Home  /  Bytes.co Blog  /  April 8, 2024 – The Best Time to Eclipse Your Competitors’ Rankings With SEO?

April 8, 2024 – The Best Time to Eclipse Your Competitors’ Rankings With SEO?

Total Solar Eclipse

The reports of SEO’s death have been greatly exaggerated (year after year) – so if you haven’t put together your website’s search engine optimization strategy, there’s no better time than right now – be it April 8, 2024 today as you read this, or any other day. 

Just as the moon’s goal is simply to get in front of the sun on 4/8/24, the objective of any digital marketing strategy is to get in front of the competition – and this is especially true when it comes to organic search engine rankings for a business’s website. As a general SEO rule: the higher the position, the greater the website’s visibility and traffic. However unlike the moon – which will only eclipse the sun very briefly in a narrow path – longer-term outranking of competitors from every angle is where real success lies.

Wait, did you think this post was actually about this year’s total solar eclipse happening across the United States? Apologies to those who stumbled into this post looking for that info. I suppose I now owe it to you to provide a brief viewing guide before we get back to the SEO stuff…

2024 Solar Eclipse Viewing by State and Time

Residents of states across the U.S. will have the opportunity to view at least part of this historic solar eclipse, but millions of people living in several states will experience a particularly spectacular view because they’ll find themselves in the “path of totality”. Astronomy.com and Time and Date have the complete list of states and the times when Earthlings can witness the event, but let’s focus here on the path of totality states.

What is the eclipse path of totality?

The “path of totality” refers to the geographic area on the Earth’s surface where a total solar eclipse can be observed. During a total solar eclipse, the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun, completely blocking the Sun’s disk for a brief period.

Because the Moon’s shadow is relatively small, only a narrow strip of the Earth’s surface experiences the total eclipse. This strip, where observers can witness the Sun being completely obscured by the Moon, is known as the path of totality.

Outside this path, observers may still witness a partial solar eclipse, where only a portion of the Sun is covered by the Moon. The path of totality is the most sought-after location for eclipse enthusiasts, photographers, and scientists due to the rare and breathtaking spectacle of a total solar eclipse.

April 8, 2024 Path of Totality Times by State

15 states that fall within the path of totality for the 2024 solar eclipse, including Bytes’ own home state of Vermont, allowing 31.5 million Americans to experience this rare phenomenon!

StateBegin PartialBegin TotalityEnd TotalityEnd Partial
Arkansas12:27 pm CT1:45 pm CT2:00 pm CT3:16 pm CT
Illinois12:41 pm CT1:58 pm CT2:07 pm CT3:22 pm CT
Indiana12:44 pm CT2:01 pm CT3:12 pm ET4:25 pm ET
Kentucky12:40 pm CT1:58 pm CT2:05 pm CT4:27 pm ET
Maine2:16 pm ET3:28 pm ET4:35 pm ADT4:41 pm ET
Michigan12:52 pm CT3:12 pm ET3:14 pm ET4:28 pm ET
Missouri12:33 pm CT1:53 pm CT2:02 pm CT3:17 pm CT
New Hampshire2:14 pm ET3:28 pm ET3:32 pm ET4:39 pm ET
New York2:02 pm ET3:16 pm ET3:29 pm ET4:38 pm ET
Ohio1:51 pm ET3:08 pm ET3:19 pm ET4:30 pm ET
Oklahoma12:22 pm CT1:43 pm CT1:51 pm CT3:09 pm CT
Pennsylvania1:59 pm ET3:15 pm ET3:20 pm ET4:35 pm ET
Tennessee12:37 pm CT1:58 pm CT2:00 pm CT4:26 pm ET
Texas12:06 pm CT1:27 pm CT1:49 pm CT3:07 pm CT
Vermont2:13 pm ET3:25 pm ET3:31 pm ET4:38 pm ET

If you aren’t already in one of these locations when the eclipse begins, good luck catching it! At over 1,500 miles per hour, the shadow of the moon will be racing across the face of the Earth at well over the speed of sound! In fact, as it moves across the 15 states above, the path of totality will only last about 2 hours – from 1:27 CT to 4:35 ET.

