The term SEO (Search Engine Optimization) implies the development and building of your web page with the purpose of improving its ranking in the results of search engine results pages (SERP).
This is reflected directly when your target audience is searching for certain terms and your web page is displayed among the first choices so your audience can click on the link to your site generating relevant traffic and a better conversion rate.
Therefore, one of the means to achieve a better positioning in SERP is through keyword optimization on pages and with metadata. The search engine algorithms search for these keywords to measure content relevance of a page depending on the terms introduced by the users.
However, nowadays algorithms do not focus just on keywords (and metadata), they are also evaluating additional information which was ignored before such as, bounce rate, broken links, inbound and outbound links, among others.
So it is quite important to be aware of certain aspects of your web page that can influence SEO and how to deal with them in order to improve your ranking across search engines.
Website usability. What is it? Why is it so important?
Let’s put it easy and simple. If SEO is the process of optimization of a website for users on search engines, and Website usability is about just making a website easy to enter/visit…
Don’t you think that both terms are related somehow?
Of course, they are! In fact, we can say that the real purpose of Website usability is to improve SEO. So as you can see clearly both terms are not only related, they form part of a whole thing.
Considering this, it is important to have knowledge about important aspects that every SEO and web developer should know:
Effectiveness means having sites where users enter and are able to achieve their objectives or tasks, like finding the necessary information, ordering the desired products/services, or to contacting the company’s customer support.
So webmasters should always help users achieve their goals quickly and easily.
Efficiency means users can complete their objectives on your website fast , with the least steps possible to complete their tasks, and having no components in your web page that could discourage or prevent visitors to achieve them.
How quickly and easily your visitors can learn how to use your web page´s components (site navigation, clickability, content labels, descriptions, etc) with the purpose of spending the shortest possible time to achieve their objectives.
If your visitors have to spend a long time familiarizing and learning how to use your web page, they will be more likely to hit the back button and never come back again.
Once a user has figured out how to use your website, would he or she be able to re-find your web page after running a search in the future?
If your web page is memorable enough they will find your page again using the same keywords of that particular search.
That would be very good for your web page because repeat traffic can improve its Google ranking.
Even though a perfect page does not exist, there are some errors that must be avoided or fixed at any cost because they will completely ruin the way visitors experience your site, especially the missing content error (also known as 404 Page Not Found Error), and your SEO ranking as well.
As a consequence, your web page will have a low ranking in SERP and then it will be harder for users to find it and visit it.
As you can realize now, search engines will reward those websites that have high usability. In the case of Google, it benefits websites which are rich in keywords and are able to generate engagement.
Rankings will improve if your web page is user-friendly and lures visitors to stay on your site longer, checking out further pages with content and repeat their visits.
Knowing this important information, let’s check some elements that can be great help to increase your web pages SEO ranking:
Optimize your page load time
The load time of any web site is a key factor that affects the probabilities of converting potential customers into followers and influence search-engine rankings.
Some studies have revealed 40 percent of visitors will abandon a web page that has a loading time of three seconds or more, showing business owners and webmasters still fail to take into consideration this important aspect.
One way to check your website’s load time is using some online tools (Pingdom, GTMetrix, WebPagetest, etc.) which bring you a deep and detailed analysis of each component and how long it took the entire page to load.
Using these results you should able to make the necessary corrections and optimize properly images or lines of coding which can be the source of long and troublesome load times.
However, the object of optimizing your website’s load time is not only to improve user experience, but also to obtain a better SERP from Google and Bing due to their algorithms taking into account page-loading speed in their ranking system.
Think over your keywords
Keywords are a crucial element because they set the way and the settings for any SEO campaign. To say it straightforward, without the proper keywords every SEO campaign would be a complete failure.
Nonetheless, it is not necessary to do a deeper research about keywords and optimization. It is enough to use your common sense and think like a researcher would and try to create a list of terms/words you consider people could use to find your website.
Remember that keywords have to be precise, related to your company, catchy and convincing but without any marketing tone.
To achieve a successful SEO campaign where there are companies in your area which have more time doing this and take the best benefits from SERP ranking by using keywords of your industry, the best approach to surpass this hard stage is to have patience.
Therefore, try to publish periodically all the new and relevant content that you can, which of course, will include keywords related to your area, so it is a matter of time that you will be able to catch traffic from the keywords included in your own content.
