Since the outbreak of corona virus pandemic in 2020, businesses, large and small, have realized the significance of staying virtually connected to their customers. And an official website is the most critical asset that helps them serve buyers in a digital environment.
However, the biggest challenge of maintaining a business web portal is keeping it visible and engaging for target audience. If your portal does not rank on the front page of Google search results displayed against related keywords, it does not exist for your customers.
This is why it is essential to work on search engine optimization (SEO) and apply the right techniques to keep improving your website’s rank in search results. As a digital marketing professional, here are some best practices that I suggest:
1- Bring Your Content in Line with Search Intent
Comprehending and delivering on search intention is Google’s key priority. Webpages that are displayed on its first page are the ones that have passed its litmus test on search objective.
As an example, if someone uses the search phrase “how to make chocolate cake”, the top results will be blog posts and videos showing chocolate cake recipes, and not bakeries or ecommerce portals selling chocolate cakes.
Google knows that people who are searching with such phrases aim to bake a product and not buy one.
Conversely, top search results for a search on “buy chocolate cake” will display sellers’ pages because here, Google has understood that the user looks forward to buying something. It will not include recipes in top results.
It is therefore essential to know the purpose behind particular search terms and develop your content accordingly.
2- Build a Convincing Title Tag and Meta Description
Title tags are clickable captions that show up in search results and play a key role in success of SEO efforts. They are the primary sources of information prompting users to decide which result to click on. It is therefore necessary to create high-quality titles on your web pages.
Google normally displays the first 50-60 characters of a title. It can show the complete title to your page if you can manage to keep the title tag in less than 60 characters.
The best strategies to build effective title tags are:
- Include your keywords but avoid stuffing them all in a phrase.
- Create a title to match search objective.
- Do not create duplicate title tags.
- Avoid keyword stuffing
- Keep it descriptive but brief.
A meta description is a concise synopsis of a webpage in search engine results and is displayed under the title tag. While it does not impact search engine ranks directly, it can affect click-through rates.
Google normally trims meta descriptions to 150–160 characters. It is therefore important to create a precise yet meaningful description of your content in less than 160 characters.
The best strategies to build effective meta descriptions are:
- Build distinct meta descriptions for each page
- Use action-oriented copy.
- Include keywords in the description.
- Match search objective
- Provide an accurate summary
3- Optimize the pictures
Images have a significant role in enhancing the user experience on any web page. If you spend time in choosing the best images for your Home page, blogs and other landing pages, also ensure they are optimized for SEO.
JPEGs and PNGs are the most commonly used image formats online. With their high resolution, JPEG images do look more appealing than PNGs. However, PNGs are more appropriate for images with text and line drawings.
It is also important to compress large images as they affect page loading speeds. You can use custom tools such as TinyPNG, ImageOptim and ShortPixel to compress pictures and maintain their resolution.
Lastly, even though Google now has better abilities to understand images than how it interpreted them a decade back, it is necessary to add alt text to all your images – it makes them more accessible on web and strengthens the SEO capabilities of your website.
4- Improve your Page Loading Speed
A website that takes minutes to load frustrates the users and if the problem persists, the site’s rankings drop.
There are many ways to help you check your webpages’ speed for free and the prime among them is using Google’s own PageSpeed Insights. Another effective tool for this purpose is GTMetrix – it offers insights on page speed and recommendations on how to improve it.
Besides image compression explained above, you can make your web pages load faster by:
- Enabling browser caching
- Deleting superfluous plugins
- Reducing server response time
- Reducing the number of redirects
5- Enhance Website’s User Experience
Google monitors how visitors react to your web content. This is why it is important to pay attention to user experience for higher search rankings. In addition to page loading speed, here are a few factors that help improve user experience:
Sub-headers: When you have sub headings at different levels, it is easier for Google to read your content and make the text more accessible to visitors.
Visual appeal: Images and videos help people understand web content better. If you supplement your content with such multimedia elements, it is more likely to appear higher in search results.
Avoid disturbing pop-ups: While SEO rules do not forbid pop-ups, they annoy your audience and since 2017 Google has started penalizing websites with intrusive pop-ups. Therefore, if at all you need pop-ups to invite people for newsletter and email subscriptions, use exit-intent popups. Alternatively, show pop-ups to visitors who have been on your platform for at least 5 minutes.
Ensure white space: White space is a key aspect for any successful design. As per a study, readers’ comprehension of a page increases by 20% if there is adequate white space between paragraphs and in the margins on left and right side.
6- Add Keywords in the URL
Often, URL structures don’t get the attention they deserve in SEO. On the other hand, it is mainly through the URL that both search engines and web users get to know what a page is actually about.
Here are some tips to build a well-structured URL:
Keep it short: A study by Backlinko found that short URLs are likely to perform better than long URLs in search.
Use keywords – URL is another part of the website where you must have keywords to increase the chances of high search rankings.
Eliminate stop words – To make your URL look clean and succinct, consider keeping it free of stop words such as “a”, “is”, “the” and “are”.
The 6 SEO best practices mentioned in this blog can go a long way in helping you improve your website’s search engine rank. At the same time, remember that the competition to get a rank on the first page of results is always strong, no matter what niche your business fits in.
Once you have deployed the strategies described here, also ensure that you stay in sync with the evolving SEO trends and follow what matters for your portal to shine in search results. To get professional help for website optimization, feel free to contact me.