If you ask us, search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the most important strategies you can implement on your website if you’re looking for big results. SEO is the process of improving your website so that it ranks highly in organic search results, and the effects of a campaign can change the course of your business.
When you rank higher in search engines, you’ll get more website traffic, which translates to more conversions and increased revenue. However, you won’t see any big results if you don’t follow SEO best practices.
On this page, we’ll talk about some of the most important SEO ranking factors along with crucial SEO best practices to rank highly in Google. If you’d like to speak to an SEO specialist, feel free to give us a call at 888-601-5359!
Read on to learn more!
7 important SEO ranking factors
Before we talk about our SEO best practices checklist, it’s important to go over some of the most important SEO rankings factors.
First, let’s talk about Google. Google is a search engine that provides results to users based on their search query. They strive to provide the very best, most informational, and most beneficial results to users on every level.
This means your page probably won’t be considered the best if it loads slowly or doesn’t have any multimedia.
Google considers an entire list of characteristics that your site pages should have before they consider pages for ranking.
Let’s take a look at some of the most important SEO ranking factors to keep in mind.
1. Page speed
If your website pages load slowly, chances are users will bounce from them before they even have a chance to read the information you provide.
Google knows and understands that users become frustrated when a page takes too long to load, which is why they consider page speed when ranking your site pages.
2. User experience
Google wants every user that visits your website to be satisfied. That’s why they won’t rank it highly if you provide a less-than-satisfactory user experience (UX).
Google looks at the following to determine whether or not your website provides a great UX:
- Clickthrough rate: Which is the number of people who visit your site from organic search
- Bounce rate: How many people leave your site after looking at just one page
- Dwell time: How long people will stay on your site after they’ve arrived
3. Mobile responsiveness
Desktops aren’t the only device that site visitors use to view your website. Smartphones and tablets are extremely popular, and Google actually considers whether or not your website is mobile responsive.
This means that regardless of what device a visitor uses to view your website, they’ll get the same experience. Without mobile responsiveness, site visitors who use a smartphone may have trouble clicking buttons or reading small text.
Google looks at the quality and quantity of three different types of links:
- Inbound links: Links pointing to your website
- Outbound links: Websites that you link to in your content
- Internal links: How your website pages are linked together
Though quality is typically more important than quantity, it’s important that you have a high number of authoritative inbound links, which shows Google that you’re a trustworthy source of information.
You also want to link to trusted, high-quality websites to show Google that you only recommend great information in your content.
It’s also important to have tons of internal links. Not only does this help keep users on your website for longer, but it also helps Google to find and rank your website pages faster.
5. Content optimization
Content is one of the biggest ranking factors that Google considers. Without content, there’s nothing to rank your site for, so naturally, content is extremely important.
However, you can’t simply write content and expect Google to rank it. In order for your content to appear highly in organic results, you’ll have to create content that targets important keywords in your industry.
There are tons of things to consider when writing your content. Here are a few of the most important:
- Keyword targeting
- Internal linking
- Social media integration
- Use of media like images and video
- Headings that target keywords
Google will only rank your content if it provides helpful and beneficial information about your target keyword.
SSL security is something that Google considers when ranking websites since it means that a site can securely receive private customer information safely.
SSL security is marked by an https at the beginning of your URL instead of an http, and it shows Google that you take your site visitors’ privacy seriously.
7. Website age
If your website is brand new, it’s unlikely for it to start ranking right away. That means you’re already at an advantage if you have a website that is older than one year!
SEO best-practices checklist – 7 tips to improve your Google ranking
Now that you understand Google’s ranking factors, let’s get to the checklist. We’ll talk about all of the best practices you need to follow in order to satisfy Google’s ranking factors!
The end result of following our checklist? A great SEO campaign that is sure to increase your Google ranking!
1. Diagnose the cause of page speed issues
First on our checklist is to diagnose the reason for slow page speed on your website. Even if you think your website is loading quickly, it’s always beneficial to be sure by running Google’s PageSpeed Insights test on your site.
When you run the page speed test on your site, it’ll show you field data, lab data, and even a list of opportunities where you can increase your page speed. You’ll also get a list of specific diagnostics.
If you want to clean up your site regularly to encourage a fast load time, you can consider checking for these things:
- Compressed images: Even though huge, high-quality pictures look great on your website, they’re a huge hindrance to page load time. But don’t worry, you can have the best of both worlds by running your images through an image compressor like Kraken.
- Check for link redirects: When someone visits one of your site pages and clicks on a link that redirects, the server essentially has to visit an extra page before arriving at the correct one. Redirects can cause a slow page speed, so you should work to clean them up where you can.
- Check on your server: Sometimes, if you operate your website on a shared server, your page load time can be bogged down.
