Did you know that most website traffic begins with an online search?
Yes, many people use search engines to find exactly what they are looking for. Right now, there are thousands of people out there looking for something that you offer. You might have the best products or services on the market, but it won’t benefit your business if customers can’t find you online. It’s up to you to guide them in finding your website. This is where Search Engine Optimization (SEO) plays a major role.
When you optimize your webpages for search engines with SEO best practices, you can increase its ranking and therefore, its visibility to the right people.
There are so many different ranking factors that search engines consider. All of these make up SEO—the process of tailoring your webpage content and elements so that search engines rank you better for relevant search queries.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some SEO best practices that you should follow to get a good search engine ranking and reach the right people.
12 Best Practices to Get SEO Right
From among the 200 known SEO ranking factors for Google, we have narrowed it down to a few basic ones that lay the foundation for better ranking.
At YellowFin Digital, our SEO specialists swear by these 12 SEO best practices to help our clients rank better. If you want to know more about how we can help in increasing your website’s ranking, get on a call with one of our experts now.
1. The Faster the Loading Time, the Better
Research published by Google in 2018 concluded that when a webpage’s loading time increases from 1 second to 10 seconds, the probability of a mobile site visitor bouncing increases to 123%!
The above chart shows that every single second counts when it comes to a site’s bounce rate. And when the bounce rate of a website is high, your search engine ranking will also go down.
Generally, the best loading time for any website advised by Google is three seconds. E-commerce websites are encouraged to load even faster than regular websites, with an ideal loading speed of two seconds.
Curious to find out what your site’s load time clocks in at? Test your website’s speed using Pingdom to see how you stack up.
2. Have a Highly-Secure Website
By now, most people recognize the need for internet security. Some sites prioritize security and make this feature visible by displaying a secure ‘lock’ symbol at the start of the address bar in the browser. Search engines prefer to rank websites that are highly secure, which means only HTTPS encryption.
HTTPS is the secure version of the HyperText Transfer Protocol, which establishes a secure connection between the website and its users. Websites with HTTPS (as opposed to HTTP) will have SSL encryption and offer an additional layer of security.
Having a website with HTTPS encryption is one of the essential things to take care of for your ranking.
3. Create Mobile-Friendly Web Pages
Nowadays, there is an increasing amount of site traffic coming from smartphones. People whip out their cell phone to search for just about anything they want to know—finding the nearest coffee place, defining an unknown word, searching for the best services, checking out the reviews of a place before going in, and thousands of other reasons.
So your website and its elements have to be user-friendly for mobile phone users too. Using the same desktop structure of a website for mobile phones doesn’t cut it when it comes to optimization. You need to customize it and make it look accessible for mobile phone users. This type of design is called responsive web design- meaning that your web page’s design will adjust based on the device it is viewed from.
You can check out the mobile-friendliness of your website through Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.
4. Target Topics with Potential
For any given domain, there are thousands of topics you can explore. But among those topics, only a few topics have high potential, according to your website. Not all high traffic topics will work the best for you and not all least traffic topics will help you rank on the first page of Google.
You have to analyze those topics that are compatible with your website’s central theme and your intent. Make sure to match your purpose of the content with the user intent when deciding the main topics.
5. Research your Main Keywords with Competitive Analysis
What is your business all about? After you have zeroed in on the main topic, research appropriate keywords that will help you to rank. The right keywords indicate to search engines that your site features valuable content. Your keywords should be featured prominently on each page of your site- while still working with the rest of your content. Make sure to look at keywords that your competitors are ranking for, and compare them with your purpose. If your business is local to a few areas, then you can include the localized version of the keywords for better results.
6. Target Long-Tail Keywords for Better Conversions
What is a long-tail keyword? A long-tail keyword is a very specific keyword phrase that is usually longer than more commonly searched phrases.
If you want to rank high and achieve good conversion rates, you should target “long-tail” keywords.
In the above image, you probably notice that long-tail keywords make up about 70% of search results and have a lesser number of searches. Focussing on long-tail keywords will increase the chances of ranking your website higher and will target only those specific people who have better chances of converting.
Especially for small business marketing, it can be hard to rank for keywords with the most traffic. Instead, targeting long-tail, medium-traffic keywords will drive a good amount of traffic and high conversions.
7. Include Target Keywords at the Right Locations
Randomly including keywords scattered throughout your content with no direction isn’t the way to go. You should focus instead on including the keywords in these locations:
- Once within the first 150 words of the content
- Once on the main heading of the page
- A few times in the other heading tags
- In the title tag, meta description, and image attributes
You can distribute keywords evenly throughout the entire content in other locations as well.
Many SEO experts believe that a keyword density of about 1-2% is optimal for SEO. So, make sure to check for the keyword density and ensure that it’s not too high or too low.
8. Use a Crisp, Descriptive URL
Search engines prefer short URLs that describe what the page is all about. The URL should be short and crisp, without any alphanumeric characters that are added to some URL structures by default.
This is also ideal for marketing over social media, where your content can only be added as a URL. A short, descriptive URL works the best on social media, too.
You can easily optimize the URL of the website directly. If you want to add a special touch, you can include the main keyword once in the URL too.
9. Create Backlinks for Your Landing Pages
Backlinks are one of the well-known factors that Google has built into its ranking algorithm initially. Google looks at the different pages linking back to your landing page and analyzes the value of it based on those links. Google only considers the contextual backlinks, i.e. the links that are surrounded by relevant content. If your backlinks are from irrelevant or spammy websites, it could seriously harm your ranking.
You can use a Backlink Checker Tool online to find any web pages that are linking back to your website.
10. Keep Track of User Experience Metrics
The bounce rate, conversion rate, clickthrough rate, time spent on the page and a few other factors are used by search engines to measure the overall user experience. These metrics help search engines to gain a sense of how much visitors are enjoying your website.
If any metrics rate low, then it’s time to fix them so that your site gains a competitive edge.
11. Stay Aware of your Domain Age
This isn’t something you have control over, but it’s essential to be aware of it. The age of your website plays a vital role in ranking.
According to a study published on Ahrefs, 60% of websites that rank on the first page of Google search results are at least 3 years-old.
If you are just planning to buy a domain, it’s best to place your money on older domains than newer ones. If you have already purchased a domain, don’t worry. You can use our other strategies to try your best to be among the 20% of 1-year-old websites ranking on the first page of Google results.
12. High-Quality Content Matters- A Lot
You can learn all the SEO tips and tricks to increase the search engine ranking out there. But Google values the content of a site more than anything else. Even if you have done every SEO best practice by the book, your rankings wouldn’t improve if you have poor quality content.
Create error-free, useful content that users want to read. Focus on your ideal site visitor and create a viewing experience that will be helpful, valuable, and informative to them, Have something of value in every piece of content you create, and this will definitely impact your search engine rankings in the long run.
When you are on a tight budget for small business marketing, having high-quality content will help you to maximize the reach at minimum investment by adding value to your prospects.
SEO can be a powerful tool for any business, enabling you to now reach more people than ever before. While the main goal of SEO is to rank higher, the ultimate aim of any online effort is ideally to provide the best user experience possible. So follow these 12 SEO best practices with the intent to please your users.