There are dozens of factors that affect how Google and other search engines rank sites. In this post, the first of a series on SEO tips, we tackle 3 of these. Review your site today and start getting your SEO ducks in a row.
User Experience is the Key to SEO
Search engines try to deliver the results that they think will be the most relevant to the searcher. Ranking algorithms put a premium on the user experience. That means the content has to be user-friendly. Think about what you want when you visit a website? You expect high quality, relevant, delivered quickly, pleasing to the eye, and easy to navigate. If you’re like most people, you click off the site pretty quickly, don’t you?
Here are three things to you can do to make your site more user-friendly.
1. Create engaging and relevant content.
Google rewards websites that visitors tend to stay on longer and matches the intent of the searcher. If you provide relevant content on your website and design it so that it encourages visitors to browse around, this will help your ranking. Make it unique, high-quality and specific. Make sure your contact information, hours, and services are clearly spelled out. And make your content engaging. Use images and video to help tell your story. Read more on Google’s webmaster guidelines.
2. Improve your page load time.
Do your website pages load quickly? Search engines know that visitors are impatient and will not wait around for slow-loading pages. If searchers give up and go to your competitors’ site instead, you’ve not only lost that customer but you may have hurt your rankings for future searches. You can use Google’s Page Speed Tool to find out how your site stacks up. The diagnosis can be complicated to understand, but a website developer can help you make the necessary fixes. Images that are too large and not optimized for the web are often a big culprit.
3. Build links from other websites
Google uses the popularity of sites to determine whether they should be shown in search results. A very important input into Google’s algorithm is how many credible websites links to pages on your website. One of the best ways to build these links it to use social media channels such as Facebook or Instagram. Write engaging blog content and share it on your social media channels. And don’t forget to encourage your followers to share the content. Another great way to build links is to identify key bloggers and other influencers in your field and contact them to ask for a link. This is time-consuming but try to set aside a bit of time each week for outreach, and if you are successful in getting well-read blogs to link to your website, you should see real results. Moz has a good article on developing a link-building strategy.
While we are talking about building links, don’t forget to do regular housekeeping on your site and fix any broken links on your site. Broken links and missing pages are definitely not user-friendly. It tells users your website may be out-of-date and it may cause them to click off of your site and look elsewhere. This of course can hurt your search ranking. There are free tools available to help you test your site for broken links. We like to use W3C Link Checker. Fix those links and while you are at it, you may want to think about adding some new outbound links to relevant websites, which can also help in your rankings. SEMrush also has a useful tool for fixing broken links.
SEO is a continual process and can take time to bear fruit. But if you follow best practices and are patient, you should see results. In our next post, we will look at other factors that can affect your site’s ranking and what you can do improve your ranking.