6 SEO-Friendly Strategies To Optimize Your Website And Improve Search Rankings
Your website must be SEO-friendly and search engine optimized to rank well in the search engine results pages.
Search Engine Optimization or SEO is a marketing method of optimizing websites to improve their search rankings in competitive search engine listings on Google, Bing and other search engines.
By helping your website rank in the top pages of the search engines, SEO helps to increase the quality and quantity of organic (free or non-paid) traffic that your website receives.
Search engines are the most important source of new visitors to websites. It is estimated that 81% of customers research online for new products and services.
Google alone gets more than 70% of search traffic and is the leading search engine today. This article is focused on ways to optimize your website and make it SEO-friendly so that it can rank well in Google search engine results pages.
Google’s search ranking factors and their search algorithms are constantly changing. These SEO-friendly strategies are based on some of the important search ranking factors in 2017.
Here are 6 strategies you can use to make your website SEO-friendly and improve its search rankings.
1. Website Content Must Be Optimized With Keywords To Be SEO-Friendly
Your website content must be optimized for SEO to rank well on competitive search engine rankings.
The content on your website must be of high quality and relevant to the search terms used.
Your website content, headings, meta tags, image ALT Tags and URLs must all be optimized with your most important keywords and keyword variations. This is referred to as “On-Page Optimization”.
To find your important keywords, you can use a tool like “Keyword Planner” in Google AdWords.
For example, if you were looking for keywords for a restaurant, you would use “restaurants” or “catering services” or “Dallas Italian restaurants”. Your keywords can be a single word or multiple words.
• Your Page Content and Headings Must Be Keyword-Rich
Use your important keywords and keyword variations naturally in the text and headings of your web page.
The page headings H1 to H3 should include your main keywords for that page.
The keywords should be used naturally in the text to describe the products or services that are relevant to the page.
Avoid repeating keywords unnecessarily and randomly just to rank on the search engines. This is called “keyword stuffing” and can result in a Google penalty.
The content on every web page of your site must be unique. Avoid having web pages with duplicate content.
• Your Website Page URLs must be User-Friendly and Keyword-Optimized
Your web page URLs must be user-friendly and readable. It must contain letters, not symbols like ? and #.
Your Page URLs should contain your important keywords to make them more SEO-friendly.
For example, the url for this page is https://goldmangodesign.com/seo-friendly-strategies-optimize-website/.
It is easy to understand and clearly tells both the reader and search engines what the page content is about.
• Title Tags and Meta Descriptions Must Be Unique and Keyword-Rich
The Title tags and Meta Description Tags are very important for SEO. They appear on the Search Results Pages when a user performs an online search.
The title and meta description must engage the user to click on the link to your website. They must accurately describe the page content and be engaging to the user.
The Title Tag and Meta Description Tag are in the html code of your web page. If you use WordPress, you can use a plugin like “Yoast SEO” that makes it easy to fill in the title and meta description tags for each page.
The example above is the title and meta description for my company, Gold Mango Design, as it appears on Google search results. The text in purple is the title tag. The green text underneath is the website url. The black text under the url is the meta description. The number of competing search results was 2.4 million for this search listing!
The title tag must be 50-60 characters. The meta description tag must be about 160 characters in length. Anything longer will get cut off on the Google search results pages.
You should write unique Title and Meta Description Tags for every page on your website.
Use your important keywords in your Title and Meta Description tags and make them descriptive and appealing to the user so that he chooses to visit your website.
• Your Image ALT tags must contain keywords
All the images on your web pages must be optimized with ALT tags. The ALT tags describe what the images are about to the search engines. In case the image is not displayed, the information in the ALT tag is visible to the reader.
The Image ALT tags must be keyword-rich and describe the images accurately.
If you have a WordPress site, you can use the “Yoast SEO” plugin to fill out the ALT tags for every image in the media library.
2. Your Website Must Be Mobile-Friendly and Responsive To Be SEO-Friendly
Mobile friendly websites are essential today for digital marketing to connect with customers.
Here are some interesting statistics from Google.
• In 2015, the number of search queries on mobile devices on Google in the USA exceeded those on desktops.
• 82% of smartphone users search online to find local businesses
A Pew Research Center survey conducted in October 2015 found that
• 68% of Americans use smartphones, and
• 92% of Americans own a mobile device
Google has been increasingly focusing on a mobile-first strategy.
On April 21, 2015, Google began to use mobile-friendliness as a search ranking factor. This means that Mobile friendly websites receive higher search rankings and appear higher on Google search engine listings when a relevant search is performed.
Google is also in the process of testing a new Mobile-First search index. This was announced in an article titled Mobile-First Indexing in the Google Webmaster Central Blog on November 4, 2016.
