Google is the biggest, and by far the most used, search engine on the internet, with over 63,000 searches on the site every single second. That’s 5.4 billion searches per day, making Google a titan of a platform. As a result, getting a website listed on a coveted front page spot on the search results has become an industry all its own. That is a form of marketing we call Search Engine Optimization, or SEO.
SEO is defined as the edits and optimizations we make to our websites that coincide with Google’s standards and algorithms. These changes make it more likely that our pages will show up in results. Gone are the days where setting keywords is all you have to do. Nowadays, it’s an art, especially now that many of Google’s most valuable algorithm secrets are just that: secret. But as marketers, we’ve uncovered many of the things that Google looks for when deciding on the best result for a search, and today we’re counting down 6 of those things that you can go and implement on your website today.
1. Cut down the data and speed up the site
One prominent aspect that Google monitors is your website’s load speed. Sure, people using your site may have slow internet, but that doesn’t mean it’s their fault that they can’t see your content. Large unoptimized images, embedded content and advertisements… All of these things often contribute to a site being considered slow. Google doesn’t just want fast-loading sites, they want lightning-fast loading websites. Your website should not take more than 1 or 2 seconds for the average person to load it. If your website takes longer to load, you’ll begin to see a major increase in your bounce rate. This rate measures how many people immediately leave (or “bounce”) your site for elsewhere. Consider all of the data on your site and optimize everything you possibly can.
2. Avoid Duplicate Content
This one is more something to avoid than something to do, but it may be something to go back and fix. Google is harsh towards sites that feature loads of duplicate content, which is text that is the same between different pages. This can happen easily, as you copy-paste things like calls to action, blocks of information, and so on. Rewriting all of them to be at least slightly different will make Google consider those areas to be valuable extra bits of information.
3. Don’t Ignore Images
When optimizing for search engines, many website owners are quick to obsess over the text content of their site. But the fact is, Google places just as much of an emphasis on images. Your site’s images are key. Ensuring that you explicitly tell Google how to interpret them is the goal of a well-optimized site. Ensure that every single image has a descriptive file name and a written ALT tag describing the image in as much detail as possible. This is also important for your site’s accessibility, which is another plus on Google’s end. After all, it wants as many users as possible to be able to fully enjoy your website. Optimize your images, never forget that.
4. Link to other, relevant websites
“The web” is called such for a reason. No one website stands alone, and cooperation can make for an enormous impact on SEO. It may seem counterproductive to link to other websites, but for SEO purposes, we implore it. Linking out to other, relevant websites begins the process called link building, a crucial and often underlooked aspect of SEO. Many of the most successful websites link out to other high-quality websites because it creates a trackable traffic stream sourced from your website.
Google can tell where people go and how they get there. If your users get to more sources of information from your website, Google will actually acknowledge that. It means that you’re providing more value to your users, and you’re willing to focus on giving them what they need. Of course, the natural next step to that is…
5. Getting some links for yourself!
The second part of link building is the all-important backlink. A backlink is when another site links back to yours, it’s as simple as that. But the complications begin there. Having amazing backlinks can hold immense value to your search rankings, but having “bad” backlinks can actually hurt you. So, what’s a good backlink and a bad backlink? Well, it all has to do with trust. Google implicitly has a trust score for websites that it ranks and uses that to determine the quality of a backlink your site receives. Essentially, a backlink is like declaring a partnership. You don’t want your partner to be a scammy .ninja website selling bottled air and snake oil. Instead, highly reputable sites with plenty of traffic and a proven track record make for the best backlinks. For example, backlinks from a .edu website almost always score high on Google’s trust, because of the requirements necessary to, well, BE a .edu.
Also, hint hint, this is the precise reason that social media marketing is super important to your SEO as well.
6. Don’t overdo it.
All of those things said, modern SEO is about one thing, and one thing only: providing value. Optimizing for Google is important, but Google will take notice if you’re pandering. Remember that they’re focused on how you provide value to real people. Always write for humans first, and Google second. Trust Google to understand that your users are the top priority, and with enough effort put into helping them, your site will benefit on the SEO side of things.
Search Engine Optimization is, without a doubt, very time consuming, and not something every business owner has time to sit down and do themselves. But here at Southern View Media, we’re experts in the craft and know-how to make your website visible. If you’re interested in hearing more, give us a call. We’ll be more than happy to discuss how we can help.