SEO BASICS: SOME ESSENTIALS TO OPTIMIZING YOUR SITE
What is SEO?
Quite simply, SEO is the umbrella term for all the methods you can use to ensure the visibility of your website and its content on search engine results pages (SERPs).
The methods vary from technical practices you can achieve behind the scenes on your website (we tend to refer to this as ‘on-page SEO’) to all the promotional ’off-page’ approaches you can use to raise your site’s visibility (link-building, social media marketing).
For the purpose of this article, when we talk about visibility, we mean how high up the SERP your website appears for certain search terms in the ‘organic’ results. Organic results refer to those that appear naturally on the page, rather than in the paid-for section. Paid search is also a large part of search engine marketing. You can read more about this in our recent beginner’s guide to paid search and PPC.
Why do you need SEO?
Building a strong site architecture and providing clear navigation will help search engines index your site quickly and easily. This will also, more importantly, provide visitors with a good experience of using your site and encourage repeat visits. It’s worth considering that Google is increasingly paying attention to user experience.
When it comes to how much traffic is driven by search engines to your website, the percentage is substantial, and perhaps the clearest indicator of the importance of SEO.
In 2014, Conductor suggested 64% of all web traffic comes from organic search, compared to 2% from social, 6% from paid search, 12% direct, and 15% from other referral sources.
This tallies with our own data, with approximately 70-75% of SEW traffic coming from organic.
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It’s therefore vital that your site appears in the top five results.
What are search engines looking for?
Search engines try to provide the most relevant results to a searcher’s query, whether it’s a simple answer to the question “how old is Ryan Gosling?” (the answer of which Google will likely provide without you having to leave the SERP) to more complicated queries such as “what is the best steak restaurant nearest to me?”
How search engines provide these results is down to their own internal algorithms, which we’ll probably never truly determine, but there are factors that you can be certain will influence these results and they’re all based around relevancy… For instance: a searcher’s location, their search history, time of day/year, etc.
2) The quality of your content
Do you regularly publish helpful, useful articles, videos, or other types of media that are popular and well produced? Do you write for actual human beings rather than the search engine itself? Well, you should. The latest research from Searchmetrics on ranking factors indicates that Google is moving further towards longer-form content that understands a visitor’s intention as a whole, instead of using keywords based on popular search queries to create content.
Basically, stop worrying about keywords and focus on the user experience.
3) User experience
There are many SEO benefits for providing the best possible user experience. You need an easily navigable, clearly searchable site with relevant internal linking and related content. All the stuff that keeps visitors on your webpage and hungry to explore further.
4) Site speed
How quickly your webpages load is increasingly becoming a differentiator for search engines. Google may soon start labeling results that are hosted on Accelerated Mobile Page (AMP) so this may possibly be the ‘mobilegeddon’ of 2016.
5) Cross-device compatibility
Are your website and its content equally optimized for any given screen size or device? Bear in mind that Google has stated that responsive design is its preferred method of mobile optimization.
6) Internal linking
We’ve talked about the benefits of ensuring your site has clear and easy-to-use navigation, but there’s also a practice that editors and writers can carry out when publishing articles to help push traffic around the site and that may lead to higher trust signals for Google: internal linking. (See what we did there.)
Internal linking has many advantages:
- It provides your audience with further reading options. As long as they’re relevant and you use clear anchor text (the clickable highlighted words in any give link). This can help reduce your bounce rates.
- It helps to improve your ranking for certain keywords. If we want this article to rank for the term ’SEO basics’ then we can begin linking to it from other posts using variations of similar anchor text. This tells Google that this post is relevant to people searching for ‘SEO basics’. Some experts recommend varying your anchor text pointing to the same page as Google may see multiple identical uses as ‘suspicious’.
- It helps Google crawl and index your site. Those little Googlebots that are sent out to fetch new information on your site will have a better idea of how useful and trustworthy your content is, the more they crawl your internal links.
An authority website is a site that is trusted by its users, the industry it operates in, other websites and search engines. Traditionally a link from an authority website is very valuable, as it’s seen as a vote of confidence. The more of these you have, and the higher quality content you produce, the more likely your own site will become an authority too.
However, as the aforementioned Searchmetrics research suggests, year-on-year correlations between backlinks and rankings are decreasing, so perhaps over time ‘links’ may not be as important to SEO as we once thought.
There’s a good argument raging in the comments to this recent piece on links as a marketing KPI, which offers some diverse views on the subject.
8) Meta descriptions and title tags
Having a meta description won’t necessarily improve your ranking on the SERP, but it is something you should definitely use before publishing an article as it can help increase your chances of a searcher clicking on your result.
The meta description is the short paragraph of text that appears under your page’s URL in the search results, it’s also something you should have complete control of in your CMS.
9) Evergreen content
Instead of peppering the internet with a rash of ‘quick win’ news stories with little insight, why not publish more evergreen content.
More thoughtful, helpful, and practical-advice based articles can lead to huge long-term wins in terms of driving traffic and occupying highly visible positions in the SERPs.
10) Keyword stuffing
Overusing keywords on your pages, especially when they obviously affect the readability of your site. It’s debatable whether Google even still uses keywords as a ranking factor anymore.
Here are some SEO BASICS: SOME ESSENTIALS TO OPTIMIZING YOUR SITE will help you to strengthen your website and improve the ranking of your website by using SEO basics technique.
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