Is your site stuck in a web?
When the internet first started to gain traction, making a website was a laborious and specialized task reserved for computer aficionados and tech experts. Decades later, and now there are numerous options ranging from help for people who want to build every element through HTML and CSS to WYSIWYG editors where all you have to do is drag and drop with no coding knowledge required. These changes have made it so that there are now over 1.8 Billion websites online right now.
This is great news for the average user who wants to explore creating their own website because it’s easier than ever. But it also means that the vast majority of those sites are useless and go unseen, and some never get a single view. Most don’t employ search engine optimization services—which help a site get found—and go it on their own. Choosing SEO in Vancouver WA can help you break free from other competitors.
What exactly is SEO?
SEO or search engine optimization, are elements of your website that signal to search engines that your site is high quality, and high-quality sites are shown on the first pages of search results. There are dozens of factors that go into SEO, and Search Engine Land’s Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors breaks this down nicely. But along with the positive factors such as quality content, intuitive design, and fast loading times, there are also harmful factors that could negatively affect your site’s SEO.
Quality content is crucial
On the internet, content is simply the information on your page and can be shown through words, images, or videos. Understandably, a site without content has little or no value to the user! An oft-repeated mantra from SEO professionals is that “Content is King”, meaning that it should be a primary focus of your site. Quality content is interesting, credible, or relevant to the user, and also gives appropriate signals to search engines to prove this.
Search engine bots “read” content
When a new web page is uploaded and goes live, Google and other searches index the page, which is essentially adding it to the search engine database. Most of the time, an algorithm interprets the page and looks for keywords and metadata to determine if the page is of good quality. Occasionally, a human employee may do so as well, which is one important reason to write pages for humans, not search engines.
What does it mean to “write for search engines”?
When writing content for your website, it should be informative and helpful to the user. It may elaborate on a specific product or service that you have for sale as a business, or it could simply be educational and informative. Writing for search engines, on the other hand, is using choppy, odd sounding sentences full of target keywords and LSI phrases—synonyms or alternatives to the target keyword—without any substance.
For instance, if a marketing company was selling services with the target “SEO Vancouver WA”, they might repeat that phrase several times in a single sentence combined with other common search terms like “best” or “top” or “affordable”. Originally, this tactic tricked search engines into thinking that these were the best pages, but when updates made the algorithms better at interpreting natural language, these sites were hit with a hefty penalty. And with all of the pages designed around the tactic, they would need a complete overhaul to have a chance to rank again.
Intuitive design helps the user and search engine ranking
It’s important that your site looks good to build credibility with your users. But it’s just as important that it’s easy to navigate—both for humans and web crawlers. Pages shouldn’t be hidden or inaccessible, and giving access to the sitemap—a list of all pages on the site with links to them—is a show of good faith and displays that you have nothing to hide.
Media and links should have appropriate metadata
Metadata is information that describes other information on your site. For images, for example, it would be the image title, alt tag, and description. None of this is viewable to someone browsing the site, but it tells search engine crawlers what your picture is (since they technically can’t “see” it). The same goes for hierarchical structure; navigation items, headers, footers, and links should have completed metadata. Schema markup is also helpful
Keep your business information consistent throughout the internet
A great way to boost your credibility both with people and search engines is to keep your name, address, and phone number (NAP) the same throughout the internet. This usually doesn’t become a problem unless one of those three things change because the former versions could be found on review sites, forums, and online databases. The more of these that match, the better search engines see you, and the more likely they are to rank you higher.
Your site should load quickly, especially on mobile devices
Mobile users hate waiting, and most will leave a site if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load. Loading speed is also a new SEO factor, and sites that have prepared for Google’s Mobile-First Initiative had plenty of time to prepare. Unfortunately, sites not designed with this in mind have substantial work to make this happen, especially if they have dozens or hundreds of pages. Even for professional SEO companies, this is a time-consuming process and is something that should be addressed sooner instead of later.
Is optimizing for search engines too much to do alone?
Search engine optimization has become a complicated task in recent years. Many medium and large businesses have an in-house optimizer (or multiple) just to maintain and update SEO, even industries that traditionally have little to do with the internet such as contracting. It’s certainly possible to learn about all the factors and implement them, but for many business owners, it’s easier, less stressful, and sometimes even cheaper to let a professional SEO agency handle this for them.