SEO guidelines to help you help the search engines understand your page. The year 2020 has been tough on everyone across the globe, and numerous changes have come to the SEO world. Optimizing a website is a crucial step that can increase your Google ranking and traffic. There are several SEO techniques that you can use to improve your ranking and ensure your content gets a lot of exposure.
It is tough to stand out against the millions of websites that are available on the internet. SEO helps you optimize your content so that Google ranks you highly on relevant sites. Most people think it takes a long time to optimize content online. However, it takes a short while to optimize content when you know what you are doing entirely.
This article aims to provide clear guidelines for you to apply in your SEO strategy and improve your blog or website’s performance. By the end of this post, you will understand what SEO truly means, how it can transform your website ranking, and the best methods to apply SEO.
What is SEO?
Did you know that there are millions of Google searches about SEO? Most people know that SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. However, a significant number doesn’t understand how to apply SEO techniques to optimize their websites effectively. It can be frustrating for business owners, companies, and bloggers to be unable to fully optimize online content.
Search Engine Optimization helps you rank highly on search engine results for the relevant phrases. Therefore, you need to understand the potential phrases or keywords that your target user will input in the search engine. You also have to know how search engines decide on the best results to show for a specific phrase or user.
These SEO guidelines are intended to give you a basic understanding of what is involved in Search Engine Optimisation. They are not intended to make you an expert. Further reading is required for that.
Do I Need to Optimize My Website?
The straight answer is yes. You need to optimize your website, whether you are a startup company or a blue-chip company. You can enjoy Search Engine Optimization Traffic, which is commonly referred to as organic traffic. Organic traffic is the best kind of online traffic because it is unpaid and can drive sales.
Optimization can cut the cost you have to spend on paid marketing. It ensures that potential clients can find your business and services with ease. Most importantly, it prevents your website from being buried under all the competitor websites. It is always in your best interest to ensure that all your content is optimized.
Research shows that buyers for a product or service do vetting online before visiting the physical address. The first step in a buying process nowadays is doing a quick search online. Most internet users do not read any content that isn’t on the first page of the search engine results. The most likely websites to get over 60% of clicks are the top five results on the first page. In essence, you need to ensure that your website appears on the first five results on all the relevant searches. So, how do search engines determine what goes on the first page of search results?
How Do Search Engines Work?
For ages, online users have always tried to unlock the criteria that Google uses to rank web pages. However, Google is still one step ahead, and they keep the secrets about the requirements of ranking under a tight lid. There are over 200 factors that determine the ranking of a page. Some of those factors play a significant role, while others play a small part.
One of the constant facts about the Google algorithm is that it is always changing. Google seeks to offer the best user experience for all internet lovers. Therefore, they focus on providing relevant search results in the shortest time possible. In short, the company doesn’t expect a user to go to the second page to find what they want. Also, their mission is to provide the best service to internet users and not business entities.
Over 200 factors determine the relevance of your content against the search phrase using the Google algorithm. Among the factors that search engine consider when ranking pages include content backlinks, on-page, and off-page SEO, content, quality links, traffic, and the duration people stay on your page, among others.
White Hat SEO vs. Black Hat SEO
Black hat SEO optimization is not recommended at all for any website. It is a short-term solution to improve search engine ranking using means that break Google policies. It involves duplicating content, using irrelevant links, redirecting users to unrelated pages, and finding shortcuts to improve page ranking. Marketers who use black hat optimization methods risk getting their sites reported. Once someone launches a complaint against your website, and Google verified the basis of the claim, the rankings drop instantly.
White hat optimization is an ideal method for websites looking to gain long term benefits. It may take a while before you start seeing the benefits of white hat optimization. It includes posting relevant content, adding related links, including videos and pictures, among others. White Hat SEO is the way to go if you value your website. Over time, your website will be able to generate organic traffic and reliable leads that increase your conversion rates.
What are The Best SEO Techniques?
SEO techniques can be classified into two broad categories, known as On-page and Off-page SEO. On-page optimization includes the things you can do on your website to ensure that you have a high ranking on search results. Off-page optimization consists of the factors that you can’t control when optimizing your content.
For example, search engines consider the location of a user before showing relevant results. Companies in a specific area need to add relevant keywords to show search engines the target location for the content.
On-Page SEO Techniques
- Premium Content: Content is king when it comes to online platforms. You need to create content that provides value to the end-user. Websites should include details about services, the owners, previous projects, products, and even the team. Each web page should be informative and educational to visitors. It is better to have five pages that provide useful information than 20 repetitive pages. The language and phrases you use should be simple to read and understand. Unless you are in a specialized industry, you need to avoid using hard words that may prompt a user to use a dictionary when reading your content.
