Quite often we consult with business owners who are frustrated,
No, down-right angry, that after investing heavily on a new website design their main competition and even businesses that they feel they are far better than, outrank them in Google and subsequently gain the majority of new business.
Let’s clear something up from the outset. In most cases a new website means new images, new branding, more modern design. Nothing more.
And although those things might have an impact on user friendliness, which is a positive, it is not going to make your website shoot to the top of Google or other search engines for commercially viable keyword phrases that are important to your business.
“But My Competitor’s Website Looks Dreadful”
Beauty, as they say, is in the eye of the beholder. And just because on the surface it might not look great, or you personally wouldn’t choose to represent your business and brand that way, it does not mean that the website is low quality as it could be built with a sound architectural infrastructure, have a solid social media presence and a whole host of high quality back links that point back to the site, giving it authority and relevance in the eyes of the search engines.
What Do Search Engines Look For In A Good Website?
When talking about search engines, specifically in the UK, I mean Google. As according to Statista, Google has an 88.58% dominance for search in the UK.
Google uses several factors to decide on how relevant a page is for any given search term. In fact it is commonly believed that there are over 200 such factors which impact how well a website ranks (no one outside of Google can truly know how many there are and comment on their Intellectual Property) These include the number of relevant inbound links, the history of the domain your website sits on and whether a sitemap has been submitted to Google or not.
However, there are other factors that can contribute to the success of your website in search such as:
How Many Pages People Visit On Your Website
If your website is good the chances are that visitors to that website will find the content good enough that they want to read or learn more on the subject matter and you.
How Often You Update Your Content
In everyday life there are advancements in technology, business, health, welfare, popular culture as well as content on the internet. A web page that was relevant two years ago may not be relevant today. A website that has not been updated for a long time may provide less relevant results than a web site or page produced yesterday.
How Long Your Content Is
Serpiq published research that showed that the average content length for a web page that ranks in the top 10 search results in Google has at least 2,000 words. And it is no surprise that the higher you go up the page, from 10 to 1, the more words they have.
In the graph above you can see that on average the top result in Google has over 2400 words. The research was conducted across a range of 20,000 keywords and the results suggest that Google favours long form content.
Take a look at your website, take a look at the key pages or sales pages and ask yourself does the content provide enough depth and build enough value to keep the user engaged and build trust?
How Can You Improve Your Website To Rank Higher In Search Engines?
Use Keyword Phrases That Are Relevant To Your Business.
If you are an accountant. The keyword phrases “Accountant in “Your Town Name” is relevant and important for you to rank for.
However this is not the only term that potential clients will search for related to accountancy and therefore your website should contain information that anyone looking for an accountant would find helpful, such as:
- Tax return dates
- Budget updates
- Information on how to perfect a financial statement
- How to monitor depreciation of assets.
The more RELEVANT subject matter that a user can find in one site will increase the authority of your site.
Think about the terms your ideal client will enter into the search engines when they are looking for the results that your service can provide. Make a list of them and then make sure that there is content on your website that provides the answers they are looking for.
Optimise That Content For Google
In order for Google to fully understand what your website is about it needs to be labelled correctly.
There are specific areas on a web page that Google looks at first in order to quantify what your page is about and subsequently where it should index to best serve searchers.
These areas include:
- Page Title
- Sub headings
- How Image are labelled – Alt tags
- URL of the page
All of these elements of the page are considered by the search engines when indexing your content in the correct place so that your ideal visitor can find it. But remember that if your page is over optimised, in other words you are writing for the search engines and not for human consumption by using too many keywords, a term known as keyword stuffing, then you will be penalised.
Internal linking is about how and where you link a page or post to other content that is relevant within your website. The point being that the search engines want to provide the user with the best possible experience they can.
Continuing with the “Accountant” from earlier, it would be of benefit if you could then link to pages on your website containing information and references to business audits, financing options and tax optimisation strategies
By doing this you are providing greater detail for the user, which will help them make a judgement on your suitability to help them. The search engines will also appreciate this. This will result on the user spending a greater time on your website by visiting more pages , which as I mentioned earlier is a factor that Google uses to rank your site.
