Having a website and not optimizing it for search engines is like opening a high-end restaurant on the 20th floor of the building with no elevators. What is the use of a website when no one knows about its existence?
So, how do you optimize your website so it can be easily found online? You do this using Search Engine Optimization and applying a proven SEO strategy.
What is Search Engine Optimization?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a marketing practice that aims to increase the number of organic visitors to a website by placing it in the first few searches of the Search Engine Result Page (SERP).
You need to be found online using popular search engines like Google that drive visitors to your website.
To search for anything on the internet, you type the keywords in the search box of search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing. The search engine then considers hundreds of factors and displays the most suitable result according to its algorithm.
On average, Google drives 80% of a website’s traffic. However, a comparatively low percentage of average traffic comes from Yahoo (9.5%) and Bing (8.5%). Therefore, most of the SEO strategies are created keeping Google algorithms in focus.
75% of internet users do not scroll past the first page of the search result.
If that’s so then why all this hard work? You can spend money on Google AdWords and land on the first page. To your surprise, 70-80% of users ignore paid links and focus on organic ones.
So, not optimizing your site for search engines is no more an option.
It is essential to know and understand those hundreds of factors that search engines consider in their algorithm to rank a website. Accordingly, you need to take steps to increase the ranking of the site.
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Factors that Google considers to rank a page/website are not constant. Google changes its algorithm around 500-600 times in a year. Occasionally a ‘major’ change (like Google Panda, Google Penguin) is rolled out that impacts the ranking in a big way.
Although the ranking factors are kept secret by Google, SEO experts keep guessing and testing them for better rankings. There are around 200 such factors that decide the rank and therefore the fate of your website.
There are two main kinds of SEOs. On-page SEO and off-page SEO.
On-Page SEO – that determines how well your website’s content is presented to visitors and search engines.
Off-Page SEO – refers to your site’s “authority on the internet”.
We will cover essential techniques in both of these categories.
But, before that, we will explore some fundamental technical aspects of SEO that include generating a sitemap, indexing and checking the speed of the website. These are hygiene factors that need to be considered before moving to the actual optimization process.
If you think of SEO like building a house, then technical SEO is all about building a solid foundation. You can look at it as any work done to a site aside from the content itself. – source: Search Engine Journal
1 – Properly Structure of Your Website
The structure of a website is essential. Navigation for users as well as for search engines should be easy. It means bringing the most relevant and clickable content to the surface so that the users find it in the least number of clicks.
A flat structure helps the search engine crawl and index the most in-depth linked page faster.
You can use Engagebay to audit your site for various elements like sitemap, Keyword Consistency, Text to HTML etc. It assists you in setting up the technical SEO of your website. Engagebay is a comprehensive tool for not just SEO but also your marketing needs.
You can also use the 5-second test of Usability Hub to check the navigation of your website. These tests reveal whether or not your site is delivering the user experience that is expected.
2 – Create XML Sitemap and Fix the Errors
You are supposed to generate XML Sitemaps for your site and submit the same in Google Webmasters Tools. It is a way of getting your site pages registered by Google crawlers.
The XML sitemap is a way to communicate directly with search engines, alerting them about newly published content. Sitemaps help in faster indexing of your site pages in search engines.
3 – Improve Site Speed
The speed of a site is one of the deciding factors in SEO ranking.
Slow speed spoils the user experience. In the world of a small attention span of 8 seconds, you cannot expect the visitor to wait forever to load your site.
The bounce rate increases with the loading time of your website.
Google acknowledges your website as not useful since people are not spending time on it. Therefore, the ranking of your site goes down.
I know you don’t want this to happen to your site hence, suggest you install a free plugin W3 Total Cache. This plugin can speed up your site instantaneously even with default settings.
You can check the performance of your site using a website grader. It is an excellent tool that tests your site page size, upload speed, SEO and security.
4 – Create High-Quality Content
Creating high-quality content is not just about search engine rankings but also about providing value to your audience.
This includes using relevant keywords naturally within the content, ensuring proper formatting, organizing content with headings and subheadings, and optimizing images and multimedia elements.
By focusing on delivering exceptional content that meets the needs and expectations of your users, you are more likely to attract organic traffic, gain loyal followers, and ultimately improve your search engine rankings over time.
Here are several ways in which high-quality content can contribute to better rankings:
Boost Rankings & Number of Keywords
High-quality content focuses on providing valuable and relevant information to the target audience. By conducting thorough keyword research and incorporating relevant keywords naturally within the content, you can optimize it for search engines. This helps search engines understand the topic and context of your content, leading to improved rankings for relevant search queries.
Increase User Engagement and Dwell Time
High-quality content tends to engage users, keeping them on the page for longer periods (dwell time). When users spend more time engaging with your content, it sends positive signals to search engines, indicating that your content is valuable and relevant. This can potentially lead to higher rankings as search engines strive to deliver the best user experience.
When you create high-quality content that is informative, unique, and valuable, it increases the likelihood of other websites linking to it as a reliable source of information. Backlinks from authoritative and relevant websites are a crucial ranking factor, and they can significantly improve your search engine rankings.
