Nowadays, every business needs to have a functional website. Websites have become the face of companies and online consumers visit those pages to shop, get informed or educate themselves. That being said, businesses must meet consumer demands, expectations and needs when it comes to website browsing and experience. However, in order to do that, they must first ensure their company websites are visible, accessible and easily findable online. One of the best ways to improve website visibility in the online world is search engine optimization (SEO).
SEO is a cost-effective marketing campaign that helps websites rank high on search engines, such as Google. Still, online market is overcrowded and highly competitive. So much in fact, that SEO is now mandatory for businesses instead of just optional. Without SEO, you have no chances of becoming visible online and you’ll only be overshadowed by your competitors. Also, SEO demands constant work to produce viable results, mainly because search engines oftentimes change the rules, as well as make modifications to their algorithms. Therefore, here’s a complete SEO checklist for website owners.
Important SEO aspects
To better understand SEO, you have to understand its aspects. SEO consists of three main categories: technical SEO, on-site SEO and off-site SEO. These activities help you improve your website’s visibility, authority, credibility and awareness online, among other things. Each category serves a specific purpose of helping both your audience and search engines understand your website and the content you produce.
Technical SEO focuses on the functionality of your website. On-site SEO focuses on optimizing your content and pages for search engines. Off-site SEO focuses on activates outside your website that help boost your reputation and trustworthiness. The more effort you place in optimizing your website, the higher rankings it will achieve.
As mentioned before, technical SEO focuses on the functionality and performance of your website. Website elements, such as speed, user-friendliness, responsiveness, security and so on, all influence customer satisfaction, which is one of the primary factors for search engine rankings.
Speed is crucial for bot your website and your consumers. The main reason is that literally no one today can tolerate slow loading web pages. In fact, 67% of consumers will abandon your website if it takes more than two seconds to load.
In addition, 47% of mobile users will abandon the pages if they do not load in three seconds or less. That being said, website speed is a crucial ranking factor, because search engines will penalize you for having a sluggish website. And, the reason they do that is that you’re unable to provide a seamless customer experience on your website, due to it being too slow.
Focusing on mobile users is more important than ever. As a matter of fact, mobile traffic has already surpassed that of desktop, which means that not having a mobile-friendly website is a career suicide these days. Fortunately, you no longer have to maintain two versions of your website. Instead, implementing a responsive design that can adapt to any device and screen size will satisfy all your customers.
Modern consumers are much savvier than they used to be, which means cybersecurity is one of their top concerns. Lacking proper security measures results in ranking penalty from search engines and guarantees that your customers won’t be satisfied with you. Implementing security measures is therefore essential for modern websites. For example, an SSL/TLS certificate is a good way to secure your website and ensure good ranking factors for your website.
On-site SEO are activities with a purpose of optimizing content and web pages on your website to be more SEO friendly. In other words, helping search engines understand the context and the content of your website and its pages. Search engines crawl your website and leverage information they’ve obtained to properly index and display it on search results.
Keywords are an essential aspect of SEO. When it comes to On-site SEO, keywords help match the content on your pages and posts with user intent. In other words, you must rank for keywords your audience most commonly uses when searching for something online.
Keywords must be researched carefully, so that you ensure your efforts are well-placed. If you have difficulties managing this on your own, you can look for the best search agency that can help you out with this task. That way, you’ll ensure that your website is well-ranked and relevant to your audience.
Content is king in the marketing world. Content on your website needs to be excellent and relevant, in order to engage your consumers properly. Content will help inform, educate and even entertain your audience while on your website. That’s why you must optimize it properly and ensure search engines can adequately display it on their results.
Titles, URLs, Metadata
Optimizing pages is important for SEO. Each page, post and piece of information must be optimized properly so that both search engines and your audience can understand it well. For example, include keywords in title tags for your posts so that it can match user intent.
Also, restructure your URLs to help search engines understand the content of your pages. In addition, include detailed information in Metadata descriptions to help your audience understand what your pages are about. Optimizing pages and their elements is essential for SEO and ranking well on search engines.
Off-site SEO are your activities outside your website. Promoting content on other sources serves a purpose of building credibility, domain authority and reputation for your website. Search engines reward websites with good off-site SEO with high rankings. The main reason is that search engines favor websites with good relevance and credibility.
Link building is an SEO activity of creating high-quality inbound links for your website. In short, the content you publish contains a backlink that leads back to your website. You accomplish this by guest posting your content on other relevant and reputable sources, such as other blogs and websites. In fact, backlinks share the first place with content as being the most important ranking factor on Google. The more quality backlinks you have, the higher your rank on search engines.
