The strategic journey to secure a position on the initial page of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) is a continual and dynamic quest. It requires steadfast efforts to ascend from the challenges at hand.
Positioning your web pages in close proximity to the SERP summit is imperative, as failure to do so may result in diminished visibility.
A robust SEO foundation not only contributes to prolonged higher rankings for your web pages but also enhances the performance of your pay-per-click advertising if employed. While search engines maintain secrecy about their algorithms, there are discernible hints indicating the criteria influencing website rankings.
These factors have been evaluated for optimal practices and elements to steer clear of:
These factors are interconnected, and the importance of each may vary depending on the specific goals and nature of the website. A holistic SEO strategy often involves addressing multiple aspects simultaneously.
The relevance of your content to the user's search query is crucial. Search engines aim to provide the most relevant results to users.
Friendly meaningful keyword-driven URLs accurately indicate the content of a page.
Friendly URL Tips:
Actively deliver relevant content to your customers, and receive algorithmic points that when combined with other criteria will influence site ranking.
Make it fresh - search engines love new content - review and update often.
Knowing how users are searching for your products in order for them to find you. A website that as well SEO optimized speaks the same language as its users.
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.
Make your content original and unique. It is believed search engines somehow hunt down information that is expressed or organised differently than similar sites. Represents a differing perspective.
Reputable outbound links to related pages and relevant organisations, websites and tools will help search engines focus in on and confirm page topics thus boosting site and page ranking. High bounce rates could indicate the content is poor quality or not relevant to the user's query.
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.
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 with the respective market. Older pages that are regularly updated should outperform new pages.
There are mixed opinions from SEOs specifically regarding post dates and blogs.
News posts, on the other hand, should always include release dates.
c. General note
Search engines look at the last time a page was updated and execute their algorithms based on that - remember your website should always be about creating a valued user experience - do what's best for your users.
Rather than creating new posts on specific topics, try to update the post content on a regular basis.
A favicon does provide some increase in the usability of a website in that it can easily be found when bookmarked, however, most SEO experts believe that if SEO points are awarded for having on, it would be very minor.
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.
High-quality, valuable, and relevant content is fundamental for SEO. This includes text, images, and other multimedia elements.
Put the most important information above the fold, in the browser visible area of the website. It is believed by many SEO experts that search engines reward web pages that have rich page topic-specific information at the top of the browser window.
Make sure the most important page message is at the top of the page and that important keywords are included, but not overdone.
Is it the same as everyone else or is it different? Find new ways to present common information, use images, and video presentations. Whatever you do make it better than the competition. Not only with the search engine take notice, but your customers will too.
Make sure the fonts used on your website are legible.
The length of the content is a purely speculative concept in the SEO world. Some sources suggest that 600-700 words per page, others suggest 300 words per page as a minimum.
An important consideration is that you only use what you need to use to make your page work. Make it easy to understand, include important and meaningful keywords and avoid fluff. Add value that you think might help explain the topic of the page.
Supplemental content that adds value to a page topic can add value, things like calculators or simulators all add to the user experience.
Duplication suggests organizational issues with a website, a user does not want to see information that they have already seen. It can negatively affect website ranking.
Duplication on a website devalues your content and confuses search engines. If content duplication is necessary, the conical tag tells the search engine to look at the preferred source.
A blog is an excellent way to communicate new ideas, upcoming events and market news. It's a great outlet to answer customer questions and discuss topics in great detail.
A positive user experience, including a well-designed and easily navigable website, contributes to SEO. Search engines want to provide users with a good experience.
Viewport addresses the display of web content on multiple devices. If unspecified, the content will not show properly on mobile devices.
Avoid minimum-scale, maximum-scale, and user-scalable, these options impact accessibility in a negative way.
Responsive websites adapt to the needs of the user and the devices they're using. Search engines give SEO points to websites that are responsive. The media query technique is the recommended basis for responsive website design.
Think of your pages in terms of relevance and make sure that essential page links are closer to the top of the main navigation, these pages tend to get a higher ranking than pages buried deeper within the website.
Navigation links should load quickly, be easily understood and be easily clickable on target devices.
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.
It just makes good sense that easy-to-understand information will be appreciated by website users searching for more information about your product or services.
Search engines have begun to process information more intelligently and are looking for meaningful results “Semantic results”. Although no one really understands what the research engines are looking for or how they process the information, it is believed the well-written, well-organized and well-documented material will meet their criteria.
Bulleted lists simplify content and help users comprehend concepts quickly.
Help website users find the content that they are looking for and reduce bounce rates. Low bounce rates score positive SEO points.