Write GREAT Content That Attracts Inbound Links.
An inbound link is where another web site owner provides a contextual hyperlink back to your content from their site.
Google and the other search engines rely highly on other people linking to your website in order for them to establish how popular your website is. The more popular the website, the higher your return in the search results.
The goal here is to create highly valuable, unique content that people want to talk about and share.
The more people that link back to your site signifies to the search engines the popularity and value of the piece of content.
The more people with authority on that subject matter that link back and share the better.
For example an educational body that provides accountancy qualifications providing a link to a local accountant is more valuable than a backlink from Julie’s cake bake.
The quality and relevance of inbound links is often more important than quantity.
Have A Social Media Plan
Social signals such as being liked tweeted or +1’d indicate to search engines that your website and content is popular.
That is why you need to have a social media plan that includes identifying which social channels your customers frequent, tracking social conversations, trending topics, managing your online reputation and developing and sharing optimised content.
By ensuring you can easily create and post relevant content to social channels on a regular basis, you will not only improve your search rankings, but reach more potential customers when your content is linked to, liked, or shared.
Search engine optimisation techniques are constantly changing. What doesn’t change, and in fact becomes more prominent, is the fact that if you invest the time creating quality content that has value with the readers on a regular basis you will be able to improve SEO and find your site and pages getting top search engine rankings, driving more clicks and ultimately converting to a higher number of sales.
For the past few years Google has made it abundantly clear that they have been working towards making their search engine more mobile friendly.
In February 2015 Google made this statement on their webmasters blog;
“When it comes to search on mobile devices, users should get the most relevant and timely results, no matter if the information lives on mobile-friendly web pages or apps. As more people use mobile devices to access the internet, our algorithms have to adapt to these usage patterns. In the past, we’ve made updates to ensure a site is configured properly and viewable on modern devices. We’ve made it easier for users to find mobile-friendly web pages and we’ve introduced App Indexing to surface useful content from apps. Today, we’re announcing two important changes to help users discover more mobile-friendly content:
1. More mobile-friendly websites in search results
Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.”
What does that mean?
Well quite simply that Google will provide mobile users with mobile responsive web pages first. And this makes complete sense.
If you are on a mobile searching Google and they provide you with a website that you cannot read or whose buttons you cannot click because they are too small, then chances are you will go to another site. Over time if you continue to get presented these sites that leave you frustrated and unable to use you may choose to move to another search engine that provides better results.
Google wants to provide the user with the best possible search results, coupled that with the fact that in the UK the Smartphone has become the most important way for people to get online. Therefore, how your site ranks will also depend on whether it caters to a mobile audience.
Search engine optimisation is a constantly evolving landscape. What works today may not necessarily have the same effect tomorrow and that it is why SEO is an important part of any online marketing plan.
To make sure that your site out performs your competitors in search and not the other way around then you need to be producing quality content on a regular basis that is relevant and builds you and your brand to be the authority in your niche.
A website’s performance rises or falls depending on the implementation of the factors discussed in this article, but there are also many more.
This Leaves You With Three Options To Improve The Status Quo:
- Option1: Do It Yourself
- Option 2: Task an employee to take charge of it.
- Option 3: Employ a professional to do it.
Do you want to spend the time writing a two thousand word post, optimise that post for search engines, spend hours marketing that post on social media sites, emailing it to your list of subscribers or clients, looking for relevant sites that may be interested in sharing or linking to your content? Not many business owners have the time or the inclination to do that.
And that is why those select few businesses that choose to either invest the time or invest in the services of a professional search engine optimisation consultant will stand a far greater chance of gracing the top spots of the search engines for commercially viable keyword terms.
So next time you look at a competitor’s website that ranks above yours in Google and you consider it ugly, there might be a lot more time and investment gone into gaining those search engine results than meets the eye.
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