Google states in the article that their new Mobile-First search index will continue to be a single search index for both mobile and desktop versions of a website. However, they will use the mobile version of the website to determine search rankings. This is a change from their current search index that uses the desktop version of the site to determine rankings.
Once Google begins to use a mobile-first search index, websites that are not mobile-friendly could see an impact in their search rankings. This is another indication of how important it is to have a mobile-friendly website to rank well in the search rankings.
In addition to being mobile-friendly, your website must also have responsive design.
Responsive Web Design (RWD) is used to develop mobile friendly websites. With Google soon introducing a new Mobile-First search index, Responsive Design becomes even more important.
Google recommends using Responsive Web Design over other web design types.
A website that is Responsive will ensure that all the important content is available across both mobile and desktop searches. It is also easy to navigate and read on a small-screen device such as a mobile phone. You will not need to pinch and zoom to read text.
A responsive website is designed to scale in size and perform well on devices of different sizes from smartphones to tablets to laptops to desktops. It will perform well on any device that your customer uses to visit your website.
With a responsive website, you will not need to have a separate desktop website and a separate mobile website. It is a versatile choice for a small or medium business.
The use of secure HTTPs encryption has also become a search ranking factor. Google marks sites that do not use HTTPS encryption as unsafe in the Chrome browser.
A mobile-friendly website with responsive design and secure HTTPS encryption will be the most SEO-friendly strategy to use for your website.
To test how your website performs for mobile friendliness and mobile page speed, you can use the Mobile Website Testing Tool from Google. The tool is available at this link:
3. Fast Page Speed and Small Page Size Are Important For An SEO-Friendly Website
As mobile-friendly websites become the norm, website page speed and page size become increasingly important.
Your Website pages must load fast and all images must be web-optimized.
Web pages that load fast are essential as a majority of consumers are now browsing websites on their smartphones.
According to a Google report,
• 53% of mobile site visitors will leave a website if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load
• As page load time increases from 1s to 3s, the bounce rate increases by 32%
• As page load time goes from 1s to 10s, the bounce rate increases to 123%
For your web pages to load fast, all images have to be small and they have to be optimized for the web.
Large, slow-loading images may look great on your site once loaded, but no one is going to wait for more than 3 seconds for them to load.
Page Speed and page size have to be kept low for optimum mobile user experience.
The values recommended by Google for page speed and page size are:
• Average page speed should be 3 seconds or less.
• Web page size should be 500KB or less.
To optimize your images for the web, you can use a tool like Adobe Photoshop.
Crop images to the actual size that you need on the web page to speed up image load time. Loading large images and then displaying them at a smaller size on the page causes issues with slow page speed and download times.
4. SEO-Friendly Websites Provide An Optimum User Experience
Your website structure and links are also important for search rankings.
Your website must be well designed and easy to navigate. The font size of your web page content must be large enough to be easily readable on a mobile device. Images and videos also improve user experience.
Links on your website are very important for SEO. The search engines follow links to find your site. Links will also help improve your website search rankings.
You should have clear navigation links on the top menu of your site to guide people as they use your site. In addition, you should have internal and external links in the web page content as well.
• Use Internal and External Links
Links are important for Search Engine Optimization. The search engines will follow the links from the content on your pages to other pages on your site. They will also follow external links to and from your site and other websites.
Your website link structure must follow a logical flow. Every page on your site must be accessible by at least one text link.
To make your website SEO-friendly, every page of your website should have some internal and external links in the content.
Internal links on your website content are an important search ranking factor.
Internal links must connect to other pages on your site that are mentioned in your page content and are relevant to the page topic.
For example, if you mention in your page content that customers can “Contact You for more information”, use a hyperlink to link that sentence to your “Contact Us” page.
A reference to a topic on another page can also be hyperlinked to that page. For example, if I was referring to “SEO services” in the content of my web design page, I would use html code to hyperlink the term “SEO Services” to the page on my website that covers SEO services in detail.
This provides a useful reference to the reader for further reading. It also provides a link for the search engines to follow to the other page.
Using keyword-rich and descriptive text for the “anchor text” of the links also helps with SEO rankings. Anchor text is the descriptive text that describes the purpose of the link. In the above example, the anchor text would be “SEO Services”.
• Back-Links From Other Sites
Back-links or links that come into your site from external sites are also important for SEO.
If you provide awesome content on your site and blog posts that are useful and relevant, other sites will link to your content and recommend it to their site visitors. These back-links from other sites are noted by the search engines and can help to increase your search rankings.
The quality of the back-links matters more than the quantity. Getting a few links from high-quality websites is better than getting lots of links.
