There is a lot that goes into building a website. Everything from the layout of the pages, to the content, to how fast it loads all factor into making it attractive to both Google and users alike. However, one of the most often talked about, and sometimes least understood elements of a great website is search engine optimization, or SEO.
Why you need SEO should be fairly obvious. A website that is properly optimized for search engines will rank highly, which will in turn drive more people to your content, which in turn makes your content or products more successful.
The problem arises with the fact that there is quite a lot that goes into SEO. Most people that have a website know what keywords are and the basics of how to use them, but there is a lot more that goes into how those, and other factors affect a person’s website.
Further complicating matters is that SEO guidelines tend to change. A lot. What worked a few years ago may not work today, and what may work today may not work tomorrow. Keeping on top of things can be daunting and implementing them even more so.
Still, it is important to consider taking the time to implement good SEO practices onto your website, or hire someone who can. As the internet expands ever outwards, being discovered online becomes more and more competitive. Having any advantage to gain a better ranking then is critical to ensuring your website is performing as best it can be.
Understanding SEO Basics
Before diving into improving your website’s SEO, its important to make sure that you are covering the basics. Even just doing these things will help your content rank better in search and will set a good foundation for the things we are going to cover later.
Some basic SEO tips you should follow to better present your content are:
- Compelling Content that is well written and provides a solution to the search query
- Keyword optimization that attracts both search engines and their users and matches the intent of the search
- Ensuring your website loads fast, and is easy to navigate on any device, especially mobile
- Create content that is share-worthy, and can be linked, cited, and further boosted.
- Ensure your title, URL, and descriptions are written to entice people to click through to the content
- Optimize your content for snippets by using short bullet point lists, so that they have a higher chance to stand out
Doing this you will be setting a good foundation for your website and content and can build off this to further improve search rankings.
Improving Your SEO
So, with the basics established it may be confusing as to what to do regarding your next step. Is it is such a broad, deep topic, it may be confusing to take the next steps to improve your SEO.
We have taken a look at several methods that are supposed to improve SEO and tested them to see how they perform under scrutiny. The list that we have compiled are ones that we have found work, or ones that are simple enough that they are worth doing, even if their benefit is only incremental.
Ensure Your XML Sitemap is Registered with Google
If you have not already made one, creating an XML sitemap can Google properly analyze your site. You can find a quick guide here, or if you are on WordPress, there are sitemap plugins that you can download and utilize as well.
When creating your sitemap, you must make sure that Google is properly analyzing your website, and that you do not have any errors or issues. Problems with your page will result in skewed analytics and will actually make it more difficult to capitalize on other improvements to SEO.
Once you have done this, you will need to make sure that Google can crawl your website and gather the information that it needs to properly index your page. If you are unsure if this is already enabled, log into your Search Console and select your website. After click “Fetch as Google” in the Crawl section and drop in your site’s information.
From here you can then test for both mobile and desktop crawling, and then request indexing.
This is important, because without indexing, Google may not be able to properly find and catalog your website, which means it won’t come up in search.
Doing this, you can make sure all your hard work is going to the right places, and that search users can find your content.
Consider Optimizing Content for Voice Search
Voice search through things like Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, and other similar applications are becoming more and more common in their use. As their usage increases, this means that content has to adjust to match.
By writing your content to be more easily accessible by voice search protocols, you are providing your content the opportunity to shine in another avenue. While this may not lead to people being on your website, the more people that access your content via voice and find it helpful will have the net gain of boosting search placement.
We’ve talked about how to optimize your content for voice search in another article if you wish to get a deep dive, but the basics are as follows:
- Keep things succinct, preferably under 30 words if possible
- Use longtail keywords within content to keep a specificity in topic
- Use natural language in a conversational tone
- Include and answer questions in your content
- Use strong bullet points that gets information out quick
- Do research on keywords to ensure that you get what people are searching for
These things work in concert with optimizing content for snippets and other SEO details to add another arrow to the quiver. Though it builds off of a lot of practices that any well optimized website will already be utilizing, reinforcing those ideals and habits can further benefit your content.
Hire an SEO Professional
Now, this one might seem like a no brainer, but if you are not already working with an SEO professional on optimizing your content, it might be time to consider.
There are a lot of things that you can do on your own to improve your website, and how it is ranked, but there may be little nuances, tricks, and specificities that you don’t know, or don’t have time to consider. Running a website is a lot of work and doing so alongside managing a business is even more work.
Which is why SEO professionals exist. Since understanding and implementing these tactics and strategies are their expertise, they can work with a site owner or administrator to create a plan and start to execute it. They’ll also be able to accurately read the information gained from that plan to be able to pivot and adjust as needed.
Working with a good team of people that know search engine optimization and are going to be engaged with you and your business can also help in opening new ways to boost your website’s potential.
Since they are looking at websites and doing research constantly on competition and what the best practices are, they’re going to be able to provide insights and suggestions that you may not have come to. With that insight they can help you get a leg up on competitors to get those coveted top spots in search.
Now, there are a lot of people out there that claim to know a lot about SEO. Before working with any professional, make sure to ask questions, see their results on other sites, and read any reviews they may have. You also want to make sure that they are going to work with you on your vision, while trying to get you a fast food equivalent of an SEO update that won’t have a long-lasting benefit.
A good SEO professional can be an invaluable asset to your company, but a bad one can harm your website’s ranking and reputation.
Consider Updating Older Content
If your website is one that you have been running for some time, you probably have a lot of content on it. While it is often better to look towards the future to build out your pages, looking back at the work you have done can provide aide in improving your content and SEO.
Using Google Analytics, you can find the content that is positioned near the top of page two, and other details relating to the page’s content. Armed with that information, you can then go back, and update that content, getting it up to date with SEO parameters, and ensuring its better optimized for mobile.
Doing even the most basic updating and SEO work can push that page up and get a higher position in SERP.
This is good, because as you then go to make new content, your old one can act as a support system to help push it up. It can also breathe new life into the older pieces of content, boosting their position higher in SERPs and giving your website more authority overall.
These are just a few things people (including us) are doing to improve their SEO. Methods will change, and how these tactics are utilized will go in and out of style, but as Google refines their algorithms and parameters, ensuring that you’re utilizing the tools that are available.
Any kind of SEO, be it simple, or complex, is something that takes time and effort, so don’t get too worried if you don’t immediately see results. Focus on what is best for your website, and soon you’ll see yourself rising to the top of SERPs, and improving your website’s traffic considerably.