There are a lot of things you can do to “optimize” your website for performance on Google. The reason we also talk exclusively about Google when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO) is because they have ~90% of the search traffic on the web. If you do well on Google, you’re set for life.
In this article, I share the fundamentals on SEO and how you can begin ranking your way towards first page on your important terms on Google.
What is Ranking?
“Ranking position” is the spot your website shows up for a particular query in the search results page. Ranking #1 is ideal, while the first page position is between #1 to #10.
When it comes to SEO, your objective is to get your website to the first page for important terms. Important terms can include:
- “best dentist in Toronto”
- “stump removal services in Chicago”
- “criminal defense lawyer in New York”
When it comes to SEO, it begins with making sure your website is developed and organized in a meaningful way. You also want to make sure it is technically sound. Lastly, you want to have other people mention and link out to you so that others can find you. These 3 components: on-page SEO, technical SEO, and off-page SEO, help ensure you can be found on Google.
This component deals with the contextual meanings that can be understood from your website. It goes into what your webpages are about, how it’s structured (hierarchy and depth levels of pages), and what contextual clues you give for Google to index you properly.
The cool thing about on-page SEO is that you only need to do it well once for it to be completed. The occasional revisit would become essential when you climb higher in the rankings and competition becomes fierce.
Here is a short checklist of what I consider the “low hanging fruits” for improving your on-page SEO:
- Meta title, H1 tag, and URL are on-point with including important terms related to your ideal keywords
- You have at least 500 to 700 words of content on each page you want found on Google (more for competitive terms)
- Your pages are connected to each other with hyperlinks (internal linking)
If you can make sense and do well with structuring these 3 pieces to on-page SEO, you are 80% on your way to success.
This section gets a little more difficult, but we will do our best to keep explanations simple. Tech SEO deals with your website functionality. It includes elements such as:
- pages or hyperlinks that are broken (going nowhere or inaccessible);
- poor page speed (slow load times);
- mobile usability and accessibility; and
- funky design elements that flicker or make it difficult to read (by people and search engines bots!)
The listed above would be your checklist for improving your website’s technical SEO performance. Let’s go through each one real quick:
Broken pages or hyperlinks
You want to make sure that all pages and hyperlinks throughout your website go somewhere (and somewhere meaningful!). There are tools that allow you to check your website if there are items that require attention.
Page speed is something that a lot of webmasters (website owners) tend to struggle with. Since Google also determines your ranking based on how quickly your webpages can load, you want to make sure media files (like pictures) are compressed as low as possible, and that there are not any funny business going on with how your website is accessed. Page speed also plays a huge factor into the mobile experience of your website, which we will cover next.
Mobile usability and accessibility
Since everyone has a mobile device (maybe even two!), it is important to ensure your website can be viewed in a way that suits smaller screens. We call this “mobile responsiveness”, and it ensures your website content and design fits any screen sizes without breaking apart. When you improve the experience of your website for mobile devices, you can do better at SEO.
Funky design elements
For this section, we would discuss something known as “page experience”. This touches on something Google recently rolled out known as “Core Web Vitals”, which touches on the different components that make or break a visitor’s experience on your website. Funky design elements also plays into other aspects to tech SEO, such as page speed and mobile experience. Here is what you need to keep in mind:
- Avoid having design elements flicker
- Make sure the largest design element such as pictures are compressed to be as small of a file as possible
- Your pages can load and be used as quickly as possible
This final components, once you have your on-page and technical SEO figured out, is to go out and market your website. Like a popularity vote, the more backlinks you have from reputable websites, the greater visibility you can get on search engines.
Fundamentally, how you can improve your off-page SEO is by reaching out to other websites and see how you might collaborate with them. Whether it be to write an article they can feature on their website or some other meaningful way, the end goal would be to get a hyperlink from their website to your own (a.k.a. a “backlink”).
You can do this in conjunction to everything else, but it wouldn’t help you too much if your website content or website accessibility is a mess! But once you have that figured out, you can start marketing your website to others!
There are a lot more to off-page SEO such as the text you use for backlinks (a.k.a. “anchor text”) and which pages you want a backlink to (targeting). But that is a story for another time!
Before we end off this article, it’s also important to understand how to formulate a strategy that makes sense for your website. When you know what you want to get, then you can prioritize the work you do. You can imagine how hectic it can become when you run an ecommerce website with 100,000 product pages and no clear focus or strategy.
My best recommendation to keep things simple is to look towards your competitors. There are countless tools online for conducting research on competitors, but if you can follow suit with how your top and most relevant competitors are structuring their website, then you can shortcut your way to success. The reasoning behind this is that if you can find them on Google through search queries your ideal audience would use, they are doing something right.
You can begin by mapping out the following on a spreadsheet or piece of paper:
- Determine for yourself what is most important to your business goal
- Competitor pages you deem important to have, such as services, sub-services, products, category pages, and the like
- See what headings they use for each page, what URL’s
Example business goals can include:
- Getting more leads for a “bread and butter” service for your business
- Expanding a new revenue stream with new line of products
- Generating greater awareness (and possibly sales material) for the middle-of-funnel buyer’s journey
Once you have this figured out, you can be on your way to prioritizing which parts of your website to optimize and be on your way with getting found on Google!
Now you know SEO!
In this article, we covered the fundamental overview of SEO and it’s 3 components:
- On-page SEO
- Tech SEO
- Off-page SEO
We also looked at strategy, how you can plan your own, and how it can guide you on prioritizing optimization efforts for your website.
Your next steps
Take a look at your website SEO strategy. Follow the bullet points listed in the section above, then work your way through on-page SEO and technical SEO.
Once you are good with the two, you can move towards marketing your website and getting backlinks with off-page SEO!