Are you a website owner looking to optimize your website to achieve higher search engine rankings but don’t know where to begin? If yes, you are in the right place.
Google constantly aims to provide users with relevant results that answer their specific queries. That said, when you get started with search engine optimization for your website, enhanced user experience should be your ultimate goal.
Simply put, Google is pretty much fond of whatever adds value to users. That’s why it is important to focus on delivering value to your target audience in order for your website to appear at the top of Google.
So, where do you start?
Without much ado, let me walk you through the essentials for Google search optimization right away.
How Google Shows Results?
To get Google to display your website during user searches, you need to know how Google search works. So, let’s just brush up on the basics briefly.
Google search operates in three consecutive stages.
- Crawling – Crawling is the initial stage where Google finds out pages across the web using its crawlers, also known as Google bots.
- Indexing– Upon crawling a page, the search engine analyzes its content, including images, text, videos and other entities and stores them in its massive database known as the Google index.
- Fetching Results – When a user performs a Google search, the search engine returns results based on relevant pages available in its index.
Before ranking a site, Google crawls the web pages and adds them to its index. That means if the search engine bots don’t crawl your site, it doesn’t get indexed or ranked.
Most often, you just have to create content and publish it on your site. However, Google doesn’t guarantee that all sites on the internet will be crawled.
That said, before optimizing your pages, you need to make sure Google has discovered your site and added it to its index.
So, how do you know if your site is Google-indexed?
Use the above format and perform a Google search.
If Google shows results, your site is indexed. On the contrary, if you don’t see results, your website isn’t indexed.
In case your site isn’t indexed, you can manually submit your URL in the Google Search Console and ask Google to crawl your site.
Once you make sure that Google has added your site to its database, you can proceed with the actual optimization to prompt the search engine to rank your website higher than your competitors.
That’s how you will be able to attract more visitors to your website, increase conversions and boost your sales to accelerate your business ROI.
SEO is a combination of three broad practices such as on-page optimization, off-page optimization and technical optimization.
1. On-Page Optimization
On-page SEO involves optimizing the elements within your site to increase its online discoverability.
Here’s how you do on-page optimization.
Leveraging the keywords that the users are likely to use when searching online for a business like yours can improve the probability of your page appearing on search results.
So, how do you identify potential keyword opportunities? That’s where keyword research comes into play.
With one or more seed keywords, you can use Google Suggest or other dedicated keyword research tools like Semrush and Ahrefs to find new keyword opportunities in your niche.
Shortlist your keywords based on parameters like semantic SEO, keyword search volume and keyword difficulty (how easy or hard it is to rank for a particular keyword).
Make sure you choose your keywords wisely. After all, you don’t want to end up ranking for keywords that no one or very few people look for.
Once you have shortlisted the keywords, it’s time to create high-quality content where you can place your keywords contextually.
Create topically relevant content not just for the convenience of placing keywords but also to let Google and the users know your field expertise.
Wait. What exactly is topically relevant?
It’s another way of denoting content that covers everything about a topic in-depth.
Why is creating topically relevant content important?
From the Hummingbird Update in 2013 to the most recent Helpful Content Update in 2022, it is quite obvious that Google focuses on semantic SEO and keeps updating its algorithms to make better sense of the content so that it can deliver results with more precision during user searches.
That said, make sure you use your content to its fullest potential to bolster your search engine visibility.
While creating new content is vital, it is also equally important to refresh your existing content so that it keeps engaging users and doesn’t go out of date.
This way, you not only get the right space to place your keywords naturally but also strengthen your site in terms of E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness).
That will take you another step closer to achieving higher search rankings.
Following kickass content creation, you can go ahead with placing your keywords in relevant places.
Apart from including keywords in the body of the content, you can use them to optimize your page title, headings and meta descriptions.
Keyword appearance in meta tags will improve the click-through rate when your website shows up on SERPs.
As said earlier, ensure you place keywords to suit the natural flow of your content. If Google suspects that a webmaster has stuffed keywords, it will consider it as an attempt to manipulate its algorithms for better rankings. As a result, the site will face a negative SEO impact.
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2. Technical Optimization
Linking your internal web pages brings you two main SEO benefits.
One, Google comprehends your site structure better. Let’s say your site has an existing blog post titled “Mobile SEO Guide”. When you create a new blog post discussing “Tips to Optimize Your Website for Mobile Devices”, you can link the new content to the existing one.
So, when Google crawls or recrawls the existing page, linking it to a new page tells Google there’s another page waiting to be crawled.
This way, internal linking helps in getting your new pages crawled and indexed by Google, which might otherwise go unnoticed.
Two, internal linking makes it easier for users to explore relevant pages when they land on your site. That’s a sign of improved user experience.
When linking pages internally, make sure the links aren’t broken. After all, broken links hinder both the search engine and your users from accessing your page’s content. Again, that’s not a good sign when it comes to SEO.
Page Loading Speed
Your website’s page loading time is an important factor in determining the time users are likely to spend on your site.
It’s good if your page loads in anywhere from 1 to 2 seconds.
The lower the page loading speed, the higher the probability of users exiting your site right away. This will increase your website’s bounce rate. And, of course, a higher bounce rate will affect your website’s SEO.
Use the Google PageSpeed Insights tool to know your website’s page loading speed on desktop and mobile devices and optimize accordingly.
Since the rollout of Google’s mobile-first indexing in 2019, it has become crucial for websites to be optimized for mobile devices, especially if they aim for higher search rankings (which every website does).
As Google themselves put it, “Google predominantly uses the mobile version of the content for indexing and ranking. Historically, the index primarily used the desktop version of a page’s content when evaluating the relevance of a page to a user’s query. Since the majority of users now access Google Search with a mobile device, Google primarily crawls and indexes pages with the smartphone agent going forward.”
So, when it comes to technical SEO, make it a point NOT to miss out on mobile SEO optimization.
3. Off-Page Optimization
Off-page SEO denotes the practices you carry out outside your website in order to optimize it for search engines like Google.
Backlinks are an important Google ranking factor. Backlink building is a practice of securing backlink placements in external websites that point to your website.
Backlinks acquired from other influential websites and blogs in your niche to your own signal to Google that you are a trusted source of information. That helps your site get a spot on the good books of Google.
On the other hand, as you build backlinks from sites that share a common customer base, they can drive qualified referral traffic to your site. This is likely to improve traction and business closures for you.
Remember, not all backlinks are healthy. While powerful backlinks from high-quality, relevant sites can create a positive SEO impact, low-quality backlinks from spammy sites will lower your website’s credibility in the eyes of Google and bring down your rankings.
So, choose your link building opportunities wisely.
Sharing your web content across social media platforms will help create brand awareness and prompt increased user engagement.
Create dedicated pages for your business on social networking platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and more.
Putting up social media posts at regular intervals will fetch you more social media following and user engagement.
With users flooding social media platforms these days, social media is a good way to do off-page optimization effectively.
When you optimize your website for search engines like Google, make sure you focus on the above-mentioned areas and adhere to Google’s guidelines. That will pretty much spike up your SERP positioning.