Avoid pop-ups, in most cases, they are considered distractive or annoying and may indicate a poor-quality website.
User engagement metrics, such as bounce rate and time spent on site, can impact your SEO. A site that keeps users engaged is often considered more valuable.
It appears that traffic correlates to the higher ranking of web pages and it is believed that search engines use the following visitor information in their algorithms:
By providing quality usable information your users are more likely to find what they are looking for and stay on the website longer.
Great reviews from reputable sources like Yelp, Google+, GoogleMyBusiness, Homestars and The Better Business Bureau, should encourage traffic to a website and influence website rank.
Authoritative websites become trusted websites, especially if the content is better (more informative and helpful) than the competition. Many SEOs believe it is factored into the search rank equation.
It is believed that search engines, specifically Google measure (releases, news, blog association memberships... links) and mentions of brand names on the internet and the measurement goes into the search algorithm.
Search terms that stand on their own and branded search terms can indicate popularity that may be measured by search engine algorithms i.e. running shoes vs Nike running shoes. Although there's not much that can be done from an SEO perspective, it has been suggested that branding may become a part of SEO.
A fast-loading website is favoured by both users and search engines. Page speed is a ranking factor, and it also contributes to a better user experience.
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.
Your page loading speed should be under 5 seconds.
Most mobile devices do not support plugins, a leading cause of crashes, hangs, and security issues. Many browsers have begun to restrict plugins as native web technologies now take care of audio, video and graphics.
Slow or failing servers affect performance and ranking.
The further away a server is from its customer target areas, the more potential for network failure. If you are in a local market, use a server in that market.
Most content-managed websites contain settings for compression which allow the pages to load quicker.
Page objects include CSS resource files, scripts, images and flash files.
Optimizing images and visuals for search engines can enhance the overall quality of your content. Alt text and image file names are important considerations.
Images add interest and express ideas more easily, as such they can help engage the user and lower the bounce rate. Images and videos send search engines important relevancy signals.
Optimise image size and compression so that they load quickly. Test for quality - poor quality highly compressed images make a poor impression even with quick website loading.
Make sure to use descriptive image Alt Tags that contain relevant information about the image and contain main page keywords.
Meaningful keyword-based captions offer another opportunity to bolster content. They should also contain relevant information about the image and contain main page keywords.
Speeds up your site for returning visitors - tells users' browsers to cache the image until the specified date.
Strategic use of keywords in content and meta titles can help search engines understand the relevance of your pages to specific queries.
Google prefers a URL structure using a dash such as "all-great-things" rather than underscores such as "all_great_things".
Still, an important SEO element, a title is the title for a URL that appears above the URL in most browsers. It should contain important keywords and be relevant to the content on the page. Each page title should be unique to the entire site and its length should not be 71 characters.
Keyword Search Engine ranking is an essential necessity for every website. 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 overstack keywords, and remember to include your keywords in the following areas:
The keyword meta-tag has been eliminated as a ranking factor in search engine algorithms.
Although it sounds like a good idea to include keywords, these tags are reserved for sub-content which typically might not have keywords associated with them, it's better to use keywords in the copy.
Also known as structured data, microdata allows search engines to not only crawl your site but to understand it by providing labels for individual content chunks. Microdata helps crawlers identify, classify, and index your information as well as create rich snippets on search results. It is believed that microdata helps improve page ranking.
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Duplicated text and meta information will diminish the value of pages, as it could potentially be deemed as a form of keyword stacking.
Exact match data queries are highly specific search queries where the user's input precisely aligns with the targeted keywords or phrases by a website or advertiser. These queries play a crucial role in both SEO and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, as they indicate users seeking very precise information. Advertisers and website owners value exact match queries for their precision, enabling them to have more control over
when their content or ads appear. However, there are challenges, as the focus on exact matches may limit the capture of broader or related searches, potentially reducing overall reach. Adapting strategies to balance exact matches with broader match types is essential for comprehensive coverage in search campaigns. Understanding user intent becomes paramount in optimizing content and ads for exact match queries, ensuring that the information provided directly addresses the user's specific needs. Regular monitoring and analysis of exact match data are crucial for refining SEO and advertising strategies over time, leveraging the advantages of higher relevance for potentially improved conversion rates.
A well-chosen and reputable domain can positively influence SEO. Factors like domain age and domain authority play a role.
In summary, while domain redirects are a valuable tool for website management, implementing them without careful consideration of SEO best practices can lead to undesired outcomes. A strategic and well-executed approach ensures a smooth transition for both users and search engines, minimizing any negative impact on the website's SEO performance.
