The role of technology and the Internet in our lives is increasing day to day. Lots of companies already take advantage of this tendency. Almost everything you may need is now available online. The success of businesses with online presence mostly depend on their ranking and traffic driving to their website.
Let’s think of the moments you want to purchase or read something on the Internet. Do you often go further than the first or the second page of search results? In most cases, you find items or information you need in the top results. The same happens with your potential customers. If you don’t have high ranking, your chances to succeed are not that great.
Did I strike a deep chord? Then this article is for you. Get ready to find out the essential factors to improve your ranking.
Technical part optimization
As search engine robots regulate your ranking, make sure they crawl and index your website properly. What are the main features of a technically optimized website?
- Website speed
- Status codes
- Meta tags
- Optimized visuals
- Mobile version
While selecting keywords and improving their content, people sometimes overlook such an important factor as page speed. And they make a terrible mistake. First of all, page speed is a time your visitors should wait for your webpage to be loaded. If it takes too long, they’ll leave a site before they even see it.
What’s the most important is that Google has announced website speed to be ranking factor since 2010. Experienced online business owners have already been using this advantage for eight years. But it’s never too late to begin.
Even if you know this parameter for your website, don’t forget to check it when you add some extra information, such as documents, pictures, videos, etc. Use Google’s PageSpeed Insight to analyze your website speed and get advice on how to improve it.
XML File Sitemap helps search crawlers easily understand the structure of your website. Creating a list of URLs of your site you’ll increase its crawl budget. It’s essential when you have lots of internal links and a complicated site structure.
The sitemap is also very convenient if you add new pages regularly and want search engines to index them as soon as possible.
Firstly, what is canonicalization? It’s not that difficult as it sounds. It’s a way of pointing to search engine crawler that there is another URL which is a master copy of a page.
Why do you need it? You may fail to notice it, but your site can contain pages with duplicate content. These are blocks of content which either completely match or are discernibly similar. Although there are no penalties for duplicate content, it can become a reason why search engines fail to index your site faster. Use ‘rel=canonical’ tag to avoid it.
How can you identify such pages? There are various SEO tools which can help you to cope with this problem. I use Siteliner:
A server sends HTTP status codes in response to a user’s request. There are five types of these codes:
- 1xx — Informational. It’s issued by a server before a full response is sent.
- 2xx — Success. Your request is completed.
- 3xx — Redirect. Some changes happened in the site structure. You need to take further action to get the result. It’s the type of status code you may use for improving your website’s crawling.
- 4xx — Client error. Your request isn’t valid.
- 5xx — Server error. A server didn’t succeed in an attempt to complete your request.
Try to eliminate 4xx and 5xx errors as they affect indexing rates.
I’ll circle out snippets containing a short description of your page content. It’s the information users see in search results. The data shown in these texts influence visitors’ decision whether to visit your site or not. Here are the most important features to consider:
- It should be no longer than 50 symbols.
- Readable text.
- Place keywords in the beginning.
- No keyword repetitions.
- It’s better to add your brand name at the end of the title.
- Consists of 70-155 symbols.
- Keywords should be placed in the beginning.
- Call to action.
- It shouldn’t copy the title.
And what about keywords meta tags? There are controversial discussions on this question between SEO experts. The conversation is caused by recent news that Google, Bing, and Yahoo no longer use these meta tags. So, to use or not to use depends on your wish.
The fact that users often come to a website by clicking on an external link makes experts think of an SEO friendly URL.
Firstly, it should be easy to read for people to understand at once what information they’ll see on the page. What’s more, not only users but also search engines operate URLs to determine page’s content. Use keywords for this purpose.
If you have a complicated structure or different categories on your website, appropriate URL will help you set clear hierarchy. Due to it, search engine crawlers will easier identify connections between different pages.
Whether you want to show your product to your customers or just to make your content more engaging, you add images to your website. And it works. But I have a few tips for you for how to optimize your visuals to make them more profitable:
- Include target words in file names.
- Optimize Alt-Image text. Add text for search engines to understand what is there on your images. It helps pictures to be ranked in relevant search results.
- Consider images’ size. Massive files affect your page speed.
- Mind file’s type. The use of a specific type (JPEG, PNG, GIF) depends on your purpose.
- Create a sitemap for your visual content.
- Accompany infographics with text.
People are becoming more and more mobile. We use smartphones almost every time we want to search for something. As a desktop version may be complicated to view on mobile device, it’s essential to make your website mobile-friendly.
Moreover, from July 2018 Google considers mobile page speed ranking sites for the mobile search results.
If you’ve already created a mobile version for your site, make sure it works correctly. You can run Mobile-Friendly Test whenever you want.
Lifehack: Not to analyze each factor one by one, use Serpstat. With its Site Audit, you’ll assess how well your site is performing in terms of technical optimization. Go to the list of projects, add a new project using your domain and click on Start Audit.
Don’t forget that specific algorithms work only for search engine robots. People visiting your website won’t benefit from your keywords or correct canonicalization. Once visitors come to your site, you should make them stay there and not return to search results. To reach this goal, your content should be:
- Relevant to the information you provide in snippets. The meta description shouldn’t contain false promises. When your content doesn’t fulfill the expectations of people visiting your website, they’ll close it and go on searching. These cases affect user behavior data, which is known to be one of the ranking factors.
- Fresh and up-to-date. Create content people are looking for. It’s not that easy if you’re not aware of current tendencies and audience’s interests. To find out what people search for, you can use AnswerThePublic tool: enter a keyword related to your subject and observe all the popular search questions to get new ideas for your content.
- High quality and comprehensive. Mind the following features:
- Images or Infographics.
- No keywords overuse.
Trying to realize the reasons why search engines ‘don’t like’ your website, look at your competitors ranking on the first page. What are their peculiarities? Do they use something you didn’t know about?
Analyze your competitors to learn something new and to avoid their mistakes. There are five aspects you should take advantage of:
- Keyword research. Use Serpstat or SEMrush to observe keywords you could have overlooked (but your competitors haven’t :). It’s better to select two or more competitors for comparison as it helps to exclude brand keywords.
- Backlinks sources. With the help of SEO tools I’ve already mentioned, you can find out sources of external links of your competitors. These sites may become your backlink sources as well.
- Meta tags and content examples. Analyze which snippets work the best. Find the content driving great traffic to the site. Buzzsumo can be extremely useful for finding the most shared content.
- Observe the best ways of optimizing your site structure.
- Determine the best traffic sources. Identify which channels have the potential for your site, according to the information on traffic sources of your competitors. SimilarWeb will provide you with this data.
The most important thing in competitor analysis is that you shouldn’t copy your rivals but come up with your ideas based on what you’ve seen on their pages.
Even though nobody except search engines knows a precise ranking formula, you can influence your ranking following some rules and creating a quality website.
Explore news search engines announce on ranking factors, correct your mistakes and always strive to improve your business. These are essential keys to success.