The search engine landscape is in a constant flux of activity and turmoil. It's gray, it's black and it's white. And, no matter how, or what you think of search engines, the underlying message is clear. - filter out the garbage and deceit and build a hi-quality user-valued resource.
Quality content, integrity, optimization & patience
If you want to grow your business, you cannot ignore your website! Masses of internet savvy consumers are turning to the internet for product and service insight and you need to take necessary steps to secure a prime on-line presence or risk fading into obscurity.
Search Engine Optimization is not a simple process, nor is it rocket science. It is, however, a journey that many companies just don’t have the patience for, and in desperation turn to quick questionable short-term fixes that may potentially set a company back. Good SEO requires an investment of time and resources, but creates a strong foundation that is not easily eroded.
Today's SEO strategies are built around conventional marketing thinking with a focus on creating an authoritative, efficient, reputable profile combined with true customer value, site popularity, and the diligent consideration of over 200 SEO variables that go into the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) algorithmic mix.
On-page Search Engine Optimization
Web site structure
Adaptability (desktop, tablet, mobile)
The time is now for responsive (adaptive) websites. There has been a definitive push to change the way people view and use websites. Will the dominating trend away from desktop towards mobile devices continue? Personally, apart from getting quick contact and capability info, I find it incredibly frustrating scouring the web with a portable device. Maybe it's the trend, how knows, but one thing for sure, you'll need to have the best of both worlds covered. Solutions that meet the need of the individual user are clearly advantageous, and search engines will reward you for it.
Customer intuitive navigation
Getting your customers as quickly to the information they are looking for is essential, make the important things stand out. Navigation should be developed in HTML. Don't over link! And if you are using a drop down menu ensure links are usable on small devices. Search engines analyze link space usability.
Think of your pages in terms of relevance and make sure that important pages are closer to the top of the main navigation, these pages tend to get a higher ranking than pages buried deeper within the site.
It is believed that large websites may benefit from having a supplemental breadcrumb navigation system to help users know where they are on a site.
Poor quality code
Good coding in itself will help improve page processing by removing potential server hick-ups that slowdown site performance. Run your HTML & CSS pages through the W3C, or utilize developer versions of browsers to help optimize your pages.
Having broken links on a page may indicate neglected or an abandoned website. If you change the structure of your website, or if you are using outbound links, make sure to test those links on a regular basis.
Search engines do not give preferred ranking to Wordpress web sites. However there are a few good SEO plugins that simplify some of the more common SEO requirements.
Actively deliver relevant content to your customers, and your business will be rewarded algorithmic points that when combined with other criteria will influence site ranking.
Search Engine ranking for the right keywords is an essential necessity for every web site. Research and analysis of the market's keyword demand will help determine the most powerful keyword phrases and influence the way the content is written. Be careful not to over stack, and remember to include these here:
- Page URL (keyword at the front)
- Meta description (keyword at the front)
- Page title (keyword at the front)
- H1 title
- Image tags
- First paragraph & lightly throughout the page
Supplemental content that adds value to a page topic can add value, things like volume calculators for excavation services, or power saving calculators for solar power, or energy savings for window types...
More on URL titles
Although I can't say whether it is a ranking factor or not, Google prefers a URL structure using dash's such as "all-great-things" rather than underscore such as "all_great_things". I suspect there is a reward for using their convention.
Lists are good, however, use them in moderation too many lists or too long a list might suggest sloppy content. Google prefers the first word on every bullet to be capitalized.
Relevance & usability
The customer is hungry for information, as they are now turning to the web for most of the comparative research before they contact a company for purchase. Make sure your site provides the detail and value that the customer will appreciate - make it blatantly obvious with quality images, videos, and positive distinguishing benefits.
Although bounce rate can sometimes be deceptive, there's clear evidence that suggests search engines evaluate the value of a search link with the time spent on the page or site after a click.
If site users cannot quickly and easily find the content that they are looking for, an on-page search engine may help them find exactly what they are looking for and thereby decrease the resulting bounce rate.
A sitemap will allow a user to quickly find what they are looking for. A sitemap.xml will help the search engine understand what pages should be indexed and a robot.txt file will tell the robot what files, pages, and directories not to index. All of these go toward the suggestion that the site is well thought out, with the user in mind.