2. Optimize your user experience
In order for Google to rank your pages highly, they have to provide a fantastic user experience.
- Add multimedia to content: You can start by ensuring that your content pages aren’t just a wall of content, but that they’re broken up with some sort of multimedia. This could be images that illustrate what you’re explaining in the copy, or a video that helps to sell your point.
Earlier, we talked about how bounce rate and dwell time are both dependent on user experience. If you provide interesting copy with engaging images and videos, your dwell time will increase since you keep visitors interested. Your bounce rate will likely also decrease, since you provide users with an enjoyable experience.
- Double check your navigation bar: The navigation bar on your website is essentially a road map of your entire website. If you want users to find what they’re looking for easily, spend more time on your website, and decrease bounce rate, you should be sure that your nav bar is simple and useful.
- Update your website: If your website looks outdated, site visitors will automatically assume that your information is outdated as well. To provide the best possible user experience, give your website a refresh if it looks like it’s from the 90’s!
3. Make sure your site is mobile responsive
We’ve already talked about the importance of mobile responsiveness on your website, so one of the most important items to check off your list is to ensure that your site looks great on all devices.
- Make buttons large enough for mobile: If you have tiny call to action buttons all over your site, it’s not going to draw users to your button on a desktop, and it’s definitely not going to draw users on a mobile device. Keep in mind that everything is smaller on mobile — buttons included. For that reason, you’ll want to be sure your buttons are big enough to click on a small device.
- Add img-responsive tags to images: If you want your images to look good on all devices, you’ll have to add img-responsive tags. This ensures that when your site pages are shrunk down on devices that your images will shrink accordingly, too.
- Hire an agency for the technical stuff: There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes initiatives that go into making your website responsive. If you need help with the fine details, hire a full-service digital marketing agency like WebFX!
4. Take inventory of your links
Links are important to Google when ranking your website. Inbound links act as votes of confidence, outbound links show who you trust, and internal links connect your pages together.
- Do outreach for inbound links: If you’ve noticed that you don’t have a whole lot of sites linking to your content, it might be time for some outreach. Content outreach allows you to connect with those in your industry who might be willing to link to your content, and encouraging them to post a link on their website.
- Pay attention to who you link to: When you’re writing content, don’t simply link to the first result you find. You want to ensure that you’re linking to high-quality, reputable sites so that Google knows you only share trustworthy information.
- Create a strong internal linking profile: When you create new content, be sure to go back through your site pages and link to it from there. Creating an internal linking structure will help Google find all of your site pages, and faster.
5. Prune, update, and create content
Like we mentioned earlier, content is one of the most important parts of an SEO campaign. After all, without content, what would Google rank? Follow these SEO best practices for content to ensure that Google wants to rank your content.
- Get rid of old, outdated content: If your website has seen better days, and your last blog post is from 2007, you may want to consider pruning some content. Links on these pages may lead to 404 error pages, redirects, or a slew of other issues that may cause your site to lose credibility. If the keywords you’re targeting on old pages no longer have value, or are completely irrelevant to your industry, delete them.
- Update old, usable content: If your content simply needs a refresh, take advantage of the opportunity. If you have pages that target great keywords, but have outdated links or facts, take the time to improve them so they have a better shot at ranking.
- Create new, awesome content: Google loves to see a steady influx of new content. It means that you’re on the ball, and that you’re gunning for new opportunities to rank in search results. Your new content should be based on keywords that are most important to your industry, and you should be sure to consider search intent, or what users are really looking for.
6. Consider an SSL certificate
SSL certificates ensure that customer information that is sent to your site can not be hacked or stolen. This is a real must-have, especially for ecommerce sites.
- Buy, activate, and install a certificate: To ensure that your site is safe for users, purchase an SSL certificate, activate it per the instructions, and install it on your website. Not only will potential customers be happy, but you’ll satisfy one of Googles top ranking factors, too.
7. Don’t get frustrated if you have a young website
If your site is less than a year old, you might have a hard time ranking against industry giants who have been around for ages. But don’t get discouraged!
- Ensure that your site’s SEO is up to date: While you wait for your site to age like a fine wine, be sure to go down through our checklist to ensure that your site is sound in terms of SEO. That way, as it ages, there’s nothing standing in its way of ranking highly in search results.
Do you follow SEO best practices for growth?
If our checklist is a little overwhelming, you’re not alone. WebFX is a full-service digital marketing agency that can help you check off every item on your SEO best practices checklist.
Whether you want to increase your site’s page speed, create amazing content for users, or improve user experience, we’re here for you!
Feel free to contact us online, or give us a call today at 888-601-5359, to talk about your current SEO ranking and how to improve it!