As Google makes progress in the development of its search engine algorithm, the techniques also change, however, there are aspects of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) that form the backbone, thus having evergreen character. Let's take a look at the most important elements of SEO that should help you rank higher and allow more people to reach your posts.
SEO Ranking Factors
When it comes to what you should keep in mind when improving the size of your digital footprint, the answer is EVERYTHING. Search engines consider both technical and creative aspects of your website all the time. This means that once you create a website, the fight for ranking is just beginning. Every page you create, as well as those you already published, should be analyzed and improved with the following ranking factors in mind.
Page Optimization and Load Speed
The faster your website loads the easier it is for users to reach the content you wish to present. Page load is the time it takes for your content to appear on a user’s display, the more content you have the more time it takes. Since users don’t like to wait forever to reach information the search engines support the audience by ranking down websites with slower load speed. Here is what you have to do to improve this factor:
- Optimize each page so that only the most essential content is displayed.
- Cut down the size of any large images.
- Embed videos from third-party sources instead of uploading the content directly to your server.
- Remove plugins you don’t use and update those you use. Plugins also need to load with the rest of the page content.
The advent of Big data enabled the development of software tools that can tell us what type of audience we attract. This information allows us to shape the layout for each page so that our target audience feels comfortable while visiting. While the urge to show the audience all we have is commendable, users could have issues while navigating the page, like digging through content they don't care about to find what they need.
- Use Google Analytics to see which type of content is most interesting for your audience and push that type of content forward.
- Survey your audience to learn what aspects of your website design they would improve.
- Remove unnecessary content.
- Unify color palette and typesetting.
Keywords in URLs
Keyword optimization is a technique that encompasses multiple activities, one of which is placing relevant keywords within your page URL. Both humans and computer algorithms read URLs, which means it's easier to detect relevant sources if the URL contains the keywords we need. Here is what you need to do:
- Research keywords that are most relevant to your topic.
- Go to WordPress dashboard and choose Settings and then pick Permalinks.
- Find Post Name settings and change the URL so that the suffix of your domain contains keywords in a natural way.
As much as you should work on placing the appropriate keywords within your content, it’s important to do it rationally. Google will notice if you’re overusing some phrases to make your content appear more relevant than others. Make sure you place keywords only where it makes sense, and avoid writing about topics that don’t have a direct connection to your keywords.
You can check the density of your keywords using YOAST plugin. It’s a free WP plugin that you can install and manage more than keyword stuffing.
Page and Content Organization
Keeping your content organized is important for user experience, general website aesthetics, and SEO because it allows search engines to determine if your website offers an abundance of related content. Let’s say you're blogging about the automotive industry and you just published a post that speaks about leather seats. For users who look for leather seats your content is interesting, however, search results will favor a website that has more content related to leather seats.
- Group similar content using meta tags.
- Separate your content by categories like Lifestyle, Sports, Fashion, etc. and create subcategories if needed.
- Using Google Analytics, find the most attractive content and make it easier to access.
Content Uniqueness, Length, and Quality
We could list the first few dozens of pages and compare their content only to see that most of the stuff we read is the same. Make your content unique, don’t offer more of the same or try to copy/paste other people’s content because search engines won’t even consider ranking you.
The length of your content depends on the topic you cover, and there’s no definite number of words you should use, although Yoast experts provide interesting pointers in their blog. Make sure to use headings to separate subtopics, and let each paragraph be your elaboration of an argument.
We already said that large images take too long to load, which hurts your ranking. Moreover, make sure your images look sharp for aesthetic and brand-building purposes. The audience has more trust in brands that pay attention to details. Here are a few more optimization suggestions:
- Add an appropriate image name, one that best describes what the picture presents.
- Add Alt name so Google could read it and show in search results for relative keywords.
- Consider image dimension and positioning.
The security of your audience is of paramount importance, especially if you sell services or products online. Pages that contain HTTPS prefix are ranked higher than those that don't provide a secure connection. Also, keep your plugins updated as developers often find leaks within their script that these updates patch.
The more high-quality websites place your links within their content the higher you rank because it shows search engines you are a relevant source. However, don't push your links just anywhere as appearing in poorly ranked websites can do you damage. Also, keep an eye on your internal links and make sure they are active. If you have any third-party links within your content, make sure it's a highly ranked source and always try to reach the original source as those are the most relevant.
Ranking signals are the same as ranking factors, it's the sum of all elements we need to watch for to improve our position on a search engine result page. The main categorization of SEO ranking signals is the best portrait like this:
- Overall quality
- Alt attributes
- Page speed
- URL structure
- Internal links
- Outgoing links
- Error status codes
- Registration privacy
- Domain registrant
- Exact match domains
- Registration length
- Domain extension
- Anchor text
- Domain diversity
- Social shares
When it comes to SEO techniques we can use to improve our website visibility, Google’s Webmaster Guidelines clearly show which measures for traffic improvement we can use and what are the benefits as well as the penalties for use of certain steps.
White hat – These techniques comply with the Guidelines and carry no risk for your brand. However, these techniques take a lot of time to show positive results and cost a lot of money and time.
Black hat – This method includes the implementation of measures that are strictly declared as what you should not do. Although you'll scale your rank faster and with much less effort or money, this method includes the risk of Google removing you from its ranking process forever.
Gray hat – This is where you’re playing by the rules but still take advantage of some shortcuts. Using clickbait titles or reviews that you paid for are just some examples of Gray hat SEO. This method is not as risky as the Black hat but still could lead to more harm than good.
Negative SEO – Implementation of any means necessary to harm your competitors. These methods include ordering negative reviews, copy/paste competitors' content, or invading a website to change its content.
These were some of the basic steps and techniques you can use to improve your ranking. Higher ranking brings more traffic, which can influence the growth of revenue. Remember to stay updated and learn about the changes that occur with every Google Algorithm enhancement.