Encourage Social Sharing
Compelling and high-quality content is more likely to be shared on social media platforms, leading to increased visibility, reach, and potential engagement. Social signals, such as likes, shares, and comments, can indirectly impact search engine rankings by generating more traffic, brand exposure, and potential backlinks.
Reduce Bounce Rate
High-quality content that satisfies users’ search intent and provides the desired information or solutions helps reduce bounce rates. A lower bounce rate indicates that users are finding value in your content and are more likely to explore your website further. This can positively influence search engine rankings.
Build Expertise and Authority
Creating high-quality content that showcases your expertise and provides valuable insights helps establish you and your website as an authority in your industry or niche. When search engines recognize your authority, it can lead to improved rankings for relevant search queries.
Impact of Content Freshness & Updates
Regularly updating and adding high-quality content to your website signals to search engines that your website is active, relevant, and valuable to users. This can positively impact search engine rankings, particularly for topics that require up-to-date information or frequent updates.
Enhance Visibility with Rich Snippets and Featured Snippets
High-quality content that provides structured and well-organized information can be eligible for rich snippets or featured snippets in search engine results. These enhanced search results can significantly increase visibility, click-through rates, and overall organic traffic.
5 – Focus on Onsite Optimization
Onsite optimization, also known as on-page optimization, refers to the process of optimizing various elements on a website to improve its visibility and relevance to search engines. It involves making adjustments and improvements directly on the website itself, targeting factors that search engines consider when determining rankings. Onsite optimization focuses on optimizing both the content and technical aspects of a website.
Key aspects of onsite optimization include:
Write Clear Titles
The title of your post is crucial.
8 out of 10 people will read the headline copy, but only two will read the rest.
Why writing a good title is so important?
Because most of the time the headline fails to deliver its only objective.
And what is the primary objective of the headline?
To make the first line of your article read.
Moreover, it should be different enough to break the clutter amongst similar such titles on the Google search. Your blog title should be catchy, engaging, and exciting. The title determines the performance of the post. Hence, my advice is to invest sufficient time in arriving at the appropriate title.
You can try Coschedule Headline Analyser to generate some exciting titles which can make your audience curious to read the post.
Coschedule helps you create a title that has a mix of emotional and powerful words. It gives you a score based on the usage of words, grammar, length and various other factors.
Improve Meta Tags
Optimizing meta tags, including the meta title and meta description, to accurately describe the content of each page. These tags appear in search engine results and can significantly impact click-through rates.
A Meta description is the post description that comes just below the title in search engine results.
Most users read the meta description before clicking on the title. Your meta description should contain keywords, and sell the idea of your article.
Ideally, a meta description should be 160 characters in length. In this short message, you need to convince the reader why he should spend time and read the full post.
Optimize Header Tags
Using header tags (H1, H2, H3, etc.) appropriately to structure the content and highlight key sections. Header tags provide a hierarchical structure to the content, making it easier for search engines to understand the page’s organization and topic relevance.
Build Internal Links to Other Pages
Establishing a logical internal linking structure within the website. This helps search engines discover and navigate through the website’s pages, as well as distribute authority and relevance across different pages.
Design Mobile Friendly Website
Ensuring the website is optimized for mobile devices, with responsive design and mobile-friendly features. Mobile optimization is crucial for user experience and search engine rankings, as mobile-friendliness is a ranking factor.
Page Loading Speed
We already discussed the importance of having a fast-loading website earlier, but it’s so important it’s worth mentioning again. It’s critical to optimize the website’s loading speed if you want to improve search engine rankings. This can be achieved by minimizing file sizes, reducing the number of plugins if you’re using WordPress, leveraging caching techniques, and optimizing code. A faster website improves user experience and can positively impact search engine rankings.
Use Alt Attributes with Your Images
The alt attribute is an essential part of search engine optimization. It describes your images to the search engine. And, when a user searches for a particular picture, it is a crucial determining factor for a match.
You can use a free plugin SEO-friendly images to insert relevant Alt attributes to all your site images automatically. SEO Friendly Images is a WordPress SEO plugin that automatically updates all images with proper Alt and title attributes for SEO purposes.
Conduct keyword research and strategically incorporate relevant keywords into website content, including titles, headings, meta tags, URLs, and throughout the body text. This helps search engines understand the context and relevance of the website.
Creating search engine-friendly URLs that are descriptive, concise, and contain relevant keywords. A clear URL structure can make it easier for search engines to crawl and understand the website’s content.
Ensuring a positive user experience by optimizing website navigation, improving readability, providing clear calls-to-action, and optimizing for easy access across different devices and browsers.
6 – Don’t Neglect Off-Site Optimization
With the completion of On-Site Optimization, your work is still not done. You still need to let the world know about your website so it can be easily found in searches.
Off-site optimization, also known as off-page optimization, refers to the actions taken outside of a website to improve its search engine rankings.
