Boosting Site Visibility #
Posted 04th October, 2018
Most sites receive a substantial portion of their traffic from search engines such as Google or Bing. Most search engine users click on one of the top 5 suggestions in the results pages (SERPS = Search Engine Result Pages). The higher a site ranks in these search engine results, the more clicks it is likely to receive.
This guide is your one-stop towards helping increase a site’s ranking and therefore boosting visibility.
- What is SEO
What is SEO #
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a set of rules and techniques that enhances a website for search engines, with the aim of increasing search engine rankings.
This also makes it easy to use the website, on a higher speed. In other words, this allows you to target more individuals who would be interested. And as ads make up most of the search engine results pages, they won’t be bothered by them because they will not have to pay.
How it Works
Once a search is made, search engines instantaneously reply with a number of responses. Although the search engine is fast, a lot of factors go into it’s response.
Once a term is entered, the search releases crawlers that gather all of the information they can find, bringing it back where an index is made and fed through an algorithm to match the input.
Why is SEO important?
Websites that appear higher in the search engine result pages have a greater probability that more users will click on that website. SEO is important, as websites that rank highly appear further up the results page, as a result there is greater visibility for users being drawn to relevant site content.
Search engine users aren’t likely to only search for a term once, rather it’s an ongoing process especially in the case of a research project. Users tend to have trust in the search engines that they’re using. When they consistently find a given website displayed on the top positions, it will enable them to trust that website content, as they can visibly see that the search engine has ranked them highly.
Social Media platforms enable businesses to expand and promote their offering. Search engine optimization is another way for businesses to promote their website, as users of search engines are likely to share relevant website links on social media.
With increasing competition on the internet, search engine optimization offers businesses a great opportunity to stay ahead of the competition. If a company website is successfully ‘SEO optimized’ as it were, company results will appear higher up the results list giving brands a head start in attracting consumers, before they’ve even seen the competitors offering.
Search engine optimization also improves users experience, allowing them to navigate websites easily at good speeds. Well-ranked websites operate efficiently without any breakdowns or down time.
Types of SEO #
There are two main elements that search engines consider when ranking websites. They are:
1) On-site On-page SEO/on-site SEO is all about what the page stands for and the information it contains. Its material is under the authors control, they can make changes to it. On-site SEO elements not only help search engines apprehend the page content; but also look at how user-friendly the page is.
The ultimate goal of on-site SEO is to help users and search engines understand what the given website is about, enabling search engines to identify content relevant to user’s searches.
Some important On-site SEO elements, which help boost site visibility and ranking include: content, URLs, Meta descriptions, title tags, site speed, alt text and many more!
2) Off-site Off-page SEO is about promoting a website by getting links from other websites. It depends on other platforms to drive visitors. It’s comes down to the popularity of a website. The more popular a website is, then the higher it will be ranked on the search result page.
The three most important elements of off-site SEO are: social networks, link building and social bookmarking.
Page content is the most vital element part of SEO. The quality of the page content is what determines its position in the search results. Users entering search terms want relevant but insightful content.
Page content should meet the requirement of the market. The best page content is that which meets the most needs; it can be in any form, depending upon the demand of the users. Page content should be linkable, as search engines and users will not trust page contents that don’t link. Search engines might not rank ‘unlinked’ pages, and thus they will not receive high visitor levels. So good content is that which allows the user to link it.
How to write a good page content #
There are a variety of ways to make website content stand out, fulfill search requirements and be linkable.
Formatting Large paragraphs can make visitors lose interest. Instead, smaller more concise paragraphs engage users and can keep them on the page. Depending on the content, bullet points can work well in displaying information. Font style, spacing and text size should be consistent. Proper headings also make content stand out, make it easier to read and of course make it more pleasing on the eye.
Good grammar Visitors won’t want to see grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. It automatically devalues content. It is crucial to ensure content is error-free prior to sharing.
Easy to Digest Content should be easy to read for the audience. If website articles contain difficult or unclear terminology, the chances are that content won’t be generating a lot of traffic towards that link.
Make it multilingual By translating content into multiple languages, a wider range of users can be targeted; this also boosts the content ‘linkability’.
Relevance Website articles should be up-to-date so that users can trust them. Should the content match with the visitors requirements, the chances are they will make a return visit to the given website.
Meta Description The meta description is a brief summary, ranging from a sentence to a short paragraph, of the content on the web page. The Meta data is used by search engines to determine the website content, therefore it is vital that the description is accurate in order to boost SEO.
Length of Meta description According to Google, there has always been a limit for how many characters can be used for Meta descriptions. Typically it could be condensed to 135-160 characters, but now this has changed. It is required that the meta description should make sense in the first 110-130 characters so that it can be both mobile and desktop friendly.
Google can pull Meta descriptions from wherever it wants to from the web page, according to the preference of the users.
