Search Engine Optimization
“How can I rank higher on search engines like Google?”
Search Engine Optimization or SEO is fundamental and essential for every website. Implementing basic SEO to your website can help it rank higher on search engines like Google.
To give a better understanding of SEO and to make it more comprehensible, we start with an analogy:
"If you equate SEO to your health, at various stages in your life you may need to see a doctor. Sometimes you see a general practitioner and other times a specialist. It is dangerous for your health to see an eye doctor to fix a problem with your foot. SEO works the same way. SEO has many facets and sometimes needs different specialist to solve the problem. Like the human body, SEO is complicated and one change can affect the other, so be careful."
Google vs. Yahoo and Bing
The biggest search engines are Google, Bing and Yahoo. Google has nearly 68% of the U.S. search engine market share, followed by Bing with 19%. Search engines have complicated programs and algorithms behind them that look for relevant web pages via keywords that you provided – and these are constantly changing and evolving to bring better results for people. Search engines then present the Search Engine Result Page (SERP), which is a list of the web pages that should match the keyword(s) that you typed in.
Search engines are so integrated in our daily lives that it is vitally important for businesses to be found on these search engines, especially Google. In the U.S. 92% of adult Internet users use search engines and of those, 59% use search engines daily. That is why one of the most frequently asked question by business owners is:
"How can I rank higher on search engines like Google?"
This is where Search Engine Optimization steps in. SEO is not just activating a button on your website. It is an ongoing process, consisting of many parts which influence each other. To give a better understanding of SEO, we explain the most vital components of SEO briefly on this page. Mainly SEO can be divided into two distinct parts:
- On-Page Optimization
- Off-Page Optimization
On-Page Optimization refers to making your website favorable to Google's algorithm to allow it, to be ranked well in Google. On-page SEO consists of 3 main factors, but is not limited to:
Content is “King”, especially high quality and original content. How do you get great and unique quality? Create content specified for your target audience. Be original and unique and don't just duplicate. Size matters, and this mean that for your most important pages you need over 1,500 words of original text. Creating unique content for your website is not easy, but it is essential to grow and to sustain a successful website.
Keyword targeting helps your website and content to be found on search engines, as it all begins with keywords typed in a search box. By selecting primary and secondary keywords phrases that describe the content, you can target – and attract – the right kind of visitors.
Keyword targeting consists of 7 elements:
I. Page Title
Use your primary keywords at least once in the Page Title/Headline, and preferably at the beginning of the Headline. It is vitally important to have an attractive Headline for both User Experience and SEO, as this is the first thing visitors see on the SERP. Most of the time, websites or SEO-experts focus on creating a Headline only for SEO reasons, which can lead to a decrease in the overall user experience – an example of this is cramming a Headline full of keywords. Predikkta is integral in finding the right balance between SEO and attracting people to click though.
II. H1 Tag
The H1 tag is not to be confused with the Page Title or Headline, although sometimes they are the same. The H1 Tag or Header Tag is the heading or title of a post of the page you click through to. As a searcher clicks through to your website, he expects to see a match between the Headline of the search result and the Header Tag.
It is not necessary to have a precise match between the Header Tag and the Headline. But we recommend they be similar so there is consistency between what the searcher is looking for and what they actually see on the page. Customers expect a correlation between the search result/advertisement and the website page they click through to.
III. Body Text
We have stated earlier that content is “King”. Place your primary keywords and secondary keyword phrases in the main parts of the Body Text. Only add your keywords in the text when it is useful for the visitor to read them. Don't stuff keyword phrases in your body text, as Google marks this as spam. Try and think as a person – would you click on something that had attractive, well written copy, or would you click on something full of meaningless keywords?
Tip! Include variations of your keywords in the body text. Google's algorithm is sophisticated enough to recognize these variations as relevant for the searcher, and thus your content is still relevant.
A good URL structure is helpful for both humans and search engines. The URL should tell the subject and relevancy of the page behind it. Including the primary keyword in the URL is also useful for linking purposes. When people copy your URL on their page, the keyword in the link is displayed as anchor text, which benefits your linking value.
V. Images and Images Alt Attributes
Adding unique images to your pages creates value to the User Experience and therefore directly and indirectly helps your ranking.
The image Alt attributes are an important, yet occasionally overlooked part of making a site accessible to all users. Google can't read images yet, but it can associate text with images. The Alt attribute tells Google what the image is about. Add your keywords in these attributes, but keep it short to tell what is really going on.
