4-5 MIN READ.
It’s fair to say that most people don’t know a great deal about the workings of websites and search engines. They turn to the closest boffin they can find when their website isn’t performing; usually a web designer or “The IT guy”. This results in many SME owners being misinformed about what enables a website to perform well in search engines’ results pages.
Why Having a Good Website Doesn’t Ensure It Will ‘Bee Found Online’
Buying an excellent website and expecting it to rank is like buying a printing press and expecting people to buy your newspaper.
It is really important to have a well-performing website but most of Google’s ranking factors*1 have little to do with web design. Many businesses buy websites that “come with SEO”. Then believe their website doesn’t work or needs replacement when they don’t rank and the cycle starts again.
What SEO Comes with A Website?
Out of over 200 known Google ranking factors; there are some important ranking factors that are down to your website’s design. This isn’t an exhaustive list but covers the most important factors that you can easily check.
More and more users browse the web on mobile devices. Google has reacted by penalising websites that aren’t easily viewable on a mobile device.
Your site should have an SSL certificate. When visiting your site you should see a little padlock on the left-hand side of the address bar.
Site Usability & Structure
Usability is important to Google. If your site is complex without a sensible and logical structure your site is less likely to rank.
Believe it or not that’s about it as far as web design SEO goes! There are other factors which have an influence which are more difficult to check. Server location/up-time, coding quality and the presence of sitemaps and robots.txt files all influence rankings too.
What Actually Affects Your Performance in Results Pages The Most?
If you’ve had a new website within the last few years it’s likely that all the above is done and you have a solid base for ranking. This however just puts you at the same level as millions of other websites and there are only 10 places on the 1st page of Google (you won’t all fit!). Here are some of the most important factors that you should look to optimise;
Backlink/Referring Domain Quantity & Quality
These off-page signals are vital to your SEO. Google considers this a strong signal that your content is relevant and of good quality. You can grow this by manual outreach, paying for links (sponsored links may have less influence) or by creating quality content.
Creating good quality content doesn’t only increase your organic backlinks. It’s great for users, they spend more time on your site, are more likely to use your services if you’re an expert. They could even share your content on social media and other platforms.
Stats that signal relevancy and quality like dwell time and click-through-rate play a huge part. Connect your site to Google Analytics & Google Search Console. You can then see how many users see and click on your links and how long they spend on your page.
By improving your content and organising your pages’ structure, you can improve their visibility in search results. Things like including keywords in Headers, at the top of your content and behind relevant images can all help.
It not only increases the click-through rate of your links but improves your whole SEO. Google looks at loads of factors. These include physical location, profiles on sites like LinkedIn, direct traffic and searches for your brand name. If your potential clients know who you are; you’ll climb the search rankings.
I’ll be writing a full SEO checklist for 2020 for our ‘Knowledge Hive‘ in December so pop back to our digital marketing blog for a more comprehensive list!
A good website is super important for ranking in search engines but you cannot rank with a good website alone. SEO is ever-changing and evolving as users change the way they search and search engines release new algorithms.
It’s most important to remember that search engines like Google are trying to deliver the best results for a user’s search query. They don’t care too much for your website/business and definitely don’t like being cheated or fooled by “black-hat SEO”.
Employing SEO services that signal to search engines that your content is useful for relevant search queries is essential if you want your website to appear in the search results.
Thanks for reading and we hope you’ve found the information in this post useful.
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