Vermont Solar Eclipse Viewing

Being based in Burlington, VT, the Bytes team not only has a front row, path of totality seat for the spectacle – but all of the hype leading up to it! You can’t walk into a gas station in BTV without seeing paper advertisements for eclipse viewing glasses. It’s difficult to cut through all of the noise, but fortunately the City of Burlington has put together Obscura BTV – a guide to the eclipse which provides details including viewing locations, FAQs, events and more.

Now can we PLEASE get back to SEO?!

Web Search Results Page Graphic

Search Engine Optimization in 2024

It’s true that search engine ranking algorithms remain as mysterious as the final frontier, but years of experience testing strategies and reporting on results has taught digital marketers how to focus their SEO telescopes on what matters most. Pardon this and all of the other increasingly gratuitous and reaching space puns that follow…

Hundreds of businesses of all types and sizes have counted on Bytes.co to manage their websites’ SEO over the years – as well as paid search advertising, conversion rate optimization and social advertising – so we’d love to hear from you if you’re looking for experience guided, expert digital marketing. In the meantime, let’s roll your site out on to the launch platform with a primer on SEO best practices in 2024. Take one small step for your website, and one giant leap for your business.

Keyword Research and Establishing a Baseline

Just like the path of totality for April’s eclipse, there is a clearly defined path you need to follow to maximize your website’s visibility in search rankings. It starts with fundamental keyword research to determine what your customers or target audience are actually typing into search engines when searching for your products or services online. Keyword research tools like Google’s Keyword Planner, SEMrush, Ahrefs and others allow you to see search volume data and gauge how difficult it may be to rank for certain terms.

With your target keywords identified, the next step is to assess where your website currently ranks for those terms. Use ranking tracking tools like Ahrefs, SEMrush, Moz Pro or others to get a baseline understanding of your ranking positions compared to competitors. This will show you which keywords require the most work to improve visibility.

Planning Which Pages to Optimize for Which Keywords

With your keywords prioritized based on factors like search volume, competition levels and your baseline rankings, you can start mapping out a content optimization plan. Determine which existing pages on your site are most relevant for targeting each high-value keyword. In some cases, you may need to create new content pages from scratch.

The goal is to ensure you have a comprehensive, keyword-targeted content plan that logically distributes your terms across different pages without causing redundancy or keyword cannibalization issues. Prioritize your most transactional, revenue-driving keywords for highest-visibility pages.

Optimizing Existing Website Pages

For each page on which you’re targeting an important keyword phrase, there are on-page optimization factors to address. At a minimum, you must include your target keywords strategically in all of the following:

  • Page Content – Does the page content satisfy the searcher’s intent for that keyword? If not, updates or a full content rewrite may be needed, focused on providing comprehensive and unique information. Ensure you’re using proper heading hierarchy and strategy as well (e.g. H1s, with nested H2s, etc.)
  • Title Tags – The title element remains a critical on-page factor. Be sure to include your target keyword, but in a readable, compelling way.
  • Meta Descriptions – Though meta descriptions don’t directly impact rankings, they are your “ad copy” in search results. Craft persuasive descriptions using your keywords to attract more clicks.
  • Image Optimization – Ensure all images have descriptive file names, alt text, titles, captions and surrounding context that are relevant to the target keyword.
  • Internal Linking – Link intelligently between related pieces of content on your site using descriptive anchor text with keywords. This helps search engines understand your content hierarchy.

Don’t overdo any particular optimization tactic to the point that it hurts usability or seems unnatural. Search engines want to see websites providing a great user experience above all else.

Mission Control – Developing an Ongoing Content Strategy

Your pages can be perfectly optimized, but if you never add fresh content addressing new topics and queries, your own rankings will eventually get eclipsed. An ongoing content strategy focused on creating high-quality, differentiated content assets is crucial for continually attracting new search visibility.

Analyze trending topics, queries with high interest but little quality content yet and address those content gaps consistently. Look for opportunities to build out more comprehensive topic clusters and resource hubs around core focus areas to become an authoritative source.