VI. Internal and External Linking
A good internal linking structure is important as visitors can easily navigate through your site. A page on your website should be accessible within 3 (at worst 4) clicks from any other page on your website.
External linking is not vitally important but is a good thing to do. Linking to other websites from your page shows search engines you are being a good neighbor – you're attempting to reach out to other relevant sites and be part of the community. Search Engines recognize this and will give your site more credibility and relevancy. But keep in mind only to link out to trusted sources.
VII. Description (Meta Description)
The (Meta) Description doesn't directly influence the search engine ranking, but has the function to turn desire into action, and is important in gaining searchers to click through to a website. The Meta Description is part of your organic search result. When keywords appear in the description, they get bolded, which helps visibility. Create descriptions in a way to help persuade searchers to click on your search result. This is precisely where Predikkta can assist you.
#2. User Experience:
Great content creates great User Experience. There are several questions that should be asked when it comes to User Experience and content: How does the website look? Is it interactive? Is it easy to navigate around? Is it safe?
From an SEO standpoint, huge chunks of text are good. They give search engines a better understanding of what the site is about. But from a user standpoint, long stretches of uninterrupted text-based content aren't all that great. Nobody just wants to read huge blocks of text, no matter how well written or interesting they are. That is why you should consider putting videos and images on your page, to catch the visitor's attention.
Keep graphic elements on the top of your pages (where they'll be seen right away by users) and text blogs on the bottom (where they'll still be accessible by the search engines). Everybody wins!
Google also takes into account your page bounce rate. The bounce rate refers to how many visitors directly clicked away when they first entered the website. If you have a high bounce rate this means that the website doesn't match the expectations of the user, hence Google assumes the User Experience is bad.
For better User Experience, keep the following guidelines in mind:
- Easy to use, navigate, and understand
- Provide direct, actionable information relevant to the query
- Deliver high quality, legitimate, credible content
- Professionally designed and accessible to modern browsers
- Accessible to all kinds of devices
A part of User Experience is 'how mobile-friendly is your web page'. If a visitor has a bad experience visiting your website on a mobile device, that person is less likely to visit your site again on any other device.
Therefore, if your website is not mobile-friendly, is it is more likely that it will rank lower on the search result. The best way to go mobile-friendly is with a responsive web design, which automatically matches the web page to the device used.
Performance means how fast your site works and whether it works properly (or at all in serious cases). A poor performing website results in a poor user experience, and sites with poor user experiences deserve less promotion in search results.
How fast your website works depends on whether you add pictures, videos, social links, flash buttons and so on, to your web page. There are many ways to boost your page speed, and Search Engine Land wrote a great post about how to boost page speed.
With a simple website structure you can make it easier for visitors to navigate through your website. Create relevant URLs, which give information about the page behind the URL and keep in mind that each page should be accessed through another page within 3 clicks.
From a search engine perspective, it is also vital to create efficient navigation strategies. Part of this is creating a Sitemap, which is a list of the pages on your website. Creating and submitting a Sitemap helps make sure that Google knows about all the pages on your site, including URLs that may not be discoverable by Google's normal crawling process.
Off Page SEO is the process of optimizing your web pages outside your website by making it "popular". Online popularity is largely based on the quantity of quality links pointing to your web pages, and search engines use these links as votes. Generally, the more high quality votes you get to your website, the better the ranking will be.
A. Link Building
Getting links to your website or Link Building has been a part of SEO since the beginning. It is said that it used to be 90% of your page ranking. But, as the algorithms behind search engines are becoming sophisticated, they don't rely heavily on links any more.
Today, search engines are capable of puting value on the amount of content you have on your website, and the User Experience that goes along with it. Google's Panda Update is an example of this shift. But this doesn't mean that link building is not important anymore. The truth is, that at least 50% of your ranking is still measured by the amount of quality links you have.
Because link building plays such a crucial factor in SEO, SEOers are constantly searching for valuable links. There was a time when businesses/websites bought links to point to their website. The initial results were that you could get a high page ranking in a short amount of time. This is called Black Hat SEO.
Black Hat SEO was mostly used by websites wanting to fool search engines into thinking they were reputable sites. But this is not how SEO works.
