Think for a second about how you use search engines. Do you ever go past the first results page? Most people don’t. Next time you do a search on Google, take a look at the number of total results. It is likely there are millions of results, yet the first 10 are what gets over 75 percent of the attention. If you want to get your website on the first page of the search results, then you need to learn how to optimize your website for search engines. Before we get into optimizing your website for search engines, let’s look at how search engines rank results.
How Do Search Engines Rank Results?
There is no one definitive answer to this question, as each search engine’s ranking algorithm weights ranking factors differently. With that being said, studies show Google has 86 percent of the global market share when it comes to user queries. While achieving a spot on the first page for a keyword on Google doesn’t guarantee you’ll be on the first page in Bing or Yahoo, it most likely will since these search engines copy Google whenever possible. It is part of the reason why Google is so secretive about their ranking algorithm.
In a recent Q&A, a Search Quality Senior Strategist at Google named Andrey Lipattsev said the three most important ranking factors, in no particular order, are content quality, backlinks, and RankBrain rating.
There are many factors that go into creating quality content. The keyword research portion of a good search engine optimization strategy identifies the key questions your audience are turning to search engines to have answered. Good SEO writing makes use of on-page SEO best practices while focusing on providing value.
Getting backlinks falls under off-page SEO. If you produce quality content on a consistent basis, then it is much easier to build your backlink profile. Think about it. Why would another website want to link to average content? Building a backlink profile is much more complex than simply getting links, which will get into in a bit.
RankBrain is Google’s machine-learning algorithm. There are many subfactors involved, but the main premise is to update results pages continuously by learning which results users are finding most valuable.
Keep in mind these are only three of the over 200 ranking factors Google uses to evaluate content. The first thing you need to know when it comes to how to optimize your website for search engines is that SEO is an ongoing process that demands constant attention.
5 Tips for Optimizing Your Website for Search Engines
Optimizing your website for search engines takes a lot of work. While a professional SEO strategy is much more complex, the following six tips provide the basic framework for developing and executing your own SEO strategy.
1: Conduct an SEO Audit
If you already have a website for your business, then you need to conduct an SEO audit to see your current performance in the search engines. Use a tool like Screaming Frog or Moz’s site audit tool to get important keyword, title tag, and meta description information. SEO companies use premium tools like SEMRush, Ahrefs, and Majestic to get additional insights that allow them to develop customized solutions with a higher chance of success than a DIY strategy.
2: Make Design Tweaks to Increase Load Speed
How fast your site loads is crucial to where your site ranks, especially for Google’s mobile search algorithm. The sweet spot to aim for is under three seconds, as 53 percent of users say they abandon a site if it takes longer than three seconds to load. Make sure your website design is as simple as possible. Cut out fancy animations and graphics.
3: Create Your Keyword Strategy
When it comes to how to optimize your website for search engines, everything revolves around your keyword strategy. Creating a keyword strategy starts with the intent of your audience.
Moz has a free keyword planner tool that shows you a keyword’s monthly search volume and competition level. First, get inside the head of your target customer and make a list of questions you would ask if you were in need of the products or services you offer. Then, use the keyword planner tool to check the search volume of each question. This will give you an idea of the information your audience is seeking most.
Once you’ve established audience intent and created a list of questions, you need to do competitive analysis to solidify your keyword list. A tool like SEMRush lets you analyze your competitor’s pages to see which keywords they are ranking for, which gives you an idea of which keywords to target.
4: Use Your Keyword List to Create an Editorial Calander
Optimizing your website for search engines comes down to providing quality content on a consistent basis. It is much easier to create quality content if you have an editorial calendar.
Map each of your keywords to a specific page or blog post idea, and then mark a publication date for each one. Your goal with blog posts is to answer the questions and solve the problems of your target audience.
5: Write and Publish Educational Content on Your Company Blog
All other website optimization efforts are irrelevant if you don’t write and publish quality content regularly. This is why identifying user intent is so important – quality content is defined by the value it gives the user. Today’s consumer, especially with the rise of voice search, are turning to question-based queries.
The blog content you write should always be educating your reader in some way. Publish at least one blog post a week to start increasing your relevance within your niche.
Even the best content goes undiscovered if it isn’t optimized for search engines. We’ll end with a 9-step checklist for you to follow every time you publish a piece of content.
How to Optimize Website Content – A Checklist
Having a methodology in place for optimizing website content is crucial when it comes to executing your keyword strategy.
Use the following checklist before you hit publish on each blog post to get the most out of your educational content.
1: Content Quality
Does the content answer the intended question or solve the intended problem? Does it stick to the point? If these answer is yes to both, your content has value.
2: Spelling and Grammar
Consider using a service like Grammarly to double-check your spelling and grammar.
3: Density of Primary and Secondary Keywords
Make sure the primary keyword is used in the first paragraph, last paragraph, title tags, and meta description. Keyword density is not as important as a it used to be 10 years ago, so don’t stuff your primary keyword if it doesn’t feel natural. Rely on secondary keywords to show a page theme to search engines.
4: Title Tags
Your title needs to catch the attention of your reader while conveying what they can expect from the content. The subheadings in your H2,H3, and H4 tags function as mini-titles and need to include secondary keywords.
What is the content asking your reader to do? A service page should be asking for business directly, while a blog post should have a soft CTA like signing up for an email list or following your business on social media.
6: Meta Description
The meta description is what describes a link to search engine users. Treat your meta description like sales copy. Use each available character to convince the reader that your link will provide them the most value.
7: Inbound and Outbound Links
Search engine bots navigate sites through inbound links, so you want to make sure each piece of content links to at least a few related posts and pages on your site. At least one inbound link should be to a product or service page. Outbound links to your sources add credibility to your article.
8: Mobile Display
More and more internet users access the internet through a mobile device the majority of the time. The mobile version of your website can no longer be an afterthought. You need to check how each article looks on a mobile device.
9: Page Load Time
Finally, you need to check if anything in your article is bloating your page load time. No matter how good your content is, a load time over a few seconds negatively affects your bottom line.
Optimizing your website for search engines is a complex and ongoing process. You have to decide whether you have the resources you need in-house, or if you have to bring an SEO company on board to handle things. Contact us to find out why hiring an SEO company is a great decision for busy business owners like yourself.