Moreover, you can also make use of your website analytics tools (such as Google Analytics) to find out what keywords are trending for your area, and analyze which content on your website is catching more visitors to then relate the main keywords with the content developed.
Create relevant and original content
Perhaps you have heard Bill Gates’ famous phrase: “Content is king” at least a hundred times, right? Well, believe it or not, even though he wrote that on a paper in the 90s it is now more relevant than ever before.
Once you have settled everything about your keywords, the next, and perhaps the most important step is to create the kind of content that will help you to improve your website’s SEO and make page’s visitors more willing to stay longer to read all the information and then increase their dwell time on your site.
Excuse me, dwell time? What is it? To put it easier, Dwell time is the quantity of time spent by the visitors on your web page. This will definitely affect your SEO ranking too.
And when the word “content” is mentioned remember it’s not only just about text, it’s also about including eye-catching images, interesting videos, offering free tools, and others. It all depends on your creativity.
But speaking of content, there is a very important aspect which it is worth to mention: length. Nobody will read a long article if is not helpful to solve their needs.
Yet content length should be between 2000-2500 words to be easy to read and to achieve the best results in search engines.
And finally, always create your own content. Try to avoid duplicating content/articles from other pages, because if you give credit to your source it’s duplicate content that might damage your ranking, but if you don’t give credit it also constitutes copyright infringement.
Fortunately, there are some useful online tools, such as CopyScape, SiteLiner, and Screaming Frog, which can help you to check if your website has any duplicate content.
Videos to enrich content
Without any doubt, videos have become more and more popular and demanding as well, because they are an excellent resource to keep your public target engaged, entertained and tuned. Besides, by using videos you can also boost your web page’s SERP rankings.
In fact, videos represent around 62% of all Google searches globally; hence, Google has realized about this and it’s began paying more attention towards them.
So it is time to make videos an advantage towards your website being shown on the first pages of SERP through publishing attractive videos with your content.
Videos are great allies to dramatically improve your page ranking because they can obtain 80% more organic page rankings on Google and 41% higher click rates in comparison with text-only content.
Therefore, if you want to obtain better rankings from search engines, it is essential to upload videos (on YouTube, Vimeo, or others) and index them with related keywords and terms to make sure that Google would be able to find them.
Make your content easy to share
When you are creating content which is considered relevant and high-quality by your target audience, it is very probable that they’ll want to share it on their Facebook walls or put it in a tweet.
And nowadays, due to the wide growth of social networks, Google is taking social signals from Facebook and Twitter into account with very good rankings on its index.
This means that it is definitely worth to give it a shot and make your relevant and attractive content easy to share by including share buttons on your web page and then be able to obtain more mentions which will improve your page rankings.
Thus, taking into consideration these key elements, the importance of using images with your content now becomes bigger, because it is a great component in helping your content getting shared on social media.
Moreover, the use of headlines can also boost your ratings, so it could be a good idea to perform A/B tests on them to determine which is the best and then ensure a better performance across the major social networks.
Optimize your page for mobile devices
Nowadays, the way people access the Internet has varied significantly. People around the world use many different types of devices such as laptops, smartphones, tablets and even wearables to surf the net. Being aware of this, many companies/brands have a big tendency to venture into the mobile environment, and this tendency is growing up.
Therefore, mobile optimization is essential.
Additionally, Google’s algorithm has been updated and it now penalizes sites that do not follow Responsive Web Design (RWD).
But if you are still not convinced, take a look at these stats which show the importance of including the mobile environment into your SEO strategies:
- Over 1.2 billion people use mobile devices to access Internet.
- Global mobile traffic represents 15% of total Internet traffic.
- Around 70% of mobile searches lead to online action.
- 95% smartphone users have accessed the Internet to search info.
Taking into consideration these facts, follow Responsive Web Design on your site and make sure that every aspect and component of your web page (colors, fonts, text, images, etc.) is mobile optimized.
Watch your links
Links are very important elements to highlight your content as useful and relevant. By adding links to recognized sites that contain deeper and specialized info your readers can consult (if they want to), you are strengthening your web site’s content and proving professionalism in your area of expertise.
When you are linking to recognized and specialized pages it will open a possibility of increasing the time readers spend on your site because when they have realized that your content is backed up by deep and real sources, they will be more willing to read, share, and mark your content as relevant.
