Getting your website indexed by the search engines is a major first step, but today we are going into the weeds to discuss strategies to get your website pages ranked better. Here we go!
Optimize for user experience
The most important thing to understand about SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is that the goal is not to get as much traffic as possible, but to get the right kind of traffic. Different people are looking for different things when they search on a search engine, and search engines favor websites that fulfill that need. Plus, users are more likely to share sites they have found easy to get what they are looking for.
What someone asks on a search engine often signals their intent. Generally, this can be grouped into three kinds of searches, informational, navigational and transactional. Whether you gear your website to satisfy those queries is entirely up to you, but you should note the differences.
When it comes to informational searches, for example, “What is the weather today?” or “What are the specs for Facebook cover images?”, users generally want to find out the information as quickly as possible and leave. The information itself is the goal and so after finding the information, no further action is required. As such, you should make it so that it is as fast as possible for them to get what they need.
For navigational searches, people sometimes use search engines as a digital ‘Yellow Pages’, for example, to find particular pages like “Yahoo Finance” or to book a service from a business, when they don’t remember the exact URL. As long as your website fulfills the basics of being indexed, it should do okay as people generally search specifically for your business.
Transactional searches can occur when the person is looking for the “Best Japanese restaurant in [area]” or looking to make a purchase or complete a task like download an app. These people normally need more convincing as their task is more involved, so creative, high-quality writing and including images could help in this respect.
Make your site easy to index
In the days of animated flash websites, search engines had a hard time figuring out what the content in those pages was. Thankfully, few people still do, but there are also great lessons to draw from there, namely to provide text for media that search engines cannot parse. Here are two examples:
- Provide alt text for images
- Provide a transcript for video/audio content
To confirm that search engines can indeed ‘see’ what is on your page, you can use Google’s cache feature to double check.
Leave no page orphaned
Many of the search engine’s crawlers work by following public links on your site, ‘crawling’ page by page and indexing the information. This creates some limitations, if your content is hidden behind a log-in page, or has no links leading to it (maybe you are just using it for an email campaign), the crawlers might not be able to access is, and thus not list it on the results page. Of course, there are pages that don’t have to be indexed (like your thank you page after a customer makes a purchase). But it is good practice to ensure all the hard work you put into creating an awesome page is not invisible to search engines, especially if it is helpful to people.
One of the forefront authorities on SEO, Moz, recommends the following tips for best results from your page:
- Have the query in the title tag at least once, as close to the front as possible
- Have the query once near the top of the page.
- Tag your images alt attribute with the query, this also helps with image search
- Having the query in the URL is also helpful
- Having the query in the meta description tag helps to attract clicks by searchers reading the results page when it does show up on the results page