How to write a good Meta description Meta descriptions are vital for SEO, but also provide the website owner with a chance to promote their material to an audience. The description must help the searcher find the most related answer to their question, as well as being concise and engaging to capture their attention.
While writing a Meta description, authors should consider:
- Content should be concise, informative and engaging
- Should deliver sufficient information in order to grasp the users attention
- It should not have too much information so that the user will not find it necessary to open the page
- Inclusion of primary keywords, which highlight the content of the page -Content should be compelling enough so that the user will be interested in opening the page
- It should be directly related to the content of the page
- Ensure Meta descriptions are unique, and different from any other Meta descriptions
Sometimes Google can add text from a webpage to the Meta description altering it to an extent.
How to prevent Google from changing the Meta description To ensure that Google does not alter the Meta description, it is important to check that the length is not too short and is of optimal characters.
Authors should also ensure that it is self-explanatory, with informative with primary keywords used multiple times.
Does it really affect the SEO ranking? Google announced that Meta descriptions are not a factor when ranking websites, they are however useful and attract traffic. Meta descriptions compels the user to visit your website, therefore it is important for authors to be accurate when writing them.
The title tag is the clickable heading in the search result list. It describes the web page and summaries the content. It is the factor that determines if someone visits your website or not. It’s a very important tool to boost website visibility and ranking.
Tips on how to write a good title tag
Length It’s necessary to keep the length in check, which is 50-60 characters. If this is exceeded, Google and other search engines might cut the title tag resulting in a loss of important words and keywords. It is important not to use CAPS because they take more space and are difficult to read. Authors should also keep in mind that Google might not use the title tag provided, and might add some text itself.
Format The title tag should be a summary of the website content. It should contain relevant keywords; primary, secondary and brand name.
However, don’t overuse the keywords as that might result in bad user experience. Authors should avoid using alternative forms of the same keyword because search engines can detect them, and this can be detrimental to SEO.
Be unique Authors should make sure that the title tags are unique and not copied or similar to other pages. This helps search engines to understand that the content is reliable thus increasing traffic.
Keywords first Studies show that visitors tend to read only the first two to three words of the title tag before moving to the next one or clicking on it. So it’s necessary to write the keywords first to ensure that the keywords don’t miss the user’s eyes.
Target Customers A title tag is the first impression of a website. As they say, first impressions count, so it’s important to ensure the title tag is written for with customers in mind to drive traffic.
Site Speed #
Site speed is the measurement of how long it takes for a website to load as users scroll through it. Site speed is one of the features which is used by Google to rank pages.
The faster the site speed, the higher the ranking. Keeping the time it takes to load data on a page low is vital. It amplifies visitor retention and keeps users engaged.
In this fast developing world, searchers have more options than ever before when it comes to websites. With so many options out there, the chances of a visitor abandoning a slow website are high, which is why site speed is vital for keeping users engaged.
According to the research, a site speed of more than 4 seconds is enough to cause a visitor to abandon a website. High site spread increases user experience, user satisfaction, and conversions. Moreover, no one likes revisiting poorly performing websites.
How to improve site speed?
Images and media Images which are too large lower site speed. Using PNG for images that don’t have high graphics is a better option than JPEG versions which are better for high detailed pictures. Using CSS sprites is another way of minimising load times, as CSS sprites combine pictures into one that loads all at once, instead of one image loading at a time. By decreasing the time to load images, the number of HTTP requests decreases which in turn leads to a better user experience – visitors don’t have to wait for slow imagery to load.
Defer attribute By deferring a file, an author can stop it from loading until other data has been loaded. This enables other content to be loaded faster, without the delay of waiting for other large files to be displayed.
Web host location Picking the right web host is essential. When someone visits a website, it comes from the data center through the internet. Having a localised web host is a good idea because the nearer the data center to the user the faster the site speed.
Theme selection Some themes that contain a lot of graphics and designs can attract traffic; they can also however, increase the time it takes to load a site. High-quality images and external embedded media like videos take longer to load. It’s preferable that avoid fancy themes are avoided.
File compression A website is a collection of multiple files. The smaller these files are, the faster they will load. By using Gzip to compress files in turn can make them load faster.
Monitoring When a site starts getting slow, there should be someone to inform the author so that they can take action. Action can’t be taken against things that are not aware of, so having the correct tools in place is vital.
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Alternative text, also known as alt attributes, alt descriptions, alt tags; are phrases that are included in the code of the HTML in order to describe what the image is about and what it stands for.
Alt text appears in a box that would contain the picture normally. This happens when the graphics option is turned off by the user, or when the image is unavailable. It can also be seen by holding the cursor on top of the image for some time.
Format Alt text should contain enough information about the image so that the user can imagine it with their eyes closed, however; it should also not be too long. Long alt texts can pose an issue when the image is small, and can look untidy.
Why is it important? If an image is unavailable for any reason, then alt text comes in handy, as it will be viewed in place of the image. The text fully describes the image so that users will not have any difficulty understanding the image; this boosts reliability and can ensure text is kept in context. Sometimes imagery is use as an illustration, alt tags do this in their place when they aren’t available.
