In today’s tech-based society, it’s rare to find a business that doesn’t have a website. This is in many parts due to the ways consumers choose to engage. Whether we’re looking for a product or a service, we turn to the search engines to point us in the right direction. Despite search engines making life easier for the users, businesses struggle to secure a place on the highly-coveted first page.
A common misunderstanding is that merely having a website will secure you a spot on page one. Instead, the search engines are powered by algorithms that look for many different factors to ranking their search results. Merely existing is not enough to speed up your ranking.
Where to Start
That’s where Search Engine Optimization (SEO) comes in. Everyone building a website for their business should have a basic understanding of SEO. With that knowledge and understanding, you’ll be able to lay the proper foundation to construct a site that ranks well. Selecting the right attributes and including the right keywords at the very onset of your website development will set you up ahead of the curve. You’ll want to focus on things like relevant keywords, a user-friendly interface, and inclusion of content that answers the questions your target audience queries most frequently to position yourself to rank higher in the results.
When it comes to ranking a site, the search engines are scanning your webpages for specific indicators. These factors are what tell each search engine if your site fulfills or doesn’t fulfill a user’s query.
So what are these ranking factors?
That’s a loaded question. Not only do the search engines not release the specific ranking factors, but they’re also always changing and updating based on how users are searching. Keeping an eye out for those updates is essential, but some factors tend to remain constant.
Creating Your Website
Before creating your website, it’s important to keep the users in mind. The search engines don’t favor clunky, hard-to-navigate websites stuffed with too much or useless information. It’s safe to say no one designs a site that’s intentionally not easy to navigate. However, it is easy to get carried away with adding information or cool but unnecessary functionality. Taking time to map out your site’s taxonomy will save you time in the long run. With your taxonomy planned out, you can start designing your website with a solid blueprint in hand.
Do Your Keyword Research
The building blocks to any website are the keywords relevant to the business. Doing your research to identify these keywords is an important step towards building out the content of your site. This research includes exact match keywords, phrase match keywords and natural language search. You should prominently feature the most relevant keywords and phrases on your website. Guaranteeing these relevant and related keywords are on your webpages will encourage latent semantic indexing (LSI) to determine what your site is about. With that knowledge, the search engines can start suggesting your website to users.
Keywords are a component of on-page optimization. Use your relevant keywords in the other SEO on-page elements like page titles, meta descriptions, and page content. When incorporating relevant keywords and phrases, It’s essential to do so in a natural way. Webpages stuffed with keywords will be buried in the search rankings in favor of ones that promote the ultimate user experience. Each page on your website should have a unique page title, meta description and page content. And don’t be afraid to update the pages’ content now and then to keep the information accurate and up-to-date.
Links Are Your Friends
Internal and external linking is another best practice when it comes to on-page optimization. Your body content should include links to other relevant pages on your site as well as helpful content on other websites. These internal and external links are a way you can start increasing your page and domain authority. Gaining that authority and becoming a trusted site in the search engines’ system is sure to help boost your rankings.
Speaking of links, in addition to a robust internal linking strategy, it is also important to have a good inbound link profile. While methodically building links is a blackhat thing of the past, it’s still beneficial to create relationships with other relevant, related, authoritative sites. The algorithms have gotten so sophisticated that it doesn’t even need to be an explicit link anymore. Search engines can observe when you’re naturally mentioned on a site or in an article. So, in addition to having links pointing back to your relevant pages, it’s necessary to get people talking about you.
Get Familiar With Your Sitemap
A sitemap is fundamental when it comes to SEO. Not only do they help search engines crawl your site, but also, paired with tools like the Google Search Console, you can identify which pages are indexed by Google and which ones aren’t. Knowing and examining those pages can help you identify problems that could be harmful to your overall rankings.
Invest In Tools
There are so many tools out there to help you be successful in your pursuit of higher rankings. Investing in a subscription for tools like Moz, Ahrefs and Majestic will allow you to see an up-to-date snapshot of your site. Tools like Searchmetrics can help you stay on track when it comes to SEO and content marketing. And when in doubt, trust the experts. Consult with the latest blogs by SEO experts or partner with a company to make sure your website content will lead to increased organic traffic from the search engines.
While these aren’t all the things you can do to improve your search rankings, they are the most crucial. Your entire digital footprint builds off of them. The main thing you should take away from this simplified explainer about SEO is to start with a solid framework. If you follow these SEO best practices to build a user-friendly site and keep a close eye out for any errors, problems, or backlink opportunities, you’ll be that much closer to landing yourself on page one.