- Relevance: Search engines make comparisons to check the suitability of content against the search phrase. Your content should include some of the possible quotes that your target audience may input in search engines. Ensure that your content stays relevant to your topics and subheadings.
- Sub-Heads: Sub-headings give Google an idea of the topics you cover on a webpage. You can create a table of contents at the top of the post. Google algorithms go through the table of contents to determine the relevance of a web page during a search. Subdivide your content into relevant portions as you explore the heading. Website landing pages should have titles to identify services, products, contacts, delivery time, and other relevant information.
- Expert Authors: The latest Google updates added several changes in the search engine’s ability to evaluate the quality of content. The company recommends using expert authors who have authoritativeness in the subject matter. It emphasizes that medical content should come from experts in the specific field. Ensure that all your content comes for writers who know their stuff. Ideally, check the credentials of your content creators when vetting them. Don’t forget to include a by-line for all the articles on your website.
Backlinking is an existing technique for boosting the SEO rankings of your site. You must get trustworthy websites to link back to your content and include relevant links to your content. When an authoritative site uses links from your web pages, Google automatically assumes that your content is trustworthiness. Therefore, try as much as possible to get people to add a link to one of your web pages. There are several ways to get content backlinks. The most effective method is guest blogging.
- Guest Blogging: You can write quality content for a blog as a guest and add a link to your site. Users who like your post will likely click the link and view more content on your website. Guest blogging is a grey area as Google forbids people to pay another site to include their links. However, you can request for free backlinks to create awareness of your products and services.
- Feature in Podcasts: Podcast hosts are more than willing to backlink your site on the podcast information without much effort. Trends show that podcasting is becoming popular, and the number of listeners is expected to rise each year. Featuring in a podcast to talk about your area of expertise is an excellent way to earn backlinks and drive traffic to your site.
- Find Broken Links: Another simple way to earn backlinks is to find broken links on websites and offer replacement suggestions. The suggestions should include a link to one of your web pages that contain content. It is best to find broken links on websites that have content that is relevant to your business. It may seem like a tedious activity, but most website owners will be grateful that you identified links that don’t work and even provided relevant suggestions.
- Keywords: Keywords play a significant role in the ranking of web pages because they help Google identify a web page’s subject matter. You need to use relevant keywords in a reasonable density. Dumping keywords on a webpage can hurt your ranking. It is vital to include keywords in landing pages for websites. Choose keywords that are unique to your business, and users have a high probability of inputting on search engines.
Focus on the intent of a user when they are looking for content on your website. Researching keywords based on the search intent will help you find keywords that will serve you well.
Another thing to consider is reoptimizing keywords for previous content. Google ranking considers content that is regularly updated as new content. Optimizing keyword for older content and updating the material can significantly improve your ranking. It tells Google that your content is still relevant even if it is 3-years after publishing.
Visual Content Search
Google launched Google Lens that allows users to search for things using images. Companies need to ensure that their websites have descriptions for all photos. The image description assists in the identification of similar images during a search. Also, recent updates show that Google Lens shows results for images that are at the top or centre of the page. The placement of images on your page can determine your website ranking on visual searches. Up to date, Google Lens has over a billion searches from users. It is a new way of inputting data into search engines, and it will continue to grow in future years.
- Improving Organic Click-Through-Rate (CTR): CTR is a great way to get users to view your content and increase traffic on your site. However, with so many paid ads and sponsored sites, it can be hard to get organic clicks. There are a few ways that you can improve ranking and raise your organic CTR.
- Optimized URL: Having a URL that includes the keywords of your content can drive traffic to your webpage. Websites that have keywords in the title have a higher click-through rate than those with URLs that don’t contain keywords.
- Meta Description: A Meta description is a compelling description that appears right below the title of a topic on search results. It briefly tells a user what the webpage is about and stirs curiosity in users. Ensure all your web pages have a Meta description tag, and all content in the description is original.
- Title Tags: Take time to craft eye-catching titles that will capture the interest of your target audience. You can use emotional and power words to attract clicks from users. Do not overdo the emotions or power words in your title tags. A little goes a long way in this case.
Google uses bounce rate to determine whether a user liked the results or not. When a user spends a few seconds on your site and leaves, Google notes that as a bounce. Sometimes users leave a site after a few seconds because it is challenging to navigate. It is essential to ensure that you are using a website design that is user friendly.