It involves activities that aim to enhance the website’s reputation, authority, and relevance through external factors. Off-site optimization primarily focuses on building high-quality backlinks from other reputable websites, as well as establishing a strong online presence and reputation.
Here are some key aspects of off-site optimization and how they can improve search engine rankings:
Obtaining high-quality backlinks from authoritative and relevant websites is a crucial aspect of off-site optimization. Search engines view backlinks as a vote of confidence and relevance for a website. When reputable websites link to your site, it signals to search engines that your content is valuable and trustworthy. The quality and relevance of these backlinks play a significant role in improving search engine rankings.
Social media activity, such as likes, shares, comments, and followers, can indirectly impact search engine rankings. While social signals are not direct ranking factors, they can contribute to increased visibility, brand awareness, and potential amplification of your content. Engaging with your audience on social media platforms can generate social signals and attract more organic traffic to your website, ultimately improving search engine rankings.
Online Reputation Management
Building and managing a positive online reputation can positively impact search engine rankings. This involves monitoring and addressing customer reviews, managing online mentions and references, and actively engaging with your audience. A positive online reputation enhances trust and credibility, which can result in higher search engine rankings.
Guest Blogging and Content Promotion
Contributing high-quality guest posts on authoritative websites within your industry allows you to showcase your expertise and generate backlinks. By sharing valuable content on reputable platforms, you can increase your website’s exposure, attract new audiences, and improve search engine rankings.
Collaborating with influential individuals or brands within your industry can help increase brand visibility and generate valuable backlinks. Influencers can promote your content or products, leading to increased website traffic and potential improvement in search engine rankings.
Online Directory and Local Listings
Ensuring your website is listed on relevant online directories and local listings can improve its visibility in local search results. Consistent and accurate information across these platforms helps search engines understand the relevance and authority of your website, potentially leading to higher rankings for local searches.
Brand Mentions and Co-Citations
Being mentioned or referenced without a direct link (brand mentions) and co-citations (mentions of your brand alongside other relevant keywords) can also contribute to improving search engine rankings. Search engines consider these mentions as signals of authority and relevance.
The ranking factors keep changing, and Google keeps mum on the weight given to each element. The SEO community has a consensus on the fact that the authority and trustworthiness of a website is the most critical factor. If you’re looking to learn about the latest SEO strategies, here is a list of top SEO resources and channels on YouTube.
7 – Prioritize Link Building
Building backlinks is the primary focus of an Off-Site SEO.
A backlink is an incoming link that comes from another website.
Suppose, you wrote an authority article in your niche, and other websites refer your content for in-depth information by hyperlinking your page. Congratulations !! you earned backlinks.
Google gives high importance to backlinks. The quality of the backlink also plays an important role. A backlink from a high authority website is more important than a lower one.
There are three types of links categorized by how they are earned:
Natural Links: The backlink mentioned in the above example is a Natural Link. People are naturally referring to your content because it is excellent and helpful.
Manually-Built Links: This practice involves deliberately asking influencers and customers to link back to your website.
Self-Created Links: These are the links that you generate by adding a backlink to an online directory, forum, or blog comment. This technique if overused runs the danger of being categorized as black hat.
It should be kept in mind that Google penalizes back hat SEO techniques and the search engine may even blacklist you.
Outbound links are also relevant as they represent the focus area of your content. If you are linking to some authority fashion blogs, Google crawler will understand that you are writing something about fashion.
8 – Engage on Social Media
Another major source of earning backlinks is Social Media.
Although social site links are no-follow links, the signals like shares, likes, and tweets are well recognized by search engines. They are considered to be an important factor in search engines’ algorithms.
Sharing your website’s content on social media platforms exposes it to a wider audience. As users engage with and share your content, it can generate more traffic to your website, which can positively impact your search engine rankings.
Building a strong presence on social media helps establish your brand authority and credibility. When your brand is perceived as trustworthy and authoritative by users, it can indirectly contribute to improved search engine rankings.
Another benefit of using social media is link-building opportunities. When your content is shared and linked to on social media, it can attract backlinks from other websites, which is a crucial factor in search engine ranking algorithms.
Social media activity, such as likes, shares, comments, and followers, can send positive social signals to search engines. Search engines may consider these social signals as indicators of content quality and relevance, potentially influencing your search engine rankings.
To leverage the benefits of social media for search engine rankings, it’s essential to develop a strategic social media marketing plan that focuses on creating and sharing high-quality content, engaging with your audience, and building a strong social media presence. By integrating social media efforts with your overall SEO strategy, you can enhance your website’s visibility, increase organic traffic, and potentially improve search engine rankings.
The strategies mentioned above for improving your page rankings are vital steps that every website owner should take to achieve high positions in search engine result pages (SERPs).
By consistently implementing these strategies and improving your skills, you can enhance your website’s visibility and increase its chances of success in organic search results.
Author: Billy Lucas is a passionate blogger sharing business tips on behalf of EngageBay. He writes primarily on SEO, social media, CRM, and marketing automation and covers the entire gamut of marketing.