Remember to internally link new content back to your main service/product pages using relevant anchor text to guide topical relevance and equity flow.

At the end of the day, search engines want to see a healthy stream of content being added to a website over time – both for enhanced keyword targeting abilities and positive user experience indicators.

Claiming and Optimizing Business Listings

Rocketing into space to explore new worlds is exciting – but there’s still a lot to discover in our own backyards. For businesses with a local service area and/or brick-and-mortar presence, optimizing online directory and citation listings is an absolute must for local search visibility. Google’s growing tendency to answer queries with map listings and the local pack makes this a critical piece of the puzzle.

At a minimum, you need to claim and verify full and accurate business listings on Google, Bing, Apple Maps and other major sites. Then expand your efforts by building out and optimizing complete citations on localized directories like Yelp, Yellowpages, HotFrog and countless others.

The name, address and phone number (NAP) need to be 100% consistent, the business categories need to be relevant, upload photos, get reviews and take advantage of any other features on a per-listing basis. Having clean, fully built out citations across the local search ecosystem is vital for achieving prominent local rankings.

Link Building for Rankings And Authority

Having a website with exceptionally well-optimized pages and an industry-leading content strategy is great, but it still may not be enough to outrank more authoritative competitors if your off-page signals are lacking. Just as the SETI program looks to space for signals that might suggest life exists beyond our planet, search engines look out to the vast web for signals that individual web pages contain quality content. Quality backlinks from other relevant, trusted websites remain one of the most heavily weighted factors in search algorithms.

Build relationships with bloggers and influencers in your industry to become a source they naturally mention, cite or link to in their content. Pitch unique research, data studies, multimedia or commentary to digital publications relevant to your business for more high-quality backlink opportunities.

Don’t forget about existing offline marketing and PR efforts that may be able to net some links as well. See if you can get included in any online listings or directories related to professional associations, alumni publications, conferences/events, industry credentialing organizations, etc.

While some new link building tactics like unstructured data/entity promoting through knowledge panels are emerging in SEO, longstanding techniques around creating insightful content worth linking to remain highly effective.

Analyzing Results and Refining Your Approach

Any SEO program requires diligent monitoring and analysis of your search performance to understand the impact of your efforts. Is traffic increasing at the pace you anticipated for certain keyword groups based on rank improvements? If not, it may be a sign that further optimizations or adjustments are needed for those pages and terms.

Dive deeper into search analytics to understand how user metrics like average session duration, bounce rates and conversions look on both new and historically strong pages. Does the data indicate there are relevance, usability or disconnect issues to address?

On the technical side, watch out for issues that could be making your great content under-performant like redirect issues, duplicate content, crawl errors or poor server response times holding you back. Monitor reports in Google Search Console to understand additional technical issues, get an understanding of how Google crawls your XML sitemaps and gain insights into the queries that drive organic traffic to your site.

In short, an SEO program requires agility and continual refinement based on performance analysis to ensure ongoing growth.

The Apollo 11 moon landing wasn’t the first NASA launch – it took years of tests with different types of equipment, and countless man hours of analysis by the brightest minds. SEO too takes testing, analysis, and a lot of effort – no site launches and quickly ranks for important keywords. You have to put in the time.

Following The Eclipse Path to SEO Success

With April 8 just days away, it’s unlikely that the stars will align and allow for your rankings to eclipse those of your competitors on the same day as the historic celestial event, but the strategies above are all key to winning the SEO space race. As the search engine optimization cliche goes, this race is a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t get sucked into the black hole that is the world wide web, never to be seen in search results again – get started strategically planning your mission today. And as always, if you need someone to pilot your SEO ship, the Bytes crew is standing by!

Randall Abair

Randall Abair

Randy, a Vermont native, began his digital marketing career in 2002 and never looked back. With over 2 decades experience developing and executing SEO, paid search and social media marketing campaigns, he brings to Bytes the expertise and goal oriented strategic thinking our clients have come to expect from our team.

Skip Footer