Working on a fresh website design? Wondering what it takes to get your website on the first page of Google’s search results (or Bing, or Yahoo)? Internet marketing (and SEO) has changed dramatically since the early days of search engines, and the strategies around SEO and optimizing websites has changed as well.
Many tactics that have worked in the past are no longer effective, and some are now even penalized by search engines. What hasn’t changed is the need for search engine optimization, if you want your website to be successful.
Of course the search engines are constantly getting better at filtering pages on their own, however they also process millions and millions of pages in a matter of seconds. Search engines like Google are extremely smart, but they also do a much better job of presenting your content with some help. This is where having a website that is search engine optimized, and as we like to say, Google-friendly comes in!
There are over 100 factors that clearly influence how search engines “see” your page, and how likely they are to display your website for the search terms that are relevant to your customers and your business. Everything from your content, site structure, site speed, and the amount of other websites linking to yours matters. Have an older website with many large images, or URLs with confusing numbers in them? Is your homepage called “home” on the title bar? Your business could be missing out on visibility with your ideal customers (the ones already searching for your products and services).
8 things that high-ranking websites have in common.
From a general perspective, the factors below are some considerations that any successful website should aim to address, and what your website definitely needs to come up on top:
- Recent content that is genuinely relevant to the search terms that your business is targeting
- Relevant and strategically-written page titles
- Historical engagement (visitors who land on your website and don’t leave immediately)
- Images that support alt-tags (files should be jpeg, png, or gif format)
- A site built in HTML (not flash, not Java), with a current sitemap
- Design that is mobile-friendly, or responsive
- A unique, keyword-rich URL structure (page URLs that are logical and easy to follow)
- Unique links to your site from other quality websites
- Popularity on social media (with users engaging with, and sharing links to your website)
At Cucumber Marketing, we define a successful website design as one that results in measurable sales for a business.
Factors 1-7 represent on-page optimization, and are all items that can be addressed during web design and content planning. Along with beautiful design, these factors outline the basis of successful web design today.
Factors 8 and 9 happen off-page and represent how others interact with your website on social media and through links. While inbound links alone were previously one of the largest factors in how search engines ranked results, there have been many changes in link strategies.
What’s changed the most in Internet Marketing?
Search engines are ever-changing, and links are still a huge factor in search engine rankings. (Wikipedia’s site ranks well for most search terms that have wiki pages, largely because of the sheer number of links to Wikipedia online.) However, gone are the days of achieving rank through numbers alone. Link-building has changed, and search engines are great at detecting unnatural links. Links to your website must be genuine and relevant.
The increase of importance on social media is a more recent change, and a great reason for your business to be active on the social media channels that make sense for your business. Likes, shares, and +1s of content on your website on social channels all contribute.
Another important change occurred in 2013, when Google introduced a new algorithm which put less emphasis on exact keywords, and begun showing very similar results for synonyms. Today, a search for similar but non-identical keywords is likely to display largely the same results for a user. This has had a significant effect on keyword strategy.
What makes a website successful?
By design, search engines aim to accurately interpret all pages on your website and provide the most relevant content to users searching online. As we mentioned, search engines are smart, however they often need help. SEO is still as important as ever, however SEO strategies must be innovative and relevant to how search engines are changing. So, ensure to add search engine optimization as one of your marketing tasks for 2015.
If your goal is to organically rank higher and drive more leads (and more sales) through your website, get in touch with our team today. We’ll be happy to perform and audit of your website and show what you can expect with an optimized website.