SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is essential to generate organic traffic to your website leading to more leads and sales. Searchers won’t be able to find your site if it is not well optimized. SEO requirements keep changing, so it is important to keep up with the latest developments to ensure that your site is well optimized and at the top of the rankings on Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs).
How does Ranking work?
When people type in or say keywords in Google to search for any information, Google shows searchers the most relevant and high-quality results at the top with the rest coming in behind. Google’s search bots visit web pages (called crawling the web) and then add well optimized and crawlable pages to its index. When people use Google search, it shows them appropriate results based on the keywords, with the most relevant coming in top and the rest following behind. 95% of searchers never go beyond the first page, so you can see how important is ranking to your online success.
This is where SEO comes in. We explain that with a list of 11 key SEO factors that can help put your website in the top rankings.
An accessible and SSL enabled website
First and foremost, your website must have a URL that can be easily reached and crawled by Google’s bots. Google should be able to visit the URL, view and understand the page content. To do this you’ll need two things; a sitemap which lists all your pages, and a robots.txt file which tells search bots which pages on your site it can crawl and which pages not to crawl. Also having a SSL enabled website (https) is ideal, though it is not a deciding factor while indexing pages. More often than not, users will trust a secure site over an unsecured one. HTTPS could also become an important factor in the future as Google already considers it as a “light-weight ranking factor”.
Not surprisingly, optimized content is one of the most important factors for rankings. You might want to keep a few aspects in mind:
The keywords searchers use and the keywords that describe your site’s content should match.
Use keywords in page titles.
Meta descriptions should be short, enticing and include your keywords.
Use original content on each page. Use canonical URLs for content that is similar.
Image alt tags should contain keyword phrases to show that the images are relevant to the site content.
Your site should not be overcrowded with keywords. It will have a negative impact on your website as it results in poor quality content.
Optimize content for search intent also in addition to keywords, which means that you need to understand what people are really looking for when they use particular keywords.
Optimize content for answer boxes as it is increasingly in use in search results.
Video content is definitely increasing its share of the online traffic. The percentage of people who prefer watching a video over reading a blog is also on an increasing trend. Videos are watched across all age groups, and gets shared and linked to which will definitely help in your search rankings. Using videos as part of your content strategy would be a good way to get started.
Images make your content interesting and help in SEO. Use relevant images, and place it as close as possible to the corresponding text. Use the right name for the image; if possible, use the keyword in the file name without being forced. Compress and resize images to reduce load times.
Google uses artificial intelligence (RankBrain) to gauge User Experience of your site. This in turn depends on other factors like:
Clickthrough Rate – This is the percentage of people who visit your site by clicking on the link from the search results on which your site was displayed.
Bounce Rate – The percentage of people who ‘bounced’ away from your site after visiting it, which means that they did not find what they were looking for on your site.
Time on site – The time that users stay on your site once they have arrived. If a user spends more time on your site, it means that he/she found your site relevant to their search.
With internet traffic becoming more and more mobile-based, mobile-optimized sites are definitely ranking ahead of desktop-optimized sites. Key points to note:
Responsiveness – your site should automatically resize to fit the device screen.
Navigability – the menus should be easy to access and tap.
Readability – the font should be easily readable on a small screen.
Accessibility – the content shouldn’t get hidden by ads.
The older the domain age, the better are the chances of a top ranking. It should be noted however, that domain age does not just refer to how long it has been registered. It means how long it has been since Google first indexed it. It can be quite challenging for new sites to compete for rankings with sites having older domains.
Fast-loading web pages definitely improve user satisfaction. So, page speed has been crucial for SEO ranking for a long time and will continue to remain so. Also, with more and more people using mobile devices for their search needs, your page should be mobile friendly and should load fast on mobiles too.
Your site should have relevant inbound links from authoritative websites and very few links from low-quality domains. You can also have a few outbound links to authoritative websites to show users that you are serious about creating quality content, but ensure that outbound links are to genuine and quality websites or you can lose traffic as customers will have doubts on your credibility. And finally, you should have internal links between pages on your site, to increase the value of each page and also help with search rankings for each page.
Presence on Social Media
Though links are a crucial factor, Google’s official position has been that social media shares are not a direct ranking factor. But the fact remains that the more your content is shared, the more views and links it will get. Your content needs to be easily shared and you must have a good social media presence for that. Social media shares are an indirect way to help your search engine rankings.
Real Business Information
This is crucial as it gives credibility to your site and shows that you have a genuine business. It’s also important for businesses targeting local areas. You need to keep in mind a few things.
Your NAP (name, address, phone number) should be the same across all pages and sites and on social media.
You should have good reviews on your site and on relevant directories (e.g.; Yelp)
You should be listed on Google My Business.
These are the most crucial SEO factors for a website; you can start your SEO campaign with these. But this should not be an exhaustive list. Your SEO strategy should be constantly monitored and evolving according to the latest developments. This can become quite an overwhelming task and time consuming too. Online business owners often find valuable time and focus that should have been spent on core business matters being spent on SEO strategies instead.
We at Codesquad understand this too well. That is why we have exclusive SEO and web hosting teams in Perth for our clients. We offer end to end solutions for SEO, right from an audit on the website’s SEO validity to creating and implementing an optimal strategy. Contact us at 1300 790 166 and speak to a SEO specialist or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tim Reynolds is the Chief Solutions Consultant and SEO specialist at Codesquad. Talking SEO strategies, analysing client business needs and managing projects – all in a day’s work for Tim. He loves a challenge and when he isn’t engaged with a project or developing SEO strategies, you can find him with soldering iron in hand “making stuff.” If you are looking for 100% SEO compliance, Tim and his team won’t rest until you get there.