Are you letting Google rule you?
Since 1998, when Google started its search engine ascension with the release of the PageRank algorithm, they’ve released numerous major updates that have, over time, transformed the way we optimize content for search. Google’s dominance forces marketers to closely follow updates and examine how they will impact your website’s search engine results pages (SERP) rankings.
It doesn’t have to be. A closer look reveals there are common SEO best practices that will keep your website resilient to Google algorithm disruptions.
Follow practices like:
Answering searchers’ questions with high-quality content
Making your website technically sound
Providing a great user experience that aligns with users’ search intent
Building site authority with backlinks
You must keep these themes top of mind if you want to continue to drive website traffic and minimize interference as Google updates are released.
1) Tighten up your technical SEO
Ensuring the technical aspects of your website are optimized helps search engines understand your site and its content. That’s important for visibility, crawlability, and indexing.
What technical SEO areas should you start improving first? We recommend looking at:
Website structure and taxonomy
Fixing any broken links
Fixing duplicate content with canonicals or creating unique content
Simplifying URL structures
By examining these areas first, you’ll make it easier for search engines to crawl your site and subsequently increase chances for ranking well on SERPs.
At Refactored, we’ve found SEMRush to be an effective tool for conducting a technical SEO audit because it easily surfaces issues into prioritized reports that are actionable.
2) Help users with great on-page SEO content
On-page SEO is exactly what it sounds like: Optimizing elements found on your webpages. Do it well and you’ll get more traffic from search engines and rank higher on SERPs.
Keep in mind, search engines are designed to serve the user. For any on-page optimizations, first consider your user’s search intent—in other words, the reason why they’re searching and what information they are trying to find. If your page’s content and key elements match that intent, then your page is more likely to be returned on a SERP.
Use relevant keywords—by matching terms that people type into Google—on your webpages. Keywords help search engines understand content and direct users toward it. We recommend using a combination of Google Search Console to identify search queries that are being used to find your site now as well as SEMRush for performing keyword research that may identify new content opportunities to attract qualified traffic.
Optimizing on-page SEO sounds great, but where should you start?
Look at your top-visited pages in Google Analytics to prioritize on-page elements such as:
If you ensure these components are both keyword- and user-optimized, then your website will reap the benefits quickly.
3) Great UX=Improved Signals
Search engines are tools that exist because they serve a user’s primary need: Finding relevant information. An engine that performs this function well creates a good user experience. Simple, right?
The same principle applies when a user reaches your website. If your site is filled with helpful content, then search engines will likely recognize you’re providing a good experience and reward you with higher rankings.
But how do you know if your website is providing a good experience? Inspect the health of these metrics:
If your website has a high bounce rate (percentage of visitors who leave the site after visiting only one page), that sends a bad signal to search engines. Essentially, a high bounce rate is saying your site’s content is not meeting user expectations. That leads to a lower SERP ranking.
Like bounce rate, this metric indicates whether your website’s content is valuable and relevant to users by measuring the time they spend on your site. The more time, the better your search engine ranking.
If either of these metrics appears unhealthy, you can take two actions to improve:
Simplify your navigation so users can easily find information.
Audit your content from a user perspective to identify where gaps exist.
Fixing navigation and editing content to be more user focused should improve user experience. And with a great user experience, you’ll be well positioned to handle any search engine algorithm updates.
4) How fast do your pages load?
People expect web pages to load fast. That’s a critical expectation that will never go away, especially as mobile use continues its acceleration.
Search engines also reward sites that optimize for speed—both individual pages and the whole site. What can you do to accelerate loading times?
Try these tips to improve website speed:
Reducing file sizes
Using a fast web hosting service that pre-loads pages
Those are just a few simple things you can do to improve your speed. For more inspiration, see how we helped a leading transportation organization revolutionize the speed and usability of their site.
5) Think mobile and thrive
How you build and present your site from a mobile perspective matters to search engines.
However, many B2B companies lag behind ecommerce brands in terms of being mobile friendly. In the ecommerce space, revenue often depends on creating a great mobile-first experience, as consumers expect the capability to shop on the go.
Search engines have similar mobile expectations. They believe your site should be accessible and scalable across numerous device types.
What does that mean for your website? Consider addressing these three mobile aspects.
Your site’s layout should be versatile. It should be capable of adjusting to any screen size and easily viewable in portrait or landscape mode. Make it easy to navigate by including a highly visible menu and clear call-to-action buttons.
Basics are key here. Use a font size that’s legible on mobile devices, stray away from conflicting colors, and break up chunks of text with clear headers.
Creating a mobile version of your web pages is key to ranking well. Google has shifted to indexing the mobile version of a site first.
Curious to see how mobile friendly your site is? Test it by using this tool from Google.
How else can you ensure SEO success? Get a partner.
SEO is constantly evolving. Success involves three components: great SEO tools, quality content, and intelligently structured technology that provides great user experience.
Sound difficult? It can be if you venture solo. But partnering with a team like Refactored makes it easier. We have experts in all areas of digital marketing who can help you not only develop a holistic SEO strategy but also support it with great content and smart website design.