Professional website creators have the tools necessary to determine how user-friendly a site is to the target audience. Simple things like the placement of the logo, contact information, menu, descriptions, and organization of landing pages can create a massive difference in the user experience.
- Compatibility to Devices: Over 50% of internet users access the internet using mobile devices like mobile phones and tablets. Your target audience will abandon your site immediately if they can’t access your content on mobile devices. You can hire a professional to customize your website so that it is compatible with different gadgets. Alternatively, you can add a plug-in that will help you improve your site’s compatibility with mobile devices.
- Page Speed: The speed at which your web pages take to load can determine the traffic you get on your site. As a rule of thumb, your site should load within 3-seconds. Even then, you will have a 32% chance of people bouncing off your website. The truth is that most internet users are impatient nowadays. They like websites that load immediately without any delay, and they leave within 3-5 seconds of delay. Anything past that costs you a lot of traffic for your site.
You must choose a cloud host server to help you improve your site’s loading speeds worldwide. Cloud storage servers are not a new concept, and they ensure that your content is easily accessible. Websites with a lot of high-resolution images and videos can benefit from using a cloud server. Another technique is compressing your files to increase the speed at which information is transmitted to the user. Some tools can compress content without affecting the overall quality of the material.
- HTTPS and SSL: User security and privacy are among the most prominent Google updates that the company implemented. There are notifications that the search engine gives users whenever they are about to access a site that is not secure. The announcement causes most users to abandon the search and opt for another secure website. You need to ensure that you are using secure communication networks to prevent malicious attacks and use of personal information.
HTTPS and SSL are the popular protocols that ensure safe transmission of data. Ensure that your website has the necessary certificates before indexing. Google checks the authenticity of the license before a user can access your site. You can easily update the protocols to the latest versions and install the certificates to reduce your bounce rate.
Off-page SEO is what you do outside of your website to help it rank better in the search results. This has a major influence on how your page ranks.
- Quality Links: Google believes that your content is trustworthy if other sites can use it as a source or reference. That is why backlinks are vital in increasing the ranking of a website. It is better if you can get several authoritative sites to link to your content. Quality links will lead to Google ranking your page higher on the results. The backbone of quality links is premium content. When you post content that is reliable on your site, it will encourage other websites to add your link to their content.
- Bounce Rate: Your bounce rate can negatively impact the ranking of your web pages. Bouncing occurs when users leave your page without viewing your content. It may be due to slow load times, poor compatibility to mobile devices, wrong keywords, or irrelevant content. Relevant content and excellent on-page SEO can reduce your bounce rate.
Here how Google uses the bounce rate to reduce the ranking of a page, assume that you are the first result of orthopaedic pillows in one location. Google monitors the time that users spend on a page after searching for something. If users spend less than five seconds on your page, the Google algorithm assumes your page isn’t the right search result. If the user spends about 5-minutes on the second and third page, then the algorithm ranks the pages higher than yours.
Minimizing your bounce rate will help you maintain your top ranking on your web pages. It is essential to carry out the analytics from time to time to ensure that your site works efficiently.
- User Preferences: The Google algorithm keeps track of the sites that a user likes to visit, their location, tastes, likes, and so forth. Therefore, the results will include the websites that the user frequently visits. Ensuring that you have a significant amount of unique visits each month can increase your odds. You cannot control the pages that a user likes. However, you can ensure your content and web design attracts the right audience and keeps them coming back for more.
- Social Media Shares: The Google algorithm is pro-influencers and ranks content that has more social media shares highly. You can hire social media influencers to share your content with their followers. However, it is better to integrate your social media platforms with your website to make it easier for people to share the content. Encourage your visitors to share your content with their social media networks. You can have special offers or coupons for people who share your content. In the long-run, social media shares create awareness and increase your online presence. A significant online presence is an excellent tool for driving traffic to your site.
SEO Guidelines Conclusion
Following these SEO guidelines will not necessarily put your website on the front page of the search results, there are many factors outside of your control, but it will certainly help. Search Engine Optimization for websites is a very important factor in the success of any website. It serves to advertise your website in a way that other forms of advertising cannot, and it increases traffic and helps businesses generate valuable leads. You can choose to do the optimization for your web pages yourself or hire a professional to do it. If you do not feel confident doing it yourself, it is better to hire a professional to do it for you before you do damage to your website’s reputation. Try to keep up with Google updates on the SEO practices to ensure your site meets the standards required to show in the search results for your product or service. The bottom line, you need SEO to improve your sites ranking on search results significantly.