Even though SEO isn’t directly involved with social media, search engines do prefer websites whose content is popular on social media networks. Likes, shares, tweets and others make your content popular and influence user engagement, which means search engines are more likely to recommend content on their results that is viral on social media. Sharing your content on your own social media pages is a good way to start. You can also leverage influencers to further promote your content and create a much-needed buzz for your posts.
SEO requires a lot of effort, time and dedication before it starts showing viable results. A lot of web owners simply give up before that happens. However, SEO can vastly increase not just your website’s visibility and awareness, but also boost your organic website traffic. In other words, investing in SEO can greatly payoff if you’re willing to make an effort and wait for the results to start showing.
Crawl Speed and Search Ranking
Internet users don’t want to waste any time typing in your URL and you can’t really blame them. They want a fast and seamless experience and that is why they favor search engines like Google. And to show up there, on the booming avenues of the internet, you need to get your pages crawled and indexed.
In other words, you have to face the technical side of SEO, one that often gets neglected and unsolved. However, this effort is the only way to lay the solid groundwork and elevate your website’s usability, speed, and visibility. So, you must be able to appease the internet deities and delight its users at the same time.
Get your priorities straight
Make no mistake: crawl speed can make or break your internet presence. Although officially not a ranking factor, it has a profound impact on SEO. It affects all other aspects of your strategies and determines their ultimate success. All in all, not having your pages crawled and indexed undermines your SEO aspirations.
It is not an overstatement to say that this can be an utter disaster for websites that update content on the regular basis and want to get it in front of users as soon as possible. Therefore, before pondering your content marketing and social media strategy, you might want to take a look at what is going on “under the hood” of your website.
Make it snappy
First off, note that there is a strong correlation between your web speed and crawl speed.
In case you have a sluggish internet presence, the crawl speed of Google bots can be hampered. Namely, Google has expressed discontent with high-response times for requests made to the website. Its officials admitted that they differentiate between sites that are really slow and those that have normal load times. If it takes two seconds to fetch a single URL, then the number of URLs that bots crawl is severely limited.
This indirectly, yet substantially impedes your ranking. Of course, optimizing on a millisecond level doesn’t change anything. But, if you improve response time by one second you can make a real difference in terms of how quickly Google picks up new content and related updates.
Strengthen the supporting pillars
In the eyes of a Googlebot, a speedy website is a reflection of a healthy server infrastructure. This is to say that it receives a positive signal, one that indicates the possibility of grasping more content over the same number of connections. On the other hand, 5xx errors and connection timeouts serve as red flags that reveal server deficiencies. In the wake of the latter scenario, crawl speed slows down.
In the mobile world, speed plays an even more pivotal role. Google has announced that as of July 2018, it will use mobile site speed as a ranking signal. All pages will be measured in the light of this criterion, regardless of whether they belong to a dedicated or a responsive site. Slow websites will be penalized and fast ones will be awarded better ranking. This seismic shift will be introduced by an algorithm change called “Speed Update”.
So, take action now to brace yourself for the mobile-first digital world. You will have to figure out the exact moment when the tide of change hits your pages. To do that, you can access your server logs and see if there is an increase in crawling activity of Google’s smartphone variant (accompanied by the decrease in the activity of the desktop counterpart).
Full speed ahead
Furthermore, website speed testing is a must.
There are various instruments to do this, so take your pick. Also, make sure to use SEO audit tool to gauge the SEO-friendliness of your pages and uncover any technical issues and errors that could hamper your ranking. Make it easier for your search engines to crawl your pages faster and you will be able to forward your overall optimization strategy.
In the case of mobile pages, you can utilize Search Console to estimate how your pages hold up. To be more precise, a “Smartphone” tab, which you can find under ”Crawl Errors,” allows you to identify any problems that encumber your mobile pages. “Fetch on Google” is another key feature that gives you insights into how Google bots see your website. Use the acquired knowledge to make the necessary adjustments.
Of course, there are some other things you can do to improve crawl speed. The list of solutions goes on and involves activities such as minimizing the downtime, creating an XML sitemap, and taking advantage of robot.txt files. So, go on, explore all avenues, and make an effort to cover all the technical bases.
Get a move on
If you are serious about taking your organic visibility to the next level, you have to enable search engines to efficiently crawl and index your pages. This is a real game-changer in the domain of SEO.
Thus, familiarize yourself with the way crawling process plays out. Realize that Google algorithm chances stem from shifting user preferences and trends such as the explosion smartphone-based online browsing. Make crawling a breeze for bots and let your pages run like clockwork.
You should be able to drive an immense amount of traffic your way and advance by leaps and bounds towards the forefront of the SERPs.