The preference for subdirectories over subdomains aligns with contemporary SEO practices, emphasizing consolidated authority, user experience, and streamlined technical management. While there may be specific cases where subdomains are appropriate, the general recommendation leans toward using subdirectories for a more cohesive and SEO-friendly website structure.
Ensuring that search engine bots can easily crawl and index your site is crucial. A well-structured site with a sitemap and robots.txt file helps in this regard.
Page redirects involve forwarding users from one URL to another. While redirects serve legitimate purposes, such as handling broken links or website restructuring, their improper use can have negative implications.
In summary, while page redirects serve essential purposes, their indiscriminate use can lead to confusion, impact content delivery, and have SEO implications. Adhering to best practices and regularly auditing redirects contributes to a more streamlined and user-friendly website experience.
While redirects are typically not advisable, one redirect may be acceptable.
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.
Disallow the search engines access to some parts of your website. You are advised to check carefully if the access to these resources or pages must be blocked.
The webpage does not use the no-index meta tag. This means that your webpage will be read and indexed by search engines.
Your webpage does not use the no-follow meta tag. This means that search engines will crawl all links from your webpage.
HTTPS is considered a ranking factor and a secure website (with an SSL certificate) is preferred by search engines.
Early in 2017 Google announced that websites that are not secure or are using poor quality SSL certifications would start to receive lower SEO ranking scores starting October 2017.
A server signature is the public identity of your web server. It contains sensitive information that could be used to exploit any known server vulnerability. Turning the server signature off is considered a good security practice. It avoids disclosure of software information.
For security reasons, directory browsing should always be disabled unless there is a specific reason to enable it.
Take steps to ensure there is no malware or phishing activity on your website.
Having a privacy statement or policy tells your customers that you take their privacy seriously and that you take measures to protect your users and their personal information.
Protect e-mail addresses that are in your website contact forms. If you are using plain text, it is easy for spammers to capture email addresses and use them for phishing messages that look like they came from trustworthy sources. Google, in particular, is on a mission to wipe out hacking, spoofing and spamming.
A technically sound website, including proper HTML markup, structured data, and mobile responsiveness, is important for SEO.
Good coding in itself will help improve page processing by removing potential server hick-ups that slow down site performance. Run your HTML & CSS pages through the W3C, or utilise developer versions of browsers to help optimise your pages.
Deprecated tags are tag elements that are still in use but will eventually become browser obsolete. Many of these tags have been replaced with new tags or can be treated with CSS.
Wherever possible minify CSS, scripts, and HTML. This will help speed up the page delivery and contribute to in a positive way to ranking.
Move scripts that don't require immediate loading but are not pertinent to initial page viewing to the end of your web page.
It is a good practice to put all the inline CSS rules into an external file to decrease the code-to-text ratio and make your page lighter.
The code-to-text ratio of a page is used by believed to be used by search engines and spiders to calculate the relevancy of a webpage.
Some SEOs believe this really has no bearing on SERP ranking others for lack of a better word “want” it to. That said, if a page is very light on content, it will not rank well.
Although Flash is readily used, it requires excessive loading time which some search engines believe diminishes the user experience. Flash content does not work well on mobile devices and is difficult for crawlers to interpret.
Nested tables should be avoided, they require a longer load time, cause issues with screen readers and do not conform to flexible responsive design.
Framesets slow down page loading, they are very difficult to interpret by search bots, in fact, framesets will not get indexed.
Faster-loading websites result in a better user experience, higher conversion rates, and better search engine rankings. Limit HTML Page size to 30kb.
This helps ensure a faster loading web page and improved user experience. MORE
Google Analytics provides valuable data that can help marketers improve site rankings and although some SEO's believe there is a correlation to Google's ranking system, it is probably just a myth.
Both internal and external links contribute to SEO. Quality backlinks from reputable sites can significantly boost your site's authority.
Similar to brand authority with the exception that a brand's website URL is mentioned. Metrics could include browser toolbars (bookmarks), press releases, news, blogs, associations...
Generally speaking, it is believed that search engines use a domain authority scale to measure the quality of a domain link.
Whereas Domain Authority measures the predictive ranking strength of an entire domain, Page Authority measures the strength of individual pages that may be linked to by other websites.
Internal links are links within a website domain that provide more information about the subject matter, these links could be to definitions, rich media or blog topics.
External links are links that link to outside websites and may include related associations, partners, resources or rich media.
Anchor text is the visible wording that a hyperlink displays in an internal or external link. Anchor text can provide both search engines and users with relevant contextual information about the content of the link's destination.