SEO is like a relationship; it’s an ongoing process that needs considerable time and effort. Thanks to Google's Penguin Update, many of the black hat practices adopted, resulted in numerous websites being penalized, subsequently losing their rankings. Some websites have never recovered from this update.
We strongly recommend that you link build ethically, as if you do not, Google will eventually find and you might never rank high again.
White Hat SEO
Today, the focus is on the quality of a link pointing towards your web page, rather than the quantity, and White Hat SEO is unequivocally the only way to go. It is far better to have 10 valuable links to your website, than 10,000 non-worthy links. White Hat links are usually directly related to content and as this is why we re-iterate “Content is King”.
To be clear, if you have unique, original, relevant and important content, you are more likely to get links from others who value your content. White Hat SEO is more frequently used by those who intend to make a long-term investment on their website. A quality (back) link has the following properties:
- Comes from a High Page Rank web page;
- Uses different anchor texts;
- Uses No Follow or Follow Links;
- Comes from similar niche blogs or websites; a sports blog link has no real connection to a book reading club.
How do you get valuable links to your website? The best way to get high quality links is to provide your website with valuable content that people want to share with others. But, this is not always the case. This is why link building can be a business on its own, because it needs a lot of research, time and can be costly. Therefore, read the Beginners Guide of Link Building to get a better understanding of the whole process.
B. Social Media
Another part of Off-Page SEO is Social Media. Social Media is an excellent avenue for all businesses to generate brand awareness, direct traffic to their website and to boost SEO. The line between Social Media and SEO has blurred, as Social Media is a form of link building.
Research has shown that social signals such as Facebook like and shares, Twitter follower counts and tweets linking to your site, and Google+ circles and reviews and links are all noticed by the search engines and help contribute positive SEO signals to your website.
As search engines use social media connections and signals in ranking algorithms, comparing what's on your site with what takes place off-site, it is vitally important to register your brand/company on the major social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Google +, and LinkedIn to create credibility and authority.
About Google Updates
The largest search engine 'Google', is constantly updating its algorithm. Supposedly in 2013, Google applied more than 800 updates to its sophisticated algorithm, although the exact number can be elusive at times (Google doen’t like informing the wider world about what goes on there). You won’t notice most of these minor updates for the most part, as they are often minor corrections to coding and streamling. However, Google sometimes plans bigger updates that can seriously hurt your website ranking. The biggest updates are the Penguin and Panda updates
Penguin UpdateIn April 2012, Google launched the Penguin Update to better catch sites deemed to be spamming its search results In particular, those doing so by buying links or obtaining them through link networks designed primarily to boost Google rankings. This is also called Black Hat SEO and refers to manipulating the number of links pointing to a page, described as link schemes.
From Google's official blog:
"This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites - sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful. At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high-quality sites—sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on"
Basically, the Panda Updates target websites or pages that aren't necessarily spam, but don't have great quality or thin content. But what does Panda Measure?
Thickness of your content
Research has shown that around 1,500 words + on a page is considered to be fair amount of content, given the paragraphs are useful to the visitor.
Of course you can't reinvent the wheel, but you can use the information out there to create your own original content. Interweave your original content with the content out there to create quality content for your pages.
Everybody loves images. Put images on your web page for a more interactive experience to improve readability. Keep your images original, and don't copy them from your competitors. Investing in image originality can be beneficial for the long-term.
Make your website fun and worth visiting. Add images, video and/or maps to make it more engaging for the visitors. They say Panda is measuring your site to say: "How much fun and interactive content is there for the user to play around with?"
What Predikkta can do for you
If you made it to the end of this page, you know that SEO consists of numerous factors and it's really not just about activating a button, or paying money into an SEO’s consultant's bank account. You can do the basics of SEO yourself by producing a quality website, although if you want to get more out of it, or when competition is fierce, we recommend hiring a professional SEO consultant. If you want to try SEO yourself, there are numerous websites that offer diagnostic testing that detail basic SEO issues on websites.
So how can Predikkta help you with Search Engine Optimization? We help you where the customer search journey starts: The Search Engine Result Page.
Optimizing organic search results
We help websites/businesses optimize their search results shown on the Search Engine Result Page (SERP), and this can be for organic search results or paid search results (Pay-Per-Click Adverting). A search result (or Google Snippet) consists of the Headline, Description and URL, which are all part of keyword targeting, and these are factors of which you can have a direct influence.
We are the best SEO tool to optimize your search result and increase website traffic. Read more on what we do