1. Content that satisfies user intent
At its core, the purpose of a search engine is to help people find the information they need online, by filtering out websites they consider to be unhelpful or a hindrance to the user’s quest for a solution. To be considered valuable to the right people, websites need to have content that is:
- Clear, easy to understand
- Relevant to the intent of the user’s search query
- Interesting to read
- Able to answer the visitor’s question or provide a solution to a problem that the visitor has
When your website is able to achieve these outcomes, search engines will pick up on this, and reward it with a higher search result position. Why? Because they have identified that your website is able to: satisfy customer demand, and be easily linkable. Combined, these two ingredients make it easy for search engines to recommend your website.
2. Webpage loading speed
Few people wait around for a slow loading website. Even fewer come back. Search engines like Google understand this, and as of July 2018 now consider page loading speeds a crucial SEO ranking factor.
What causes a website to load slowly? A large volume of images that are either the wrong file type or too large in size (i.e. JPEG is typically smaller, more optimised than PNG). An overabundance of animations or flash content. Improper use of caching techniques. Or simply too many advertisements like banners or pop-ups. Any one of these factors can bring loading speeds to a crawl.
By far, the best way to identify the cause of poor loading speeds and optimise your site to improve performance, is to request a free website analysis. A reputable company can quickly and accurately review the status of your website, propose a number of optimisation methods to boost performance, and implement them to help you achieve better rankings.
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3. Mobile friendliness
With approximately half of all worldwide web traffic attributed to mobile devices, it’s more important than ever to optimise your website for mobiles.
Browsing your website on a smartphone or tablet is different to a desktop computer. And there are a number of unique design challenges to take into account, which include adapting to different screen sizes, cross-compatibility with Android and iOS platforms, text size, and social media implementation, to name a few.
While mobile web design is a complicated beast to tackle, some of the most crucial things to look for are:
- Having a responsive website that automatically resizes to fit the device
- Making sure text is large enough to read on a mobile screen
- Making sure the menus are accessible and easy to navigate
- Preventing essential content from being hidden by ads
Once your website nails these vital components, it will be well on its way to being more mobile-friendly.
4. Content length
Having useful and easily linkable content is just the start. You must also decide on content length, a factor that greatly depends on: the intent behind your content, the expectations of your product, service or industry, and how much information is required to fulfil the intent of a search enquiry.
How do you figure out how long your content should be?
One way to do this is to look at similar pages on your competitor’s website. How long is the content? Does it need to be this long? Or can it be condensed and still get the same message across? And most importantly, is the current content length working in their favour? By answering these questions, you will get a better idea of what might work for your website.
5. SEO keywords and phrases
Implementing the right keywords and phrases into your text is a great way to boost your search ranking position. By using keyword research tools (or entrusting the help of an SEO agency), you can decide which keywords and phrases to target for each individual page, and then incorporate them into the text – in a way that does not interrupt the text’s flow or readability, of course.
Obviously, there is a lot more to it than that. But generally speaking, try to target one primary keyword and three to four related keywords for each page. Then, include those terms not just in your content but also your: title tag, meta description, and H1 heading. Do this, and you will boost the odds of gaining a higher search result.
Websites that have little to no security are flagged as insecure and, therefore, not eligible for high ranking visibility. This is because search engines like Google do not want to be associated with sites that pose a security threat to users. Which means they will not help such websites be accessible on their platform. On the off-chance an insecure website is seen on their engine, they will flag it as insecure and display a warning to potential visitors.
To increase the security of your website, use HTTPS encryption. HTTPS is a secure way to send data between a web server and a web browser. This ensures any sensitive information a user sends to a web server (for example, their banking details when making an online purchase), won’t be intercepted by a hacker.
7. Domain age
Your domain’s age is an important SEO ranking factor. It demonstrates to search engines that your website has been around for a long time. It also demonstrates that your site has a history of credibility and trustworthiness; a selling point that newer, less established websites cannot claim.
Keep in mind, though, the domain age does not refer to how long you have owned the domain, but how long it has been since Google or another search engine indexed it. This means, even if you buy a domain that’s been around for several years, if the domain has no actual website set up – at least, one that search engines can index – then, the domain will not ‘not exist’ until a website has been set up for the search engine to index.
This is just one of many reasons why SEO is often referred to as a ‘long game.’ Especially for companies with new domains. Why? Because it can take some time for Google and other search engines to allow new domains to rank competitively for keywords.
Search engines like Google use a number of tools to determine your rank position. One such tool is a crawler. A crawler follows links on the internet 24/7, visits websites, reads content, and then saves that content to its index. The more popular your site is, the more often a crawler will come back to review changes and update its index.
‘Crawlability’ refers to a crawler’s ability to visit your website. You can intentionally block a crawler, if you wish, but it means the respective website or page won’t show up on the search results. However, there are other ways a crawler can be inadvertently blocked from your website, such as if you accidentally delete a crucial file or piece of code.
When building your website, either on your own or with the help of a digital marketing agency, make sure that your site is easy for the likes of Google to find, crawl, and index so as to increase its search visibility.