How to optimize your website for search engines

How to optimize your website for search engines blog image

Posted: April 5th, 2023

Key Takeaways

  • What is SEO.
  • The Benefits of SEO.
  • Different kinds of SEO
  • Ranking Factors for Search Engines.
  • What makes SEO work?
  • On-Page and Off-Page optimization
  • Technical SEO optimization
  • Best Practices

Why is SEO?

SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is a practice of optimizing content so that it shows up better on search engines. The goal of search engine optimization is to align your site with ranking algorithms used by search engine's so that it can be quickly found, crawled, indexed, and discovered.

The Benefits of SEO

Many different things, both indirectly and specifically linked to your business, are being searched for online. Knowing this, you can make yourself available to these people, assist them with their issues and inquiries, and establish yourself as a reliable resource for what they need. Specifically, SEO can benefit your business in the following ways:

  1. Higher Traffic: The primary goal of SEO is to increase traffic to your website, good SEO helps you achieve this! Higher traffic not only provides you with more potential customers, but also increases opportunities to build your brand and raise awareness.
  2. Better Reputation: You can think of higher google rankings as being a higher degree of trust, not only from Google, but from internet users. The better your SEO, the higher you rank, and the more trusted your brand becomes to your potential customers.
  3. Return on Investment: The work you put in to building your website is rewarded with higher traffic, more customers, and hopefully higher levels of success for your business.

Different Kinds of SEO

There are a number of factors that popular search engines use to rank the content of your website, which means there are multiple areas that need to be addressed to improve your ranking. The main types of SEO are as follows:

  1. Off-Site SEO: This is commonly referred to as 'Backlinks', and relates to how other websites reference your content. This might take the form of posts on social media that link to your website content, but also internal linking to other pages or articles on your website. Posting regular content can help with this internal linking and also provide further backlinking to your other content. Check out our article: Ten Search Engine Optimization Tips for Beginners to get some good ideas on content creation.
  2. On-Site SEO: The content and quality of your website provide a good roadmap for web-crawlers to index and understand your content. Providing good heading structure and keyword usage increases topic relevancy and therefore SEO rankings. At Wallaby Designs, we write SEO optimized code, so you can feel assured in at least this form of SEO. For a good idea on on-site SEO factors, check out our article: Search Optimization and Core Web Vitals.
  3. Technical SEO: How your site performs, UX, Security, accessibility and so forth. No matter how valuable your content is, if pages on your site are inaccessible to search engines, they won't show up or rank in search results. 
  4. Local SEO: Ranking as high as possible on Google Maps is another way to rank higher in search results. Reviews, Business Profile Optimization, and listings are very important here. Meta data and social signals also help.

Other forms of SEO that you can pursue, depending on your content type, are as follows:

  1. Image SEO: The goal here is to make your website images rank higher in Google Image Search. This is a mixture of good image optimization and well articulated image meta content.
  2. Video SEO: Similar to Image SEO, optimizing images and using good descriptors can help them to rank higher on YouTube, providing further opportunities to advance your business listing.

Ranking Factors of Search Engines

Numerous studies have been performed to determine what ranks highest in Google searches. Based on this study by First Page Sage, the 2023 Google Algorithm Ranking Factors are as follows:

  1. Consistent Publication of Engaging Content 24%
  2. Keywords in Meta Title Tags 15%
  3. Backlinks 15%
  4. Niche Expertise 14%
  5. User Engagement 12%
  6. Trustworthiness 5%
  7. Mobile-Friendly / Mobile-First Website 4%
  8. Internal Links 3%
  9. Page Speed 3%
  10. Site Security / SSL Certificate 2%
  11. Schema Markup / Structured Data 1%
  12. Keywords in URL 1%
  13. Keywords in Meta Description Tags + 19 Other Factors 1%

What makes SEO work?

Knowing the factors, what exactly causes Google, and other Search Engines, to decide what websites rank above others? 

The billions of internet pages that exist today are collected, categorized, and stored in Google's index by search crawlers that are constantly scouring the internet. When you perform a search, Google displays results based on its index rather than the actual web.

The results of this crawling is sorted using a complex formula, or Algorithm, to rank websites based on the factors listed above and determine what results are most relevant when a search is performed. More optimized websites rise higher based on these factors.

How users interact with your website also factors how Google ranks your content. If users are on your page for less time, you are ranked lower than someone who holds users attention for longer.

Essentially, websites are ranked based on how they not only fit the needs of the customer, but hold their attention, provide good content for them, and so forth. Optimizing your content can, therefore, go a long way to increasing your ranking.

On-Page & Off-Page Optimization

A separate article has been created as this one of the most complex parts of SEO. To read more, check out our article: Search Optimization and Core Web Vitals.

Technical SEO Optimization

Technical SEO is done on your website's back end to make sure it complies with Google's requirements for site security and user experience, as well as to make it as simple as possible for Google to crawl your website and perform its analysis and rankings of your site. There are a few different optimizations that are taken into account here, which are:

  1. Page Load Speed: Similar to Image SEO, the code and content of your website can impact load speed and therefore positively or negatively impact the SEO of your website. This is where image loading strategies can be implemented to optimize your content. 
  2. Mobile First: About 60% of internet traffic is on mobile, so simply making your content 'mobile friendly' isn't good enough. Google places a lot of emphasis on Mobile First, meaning you need to be completely responsive for mobile interfaces.
  3. Security: Using Https over Http is an important, yet necessary change to secure your website content and the browsing experience of your potential customers. Most browsers will make it difficult to load Http websites, making them naturally rank lower.
  4. Site Architecture: Just about any page in your site should be accessible in three clicks or less. If it takes more to get somewhere, there needs to be changes made to your site to provide a more streamlined process. This is where internal linking can play a larger role.
  5. Core Web Vitals: There are three main metrics used to determine user experience on your website. They determine how fast users can access your website,  the experience they might receive, and how easy your site is to navigate. The metrics are as follows: Largest Contentful Paint, Cumulative Layout Shift, and First Input Delay. To learn more about these, see our article about Search Optimization and Core Web Vitals.
  6. URL Structure: The way your site structure is organized, especially when they follow a logical pattern of /blog, /post, /product, etc. allow for web crawlers to navigate your website easier and provide a clearer hierarchy for users to follow.

Best Practices

There are a number of ways that you can improve your SEO ranking, but some of the best ways are the following:

  1. Be Patient: This is number one for a reason. It takes time for a strategy to bear fruit. Improving your listing may take months before any real change can be seen, but the important thing to do is keep at it.
  2. Focus on Quality: The Google search factors that make up the Google Search Algorithm are constantly being updated and changed. One of the best ways to stay ahead of the curve is to provide good quality content that is useful to your customers. Doing so will provide more views, leading to more trust, and therefore a higher ranking.
  3. Search your Keywords: (click here to learn more about key word research). There is quite often a difference between keywords that the customer is searching for and what you are focusing on. The intent of keywords is important and so it's important to perform these searches yourself to keep your content relevant.
  4. Maintenance: Don't rest on your laurels, consistent production of good content is not only important, but is the top ranked factor by Google. If you let your content grow stale, it becomes less important and your ranking lowers over time. It's good to refresh your content periodically, whether that be through posting blogs, or deals, in order to remain fresh.
  5. Keep an eye on Traffic: It's important to analyze your customers as to what brought them to your website so you can see what is working and what is not. This is how your improve your SEO keywords and grow your ranking.