If you ask me, it’s very important how a website looks!
But looks aren’t everything.
As with all design elements, it needs to have both form and function.
One aspect of the function [yes, there are multiple] of a website is Search Engine Optimization [SEO]. As the name indicates, SEO helps with visibility of websites on search engines. If you want a more detailed explanation have a read here.
As you most likely know, well-done SEO will help you get to the top of the search engines, such as Google, for free. You might also know that you can pay for ad space and your site will be put at the top or on the right side of the page.
But did you know that there are, on average, 3.8 million searches per minute on Google!? That’s a lot of searching going on in the world. If your business got searched, let’s say, .01% out of all those searches, I think your business would be doing pretty well! 😉
With that said, I thought I would give some basic guidance on how search engines rank sites.
If you have…
- high-quality, relevant information for a specific topic that uses the most optimal, searchable keywords…
- other websites linking to your website… [Keep in mind, it’s important who you are linked to. You will up your game if you are linked to other trusted sites that get frequent traffic vs a site that rarely gets views.]
- a lot of people clicking on your site…
- a fast-loading site…
- unique content… [I know, it’s convenient to get fed content from other resources, but when it’s original, it’s much more valuable for the search engine optimization.]
- your brand or domain name mentioned frequently in other places…
- high social metrics… [Facebook shares, LinkedIn mentions, Tweets, etc.]
…then search engines will love you and it’s more likely your site will populate at the top of the list when someone does a search relevant to what you offer.
What do you optimize for?
Before you take steps to get higher rankings, you first need to figure out who you are optimizing for [your audience] and what your audience is searching for [frequent keywords used]. That takes a little “brand” soul searching, but there are plenty of tools like Google’s own keyword tool that can help you figure out what that is.
You will then look at search volume, relevance, and competition to find which keywords or phrases will be the most useful for you.
How to optimize?
When you have your list of keywords or phrases, it’s time to optimize your site. There are a plethora of ways you can do that! Below are some of the top ones. But keep in mind, it’s constantly changing. [They just can’t make it easy for us can they.]
- Title of your website
- Meta description
- Alt tags
- URL name
- Target keywords on your pages: Placing them higher up on the page is better.
For example, a keyword in a title is more useful than if it’s buried within the body of your copy. But, either way, get those keywords placed on your page!
- Built to share: if you give your audience an easy way to share your articles, your social metrics go up.
- Engagement: whether on your site or on social media, engaging your audience is good.
- User Experience: such as speed; a clean, visually appealing site; and simple navigation.
- Local SEO: within a smaller market vs a larger market, broad terms (such as shoes) can produce effective results.
- Hyperlinked text: when you link to another location, make sure to include keywords.
- Content creation and promotion: remember, original content is best!
- Mobile friendliness
- Redirects: I do not recommend moving or changing your URL, but if necessary, make sure it’s done properly. Broken links can impact you poorly.
- Duplicating content: this is never good. It dilutes link equity between pages (yes confusing, but in general, search engines will penalize you for duplicating sections of content.
- Submit your xml sitemap: Share your sitemap with search engines so that spiders crawl your site and pick up your information more quickly.
- Organic SEO: these organic optimization efforts are valued higher than paid advertising.
- SSL certificate: this used to be just for eCommerce. Not anymore. All sites need to have it and it’s valued high for Google.
- Back links: reach out to people who might be interested in linking to your articles.
- SEO plugins: for example, Yoast SEO is free and an excellent tool.
This is a long list and there are even more ways to optimize, but hopefully this will give you a place to start. I know we all have limited time, but if you start with chipping away on this list, I’m most certain you will start seeing your site get higher up in the ranks.
If you have any questions, feel free to reach out, and if this seems just straight up overwhelming, we can of course help do it for you.