In a digital-first world, figuring how your customers will find your business on the web can be overwhelming. With the new reliance on the internet and e-commerce, you’ve probably heard the term SEO or Search Engine Optimization lately, and for good reasons. Even though it is often an overlooked marketing tactic, it is essential for prominent positioning in the online world. Essentially, SEO is a way to help your website become a top contender for consumers when they are searching the web. Now, don’t get us wrong, SEO is a complex and continuing effort. Search engines continually update their algorithms and prerequisites for websites; however, it is a critical component of any online business. Feeling a little overwhelmed? Don’t worry; read below for some best practices when thinking about SEO.
Vroom vroom, make sure you have a speedy site.
A top factor search engines look at in SEO ranking is site speed. If a page loads too slowly (think 2000’s dial-up), a user is most likely to get frustrated and drop off. SEO master, Neil Patel shared that 40% of users will drop-off a webpage that takes longer than 3 seconds to load. This doesn’t give a lot of wiggle room for unnecessary content to load on a site. If a search engine notices your site has many drop-offs, it will impact your ranking negatively. What can slow down your site? A common issue is images and videos that are too large, so always compress creative content. Semrush also recommends enabling browser caching and deleting unnecessary plug-ins to reduce loading time. There are many free tools to test your site’s speed, such as Google’s PageSpeed Insights.
Think of your website as your online storefront. It needs to create a great user experience.
One of the worst feelings when shopping is when a store layout isn’t logical, and products aren’t located where they should be. It leaves a bad taste in your mouth and you may end up leaving before making a purchase. An online shop is the same, and search engines pay close attention to how users interact with your site. Similar to the above, if you continuously have user abandonment on your site, Google and other search engines will catch that your website is not optimized for a positive user experience. Google explains that the four fundamentals of a delightful web experience are speed, integration, reliability, and engagement. Ensure your pages load quickly and that all aspects of your website integrate seamlessly. No one wants to be searching for a pair of shoes and come across broken links and non-existent pages. You also want to make sure the site is optimized for the device, which means slightly different desktop and mobile interfaces. Lastly, ensure your content is engaging and visually appealing. You want to entice your users to come back to your site. Write your content for your consumers, not search engines. Avoid convoluted language solely focused on keywords.
Use compelling Title Tags and Meta Descriptions
While often overlooked, these are two critical components of SEO and the first thing a user will see when browsing a search engine. Title tags are the clickable headlines that appear in the search engine. According to Google, Title tags give insights into content and its relevance to a user. It is usually the deciding factor if a user clicks a web page. Google recommends all pages on your site have concise and descriptive title tags, but avoid keyword stuffing, as it can appear spammy and can deter a user from clicking.
Meta descriptions are the brief descriptions of a page located below the Title Tag. Semrush explains that while these do not directly impact your SEO ranking, they can affect your click-through rates. Overall, traffic to your site will positively impact your ranking on search engines. Google shares a great comparison when thinking about meta descriptions “They are like a pitch that convinces the user that the page is exactly what they’re looking for.”
Incorporate strategic link building
Link building (when done correctly) helps identify your website as a trusted and valuable source for information. It is essentially the reference process of SEO. We will touch on backlinks below, but it is also important to note the benefit of linking out to other credible sites. Moz explains the value of linking to other credible sources.
“Websites that earn links tend to do a good job of linking out themselves. When you link out, it creates a signal to other websites and content creators that you’re a willing participant in the web’s natural linking environment.”
Now, back to backlinks or external links; these are third-party links that direct back to your website. As mentioned above, receiving a quality backlink is like receiving a positive reference when going through an interview process. It is important to note that not all backlinks will work in your favour. Avoid backlinks that are spammy or unnatural links. We recommend using Semrush’s Backlink Audit Tool to help detect and remove unwanted backlinks. Lastly, try and gather as many high authority links as possible. These are links, such as credible newspapers, ones that both search engines and consumers trust.