A link title provides additional information on where a link will take you. Although link titles can provide visual and non-visual users with information about a link, they can cause duplication issues on screen readers.
The value of a link title appears to be diminishing.
Having broken links on a page may indicate a neglected or abandoned website. Make sure to test site links on a regular basis.
Backlinks are off-site links that link to a website. They have always been a part of SEO, but in recent years have diminished in value.
The quality of backlinks is extremely important. Spammy backlinks will have a negative effect on ranking, while reputable high-quality sites may have a positive effect on rank.
While social signals (social media activity related to your site) are considered, their direct impact on SEO is debated. However, a strong social media presence can indirectly contribute to visibility and traffic.
It is believed that links to content on social networks help search engines understand the credibility of a website relating to a site's keyword phrases.
Having a social media presence has the potential to increase the popularity of your website, but don't just do it, not all social media networks will be appropriate to your business and if you cannot allocate resources to manage them, you may be completely wasting time and money.
Make sure there is relevance in the posts and don't forget, to be a success in social networks, you need to be followed, follow, like and share.
Social Network Profiles seem to get good rank for most brands. Probably because these profiles are usually up-to-date and loaded with friendly information about a company.
It would appear that the number of followers and connections your social media profiles contain can influence ranking.
Social media is a great way to build your web presence and quickly build an audience.
If search engines like social media, then they are bound to like new, high-quality content on the social media networks. Keep the posts coming and make sure there is a relevant purpose to them.
Capture events and post pictures
Likes, shared links, shared posts, favourites, replies, and retweets all seem to count toward increased authority, but not all social networks appear to be treated equally. Stick with Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Linkedin and YouTube.
Social media pages are subject to the same SEO rules as most websites and tend to rank higher than many company home pages. Use these pages to try drive website users back to your website. This will increase website activity to your website and increase associated ranking factors.
Originally introduced (a series of meta tags) by Facebook several years ago. It promotes the integration between Facebook and other websites by allowing them to become rich "graph" objects with the same functionality as other Facebook objects. And now today other social media sites are taking advantage of these social media tags ( Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+, recognize Open Graph tags ) - Twitter has actually created a set of their own.
Although Google and other search engines don't share their secret criteria for their algorithms, the whole philosophy behind Open Graph Protocol sounds pretty good. It's very probable that if implemented on a site, SEO Points will be rewarded.
Ensuring that your website is accessible to users with disabilities is important for a positive user experience. While not a direct ranking factor, it aligns with search engines' goals of providing inclusive results.
Provide descriptive alternative text for non-text content such as images, graphics, and multimedia elements. This is crucial for users who rely on screen readers.
Use proper HTML markup to ensure that the structure and elements of your content are semantically meaningful. This helps screen readers and other assistive technologies understand the content.
Ensure that all functionality is accessible via a keyboard. Some users may not be able to use a mouse, and keyboard navigation is essential for them.
Clearly indicate the focus state for interactive elements. This helps users who navigate through a site using a keyboard or other non-mouse input devices.
Ensure there is sufficient colour contrast between text and background colours. This benefits users with visual impairments or colour blindness.
Allow users to adjust the text size without affecting the overall website layout. This is important for users with low vision.
Use legible fonts and font sizes. Some users may have difficulty reading small or fancy fonts.
Provide captions for audio and video content, and transcripts for multimedia. This benefits users with hearing impairments or those who prefer written content.
Organize content in a logical and consistent manner using proper heading tags (h1, h2, etc.). This aids in navigation and comprehension.
Ensure that forms are accessible, with proper labels, error messages, and helpful hints. Users with disabilities should be able to complete and submit forms easily.
Test your website with various assistive technologies, including screen readers, to ensure compatibility and a seamless user experience.
Include "skip to content" links at the beginning of the page to allow users to bypass repetitive navigation and go directly to the main content.
If using tables, ensure they are coded properly for accessibility. Include header cells and use the scope attribute to associate data cells with header cells.
For video content, provide audio descriptions of visual information to assist users with visual impairments.
Implement accessible navigation menus that can be easily navigated using a keyboard or assistive devices.
By incorporating these features into your website, you can create a more inclusive and accessible online experience for a diverse range of users. Web accessibility is not only a legal and ethical consideration but also enhances the overall usability and reach of your website.
Optimal results in establishing a robust SEO foundation for your website are achieved during the initial creation phase. Executed correctly, this approach not only delivers time and cost savings in the long run but also accelerates the ascent of your website to higher rankings swiftly.