Some days SEO seems more art than science. Google’s algorithms change so frequently and their team gives webmasters what is often vague advice regarding complying with their standards and boosting rankings. Still, there are proven tactics for maintaining and improving your search rankings. The key: time, dedication, and a balanced focus between the big picture and the day-to-day details.
The Big Picture
Regular, quality content, well executed title tags, and adherence to other SEO best practices are all essential, but are wasted efforts if your users land on your website only to turn right back around to find a site they deem more worthy of their time. These factors determine user satisfaction, the main goal for Google and Webmasters alike.
Users have notoriously low attention spans. In fact, 47% expect websites to load in under 2 seconds. Make sure your website makes the cut.
Ease of Use:
People not only expect your site to load in a matter of seconds, they expect your site to be able to find what they are looking for quickly and easily. If you’ve buried the lead, made your contact information difficult to find, have a jumbled navigation, or even just have too many large blocks of text, your users will move on to your competitors.
Even with quick loading pages and straightforward navigations, users will abandon your site if your content is hidden behind login screens, pop up ads, auto playing videos and anything else that serves as an extra step between landing on the site and finding the content they need.
Perfecting Each Brushstroke
It’s not enough to ensure that the big picture is up to snuff. If you’re focused solely on the big picture and ignore the details, your website could be, in the words of Cher Horowitz, a total Monet: “From far away, it’s okay, but up close, it’s a big old mess.” Each time you post content to your site – whether it’s a page, a post, an event, or a gallery – pay attention to the details behind the scenes, don’t just make sure that the live content looks good. Use the items below as a checklist and only publish your content after each of these tasks has been accomplished.
Your title tags, or title elements, indicate to search engines what your content is about so that they can determine where it should be ranked in their search results for various queries. This can be different from the page title. Thus, it is imperative that your title tags contain keywords relevant to the content you’re posting. Additionally, your title tag is displayed to the user in Google’s search results, so you want to ensure that it reads well to humans, rather than writing them only with Google’s bots in mind. Be sure to keep your titles between 50 and 60 characters.
Though your description is not factored into Google’s search rankings, it does allow you to give users a better idea of what they can expect from your content, decreasing the chances of pogo-sticking, or clicking on an item in the search results and then immediately clicking back to the full list of results to find something more useful.
SEO Friendly URL:
Generally when you add a page or post in your content management system, the URL, or slug, auto-fills with the page or post name. However, taking the extra minute to write a distinct, SEO friendly URL with at least one key phrase can make the world of difference.
Each image you add to your site, whether it’s in a post, page or gallery, should have a unique title and alt tag. Alt tags specifically are used to describe your images when they don’t display properly in the users’ browsers, but they also indicate to search engine information about your images, meaning they should contain key phrases, but also relate to the image and read well to users.
This data delves even further, giving search engines specific information about your content. With Rich Snippets you can tell Google if the content you’re posting relates to reviews, people, products, businesses and organizations, events, recipes, events, or music. You can add this date using a plug-in in your content management system or you can use the Data Highlighter feature in Webmaster.
User satisfaction and technical SEO tools are two sides of the same coin. Webmasters must balance them in order to produce and maintain high search rankings. If you’re having difficulty finding the right balance or are in need of some SEO clean up, reach out to us for a free consultation!