Knowing how to leverage SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to its full advantage is something all digital marketers need to ultimately comprehend. If you don’t understand how SEO works or what it is, read Part 1: What Is SEO and How Does It Work? For now, we are going to dive into how to actively achieve SEO for your site.
Each search engine has its methods of ranking online content. Digital marketers have a pretty good idea of what these tactics are, based on research. Let’s discuss a few of these factors you should be aware of and should implement when creating a website for your business.
There is a myriad of ways on how to optimize your content or website. For now, we are going to explore 8 tactics you can easily adopt to achieve proper ranking.
- Page Loading Speed
- Mobile Friendly
- Clear Calls to Action
- Keyword Search
- Good Spelling and Proper Grammar
- Up-to-Date Website
- URL Length
Page Loading Speed
How fast your website loads when a user clicks on that link is going to affect your site’s overall health. Even once your user gets to your site, the buttons they click on to get to the next info page and how long it takes to load will be judged by Google’s crawlers. If the loading speed is slow, then expect it to affect your bounce rate, in other words, how quickly a user leaves your page. So when creating a website, make sure your page is optimized for loading speed. People want their information fast.
One study showed that if there is a 3-second delay, then it will result in a 7.9% drop and then on down from there. For more information on loading speeds, see below:
- If a site loads in 5 seconds, it’s faster than about 25% of the web
- If a site loads in 1.7 seconds, it’s faster than about 75% of the web
- If a site loads in 0.8 seconds, it’s faster than about 94% of the web
Google’s average loading speed is 0.5 seconds or about the time it takes you to blink your eyes. Basically, what it boils down to is that your page loading speed should be as fast as you can make it, but bear in mind that the quality should not be compromised. When a visitor keeps running into delays, it’s not an optimal experience for them. So make it a point when building your website to prioritize this; your users will appreciate it.
Occasionally when a visitor comes to your site they might have difficulty seeing an image due to improper loading. A number of things can contribute to this such as a slow network or some sort of IT error. Most websites, when this occurs, have alt-tags that will display where the image would have been. If you don’t know what an alt-tag is, it’s a short piece of text that describes what that image would have looked like or is about had the image loaded properly.
When creating an alt-tag, keep it to about 5–10 words in length. Employing this feature, signals to the Google algorithm to boost your ranking.
Not only does your website need to be desktop friendly, but it needs to be optimized to displayed in mobile form. Back in 2019, Google implemented mobile-first indexing, where search engines look at a website’s mobile version and consider it to be a dominate ranking factor. Now more than ever, users are on the go and need to access websites through their phones. One study from Perficient showed that 58% of website visits came from mobile users, while 42% were from people browsing on their desktops. Having a site that is not mobile-friendly could have a major effect on how search engines place your website.
When building out your company’s website, make sure your designers and developers are aware of the importance of having a site where users can easily view this information while out and about. Ultimately, you trying to give your user the best experience possible. So take the time to implement a responsive layout.
Clear Calls to Action
One of the easiest things you can do for your website is to make sure it has clear calls to action or CTAs. You see, a visitor doesn’t know automatically where they need to go or what actions they need to take to retrieve their desired info. That’s where having CTA’s come in handy and can help direct and explain something a bit ambiguous. Your goal is to take out any guesswork that might be involved in a user’s journey. If you’re not familiar with CTA’s, here are some common action phrases:
- Sign Up
- Shop Now
You have probably seen a lot of these action words on websites, like ones in the E-commerce industry. Essentially, you’re creating a road map. When you make this experience intuitive for your user, it’s a clear signal to search engines with built-in crawlers, you have a quality site.
Keywords are words or phrases that people commonly enter into search engines to find something. Knowing what these frequently used key phrases or words are for websites you are promoting is going to be vital to the success of you business popping up when those customers type in that keyword or query. When you know what those are, you are better able to align your content.
There are a lot of tools on the market that aid in finding keywords. The most common one, of course, is Google Analytics. Hubspot has a Traffic Analytics tool to help you figure out what people are typing in to arrive at your website. Once you connect your website to any of these platforms, you can begin to dig into what your audience is using as far as keywords go to find your site organically. So do some research and brainstorm some common phrases.