For visitors with impaired vision, Alt text is used to describe imagery; ensuring the site is user friendly for all users.
Another use of Alt tags is to help crawlers who are able to find and index the image; a reason why the text should be accurate.
How to write good alt text?
Short length It is advisable to keep alt text to around 125 characters or less. This makes it easier to read for humans, and enables crawlers to understand the content more clearly.
Descriptive writing Authors should ensure the alt text is descriptive, yet concise to sufficiently describe the image for users who are unable to see the image.
Include keywords It is important to include primary keywords within the alt text, as this improves its reliability. Moreover, it provides authors with a chance to rank more highly on search engine results as crawlers are more likely to identify with keywords. It is important to consider the length however, as the short space available should not be crammed with just keywords; customer experience is a big consideration.
What is a URL and why is it important? A URL is the building block which help promote a website ranking. They are the first thing along with Meta descriptions and title tags that set a first impression to the customer.
A URL is a set of words that is readable to humans, and it replaces the IP address. They improve the user experience. They can also serve as anchor text when people copy and paste them to a different location. This means they can also act as promoting tools.
Points to remember when writing URL Don’t be repetitive. The purpose of the URL is to display what your website is about to the users, over using or repeating keywords is unnecessary. The length should not exceed 512 pixels because after this Google will cut the length, and important keywords may be lost. Keep your URL as short as possible, short URLs are easy to read and copy.
Link Building Another important aspect of SEO is the art of link building. Link building provides the building blocks for SEO. Back-links, also known as inbound links are those that link back to your website. Back-links are important because search engines tend to evaluate websites according to the number of backlinks and quality of backlinks. It is important to remember however, that Google can penalise websites that are using irrelevant back-links.
The internet is full of websites that are spam, and in order to eradicate them, search engines use a formula for calculating trust. The source of the backlinks is important, because it makes your website more reliable and relevant in the eyes of search engines. If a website has links from big websites like Forbes and The New York times, it increases the search engines trust on your website. Merely getting a large number of links is not enough, the quality and its source play a huge weighting to SEO rankings as well.
Link building tactics
Keywords There should be a large pool of keywords related to website content that are popular; these can be generated using keyword research tool software.
In order to ensure web pages are ‘search engine friendly’, the relevant keywords should be used within the written website content; thus ensuring that search engines can easily pick up the website.
Anchor text is the text that links to another location or page. It is the text that is clickable on a website, and is hyperlinked. This is the the text that other websites use to link to your page. The text name should match as this ensures that Search engines consider the site as a reliable and trustworthy. The content of your website and the content of the other website should match.
Ego Bait is the strategy of featuring people or websites in your content, in order to play on their ego and make them more compelled to share the link. In theory this could bring a site more traffic, and encourage people to share content. It is important to consider that it does not bring in bulk links, as it only targets famous websites and people.
Fresh links As time passes the popularity of websites decreases and link signals tend to die off. To maintain website popularity, it is important that a fresh supply of links are kept, because the search engines use the fresh links to judge the popularity of websites.
Social media marketing In an ever-changing world of technology and gadgets, it’s rare that people don’t use social media. Nearly everyone has an account on a social media platform. This means that social media has a huge reach for advertising a product or website content. By attracting a larger, yet more targeted audience, brands stand a better chance of attracting website traffic.
Social media presence not only increases traffic, but also makes the website more reliable and attractive in the eyes of the public. Social media platforms allow site owners to stay relevant and up to date with real time insights on customer topics/ talking points. It is a method that businesses can adapt to gain free publicity because people can ‘like’ and ‘share’ content; boosting the chances of material going viral thus creating website traffic. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Tumbler can become effective promotional tools if used correctly.
Social Bookmarking enables people to store and save links to their favorite websites. These bookmarks are visible to the public and can be viewed by them. Thus, social bookmarking helps to increase traffic. Search engines tend to prefer and enlist content from bookmarked websites, which increases ranking. It’s an overall great tool for promoting and advertising a website.
Search Console In today’s world, it is crucial to be found on the internet. Search Console is an initiative of Google, which allows website authors to sustain a site in the search results, and also monitor it.
It is not mandatory to sign up for search console, as a website will still appear in the search results; but if you do so, your website will be search engine optimized, improving its results.
A search console provides users with data so they can see how search engines view the site and what they can do to better the site. It is a useful tool to keep an eye on the monitoring of a website, however, content should be accessible by Google in order to work smoothly.
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A site can be easily controlled so that it runs smoothly without any breakdowns, deleting spam and other viruses from the content.
All of the above-mentioned points are simple actions that can be taken in order to boost website visibility and increase site ranking.
Remember that there isn’t a magic wand, and getting to the top takes time and effort. If the correct steps are implemented and the content is strong, then website popularity can increase, and thus this bodes well for business growth.