When most people launch a new website, they’re eager to see it attract traffic and climb search engine rankings. In fact, it can be difficult to see any traction in Google when you are just starting out.
In my experience, as a digital marketing specialist in Cloud LGS, I’ve learned how to optimize websites to rank well in search engine results.
If you’re working to improve your website’s SEO, there are 10 key steps to achieving higher rankings:
- Conduct keyword research
- Post useful, relevant content
- Update your content
- Boost your website’s speed
- Use header tags
- Use images and videos
- Improve your web design and layout
- Optimize for mobile
- Install social sharing buttons
- Maintain internal links and backlinks
You can use these tips to strengthen your website, appear in search results, and attract more traffic.
Tip #1: Conduct Keyword Research
Proper keyword research is key to the success of an SEO campaign. It sets the foundation that will help you make your website rank better in the search engine results page.
Keywords are phrases that people enter into search engines, also called "search queries." Keyword phrases are phrases that contain keywords; they should sound conversational and be specific to your business.
To find targeted keywords for every page on your website, think about how your audience might look for that particular page, or how they would ask a friend for more information on a topic related to your business.
Keyword Planner is a free Google AdWords tool. It helps business owners find targeted, relevant keywords to improve website rankings.
You can use Keyword Planner to discover new keyword ideas, plus the average search volume for keywords, competition, and more.
Once you identify a relevant keyword phrase, repeat it several times on a web page, especially in the headers, body text, and URL.
Tip #2: Post Useful, Relevant Content
According to Michigan Tech, nothing drives web traffic and improves the authority of your website as well as posting quality content.
You need to create content that answers the needs of your target audience.
Once you determine what your audience needs, write about it. Be sure to include keywords in your content as naturally as possible. Examples of website content include:
- About Us
- Contact Us
Be original, and don't duplicate content from other sites.
Tip #3: Update Your Content
Search engines value recent content because it tends to be more relevant.
There is no limit to the number of updates you can make, and generally more frequent updates are the better. For blogging, you should post at least once a week to improve traffic.
In addition to publishing new content, you should update old content and fix any spelling or grammar errors. Although spelling and grammar aren't ranking factors of Google, these mishaps may still affect user experience.
Tip #4: Boost Your Website’s Speed
Search engines consider site speed when ranking websites. If your site loads too slowly, then visitors are more likely to leave. Visitors are most likely to bounce if your site takes longer than 3 seconds to load.
To improve site speed, you should:
- Minimize the number of plug-ins on your site
- Use caching plug-ins
- Optimize images by reducing the file size
By updating your website, you can reduce the time it takes to load and improve your ranking.
Tip #5: Use Header Tags
Search engines, including Google, also put more emphasis on keyword-laden header tags. Include relevant terms in the header tags to improve the SEO ranking of your website.
You can use header tags to divide your content into different sections. Be sure to format them correctly, using:
- H1 to including the targeted keywords.
- H2s for keeping your page concise.
- H3s for useful link groups to other relevant sources.
- H4s for targeted, niche subsections related to your topic.
Nobody likes reading a long block of text, and header tags also help visitors easily skim to locate the information they need.
Header tags help readers navigate your content while boosting SEO.
Tip #6: Use Images and Videos
Images and videos both improve user experience by delivering a message while grabbing your target audience’s attention.
For example, Search Engine Land offers published articles with images and videos, encouraging its audience to spend more time on its pages.
Images grab the user’s attention, encouraging them to browse the website and return in the future.
Videos also improve conversion and engagement rates. In fact, websites that use videos achieve a higher conversion rate.
Multimedia elements, including videos and images, signal quality content and boost SEO.
Tip #7: Improve Your Website’s Design and Layout
To increase the time visitors spend on your website, make sure your website’s design is user-friendly.
Proper formatting includes:
- Using a font size and typography that are clear to read
- Using bold type to highlight important information
- Presenting lists in a scannable bulleted or numbered format
It’s especially important to consider design as you test your website’s mobility. Visitors should be able to access and read your website on any mobile device.
You can use tools to test your website’s mobility.
A great web design delivers a better experience for users while helping your website rank in search results.
Tip #8: Optimize for Mobile
Recently, Google rolled out it mobile-first indexing, which penalizes sites that are not optimized for mobile.
This makes sense, since more than half of web traffic (52%) came from mobile devices in 2018. If you don't optimize for mobile, your site won't be viewed clearly on these devices, hurting your Google ranking.
There are 3 methods to go mobile:
- Responsive Web Design: Serves the same HTML code on the same URL regardless of the users’ device
- Different URLs: Serves different code to each device, and on separate URLs
- Dynamic Serving: Uses the same URL regardless of device, but generates a different version of HTML for different device types
Without optimizing for mobile, you’ll miss out on the opportunity to rank highly and provide a good experience to mobile users.
Tip #9: Install Social Sharing Buttons
The number of times your content is shared on social media sites can affect your SEO ranking.
Social media also drives purchasing behavior. In a survey of 6,000 respondents, nearly 4 in 10 Facebook users purchase a product after liking or sharing it. Nearly 45% of social media users have purchased an item after seeing others share it on social media.
Putting social sharing buttons on your site makes it easy for users to share your content. In return, your site ranks better on search engine results.
For example, Search Engine Land offers a wide range of social sharing buttons that help to grow the site’s readership.
The social sharing buttons are always present on the left side of Search Engine Land’s pages, but the simple design is unobtrusive.
Social sharing buttons make it easy for users to share website content that drives relevant traffic to your website.
Tip #10: Maintain Internal Links and Backlinks
Both external and internal links are important factors for your website ranking.
To maintain your website’s links, run a crawl on your website to discover any broken links. If you have any broken links, fix them, or else you'll end with a user experience problem.
Additionally, use tools like Ahrefs and Google Analytics to keep track of any mentions of your site. If any mentions aren't linked yet, reach out to the webmasters and ask them to convert the mention into a link.
When linking keywords, don't abuse exact match anchor text. If a link or anchor text phrase is relevant, use it sparingly. Otherwise, Google and other search engines will conclude that your website content is too spammy, hurting your overall ranking.
When adding internal and external links to your website, pay attention to each article’s length. Though there is no particular link limitation on a page, having 100 links for a 200-300 word post doesn't benefit the user and might create a negative impression. Instead, included targeted links that are designed to connect the user with helpful information.
Watch Your Site Rise to the Top
SEO can feel like an overwhelming and constantly changing to do list, but starting with these 10 tips will put you on the path to achieving top SEO rankings.
Updating your website content, including headers and multimedia, provides value for users while keeping your website constantly stocked with fresh material for search engines to index.
In the backend, you should optimize your website for mobile and make changes that boost site speed. Installing social sharing buttons and maintaining links will also help search engines recognize that your content is valuable and relevant.
With these 10 tips in mind, you’re ready to update your website and optimize it for SEO.
Overall, a great SEO strategy can be broken down into steps that are simple and easy to implement.
About the Author
Jason Valasek has been an online marketing expert and internet entrepreneur since 2007. The majority of his professional career has been focused on business growth strategies for his business, other business owners, and mentors he's had along the way. He’s been fortunate to work for a variety of entrepreneurs and skilled business professionals.