You should use only natural links on your site. Natural links are links that are used to link to your site content because other sites happen to find the content valuable. They help your site improve search rankings.
Avoid using unnatural links that are only used by websites to artificially increase search rankings and can result in penalties.
• Check For 404 Errors and Redirect Broken Links
When a user clicks on a link on your website that is broken, they will get a “page not found” or 404 error.
Too many 404 errors can impact your search rankings on Google. It can also frustrate the users and they will leave the site.
Check for 404 errors and broken links on your website and use redirects to redirect them to the correct pages.
You can use tools like Google Search Console to check for crawl errors. This will give you a list of broken links that you can redirect or remove from your site.
5. Social Media Activity Is Relevant For SEO-Friendly Websites
Your website must be integrated with your social media accounts so that people can follow you on social media. The search engines look at “social proof” or social media activity to determine SEO rankings.
Social media buttons that are linked to your social media accounts can be displayed on your website header or footer. Social media share buttons can also be displayed on your blog posts to encourage readers to share your articles with their social media networks.
Regularly posting interesting articles and blog posts on social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Google+ and others can increase your marketing reach and result in new leads and customers.
According to the Pew Research Center study done in November 2016, Americans are using social media accounts as follows:
• 79% of Internet users use Facebook making it the most popular social media platform
• 32% of Internet users use Instagram
• 24% of Internet users use Twitter
• 29% of Internet users use LinkedIn
• 31% of Internet users use Pinterest
6. SEO-Friendly Websites Have Good User Engagement
The search engines also evaluate user interaction with the website such as click-through-rate, bounce rate and time on site to evaluate search rankings.
According to the Searchmetrics 2016 Rebooting Ranking Factors Study,
• Pages in positions 1-3 on the search results pages have a click-through-rate or CTR of 36%
• The average time on site for the top 10 urls on the search rankings is 3 minutes, 10 seconds
You can use Google Analytics to view website performance like the bounce rate and time on site. Once identified, you can improve the pages that have high bounce rates.
You can reduce bounce rate and increase time on site by providing valuable and informative content. Also, using internal links in your content that link to related topics can help to keep the visitor moving to other pages on your site and engage them on your website for a longer time.
These are 6 of the SEO-friendly strategies you can use to improve your website and get higher search rankings on the search engine results pages.
There are millions of websites on the Internet competing for every search term. Ranking on the top pages of Google is very important to attract targeted customers to your website. Most people do not read past the top pages of Google for a given search term.
Ensuring that your website is SEO-Optimized and mobile-friendly; responsive; fast-loading and optimizing content and images are all essential to make your website SEO-friendly.
Optimizing your website to make it SEO-friendly and using search engine optimization techniques will help to improve your website rankings in competitive search engine rankings on Google and other search engines.
1. Google, Steps To A Google-Friendly Site
2. Searchmetrics, 2016 Rebooting Ranking Factors
3. 81% of Shoppers Conduct Online Research Before Buying http://www.adweek.com/digital/81-shoppers-conduct-online-research-making-purchase-infographic/
4. Google Webmaster Central Blog, Mobile-First Indexing, November 4, 2016, https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2016/11/mobile-first-indexing.html
5. Search Engine Land, Within months, Google to divide its index, giving mobile users better & fresher content, Barry Schwartz, October 13, 2016, http://searchengineland.com/google-divide-index-giving-mobile-users-better-fresher-content-261037
6. Pew Research Center, Technology Device Ownership: 2015
7. Google, Understanding Consumers Local Search Behavior, https://think.storage.googleapis.com/docs/how-advertisers-can-extend-their-relevance-with-search_research-studies.pdf
8. Google, Find out how you stack up to new industry benchmarks for mobile page speed, https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/articles/mobile-page-speed-new-industry-benchmarks.html
9. Google, What users want most from mobile sites today, https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/intl/en-gb/research-studies/what-users-want-most-from-mobile-sites-today.html
10. Pew Research Center, Mobile Fact Sheet, January 2017, http://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheet/mobile/
11. Pew Research Center, Demographics of social media users in 2016, November 2016, http://www.pewinternet.org/2016/11/11/social-media-update-2016/
• Gold Mango Design, Prepare for Google’s Mobile-First Indexing Change: Website and SEO Impacts
• What is SEO or Search Engine Optimization?
• SEO & AdWords: 15 Ways To Reach Target Customers
Gold Mango Design LLC. is a digital marketing company in Plano near Dallas, TX. We help small and medium businesses build a strong online marketing presence. Our digital marketing services include Mobile-Friendly and Responsive Web Design and Development, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and AdWords PPC (Pay-Per-Click) marketing. Visit our website at https://goldmangodesign.com or contact us at Gold Mango Design LLC, Dallas.