Do you want your website to succeed?
If so, you need to learn a thing or two about SEO, or search engine optimization. SEO is made up of various strategies and best practices that exist to improve your position in search engine results.
Google, the dominant search engine, relies on different SEO ranking signals to determine what websites or pages are the best results for different search queries. These ranking signals consist of things like, a secure website (SSL enabled), appropriate keywords, a site’s mobile friendliness, and quality of links. When your site is optimized for SEO, you have a better chance of ranking higher in SERPs, or search engine result pages. This is vitally important considering “75% of people never scroll past the first page of search engines.”
There are two kinds of SEO: On-page and Off-page, though we’ll mostly focus on the former in this post. So, without further ado, let’s look at some SEO strategies that can help boost your business in search results.
We asked our resident SEO expert what strategies and tactics he recommends as the most impactful that you should implement ASAP. He’s developed successful SEO plans for small businesses, agencies, and large corporations, so he’s well-versed in what helps a website rank higher in search results.
Here's what he had to say.
Remember when typing three keywords into Google would still give you decent, relevant results? That doesn’t cut it anymore. Now, people are searching the Internet using more complex, natural speech patterns. Considering how voice search is on the rise, this trend doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere. To make the most of it, you need to know a thing or two about your users.
How well do you know your audience and user base? Understanding them will give you a leg up in search results.
Are you wondering how that’s possible?
Search engines value content and sites that users themselves find valuable. So how does Google know what content and sites users find valuable? They use information like bounce rates and dwell time to determine whether someone is staying on your page, consuming relevant content, or bouncing away because your site doesn’t meet their needs or answer their query.
You can use Google Analytics to help you understand who your users are. You can figure out how they’re reaching your site, where they’re landing, and more information to help you refine the user experience of your site.
Google BERT (one of Google’s newer search algorithms released in October 2019) supports your need for a user-focused site. BERT, “is Google’s neural network-based technique for natural language processing (NLP)…” and “in short, BERT can help computers understand language a bit more like humans do.”
Page titles and meta descriptions are some of the first things users and search engines see and they influence how your page is understood.
Page titles are the clickable titles that display in SERPs, like you see in the example below, circled in red. Depending on the browser you’re using, you may also see page titles in your tabs.
Meta descriptions are little snippets of HTML content that describe the content on a page. Optimizing them for SEO is crucial. You can see Register.com’s homepage meta description circled in blue below.
Your page title is one of the most important on-page SEO ranking factors. To make the most of it, keep these tips in mind:
Meta descriptions are brief snippets created to describe a page or site. Good meta descriptions increase the click-through rate from search results to your site. Create effective meta descriptions by:
Articles and pages that appear on the first page of Google search results tend to average ~1890 words. If you’re still writing 500-word fluff and puff pieces, your SEO is in trouble.
Let’s hearken back to the first SEO strategy suggested earlier in this post, understanding your audience. If you can find out why people are coming to your site, you can cater your content to them.
Writing good content takes time, but it’s worth it because the quality of your content matters. Good content is:
Remember, search engines want to display the best results for search queries. If your page has the best, most comprehensive content that answers a question, naturally, it’ll rank higher over time.
Having a secure website is essential to your success. You might think you can get away without SSL if you’re not running an eCommerce site or asking for user’s personal information (like via an email sign up form), but you’d be mistaken.
SSL isn’t just vital for site security; it also matters for appearances’ sake — never discount the power of perception. We’ll explain below.
Since Google introduced security as a ranking signal in 2014, SSL has been a must-have. SSL stands for “Secure Sockets Layer” and it protects and encrypts the information passed between an end user (site visitor) and your site, and vice versa. It keeps information safe ranging from credit card details to email addresses. Without SSL, hackers and bad guys can intercept, read, and alter that information.
Remember how we said perception matters? Consider this: Sites with SSL enabled have a visual indicator in the URL bar that signals the site as safe and secure.
Sites without SSL, or not secure sites, show up with a warning indicator, like you see below, that can cause site visitors to lose trust and confidence in you.
Don’t push your site visitors away before they’ve had a chance to peruse your pages. Enable SSL on your site and reap the benefits of increased customer trust and the secure exchange of information on your site.
If you’re working on SEO, it makes sense to use SEO tools designed specifically to help! As a bonus, many of them are free. Let’s look at two resources created by Google that are indispensable to your SEO efforts.
Use this tool to understand basic KPIs (key performance indicators) and benchmark performance. With Analytics you can:
Google Search Console has one main purpose and that’s to help you understand how GoogleBot has interacted with your site.
What’s GoogleBot? It’s Google’s Search Engine Bot that crawls webpages. It uses sitemaps and links to catalogue sites on the Internet. Google stores this information in their index, which is like a massive repository of sites that exist online.
GoogleBot crawls sites using different SEO ranking factors and looks for things like broken links or updated content. When it finds these things, it updates and makes note of them in the larger index.
When using Search Console, don’t forget to look at your Index Coverage Report (ICR). Your ICR:
Use the status of your pages to make any necessary changes to your site. For example, if you find a webpage that’s excluded from search results that shouldn’t be, you’ll need to correct it.
Search Console also lets you see the queries people made to find your site! Neat, right? This is incredibly insightful information that allows you to:
Have you ever completed a technical audit of your site? If not, now’s the time to start. As a best practice, you should audit your site at least once a year (more if you have a complex site.)
Technical site audits help you understand various things about your site, like:
Robots.txt files are made to communicate with web crawling robots (like GoogleBot.) These files tell the bots what webpages they can and can’t access for crawling on your site. It’s a file that creates rules around your domain.
We want your business to succeed as much as you do. That’s why we’ve compiled these SEO strategies and hope that you implement them on your website.
SEO is crucial to surviving and thriving online, so don’t let your website and business get behind. If you’ve never worked on your SEO before, consider leveraging Register.com's expertise to kickstart your SEO strategy and implementation.