Any set of tools, codes, and practices you have in place that boosts the ranking of your website is a part of SEO. The degree of effectiveness will vary considerably between two similar business sites even when they employ the same tools and practices. That is because SEO is not as simple as it used to be before. The earlier days of SEO involved optimization for keywords and indexing the site for search engines, but the current forms are complicated. As of reports from 2017, Google relied on over 200 factors or ranking signals for determining the rank of a site.
Due to these changes, optimization for search engines, in any form, has become a full-time responsibility. SEO has several parts as explained by Pierre Goldman, and you can tell that you need a fresh strategy in place if –
- The SEO page titles do not have keywords.
- Your content headlines and SEO page titles are almost identical.
- You have no optimized URL. The current URLs are long and have a plethora of digits and symbols.
- You have never made any changes to the structure of content on any webpage.
These were not a part of non-technical SEO and working with the #1 keyword were enough to ensure higher visibility for your pages. Search trends have been changing drastically in the recent times, and Google’s SERP design changes have a lot to do with it. You have to pay close attention to many factors to ensure the effectiveness of your affordable SEO strategy.
Here are the four things you can do to optimize your site for human users and search engines –
How fast is your website?
Website speed is one of the top three factors that regularly contribute to the ranking of a site. Have you ever visited a website that was so slow that you were out and back to the SERP at the blink of an eye? It might really not have been the blink of an eye, but rather 4-7 seconds. Research shows that websites that do not load completely within 3 seconds prompt the users to bounce right back to the results page and visit a competitor website.
According to Zhiheng Wang of Google, “speed update” is on its way in 2018 and it will take a hefty toll on the websites that are lazy. Site slowness directly reduces user satisfaction and, as we have understood by now, Google’s only motivation this year is going to be user experience.
Apart from running speed tests on GTMetrix and Pingdom, you must also find out which pages or site elements are hogging the speed. Reduce the number of CSS files and JS files. Eliminate unnecessary HTTP requests and out website cache plug-ins in place to boost loading speed before the enforcement of Google Speed Update.
Find those broken links
Broken links are like blind alleys for the search engine crawlers. When the hit one of these blind lanes, they have no way of going forward or seeing the other side of the block. These broken links turn up as 404 errors. That happens when an anchor text or hyperlink that pointed towards a resource does not work anymore. Either the host website has shut down, or the relevant content has moved.
Year after year, businesses come and go. There are thousands of unfunctional domains right now that used to be hot properties up until the last year. If you have old links that used to point towards an old site, you need to revisit the link to check their current viability. Doing this manually for the entire website is almost impossible since functional websites have an endless number of outbound and inbound links.
You should use a broken link scanning tool like ScreamingFrog to check the viability of these older links. Scan all the outbound links first, since they bear more weight when it comes to page ranking and authority.
Work harder on meta descriptions
Merely speaking meta descriptions define your website content description. People judge the content of a site from the meta-description they can see on the SERP. A well-crafted, intelligent and communicative snippet can increase the CTR (click through rate) of a website significantly.
You must be thinking that you have already optimized all meta-descriptions on your site, but the real question is when. For every active website that adds new content almost every day or every week, there is a bundle of old content that is just sitting at the bottom of the visibility pool. Can you guarantee that the meta descriptions of these contents are still as effective as they were 6-months ago?
Google’s SERP design and priorities are changing every minute. Therefore, you need to be vigilant about the quality of descriptions of old pages as well as the new ones. Old meta-descriptions can effectively drag the performance of a newly optimized site down due to the lack of value-adding keywords.
When was the last time you revisited your site design?
We have heard ad nauseam about the tremendous impact responsive website layouts have on website performance. Mobile-ready websites see considerably more traffic in comparison to the desktop sites. Over 50% of the regular Google users visit mobile sites with a buying intent. In case you have not yet adopted a mobile-first design, you are losing out on a majority of your target audience.
You need mobile responsive design because –
- It can improve your customer experience and user satisfaction levels.
- It helps in tracking, monitoring, analyzing and understanding user behavior.
Google recommends the use of responsive design for almost all businesses. In fact, tracking the data on these mobile websites is much easier with Google Analytics and similar tool sets.
Google makes sure that SEO agencies and website owners are always on their toes to be able to offer the best customer experiences to their target users. No matter which tools you are using or what your SEO budget is right now, optimization strategies share the same purpose – making the web a better place for the users.