Make your content original and unique. It is believed search engines somehow hunt down information that is expressed or organized differently than similar sites. Represents a differing perspective.
Provided you can get your head around business-related topics of interest, a blog is an excellent way to communicate to your audience. - Talk about new ideas, upcoming events or market news; answer customer questions; discuss topics that are hard for staff or sales support to converse in detail. Here's your chance to tackle potential topic issues on your own terms, in your own time. And you choose whether you interact or not.
Just building it, does not guarantee anyone will ever SEE, READ or LIKE it, push out your content with social media, invite guest bloggers, connect to other related blog stories and ensure your material is both likable and sharable.
Reputable outbound links to related page relevant organizations, website and tools will help search engines focus in on and confirm page topics thus boosting site and page ranking.
Up to date content
Pages that sit without change for extended periods of time play a role of diminished relevance and tend to fade into the distance. A review and update of pages on a regular basis shows a commitment to stay current to the respective market. Older pages that are updated regularly should outperform new pages.
Still, a very important SEO element, think of a title in terms of what will be displayed in your link to your website page. It should be relevant to the content on the page and should contain important keywords. Keep in mind each page title should be unique to the entire site.
The meta description has diminished in value over the years, but should not be ignored. Its actual intent is to provide a concise explanation of the contents of a web page. These descriptions are commonly, but not always used by search engine result pages (SERP's) as a preview of the content on a page. Include keywords and phrases and ensure that each page description is unique.
On-page images and videos send search engines important relevancy signals. Ensure that alt text, title, description and caption are meaningful and related to the topic they are accompanying.
User privacy statements
Suggest that you take your customers privacy seriously and that the site is trustworthy.
Duplicated text and meta information will diminish the value of pages, as it could potentially be deemed as a form of keyword stacking
Keyword in H2, H3, H4, Tags
Although it sounds like a good idea, the tags are reserved for sub-content which typically might not have keywords associated with them, it's better to use them in the copy
are considered distractive and may indicate a poor-quality web site.
Speed & performance
Google is on the record as saying page loading speed is an important ranking factor. There are quite a few relatively easy steps you can take to increase page loading efficiency.
Images add interest and express ideas easier, as such they can help retain a page user and lower bounce rate. Optimize images for internet use so that they load quickly and make sure the alt tags contain information pertaining to the topic and the photo.
Scripts above the foldMove scripts that don't require immediate loading, but are not pertinent to initial page viewing to the end of your web page.
Enable compression for dynamic sites
Most content managed web sites contain settings for compression which allow the pages to load quicker.
Wherever possible optimize pages with on-page css to speed up the page download time.
Avoid page redirects
Re directs suggest, confusion and lack of planning and also slow down the delivery of content and affect page ranking.
Wherever possible minify CSS, scripts, and HTML. This will help speed up the page delivery and contribute to in a positive way to ranking.
How does your site perform?
Here are a couple of useful speed test sites that can help provide insight into potential speed and performance issues:
GTmetrix | Google Web Mater Tools | Pindom Tools
Off-page Search Engine Optimization
Slow or failing servers effect performance and ranking.
The further away a server is from it's customer target areas, the more potential for network failure. If you are in a local market, use a server in that market.
Site or company reviews
Google my business reviews, Yelp and HomeStars to name a few, are believed to play an important role in measuring the popularity of a site or company. Similar to the Social media factor.
Creating a social media presence has the potential to increase the popularity of your website. But not all social media providers will be appropriate to your business and some may not have enough supporters to consider. Make sure there is relevance in the posts and don't forget, to be a successful social media guru, you need to follow, like and share and be followed, liked and shared in order to score SEO points.
Backlinks, directory registration & reputation
Backlinks have always been an important component in Search Engine Optimization.
And although each search engine has it’s own unique criteria and algorithmic formulae. Registering in high-quality directories, many of them containing customers review processes, will help you propagate your company throughout the internet, build reputation and rank pages higher.
- Do not use linkfarms and other Black-hat tactics
- Avoid backlinks that require payment
Below is a short list of free directories that might help you in your quest for quality backlinks.
Would you invest in a temporary solution recommended by a disreputable source that will not commit to a future? Probably not, and neither would Google or any other search engine for that matter.
Search engines like stable businesses that are committed to the future and that have established themselves in the past, prove your commitment by locking in your domain name for the long term.