Best Practices for SEO

Post by 
Anna Cecilia
Published 
June 19, 2019

SEO seems to have ever-changing requirements. If you want your site to get traffic, it’s important to stay in the know. While the information is definitely a lot to take it, just having a general knowledge on the subject can help enormously when putting together content and developing your site.

When a site is well-optimized, it will get more traffic which in turn brings more leads and sales. Without SEO, searchers won’t be able to find your site.

THE TEN MOST IMPORTANT SEO RANKING FACTORS ARE:

  1. A Secure and accessible website
  2. Page speed (both on desktop and mobile)
  3. Mobile friendliness
  4. Domain age, URL and authority
  5. Optimized content
  6. Technical SEO
  7. UserExperience
  8. Links
  9. Social signals
  10. Real Business Information

I know- it’s a long list! So let’s jump back to some basics before diving into each factor. Understanding SEO and how to rank higher on Google is one of the most common questions clients have.

SEO, which stands for Search Engine Optimization, simply means making the web pages better for search engine rankings. A ranking refers to your content’s position on the search engine results pages. A #1 ranking means that when people search for a particular term, your web page is the first result (apart from promoted results, featured snippets and answer boxes).

The top 3 results are excellent because almost half of all clicks on any search results page goes to those positions.  Appearing on the first page at all is great (within the top 10 results), because let’s face it, 95% of people never make it past the first page.

Google’s (own stated) purpose is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. It does this by delivering relevant search results.

HOW GOOGLE WORKS:

  1. Google’s spiders (pieces of automated software search bots) crawl the web by visiting web pages
  2. Then, they add optimized pages to their index and catalog them
  3. When people search, Google shows the best results based on the search terms

With that being said, you have to rely on your page titles and meta descriptions to get searchers to click your link and visit your site.

HOW DO GOOGLE SEARCH RANKINGS WORK?

When we look for information we often type in key words or phrases related to what we’re looking for. Search engine rankings are not just about keywords, they’re also about the quality of information.

According to Google’s own search quality ratings, when it indexes the main content of each page, it checks factors like:

  1. The purpose of the page
  2. Expertise, authority and trustworthiness- not just from the site and the page content, but expertise from the individual creator of the content too
  3. Content quality and amount
  4. Website info and info about the content creator
  5. Website reputation and content creator reputation

These factors then go into its ranking algorithm and help to determine SEO ranking. Based on the guidelines above, Google shows searchers the most relevant, high quality results related to what they’re looking for. One of the goals of addressing SEO ranking factors is to let Google know when your pages on your site are relevant to particular search queries, so people will click the links and visit your site.

To be clear though, there’s never a guarantee of a page ranking first, especially with SEO guidelines changing all the time.

WHAT IS ON-PAGE AND OFF-PAGE SEO?

Two terms you’ll hear mentioned a lot when talking about SEO ranking factors are on-page and off-page SEO.

On-page SEO refers to factors on your own website that you can optimize such as the underlying code and the content.

Off-page SEO refers to actions taken outside of your site to affect your site’s trustworthiness and authority by building the right inbound links and social signals.

HOW TO MONITOR SEARCH ENGINE RANKINGS

Before you can improve, you need to know your starting point. There are a couple ways to check this out. First, you could search Google using terms you think your customers will be using. Use an incognito or private window so the results aren’t skewed by Google’s personalization.

NOW BACK TO THE TOP 10 GOOGLE RANKING FACTORS FOR 2019.

  • A secure and accessible website: unsurprisingly, the first factor has to do with having the right kind of URL, specifically one that Google’s bots can easily reach and crawl. In other words, google has to be able to visit the URL and look at the page content to be able to understand what the page is about. Here’s what you’ll need:
  • Page speed (both on desktop and mobile): page speed has been cited as one of the main SEO ranking factors for years. Google wants to improve users’ experience of the web, and fast-loading web pages will definitely do that. Starting July 2018, if your site doesn’t load fast on mobile devices it can be penalized.
  • Mobile Friendliness: More people use mobile devices than desktops to access the web now and that’s one reason there have been changes in how Google ranks search results. Google’s mobile-first index is now a reality, which means it’s drawing its results from mobile-optimized sites first rather than sites geared to desktop computers. Things to look at are:
  • Domain Age, URL and Authority: Nearly 60% of the sites that have a top ten google search ranking are three years old or more. Data from an AHREFS study of two million pages suggest that very few sites less than a year old achieve that ranking. So if you’ve had your site for a while and have optimized it- you already have an advantage.
  • Optimized content: Google’s search algorithm relies on keywords. They’re usually the words and phrases used when looking for information. They’re also the words and phrases that describe what your site is about. Ideally, those will match up.
  • Technical SEO: Use keyword phrases in page titles, which is where Google first looks to determine which content is relevant to which search and don't forget to use header tags to show content hierarchy (h1, h2, h3)
  • User Experience: Google’s been using artificial intelligence to better rank webpages. This includes other signals that affect your search engine rankings. For example, clickthrough rate (the percentage of people who click to visit your site after an entry comes up in search results), bounce rate (the number of people who bounce away again, which typically means your site didn’t give them what they wanted), and dwell time (how long they stay on your site after they’ve arrived).
  • Links: The web is built on links, so naturally, they’re a crucial SEO ranking signal. There are three kinds of links to think about: inbound, outbound and internal. Google uses inbound links to help determine how authoritative and relevant your content is. Linking to relevant, authoritative sites in your niche is a good thing.
  • Social Signals: When people share your content on social networks, that’s another sign that it’s valuable. Getting more social shares helps your search engine rankings, even indirectly.
  • Real Business Information: This is important for businesses targeting particular local areas. The presence of absence of business information is one of the most crucial local SEO ranking factors.

Whephhhh. We did it! Those are the essential SEO ranking factors for 2019. If you’d like help with your SEO or a consultation call to see how your website checks out, please email info@madebyupstate.com and we’ll get to work!

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