Consequently, this will boost considerably your website’s SEO ranking. However, it is also important to not include too many links because can be an annoying and distracting element, and then make your content difficult to read.
Moreover, nobody wants to get the infamous “404 error” after clicking on a link, right? So be careful about this because broken links are bad omen signals of lack of usability and may affect your reputation in the industry too.
Besides, search engines can consider a certain number of broken links as signals of an outdated, abandoned website and thus your SEO ranking can be affected negatively.
Fortunately, in order to save a lot of time and not to have the pain of checking every link on your web page manually one by one, many online tools and applications exist which can bring a great help to check them and then avoid broken links in your website. Some of these online tools are:
Just remember that links pointing out of your page don’t directly influence your SEO. As I mentioned above they help indirectly, by making people stay on your page longer, provided they click and decide your content is as interesting as what you’re pointing towards with those links. So yes, links can be a double-edged weapon, in theory at least a user can click on one of those links and leave your page. Backlinks, -that is, links on others sites pointing to your content- are a different story though. Provided they come from reputable sites, they will always improve your SEO.
No matter how specialized or educated your target audience is, they just do not want to inquire about your grade of instruction or to analyze a scientific thesis each time they read your webpage’s content, and of course, you do not want them to leave the page before reading all the content because they just don’t get it.
In consequence, the best-recommended thing to do is just write your content in a way which it is easy and enjoyable to read, so your visitors will be more willing to mention/share it on their social networks and of course to visit again your website to read the upcoming contents.
Actually, some experts believe that Google algorithms take readability as a ranking factor.
Thanks to the high development of online apps, there are some useful tools which can help to test your content’s readability such as The Readability Test Tool, Readability-Score, Readability statistics in MS Word, etc.
Do not ignore your format and layout
Using a proper format and layout which can bring a better user experience and, at the same time, make your webpage’s content easy to check and understand, will produce a very positive impact because your visitors will increase their dwell time on your site and assimilate its content better.
Therefore, it is quite important to give the layout factor its real importance because through it can improve your website’s usability by displaying the content in a way which will be easy to read.
So here are some simple but essential tips about format and layout which should be considered when you are going to develop a webpage or present content:
- Use font sizes and types that are easy to read on the screen.
- Use bold type and different colors (strategically) to highlight important information, thus making it easy to scan and locate.
- Divide your content into different sections with subheads. Remember to use header tags which include your keywords to boost SEO ranking.
- Use numbered lists to vary the info and show it with clarity.
- Use short paragraphs with an adequate line space. Avoid blocks or walls of text.
- Try to add other elements like sliders, tabs, rollover elements, drop & down menus, progressive layouts and structured grids to organize your content and add interactivity to your website.
Build a good site architecture
Many times when we enter into a webpage it is almost impossible to locate what are we looking for and we just click the “back” button to run away from there and keep searching for other options, right?
Well, this is precisely the scenario that you need to avoid (at any cost) when visitors enter your website.
If your visitors are not capable of finding what they need, they just leave your page and this will affect it negatively because your site will register a low dwell time.
So to avoid this, it is important to develop a good site architecture that permits a clear navigation and helps your visitors find what they want, accomplish their needs and be able to come back as many times as they want (in fact, repeated visits will improve SEO ranking).
Most experts recommend adopting “flat” site architecture, due to its nature, the navigational experience is better for users and makes your page easier for search engines to crawl its surface and thus improve your website’s SEO ranking.
Do not forget the “About us” page
This page, which sometimes tends to be skipped by some brands/companies, is considered by Google as a signal of trustworthiness that may help pages rank higher on search engines.
Therefore, do not forget to include a good “About Us” page on your webpage and put all the relevant info to get a better SEO ranking (especially from Google), to improve customer-oriented service, to receive new business opportunities, to obtain new leads, and much more.
To sum up
If you are starting on the development of a webpage for your brand/company, perhaps, in the short term you might have the dilemma of trying to focus more on obtaining traffic from SEO than offering an optimal user experience.
However, do not get bewitched by statistics from other companies (like visitor numbers or page views), in the end, the factor which will give you better results reflected in higher conversions is offering a better user experience.
And finally, you do not need to invest a lot of money or be a SEO expert to improve your website’s rankings. Just following these simple steps, you can absolutely, achieve big SEO improvements. Just remember to establish improving your page’s usability and user experience as your main focus.