There are nearly two billion separate websites on the internet. Every awesome website added to the net today is the digital equivalent of a drop in the ocean. So how do you improve rankings and increase traffic to make your drop stand out?
The answer still lies, as it always has, in taking advantage of the way search engines filter through this enormous amount of content to bring users the results they want to see.
An overwhelming 93 percent of “web experiences” begin with an online search, overwhelmingly through Google, but also through other search engines like Bing and DuckDuckGo. Furthermore, users overwhelmingly focus on the first few results of any search, with at least a third of users clicking on the top result.
In other words, the best bang-for-your-buck in improving traffic and lead generation is by making sure your search engine ranking improves, and capitalizing on the way search engines like Google rate and rank the websites that show up on people’s searches.
That’s where search engine optimization (SEO) comes into play. Search engine optimization is about utilizing the known factors that companies like Google use to rate and rank websites according to different user searches, including ones such as content relevance, user experience, loading times, keywords, and more.
While there are hundreds of factors at play in any given search, we’ve picked out eight important ones for any new website to focus on.
Improve Your User Experience
Recently, use experience has taken center stage regarding ranking factors. Ignoring user experience is one of the most common SEO mistakes. Is your website intuitive, easy to navigate, and pleasant to the eyes? These aren’t just vague metrics – user experience (UX) is an integral part of both web design and SEO, as search engines like websites that snowball in traffic, and the only way to keep users on your site is to give them a few reasons to stay.
Poor performance, a cluttered look, and a confusing web architecture can serve to push potential clients away, and cost you leads. Loading times in particular are crucially important.
Search engines hate slow websites, and you’ll have a hard time outranking the competition if your pages take forever to load. If you’re in a niche that relies on multimedia, leveraging smarter ways to load image- and video-based content can help your ranking significantly.
UX depends on the target audience, as well as some simple best practices that aim to streamline the user through your website, from product search to purchase.
Include the Mobile Market
The mobile market has been exploding in popularity and significance in nearly every branch and industry since the early 2010s. About 68 percent of all website visits in 2020 came from smartphones and other mobile devices, and over half of the planet’s population now has access to the mobile internet, and mobile searches are becoming an ever-larger part of the pie.
To that end, you need to make sure your website is just as fun and intuitive to use on the small screen as it is on the big one.
Home In On a Niche
The Internet is a big place, and there are far too many competitors in any given industry to take them all on without some serious marketing guns and a lot of time and capital. However, even smaller startups can gain massive traction online without the financial backing of a venture capitalist or a viral Twitter campaign by simply picking their battles.
While you might not reach number one on Google for “New York bakeries” just a few weeks after the launch of your new site, you can focus on a niche that might not have quite as much competition, and dominate the search results there – such as “Brooklyn wedding cakes”.
Beyond picking popular keywords with less competition, focusing your brand and content on a particular niche can help improve your traffic and ranking by improving the legitimacy of your site.
A website focused on consistent leads in a single industry is going to have more success than one that produces content for both confectionary and woodworking.
Do a Little Keyword Research
Some keywords are better targets than others, even when they’re contextually related. Keyword research tools like Google Trends, Google Keyword Planner, and Moz can help you figure out how most potential leads word their searches, helping you funnel your SEO resources in the right direction.
Quality and Consistency
Websites need content to help search engines rank and categorize them. While you can just build a simple storefront, slap it on the web, and push it via social media, you’re going to see a lot more organic search traffic (and better leads) if you add content to that storefront to attract and educate readers on the uses and benefits of your product or service.
To that end, there are two major factors to consider when producing web content: quality and consistency.
Your content shouldn’t be riddled with spelling errors, and it should be relevant to the product – without reading too much like a marketing brochure, or an attempt to do nothing but sell your services. The best content is the kind that helps readers learn something, and produces actual value for your brand.
It’s a big plus when the content is easily readable. That’s where header tags come in, letting you break up your content into digestible chunks, while providing opportunities for both readers and search engines to, at a glance, understand what your content is about.
Consistency is important too. You don’t need daily or even weekly new posts or updates, but do pick a realistic content schedule and stick to it. The more content you post, the more traffic will begin to snowball.
There are a few types of links to keep an eye on when improving your website’s ranking and traffic. These are:
Backlinks: These are external links leading to your website from other websites. These are random at best, as any means of trying to purposefully influence your backlink count (such as buying backlinks) can drastically backfire. Your best bet is to ensure that news outlets and trusted websites publicizing your company are linking to it as well. You want good backlinks.
Internal links: These are links leading to other relevant pages on your website. You can use these to keep readers interested and on-site, linking them from one topic to the next. Use internal links to lead readers to relevant on-site content, or products.
External links: These are links leading to websites outside of your own. External links can also be used to refer to backlinks. You can use these to boost the credibility of your content, or just provide quality sources for your information.
Furthermore, keep an eye on your page’s URLs. Dynamic URLs (those with a bunch of numbers) typically won’t perform as well as static URLs (especially ones relevant to the content of the page).
Keep an Eye on Your Traffic Metrics
You can’t gauge the impact of any major change in your SEO strategy without first having some idea of how your website is performing. While you don’t need to be a data junkie to implement good SEO, it helps to keep an eye on your weekly metrics and track how well new content is performing.
This can help you course-correct in the middle of a campaign, figure out a niche that seems to be doing much better than others, or halt a change that seems to be backfiring.
Google Analytics is the most common way to review your traffic and other metrics, but there are several other options.
Keep On Learning
Google alone makes changes to its search algorithm daily, and SEO experts always harp on the importance of keeping up-to-date on best practices to stay relevant on the web.
Websites have seen traffic tank for seemingly no reason at all, because of a subtle change to the way Google ranks pages, and more major changes can drastically affect a website’s strategy, to the point that what was once a best practice becomes actively harmful to your traffic and reputation.
If you’re looking for a team to get your content up to snuff, and start outranking the competition, get in touch with us today.