Other keyword research tools out there are:
Once you form a list and know which ones will be getting medium-to-high traffic yet have low competition, implement them into your website. Some common places to put them are as follows:
- Search friendly URL
- Meta tags like site title or site description
- Headings (H1, H2, H3 tags)
- Body text
- Internal links
- Image alt-tags
For more information on how to do keyword research, visit Hubspot’s helpful guide, How to Do Keyword Research for SEO: A Beginner’s Guide.
Good Spelling and Proper Grammar
Nothing speaks louder than having poor grammar and sentences that do not flow properly. Google will knock this against you if any of this is present on your website. Not only does this affect your ranking, but it carries over to your user’s experience. If something appears not legible, expect them to bounce out of your website quickly. So make sure your sentences are free from any grammatical errors.
Grammarly is a wonderful tool to check if your sentence flow and are void of any spelling mistakes. Before I publish content on the internet, I always run it through this platform. Grammarly will even give you suggestions on how to improve the structure of a sentence. It’s been a lifesaver, especially for someone who regularly creates online content.
You can also employ a few editors at your company to check for grammatical mishaps. It’s always best to have a fresh pair of eyes go through any written copy since they are better able to spot those errors. Remember, you’ve been staring at the same document for a while and the chances of missing something are high. Do yourself a favor and employ your editors as a resource.
During the 80s big, teased hair was all the rage and considered super cool. Everyone wanted to achieve this particular look. But of course, with time, it no longer was cool anymore, and people hopped on to the next hairstyle bandwagon. Like fashion and hairstyle trends, a website can quickly become out of vogue. This is perfectly normal. The key is to remain aware. Ask yourself if anything has changed in the last 6–12 months range as far as content goes. For instance, if your business hours of operation have altered, then make an update. If blogs were written over 2 years ago, go back through to see if they are still relevant or if any of the links you might have referenced are still applicable.
A website’s design landscape is always morphing. You see, as UX/UI design principles evolve, you can expect websites to match these newfound fundamentals. It doesn’t mean you need to hire a designer and a development team to do a complete website overhaul every year, but know when it’s time to do some sprucing up. Design trends will always be there and come and go over time. The point is to be mindful of current design best practices related to usability.
8. URL Length
The length of your website’s URL can play into your ranking on search engines. You want to avoid URLs that are long. Best ranking URLs are usually between 50–60 characters. Anything over 75 characters tends to get ranked poorly. The reason being is that search engines that use crawlers to rank sites have a more difficult time indexing longer ones.
A short URL not only helps you as far as rankability goes but benefits your user’s experience. Shorter URLs are easier to remember and type out, so keep them compact. A longer URL runs the risk of a user breaking the link. When a user is copying and pasting a link into search, they might accidentally miss part of the text or remove some of the parameters they deem non-essential, therefore breaking the link.
Here are a few other best practices and what search engines will reward you for:
- Try to not include hyphens, dashes, or numbers in the main URL domain or anything before .com. Anything placed after the .com or .co is perfectly fine.
- Make sure to use keywords that explain what a page is about to your user.
- Avoid using dynamic URLs. Search engines rarely index dynamic URLs.
- Keep your URLs short, simple, and engaging.
If you want more information on URL best practices, you can visit Google Search Central’s helpful guide, Keep a Simple URL Structure.
Those are just a few examples of how you can leverage SEO to achieve a better ranking for your site. Of course, there is a lot more to this whole process, and you could easily write a book on all the strategies. But at least this gives you a basis and hopefully a seed in your mind that you will want to grow and nourish.
On the last note, one fantastic blog I recommend reading for a list of 200 ranking factors that Google employs and that has done a thorough job is Backlinko’s, Google’s 200 Ranking Factors: The Complete List (2021).
As ever, QuarkWorks is available to help with any software application project — web, mobile, and more! If you are interested in our services you can check out our website. We would love to answer any questions you have! Just reach out to us on our Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Instagram.
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