You paid for that shiny new website. You were excited about all the new leads it would generate after clicking the “publish” button. But a few months down the track, the flood you were expecting is nothing more than a trickle.
Welcome to the exciting world of being a webmaster. Unlike in the movie, if you build it, they won’t necessarily come. In order for users to see your site, you first need to woo search engines such as Google and Bing.
And these search engines can be quite fickle in their affections. In the past, all you had to do was to stuff enough keywords to convince them that your site had value. These days, it takes much more effort.
In this post, we’ll speak about the right “netiquette” when it comes to wooing Google and the other search engines.
Do I Even Need a Website?
No, you don’t. And, honestly speaking, if you’re not going to put in the effort, it’s probably better that you don’t. But what’s your alternative? A listing in the phone book, perhaps? Are you willing to pin your hopes on someone dredging up a copy of the Yellow Pages?
Why go through the hassle when they could quickly check Google? Finding a phone number with voice search is even easier. Let’s take a look at the cold hard facts. In 2017, 62% of shoppers in the UK researched online before making their final purchase. Businesses not online are missing out on a large batch of potential leads.
Why Not Just Run an Ad Campaign Then?
Most businesses budget for PPC advertising or advertising on social media. Thanks to the proliferation of advertising, though, eight out of ten searchers completely ignore sponsored results.
Organic results drive better traffic over the long term and cost you far less. Unlike an advert with a shorter lifespan, content marketing (such as writing blogs) can bring in traffic for years to come.
Great, I Want a Piece of That Organic Traffic Action
You and about a few million other sites. That’s what makes it tough. Putting in a second-rate effort here is going to lead to second-rate results. In the SEO game, coming second means handing over a large chunk of leads.
Coming in first takes consistent effort, but it’s possible if you know your way around the system. Unfortunately, the search engines are largely tight-lipped about their algorithms. They don’t want you to be able to game the system.
Knowing exactly what to do is hard. Fortunately, some factors are obvious, such as the number of hits or duration of visits to a website. If you can get these right, then the rest won’t matter as much.
Of course, you’ll need to make some micro-adjustments along the way. The search engines are constantly updating their algorithms to get better results. SEO is an ongoing process, and you’ll need to tweak your strategy along the way.
If you’re willing to put in the effort, you’ll be rewarded with that flood of traffic that you’re after. Let’s look at what the main things are to take into consideration.
The Faster Your Page Loads, the Better
The main goal of search engines is to provide the searcher with the best options and experience. Users don’t want to sit and wait for a site to load. If your website takes too long, then you can expect to be ranked poorly by Google.
When we talk about page speed, we mean both on mobile and desktop. Your site should load in three seconds or less. You can check how fast your site loads on mobile by using Google’s Test My Site tool.
You should also ensure that any images on the site have been compressed for web use and that any unnecessary features are removed. Ask yourself whether the value of a specific element is worth the amount of time it takes to load.
Nine times out of ten, simple will win out over flashy when it comes to web speed.
The Quality of Your Content
This is the one ranking factor that Google will speak about ad nauseum. They stress that webmasters should focus on producing the best quality content possible. In this case, what does quality mean?
- That it should be of interest to your targeted audience.
- That it should be polished and professional in nature. It’s worth having written content professionally edited.
- Providing real value. Longer-form blog posts are better because you’ll be able to explain your content more thoroughly. It’s also a bit of a cheat – the longer the post, the more time people will spend reading it. This translates into more time spent on your site.
- Content that is well laid out. Make use of the white space on the page to create a site that looks clean. The less cluttered, the less intimidating the site will be to the visitor.
Producing quality content over quantity is a no-brainer. Every piece of content is a reflection of your business. A shoddy, poorly researched article with typos will not impress anyone.
High Bounce Rates Win Out
We mentioned earlier that keeping visitors on your site as long as possible is essential. This is another given. Think of it this way: if you had to rate the value of two similar sites, how would you decide which was best?
You’d want a second opinion. Looking at how long people stay on a site provides insight into its value. This is basically what the search engines do.
They look at how long someone stays on your site as one factor in determining the credibility of the site and its relevance to the search terms. The longer someone stays on your site, the better.
Click-Through Rates Also Boost Rankings
Another factor taken into consideration when ranking a site is how many people click on your link in the search results. If your site isn’t getting much love, the search engines will view it as less credible.
So, take some time to create a stellar meta tag that will make people want to check out your site.
Backlinks are Tricky but Worth It
The role of backlinks in SEO has sparked some controversy in the past. The idea behind this is that the more sites linked to yours, the more valuable your content appears to be. After all, if others are referencing your site, there must be something good about it, right?
If only it were that simple. In the early days of SEO, the search engines simply counted the number of links to your site. Of course, webmasters soon caught onto this, and it became an easy way to fool the search engines.
The search engines have cottoned onto this trick. They still look at the number of backlinks on your site. Now, however, they consider the reputation of the site that is linked to yours. These search engines have become skilled at identifying companies that sell links and will penalize sites for this.
Your best bet is to create stellar, well-researched content that authority sites will want to link to. An excellent strategy is to create quality guest posts for these sites.
If you want that trickle of traffic to turn into a flood, then you’ll need to do some work. Once you get the hang of it, though, you’ll be sitting pretty at the top of search engine results.