When thinking about SEO (Search Engine Optimization), many people immediately think of keywords – using certain designated words frequently throughout a website in order to be picked up in searches for those words. Several years ago, this practice was a primary way to optimize a website – but search has changed (led primarily by Google, the largest and most frequently used search engine). Keywords still play an important role but in a different way.
Staying up-to-date on SEO is essential for increasing, even maintaining, traffic to a website – but it can be a challenge as the “rules of the game” are continuously changing. Here’s a look at 6 current factors for optimizing a site.
- Keywords: The old keyword practice (often referred to as ‘keyword stuffing’) is detrimental under the new rules. Experts now suggest that keyword use be limited to 3 – 4 percent of your text. Know what words and terms potential readers are typing in search fields to find sites like yours. Then strategically choose a group of these words/terms to use purposefully in main headings, subheadings, introductory and closing paragraphs as well “behind the scenes” in meta-tags, meta-descriptions, and image “ALT” tags. (Need help identifying strategic keywords for your site? Call us!)
- Load speed: A Kissmetrics poll showed that 47 percent of consumers expect a web page to load in two seconds or less. Forty percent of respondents in the same poll said they abandon a site that takes more than three seconds to load. Similarly, Google will “downgrade” a site with a slow load speed – resulting in less favorable SERP (Search Engine Results Page) ranking (which can make you harder to find for those who might be searching for the services/products you offer). While video and photos make great content, they can slow down page loading if not used effectively. Having a reliable web host is important here as well. There are a number of free tools online that measure your load time and offer suggestions for improving it, including Google’s Page Speed Insights and Pingdom.
- Content: In the new world of SEO, “content is king” has become a popular phrase. That’s one way of saying that both readers and search engines are looking to your website to provide valuable, relevant and current information. Blogging has become a popular means of providing this information — and search engines are rewarding sites where it is done well. Blog posts can consist of video clips or visual posts (photos, graphics, etc.) as well as words. Whatever type of content you choose, make it professional, purposeful and updated consistently for best results. (We recommend updating your content no less than one or two times a month, but more often can be beneficial if you are able to maintain the frequency.)
- Link maintenance: Broken links on your website impact your user experience and your SEO ranking. Where Google finds broken links, once again they “downgrade” the site which results in less desirable ranking in search results. To shore up your SEO, check the links on your site and repair any broken ones right away. This includes links to pages on your own site as well as outbound links. Google Webmaster Tools gives you capability to check all your links.
- Link building: This term has become fairly widely known in the world of SEO. Guest posting on authoritative blogs has been a popular way to build “backlinks,” for the purpose of increasing credibility of your information with both readers and search engines. It can benefit your SEO, provided the other factors listed here are in order. (Here’s a short video addressing the current and anticipated future status of backlinks.) More recently, Google has encouraged writers to establish “authorship” of their web content for similar reasons.
- Social engagement: SEO is evolving along with social media such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, GooglePlus and Instagram. Engagement with your web content on social media — through likes, shares, retweets, comments and +1s — is another factor considered to confirm credibility and validity of a site and its content and thereby determining how a site will rank in search results. Adding clearly visible social share buttons on your site and maintaining active pages and posts on targeted social media may garner higher rank for your site and bring more web traffic your way.
How does your site fare on each of these factors? Every day at Page Progressive, we help clients optimize their sites in all these areas to improve their search ranking. If you have questions or need help identifying or eliminating page rank obstacles, please contact us — or feel free to add a comment using the link below — and we will reply. We’re here to help!
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net