It’s rare to find a business that doesn’t have a Website in today’s tech-based society. This is a direct result of the ways in which consumers engage. Whether looking for a product or a service, we’re all turning to the search engines to point us in the right direction to find what we need. While the search engines are making life easier for their users, businesses are left struggling to secure a place on highly-coveted ‘first pages’.
A common misconception when it comes to ‘Page One’ is that simply having a Website will make you discoverable. However, search engines are powered by algorithms that are looking for many different factors when it comes to ranking search results. Merely existing is not enough to drive up your ranking.
That’s where Search Engine Optimization (SEO) comes into play. Everyone looking to build a Website for their business should have a basic understanding of SEO. With that knowledge and understanding, you’ll lay the proper foundation to construct a site that performs to achieve your desired intentions because of the attributes you select for inclusion at the very onset of development. You’ll want to be mindful of things like relevant keywords, a user-friendly interface, and addition of content that answers the questions your customers pose most frequently to position yourself to rank higher in the results.
When it comes to ranking factors, the search engines are looking for certain indicators. These factors, both positive and negative, are what tell each search engine that your site fulfills the query a user has input into their search bar.
So what are these factors?
Well, that’s a loaded question. Not only do the search engines not release the exact factors that will help, or hurt your rankings, but they’re also always changing and updating based on how users are searching. While it’s best to keep an eye out for these updates, there are some factors that have remained constant.
Firstly, it’s important to begin building your Website with your users in mind. The search engines don’t like clunky, hard-to-use Websites. While we’re sure no one intentionally designs a site that’s not easy to navigate, it is easy to get carried away with extraneous information or ‘cool’ but not necessary functionality. Taking time to create your site’s taxonomy will save you time in the long run. Having the taxonomy mapped out as your blueprint will pave the way for a clean sitemap.
Next, your sitemap is fundamental. Not only does it help the search engines when they crawl your site but also, paired with tools like the Google Search Console, you can determine which pages are indexed by Google and which ones aren’t. Examining the pages that aren’t indexed can help you identify problems that might be hurting your overall rankings.
As a universal truth, every website should start by researching the keywords relevant to their business. That not only includes exact match keywords, but also phrase match keywords and natural language search. Your relevant keywords should be prominently featured on your site. Ensuring these relevant and related keywords are on your Web pages will help latent semantic indexing (LSI) determine what your site is about. Once the search engines have that knowledge, they can start suggesting your Website to users.
Keywords are just one of the components that make up your on-page optimization. These keywords should be used in your page titles, meta descriptions, and page content. It’s important to incorporate your relevant keywords in a natural way. The search engines were quick to do away with keyword stuffing in favor of improving a user’s experience. Each page on your site should have a unique page title, meta description, and page content. It’s also not a bad idea to update the page content every now and then to make sure information is always accurate and up-to-date.
Another ‘best practice’ when it comes to on-page optimization is linking. Your content should include links to both relevant pages on your site as well as any related pages on other websites. These internal and external links are just one of the ways you can start building both page and domain authority. Becoming a trusted site in the search engines’ eyes is something that is sure to help boost your rankings.
Speaking of links, it is also important to have a healthy inbound link profile. While building links is a thing of the past, it’s still crucial to make relationships with other relevant, authoritative sites. It doesn’t even need to be an explicit link anymore. The search engines are able to monitor when you’re simply mentioned on a site or in an article. So, in addition to having links back to your relevant pages, it’s necessary to get people talking/typing about you.
While these aren’t all the things you can do to leverage the ranking factors, these are the most crucial. Everything else builds off of that. The main takeaway from this simplified roundup about SEO is to start with a solid framework for your site. If you build a user-friendly site that includes all of the best practices of basic SEO, you’ll be that much closer to landing on ‘Page One’. There is no guarantee when it comes to search engines, but keeping a close eye out for any errors, problems, or backlink opportunities will set you off in the right direction.
There are so many tools out there to help you be successful in this pursuit. Invest in a subscription for things like Moz, Ahrefs, and Majestic to see up-to-date snapshots of your site. Tools like Searchmetrics will help keep you on track when it comes to SEO and content marketing. Finally, when in doubt, trust the experts. Working with a company like ours to make sure your brand translates well visually and functionally will lead to increased organic traffic from the search engines.