Web optimization or search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of making adjustments to the content on your website to make it rank higher in search engine search result pages (SERP).
Search engines use a number of factors to determine what content should appear where after a random search, and that is what you need to know when laying out your SEO strategy.
Most people make the mistake of optimizing their website for the engines and not the users – a trick that might work in the short term but massively count against you in the long run.
Remember, Google partially uses user experience to determine the ranking of pages, so lack of traffic may be a signal to the search engine that you are using unethical techniques to trick its algorithm.
This article will give you an insight into what is considered good SEO and how you can use it to grow your brand.
#1 What search engines are looking for
Albeit search engines can’t read what is on your website to determine its quality and relevance, there are hundreds of algorithms that are used in combinations to help make near-perfect estimations.
For some reason, you may have realized that web pages appearing high on Google search results are more credible and detailed than what appears in the, say, the fifth page downwards.
That is not coincidental. Google’s search algorithm is super sophisticated and can almost tell the level of your website’s relevance without exactly reading your content.
Here are ways relevance is determined:
- Content – Quality content sits at the center of a winning web optimization strategy. It is rated by looking at such factors as the theme provided, the texts, and the titles used.
- Website performance – This is one of the most overlooked SEO strategies. In fact, not many people know that Google checks this let alone use it to rank their website.
Slow server responses and lagging web pages are a sign of poor user experience, which can lower your ranking regardless of whether you have adhered to other SEO rules or not.
- Authority – Authority is what keeps websites such as Forbes at the top of your search result pages even when you are likely to get better information in pages ranked lower than them.
It is something of a vicious cycle whereby good and regularly updated content boosts your ranking and visibility on the web, which in return increases traffic on your website.
Amount of traffic is a measure of SEO, and Google’s algorithm will use it to rank your upcoming pages notwithstanding how well optimized they are. Perhaps you now understand why focusing on users is more important in the long run than using black hat tactics to trick the search engines.
- User experience – Search engines crawl your website to study the layout, ease of navigation, safety, number of ads, and its bounce rate and use the results to determine your ranking during relevant searches.
#2 Here is why Google will penalize your site
There is nothing as misinformed as trying to lull search engines into thinking your content is relevant when it really isn’t. As pointed out above, focus on the quality of content and user experience then use relevant keywords and social media optimization as the icing on the cake.
This ensures you entice your users to come back again and even share your content on their social media handles and websites for free. That’s how you cement your place as a reliable website, and Google rewards it generously.
So what are you supposed to shun?
- Keyword stuffing – Using too much of the same keyword on your webpage is a tactic that stopped working ten years ago and should not be attempted as it attracts long-standing penalties from Google.
- Buying links – Links available for buying are usually low quality and will do your website more harm than good.
- Poor user experience – Poor navigation, too many advertisements, and a bad layout will only increase your bounce rate, which signals search engines that something is wrong with your website. Consider revising your SEO strategy if your bounce rate is 80 percent or higher.
#3 Optimize your off-site platforms
Offsite platforms include your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages, your email, and radio and TV ads. Be precise and straightforward in these platforms and ensure the information you provide complements what is on your website.
Build comprehensive social media profiles and use your company logo. Attach links to your website and use call-to-actions to ease the process of finding your product or service.
#4 Domain name consistency
Use of a consistent, easy-to-trace domain increases your credibility and trustworthy in front of your users and may prompt return visits. Instead of sub-domains such as product.domain.com, consider sub-directory root domains such as domain.com/product.
Also, check that www.domain.com and domain.com both link to your website to avoid sending backlinks to other websites.
Another recommendable practice as regards domains is to favor old domains over new ones. Just make sure you don’t buy a domain that may have been penalized by Google for black hat SEO practices as it may affect the ranking of your content.
#5 Prioritize mobile users
Handheld devices such as mobile phones and tablets account for over 70 percent of web page views in America and Europe. If you optimize your website for computers only, then you are missing out on the bulk of the market share.
#6 Focus on metadata
Metadata on your website such as meta descriptions and title tags should be optimized as well to increase your chance of appearing on random searches. This means ensuring they have relevant keywords in them as they give search engines and searchers a summary of the information in your page.
There are hundreds of websites on the internet competing for the same audience as you. Your chance of attracting any users depends primarily on how high on Google’s results pages you appear in a random search. Good on-page and off-page SEO measures can help you surpass your direct rivals and close the gap with market leaders.