever You Think Will Get You into Google Discover Won’t
Webmasters mistakenly believe that the right image size is the key to getting into Google Discover. However, this isn’t the case. Instead, it’s all about topical authority.
If you want to appear in Google Discover, create strong and focused topical authority with consistent content that establishes you as a leader.
In addition, use the max image preview tag and make sure you have an image set.
23. Start Thinking Like a Marketer by Considering Predictive Need
Mordy explained this a bit more in-depth in our advanced SEO webinar, stating, “So this goes back to MUM to take a very simple query like ‘go to the Yankees game,’ right? So very simple . . . But if you started thinking about what MUM is going to do, MUM is going to take those worlds ‘go to’ [and] parse them.”
In short, MUM can predict the needs of users by looking closely at the words in the query. You should also do this in your SEO. Predict the details users would need along the way as they travel down certain paths.
24. Usability Will be the Difference Maker for Passage Ranking
Google’s getting better at understanding content over time, and you can help it along by making your website more usable.
The more digestible your content is, the better it will perform. As you optimize your content and its usability, make sure it isn’t out of date, incorrect, duplicated, or of poor quality.
25. Stop Tracking Every Algorithm Update
Today, there is more rank volatility than ever, with a 65% increase between 2021 and 2020 alone.
The reason for the increase is that Google is constantly testing and recalibrating machine learning capabilities. This leads to rank reversals with each update.
Because of this, don’t panic if your page’s ranking decreases. Instead, look at long-term ranking patterns and keep in mind that rankings are likely to reverse. You can then use the SEMrush tool to locate the algorithm update and determine its purpose.
Learn More About How to Grow Your Business with Advanced SEO
Advanced SEO practices can help significantly improve your brand’s performance. The key is developing the right strategy for your website.
If you want more on what advanced SEO can do for you, check out the webinar or read about more SEO tactics here. Additionally, you can find some helpful SEO plugins for WordPress or complete actionable items on our SEO checklist.