Wondering how to optimize your website? Hang on tight, then, because we’re about to delve into the holy basics of SEO!
Remember our previous blog? We’ve talked about performing keyword research for your website, which is only a tiny fragment of devising a working SEO strategy. Today, we’ll go back to some SEO essentials by visiting 5 tips on optimizing your website.
Website optimization sort of boils down to the following two ideas.
- First, you’re making various adjustments to render your site discoverable by search engines.
- Secondly, you’re ensuring it’s fully functional and tailored to its “ideal” users (the public its use has been intended for).
These two aspects, as we’ll soon find out, go hand in hand.
What’s SEO, anyway?
With SEO, you’re trying to optimize your website to rank up higher for a particular search query (visit our previous blog for more details on this).
Why the extra effort? Well, when launching a new website, you want to start drawing in organic (i.e., non-payed) inbound traffic. This essentially means your target audience reaches your platform and hopefully purchases your products or gets to know your brand. Reasonable enough, but…At its core, SEO cannot guarantee that your website pops up among these first crazy-competitive SERPs spots. The term “SERP” stands for Search Engine Results Page, the results displayed by Google in response to a search query.
Here’s what Google’s Starter Guide on SEO teaches us right away:
“This guide won’t provide any secrets that’ll automatically rank your site first in Google (sorry!), but following the best practices will hopefully make it easier for search engines to crawl, index, and understand your content.”
At its core, Search Engine Optimisation – as the very name implies – is a collection of skills, best practices, and techniques that render your website easier to discover and index by search engines. Google’s unshakeable monopoly is hardly news. Hence, whether we like it or not, Google’s search engine is our reference point in this blog.
The Quest for User-Tailored Websites
The hardest part of SEO, however, is not having the Googlebot crawl your web pages. The hardest part is helping it genuinely understand the delivered value and quality of their content. And, of course, “content” implies way more than website copy. Many other elements (things like design components, credibility, and even page loading speed) shape a user’s experience on any given web platform and, ultimately, reflect on how well that platform performs on the SERPs.
That being said, if you convince search engines that you provide what the users are looking for (when they type in a search query), you’ll certainly have a higher chance of ranking well on the SERPs for that particular query.
In short, if your website delivers excellent quality and answers the user’s needs, search engines are likely to detect that. With a bit of help, that is.
But first things first. When thinking about how to optimize your website, start with understanding your target audience.
1. Figure Our Your Target Audience
When you ask “how to optimize your website,” you’re essentially asking how to optimize it for a particular audience. Fundamentally, building a website based on factual data about your desired audience ensures it better meets their expectation. Hence it’s considered optimal. Knowing things like your customer’s goals, desires, and even value systems before you begin building a website ensures your future platform lives up to their expectations. That being said, we suggest your research your target public and formulate consistent, data-driven buyer personas way before your website goes into development.
Conceptual frameworks like buyer personas can therefore help you better figure out client requirements. When you know and understand client requirements, presenting your ideas to a website development vendor and collaborating on how your platform will look, feel, and function becomes a smoother process rooted in factual data about your audiences.
After all, there’s no place for guessing games in quality web development. For instance, core UX elements such as the website’s information architecture (IA), user personas, and user journey maps rely on objective data on your perspective (and ideal) digital clients.
Likewise, many content-related SEO practices assume that you understand your audiences’ needs (and adequately address them in creative and robust web solutions).
2. Improve User Experience
As we’ve seen, SEO is not only about just making your content “readable” and easy to understand by search engines. Instead, a lot of a website’s success boils down to user experience. After all, search engines ultimately aim to deliver quality results to their users to keep them longer on the web. So here’s a little secret: if users like a webpage, so will the engines. If that’s clear, let’s see what it takes for users to enjoy and revisit a website.
With UX & UI, it’s best to start with the best possible foundation. It can be pretty difficult to “fix” a broken or low-quality website that fails to answer user/customer needs and performs poorly. If you’re just starting out online, we suggest you work with a reliable vendor (i.e., with a solid portfolio).
Preferably, look for web development agencies that have partnered up with similar businesses. This ensures that the vendor is already familiar with eCommerce trends and the requirements expected in your industry. If you already have a website that requires UX/UI improvements (they could be related to design, loading speeds, content quality, information architecture, and the overall feel of your platform), not all is lost. Seek digital vendors like Dine Agency which are well-versed in re-designing and optimizing existing websites to ensure they provide a better experience to their users and ultimately draw in a larger public. After all, any significant UX improvement will positively impact SEO. Why? Satisfying user expectations and encouraging them to stay on your site and purchase products may significantly boost your rank on the relevant SERPs.
3. On-page SEO (Especially Website Keyword Strategy)
Finally, we’ll get into what people commonly understand through SEO, but not before mentioning a critical division. Generally speaking, we can distinguish between two types of SEO practices: on-page and off-page.
In short, on-page SEO centers on your internal website structure, functionality, and content, while off-page SEO looks at how authoritative and popular the website is.
So off-page SEO is about increasing your domain authority (your website’s trustworthiness, credibility, and popularity) by having other websites link back to you. This is why off-page SEO is generally outside our control. So we chose to focus on what’s entirely within our reach for now, and that’s on-page SEO.
People generally hear “on-page SEO” and think “keywords,” but that’s only part of the story. On-page optimization includes all measures we can take directly within the website, from adjusting technical elements (like website architecture, code, crawling, indexing, and rendering) to website content and design elements.
These are a few technical optimization measures that development teams can take:
- Create a solid website structure: things like proper categorization, URLs, sitemaps, and using the robots.txt file (to block search engines from crawling certain pages that could deter your ranking). A good website architecture (or hierarchy) with few levels that the Googlebot can easily crawl and index. Keep in mind that a well-structured website also helps and encourages users to navigate it, perhaps preventing them from leaving your site way too quickly (and giving off these “bad signals” to Google). Other website architecture elements include internal links, Call to Actions (CTAs), and URL structure;
- Build efficient code (removing superfluous functions and idle code sections);
- Improve website loading speeds (server response times);
- Ensure the website is fully optimized for mobile devices;
- Consistently perform website security checks;
- Regularly running performance checks and using analytics to make structured, regular improvements to any of the abovementioned elements.
In terms of content and design, keep an eye out for the following:
- Performing text optimization based on a website keyword strategy, which is no longer limited to keyword density (how often you use a particular phrase on a page). We’ll link our previous blog once again if you’re curious to know why;
- Perform image optimization for on-page graphic elements, some of which may also rank in Google’s image search. Keep image sizes as small as possible without sacrificing quality;
- Filling in content that is “invisible” to users but visible to search engines, such as alt-tags and meta information (meta titles and meta descriptions).
Our Thoughts on How to Optimize Your Website
As promised, we have walked you through the core principles of optimizing your website. You have most likely realized that SEO may initially seem like a friendly, quick domain, but in fact, encompasses practices that take a long time to master.
For this reason, we will provide more in-depth coverage of particular SEO topics for our future blogs. So check back every once in a while for some SEO news & tips!