You know the value of search ranking in search engines, but what factors do Google, Bing, and Yahoo use in their algorithms to rank these websites? Whether your website is a business or personal hobby, there are many tactics and strategies to achieve search engine optimization that require marketing and technological skills. Depending on your goals, an individual or multiple teams can implement these activities. But Even in a collaboration effort, it’s important to know the features search engines look for to rank your website. While the algorithms of search engines are constantly changing, and it can be overwhelming to keep up with them, the most important thing to keep in mind is the search engine’s goal is to provide users the precise information they’re looking for. As long as SEO teams keep the reader in mind when writing content and setting up their webpages, that’s the biggest step to achieving high ranking.
With that mindset, here’s 10 SEO activities to optimize your website organized in four areas: Technical Set Up, HTML Coding, Content, and Off-Websites Influences.
Technical Set Up
1. Ensure your website is mobile-friendly
Earlier this year, Google and Bing began labeling search results as “mobile-friendly” (see Figure 1). Websites built for a mobile experience are given a boost in mobile search results, but does not impact rankings on a desktop device. But know that content rules. So a clear winner in content will rank higher than just being mobile optimized. Still, a website not optimized for mobile will underperform.
Good tool to help you test if you’re mobile friendly: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/
2. Ensure your webpages have fast loading times
Search engines use this measurement in its algorithm for search ranking. A fast page loading time not only pleases the search engines but gives your visitor a much better experience too. There are a few measures you can take, including uploading images as close to the right size as needed so it doesn’t bog down your page. And careful of embedding too many YouTube videos. Other technical aspects, such as excess HTML coding, can slow it down too.
Google tool to help measure speed: https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/
3. Create clear URL structures
URL wording is very important. Having-a-clear-URL-structure-like-this clearly describes what your page is about as, well as giving you additional keyword credit when sharing this link on other webpages. Your webpage will have more credibility and trust to users when the clear and descriptive link.
4. Make sure there’s no errors in search engines crawling your website
Search engine crawlers scan everything about your webpages so they can index, or categorize, your website. The robots.txt file on your server will tell search engine crawlers (like the Googlebot) which pages can or cannot be crawled. Use tools like Google Webmaster to tell you if you’re there’s any errors in crawling or indexing your webpage.
Google Webmaster tool: https://www.google.com/intl/en/webmasters/
5. Write page titles
One of the most important ingredients in SEO, this tells the search engines AND your audience what your page is all about. This will most likely be displayed on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) and be your audience’s FIRST impression of your website. Good writing strategies are to include primary and secondary keywords, and also your brand name. See Figure 2.
6. Write meta descriptions
While meta descriptions do not factor into the search engine’s technical scanning of your website, they do influence your audience in a couple different ways. First, search engines bold any words in your description that are used in the search query. Secondly, once the user recognizes this and reads your description, this is your opportunity to convince them your page has what they’re looking for. Classic marketing. Best practices include writing a different description for each webpage. See Figure 2.
7. Use the Right Keywords and An Appropriate Amount
First, determine what your webpage is all about. What is the primary question it’s answering? Once you’ve addressed this, now you research terms for ideas on what words your audience uses on a topic. Google Keyword Planner is very helpful (see Figure 3). Remember, you’re writing this with the reader in mind, so make it readable and digestible for them. The better experience your readers have, the better you’ll rank.
Google Keyword Tool: Google Keyword Planner (must have login and an Adwords account)
8. Media Content: Images and videos
Media such as images and videos are important content types to engage your audience. For images, search engines scan these and appear in image search results. Google advises to use alt descriptions in your images and to help Google identify a quality image and site. For videos, one good technique is to use a good thumbnail for an appealing view to your audience as well as a compelling and descriptive title.
9. Use social media as best you can
Create a social media plan and leverage these platforms. They have a dominating presence on search engines and can share links to your website. The more active and engaged you are on social media, and sharing your website content, the more traffic you’ll drive. There are many ways these platforms can help with SEO for your website.
10. Eliminate black hat SEO strategies
Gone are the days of putting your link everywhere you possibly can simple to drive traffic. Same with overstuffing your website with keywords just for SEO sake. Google can recognize this and will penalize you for it by dropping your website in search rankings. Any disingenuous traffic will be considered spam. Buy backlinks and All These are all referred to as black hat tactics. As mentioned before, think of your audience and you’ll be in good shape.
These strategies will position you for SEO success, but it’s critical to monitor your SEO performance, and adjust your activities accordingly. Always remember to keep your target audience in mind, and the more fresh and relevant your content can be using these tactics, the better your SEO performance will be.
Scott Green is a digital marketing specialist and co-owner of marketing consulting firm DS Marketing. Scott works with clients on lead generation strategies through SEO, Email, and Social Media and has worked with the education, real estate, and health care industries.