At this point, there is no doubt about the importance of digital marketing when it comes to growing a business online. Over 4.5 billion people are using the internet and the businesses are trying to get advantage of it by leveraging their online presence through running Paid Ads, keeping in contact with users through Social Media, Email Marketing, and so on.
While there are constant growth and change in different digital marketing methods, Search Engine Optimization is the one that should not be neglected. 93% of online experiences begin from a Search Engine. This statistic clearly points to the fact that SEO should be a fundamental part of your digital marketing efforts. 89% of marketers reported that their SEO efforts were successful, so why not try it for your website as well?
Google dominates the Search Market
There are more than 20 major search engines on the internet, but Google dominates the worldwide market with more than 90% of searches happening on Google.com. This is the reason that most SEO efforts are focused on satisfying Google and meeting its guidelines – unless you are certain that your target audience is using another Search Engine.
In this article, we will cover those efforts and share some steps you can do to rank on the first page of Google that captures 95% of Google search traffic.
Table of Contents
Technical SEO mostly refers to improving your website’s technical performance. The final goal is to make your website as accessible for Search Engines as possible by optimizing the crawling and indexing of your website. There are several factors that Google uses to evaluate your technical performance. Here are some tips on how you can meet them.
Tip 1: Use Search Console
Start with registering your website on Google Search Console. This is a free service offered by Google to monitor, evaluate, and improve your website’s presence on Google.
After the registration, you can see your website’s performance, your ranking keywords, clicks, how Googlebot sees your pages, and much more.
Tip 2: Optimize your Sitespeed
Google knows that slow-loading web pages affect users’ online experience and thus prioritizes websites that load fast. Additionally, the data shows that 53% of mobile users will leave if the website does not load within 3 seconds. So for Google and most importantly for your users, make sure that your website loads between 0-1 second.
There are 3 universal metrics used to evaluate the site speed
- Time to first byte: the time it takes for your server to respond to a request
- Time till first contentful paint: the time until a key visual element appears on the page (e.g. header)
- Time until first interactive: indicates how long it takes for the page to be usable, as intended
While it is very difficult to reach a perfect sitespeed score without sacrificing some enjoyable user experience features, there are many ways to improve your website’s speed performance.
Tip 3: Have a Secure connection (SSL)
The SSL is used to encrypt sensitive information sent through the Internet. When a website uses an SSL certificate, it ensures that the sent information is only readable by the recipient server.
While there are many types of SSL certificates and validation methods, for starters, you can ask your hosting company for one. Usually, they provide website owners with free SSL certificates.
Tip 4: Use Meta Tags
Google uses bots to crawl your website and meta tags are the guides in your code that explain what your website is about.
There are technically countless meta tags available, but the ones commonly used by the SEOs are the following:
- Keywords: a list of keywords that are relevant to the page
- Title: the text deemed as the title of the page by search engines – also visible in browser tabs
- Description: Small description of the page
- Robots: Usually a directive used for bots to tell them how to use the page (e.g. noindex)
Tip 5: Add an XML Sitemap and Robots.txt
You can also give Search Engine bots directions with your robots.txt file. Robots.txt is usually used to block unnecessary pages from being crawled or for blocking some crawling bots altogether. An example of a page you would want to block from crawling is your login page or internal search result page.
An XML sitemap is a necessary roadmap of your website. It is used to help Google understand the structure of your website.
On-Page Content Optimization
While technical SEO focuses on the overall technical health of your website, on-page content optimizations are directed towards individual pages on your website. On-page SEO includes keyword research and keyword targeting through several methods. Below are a few tips for a successful on-page optimization strategy.
Tip 1: Understand the User Intent
When creating content for your pages, besides choosing keywords that best describe your service or product, it is also crucial to understand the intent behind them.
For example, if you are a burger delivery website and want to rank for the keyword “burger near me” or “buy burger”, you don’t need to write a complex, scientific article about how the burgers are made. There is a bigger chance that the users are just looking to buy a burger and not get into the details of its creation. Instead, you should focus on answering the questions that your target customers might ask when ordering a burger. You should include information about the different burgers you offer, their prices, delivery options, and so on.
To sum up, before targeting keywords on your page, make sure you understand their intent and create content accordingly.
Tip 2: Use HTML Tags
Choosing the keyword you want to target and understanding its intent is good, but not enough. When optimizing your content for a certain keyword, make sure to use it and its variations in your heading tags (h1, h2, etc.) and title tags. If you want to emphasize the importance of a keyword or a phrase, you can also use the strong tag.
Tip 4: Wordcount
Sometimes, ranking well for a certain type of keyword boils down to the word count. We are not suggesting to add unnecessary text to the pages to make them rank, instead, we recommend making your content “thicker” wherever possible.
Pro tip: look up questions that users might ask around your topic and expand on them. Make note that the average word count of the pages that appear on the first page of Google is 1890 words.
Tip 5: Follow the E-A-T Guidelines
E-A-T stands for expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. It was initially a part of Google Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines, however, since August 2018, it has been speculated to have become a major part of a Google Algorithm.
We will need a separate article on E-A-T to describe it properly but here is a quick summary on how you can use it for your website:
- Expertise: Match the searchers’ intent, provide simple and comprehensive content on the topic
- Authority: Gather links from other trustworthy websites in your niche. Get mentioned in the articles.
Tip 6: Add Media
Plus the inclusion of images in the content provides an alternate source of organic traffic through Google images.
Almost every SEO effort when it comes to off-page optimization involves backlinks. Backlinks are incoming links to your website from third parties that are critical for ranking. Relevant backlinks from trustworthy websites can boost your website’s reputation in the eyes of Google.
Given the effectiveness of the backlinks, SEOs have come up with hundreds of various methods to acquire backlinks. This has made backlink-building a pretty crowded area and made Google more seriously analyze the links that websites have. If you have many links coming from spammy or suspicious websites, you might be penalized by Google.
In our case, we always aim for quality over quantity, which has led us to the conclusion that one of the best ways of acquiring backlinks is simply through creating great content on the topic. Good content will not only have a higher chance of appearing on trustworthy websites and creating audience but will also “live on its own” – gaining links long after you have stopped its promotion.
Mobile has been on a rise since long ago and it is not surprising that 53.3% of worldwide web traffic comes from mobile. Google has also adapted to this new behavior and switched to Mobile-First Indexing.
Mobile-First Indexing is about how Google crawls and indexes websites. Instead of looking at the desktop version of the page, Google now indexes your page based on how it appears on mobile. This means that you have to optimize your website’s mobile version so that it appears as intended both on mobile and desktop.
While Google mostly notifies you if you have issues with the mobile version of your website, there are also simple tools you can use to check how mobile-friendly your webpages are and get recommendations on how to improve them.
As you may have already guessed, there is no definitive way to do SEO. Different factors such as the website’s speed, its technical health, keyword targeting, backlinks, and many others determine how well your pages will rank on Google. In this article, we have summarized a few steps you can take to start your journey towards the first page of Google.