As most webmasters know, search rankings directly influence the amount of traffic a website receives, and impacts your ability to be found online. The higher a site ranks for its target keywords, the more traffic it will generate. Therefore, it’s important for online entrepreneurs to optimize their sites for higher rankings. While no search engine optimization (SEO) method is 100 percent effective all the time, you can encourage higher rankings by implementing these 10 strategies.
#1) Speed Up Your Site
The time it takes visitors to load your site can affect its search rankings. To be found online, you must optimize your site so it loads quickly. According to Search Engine Land, Google has used speed as a ranking signal since 2010. Consider using a content delivery network (CDN) and enabling browser caching as well as GZIP compression to speed up your site.
#2) Go Easy on the Ads
There’s nothing wrong with monetizing your website with ads. However, excessive use of ads could backfire by diluting the user experience and lowering your site’s rankings. In Bing’s Webmaster Guidelines, the Microsoft-owned search giant specifically says that sites consisting mainly of ads don’t rank well. So, use them sparingly to ensure it doesn’t have a negative effect on your site’s search rankings.
#3) Keep Page Titles Under 60 Characters
When adding HTML titles to your site’s pages, keep them under 60 characters for maximum search engine visibility. Search engines use this HTML element to create titles for their listings. According to Moz, however, Google only displays the first 60 characters of a webpage’s title. Any remaining characters are truncated, resulting in a messy and oftentimes confusing title tag.
#4) Mobile-Friendly Website Design
If you want to be found online by smartphone and tablet users, you must use a mobile-friendly website design. Not all web designs are compatible on mobile devices. If it uses static units of measurements, for instance, it may render text and images difficult to read on small devices. Furthermore, Google announced in 2015 that it was expanding mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal.
Want to see if your site features a mobile-friendly design? Run the URL through Google’s tool here. If it fails the test, consider switching to a responsive web design. While there are several ways to create a mobile-friendly site, including a separate mobile domain or dynamically serving HTTP, a responsive design is the most effective. It automatically adjusts your site’s dimensions based on the user’s device; thus, ensuring your site looks great regardless of the device on which it’s viewed.
#5) Don’t Buy Backlinks
In the past, it was relatively easy to trick search engines into ranking your site for a specific keyword by purchasing lots of backlinks featuring that keyword as anchor text. Those days are long gone, however, with search engines now penalizing sites that engage in the buying or selling of backlinks.
In Google’s quality guidelines, the Mountain View company further explains that buying links is against its Webmaster Guidelines, and engaging in this behavior can negatively affect your site’s ranking.
#6) Fill Your Site With Great Content
Rather than buying backlinks, or engaging in other manipulative SEO tactics, you should use attract them using great content. The secret to achieving a high search ranking is to publish high-quality content that’s relevant to your visitors. According to Crazy Egg, this is the best way to achieve a high search ranking.
Of course, it only makes sense for search engines to favor websites with high-quality content over their counterparts with low-quality content. High-quality content provides sustenance for visitors, giving them a reason to stay on your site and return in the future.
#7) Permalink Structure
Don’t underestimate the importance of using the right permalink structure for your site. If your site’s URLs are generic and non-descriptive, it’s not going to offer any value in terms of search rankings. On the other hand, using descriptive permalinks that reflect the page’s content can help search engines understand what the page is all about. And when search engines have a better understanding of your site, they’ll usually rank it high in their respective indexes.
If your site uses WordPress, check out this tutorial for instructions on how to change your site’s permalinks.
#8) Create a Sitemap
Search engines do a pretty good job at discovering newly created pages on their own. Unbeknownst to most webmasters and internet users, search engines are constantly crawling and following links in search of new pages. There are times, however, when new pages go unnoticed, which is why you should create a sitemap for your site.
A sitemap is essentially a page featuring a list of all pages on the site. When a search engine crawls a sitemap, they’ll immediately see every other page on the site. You can create a sitemap manually, or you can use a free web service like XML-Sitemaps to automatically create it.
#9) Optimize Images
Far too many webmasters neglect to optimize their images. They upload an image to their site, assuming there’s no point in changing elements like the filename or alt text. However, search engines notice these elements, using them in their ranking algorithms.
As revealed in this Shopify article, you should give images a relevant file name and descriptive alt text attribute. Additionally, shrinking the file size of your images can improve its load times.
#10) Use Social Media
Finally, use social media to promote your website and increase its visibility. According to WordStream, 79 percent of Americans have a social network account. Regardless of your site’s target audience, they probably use Facebook, Twitter or some other social network.
There’s still some debate regarding the degree to which social media marketing affects a website’s search ranking. Neither Google nor any other search engine has officially confirmed the use of Facebook likes, Twitter retweets or other social metrics as a ranking signal. However, most seasoned digital marketers agree that social metrics do affect a site’s search rankings. So, leverage the power of social networking to compliment your search optimization efforts.
Webmasters often struggle to be found online. They toss us a basic website and expect it rank high immediately thereafter, only to discover their site’s rankings remain stagnant. If you want to achieve a high rank, you should implement the 10 strategies listed here.