What Factors Do Search Engines Consider When Ranking Websites?
A famous visual artist once said that many great things are done by a series of small aspects brought together. Now, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) hardly has to do with creating eye-catching pieces. But if any quote could encapsulate what using SEO is like, this one would be it.
If you’ve tried SEO before, you’ve learnt it isn’t all that easy. In truth, it’s incredibly tricky. Everyone knows search engine ranking algorithms exist, but details on how they work seem to be shrouded in mystery.
Effective SEO strategies come from knowing what matters, how to optimize those and what works for your specific website. Keep reading to find out which factors of your website should fall within those considerations.
Search engines remain relevant by providing relevant and helpful search results. The first and most crucial step to pleasing search engines is bringing valuable content to visitors.
Nowadays, good content is more important than keywords. Search engines have improved their algorithms to spot posts that try to trick the system. If visitors stay, search engines view this as a sign of good quality content worth ranking.
Post original and high-quality content. Your content should be interesting and readable enough that most readers will stick through till the end. Additionally, it’s good practice to write posts that satisfy your reader’s questions—so they feel little or no need to seek more information from other sources.
URLs and Meta Tags
Every page on your website has a unique URL, meta tag, and meta description. These are what search engines use to understand the content of your web pages and display them as search results. They’re also the first thing web users see when browsing search results, so you must ensure they’re eye-catching, relevant, and descriptive. You’ll want to use some of the best writing practices out there.
Link building is critical to every SEO strategy. A backlink is any link that exists outside your site but links directly to any page on your site. The more external links leading to your site, the better it looks, and the more likely you’ll rank well in search results.
There are two main ways to acquire backlinks:
Organic backlinks come from producing valuable, high-quality, and unique content. Your content can naturally acquire backlinks as other sites use your content as links in their posts or articles. The more you have, the more likely you’ll organically acquire more.
Reaching Out To Other Websites
You can’t just wait for backlinks to generate organically. You’ll probably be contacting many other websites and blogs to get them to link your web pages. Expect to either be paying to sponsor or write posts for other sites that’ll include your links. In cases like this, you’ll also want to consider optimizing your landing pages to grab the attention of anyone who follows your links.
You need to provide site visitors with an easy and intuitive means of finding what they’re looking for from all sections of your website. Would you stay on a website with poor navigation or look elsewhere? This goes for anyone who visits your site, regardless of your niche, business model, or target market. Remember that if people tend to click away from your site after a short visit, search engines notice.
On the same note, search engines can’t recommend a web page they can’t find. It’s just as necessary to provide search engines a way to crawl and index various parts of your website in the form of an XML sitemap. Your sitemap is a tree-like list of all the pages you want search engines to be aware of. Including and optimizing one never hurts SEO rankings and can only benefit you.
It’s often overlooked, but how fast your website loads is absolutely critical to maintaining good search engine rankings. A slow website that takes more than five seconds to load can lead more than half of people to click away.
Driving readers, visitors, and potential clients/customers away is the opposite of your SEO goals. It tells search engines that your website isn’t worth visiting or worth ranking too. The bottom line: ensure your website is tested and loads quickly on desktop or mobile.
Optimization For Different Platforms
As an extension of that last point, you want your website to not only run fast across all platforms but also to optimize well for all platforms. In other words, on mobile, your site shouldn’t feel like it belongs on a desktop. And on a desktop, it shouldn’t feel like it belongs on mobile.
Fortunately, most modern website builders are good at automatically optimizing these things—or your developers should do it. If you’re building the site yourself, a good rule is to build the website for mobile first and optimize it for desktop later. Mobile sites tend to move to desktop easier than if it were the other way around.
Spamming a website full of keywords is no longer a working SEO strategy yet they still play a role in your rankings. More specifically, you need to find specific keywords you want to rank for. The next step is to strategically place them in different places across your website and posts.
Keep them in your URLs, meta descriptions, and HTML headings. Include them in the body of blog posts or product descriptions, but don’t overdo it or force them into place.
Bringing It All Together
Building an effective SEO strategy for your website is a great thing. It might seem challenging at first—and it is—but it becomes easier when you consider each factor individually before putting everything together.
Content is key, nonetheless, everything supporting it is just as important—from how people find it to how they interact with it. Finally, remember there’s no golden strategy—trial and error are simply part of finding a working SEO strategy.