Think SEO is impossible to understand? Have no fear, because Chris David, your friendly neighborhood marketing guy is here to break it down for you. The search engines can be hard to please, but knowing what they care about is half the battle when you are creating a functional, well-optimized site. Here is a complete list of every SEO ranking factor you need to know about to make your website work for you.
We created a 5 min video to explain these complex concepts hyper efficiently, and have included links and graphics as a resource below to illustrate the talking points on a deeper level. Enjoy!
Is your website able to be indexed? Having an XML site map ensures that your website can be found by the search engines. Large websites, websites with deep archives, and new websites can all benefit from having an XML sitemap. Your website’s XML sitemap will help search engine crawlers find new and updated pages on your website.
Your title tag should be written in 55-60 characters, be optimized for a keyword, and be different than other titles on your site.
Meta descriptions should be originally written and not pulled directly from your websites. Aim to create a meta description that is 150-300 characters long, and don’t use the same meta description twice.
The permalink for each page of your website should be SEO-friendly and easy to read. Keywords, hyphens, and lowercase letters can make your permalink better optimized. Even if your current permalinks aren’t looking so hot, we don’t recommend that you go changing them on your own. Incorrectly redirecting your links can cause your website rankings to plummet.
Structured Data – Schema Markup and Rich Snippets
Search engines speak a different language than humans, so you have to describe your site to them in a way they can understand. Structured data translates your website’s content into schema, the language of the search engines, which can improve your ranking and help create rich snippets. Rich Snippets are enhanced Search Engine Results that give more information to the “Googler”, information that is oftentimes pulled from the Schema Markup added on the backend of your site. By adding structured data to your website, the search engine will be able to produce more detailed, enticing results that users will want to click on – known as Rich Snippets. Talk to the search engine gods in their language. Appease them with structured data, and they just might grant you a spot on the first page.
Ex of Rich Snippet
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Search engines aren’t able to “see” your images, so you have to describe any pictures on your website with alt tags so they are properly optimized.
Put simply, alt text describes an image. Alt text serves two main purposes. Its main purpose is to describe images on your website to those who are unable to see. Alt text also improves SEO by helping your image achieve your intended ranking. Using a specific keyword will help your image show up under the correct search query.
When used correctly, you’ll also increase your odds of ranking in the “Images” search engine results in Google. This is incredibly important if you want your images or graphics to be found in search engine results. This is extremely relevant to businesses in the travel industry, photographers, visual arts, and marketing strategies that display complex concepts as infographics.
When it comes to doing business online, safety is always a top priority. SSL certificates are like locks on the doors of physical storefronts. In the store, locks help keep bad guys from breaking in and stealing goods and money from the store owner. Online, certificates stop cybercriminals from stealing your sensitive information from the website.
Obtaining an SSL certificate allows an encrypted connection and authentication for your website. If you are taking payments or processing other sensitive information on your website, having an SSL certificate is incredibly important to keep your customer’s personal information safe.
404 Error Code
If your website contains broken links, or if any of your pages contain outbound links to broken websites, the search engines will not be pleased. In order to get the search engines to smile favorably upon you once again, you need to weed out any 404 Error redirects and fix those broken links. When you sign up for an SEO Quick Audit, we can take care of this for you.
Search engines like websites that load fast, and so do your visitors. In today’s fast-paced world, people aren’t going to stick around for your page to load. This will lead to a high bounce rate for your website, which is another thing that displeases the search engines. If you want to stay on the search engine’s good side and keep visitors on your site longer, you need to boost your site speed.
You can also use Google’s tool “Page Speed Insights” to scan and score your website’s load time on mobile and desktop environments.
NOTE: You won’t know how fast/slow your website is actually loading for your users until you’ve reviewed the site speed behavior report in Google Analytics. We recommend filtering load time data by your target to identify exactly how much of a problem, or non problem your sitespeed actually is.
Keyword Research and Baseline Reporting
When we audit your website, we will discover your website’s current keyword ranking and create a baseline report that compares your rankings to your top five competitors. This will help us understand how well your website is showing up for the search engines within your market space.
When running an audit, you want to run 2 main keyword reports:
- What keywords are users searching for to find your website? You can run this report in the Google Search Console “performance” tab. It’s important to understand how users are finding your website through search engines, but Search Console won’t tell you the keywords you aren’t ranking for (but want to).
- The second report you need to run when performing an SEO audit for keywords will require a hypothesis of keywords you think users would search for when they have intent to make a transaction with your business. IE: “Dentist in Delaware” or “Denturist in Manhattan”. Here’s some great documentation on keyword research directly from Google!
- Then, you’ll want to break those keywords out into longtail keyword phrases. Google Keyword Planner can help you identify new phrases using your hypothesized list of keywords.
- At this stage you have your robust list of keywords you think could bring you more business, and will need a way of tracking them. Search Console, or any native Google Tool, does not have this ability – so you’ll need to use a third party tracker.
- ProTip: If your business serves customers in a specific location, like “Florida”, then you’ll want a keyword tracker that can track keywords in a specific zip code – otherwise, you’ll be tracking nationwide which will leave you with incomplete and inconclusive data – and nobody wants that!
Usability Metrics That Affect SEO
Your website should be usable! It sounds obvious, but many websites struggle in this area. You shouldn’t have to click through multiple pages to find what you’re looking for. Usability is incredibly important to search engines.
Usability is such a qualitative term, and SEO Audits are all about quantitative, metrics that can be measured against best practice benchmarks. So, while you want to approach your website with fresh eyes and make sure the information is clearly laid out, accessible, and legible – you’ll want to focus on these benchmarks first:
- Sitespeed and Broken Links – yes we already went over this, but they are still great Usability metrics
- Click Through Rate, and Bounce Rate – When users land on your website from a search engine, are they clicking to another page or leave immediately? Note – these metrics are a bit of a gray area. If a website delivers an answer or info to a user, and they don’t have a reason to click through, then the job of the website has been effectively completed, and shouldn’t be penalized for doing a great job. Sorry, this one isn’t black or white!
- Crawn Depth – How many clicks does it take to get to a top page? If it’s any more than 3, you’re leading your users on a wild goose chase, and Google will identify these buried pages as a non-priority to you, and their results.
- Mobile Responsiveness – If you don’t have a mobile responsive website in this day and age, you need to stop reading this and go do something about it! I’m not even mad, just impressed you’ve been in business this long without an update – kudos to your longevity!
Usability Analysis Report
We will create a usability analysis report for your website that shows how well your mobile responsiveness, crawl depth, and other features are working properly. A functional website is a successful website.
Content Quality and Quantity
There is no search engine optimization without content. Every day, thousands of pieces of content are being produced. The key to getting your content to rank highly is to create strategic, high-quality content. Content should be valuable to your audience and published on a regular schedule to improve your search engine optimization. When we audit your content, we will help you improve its quality so you can outrank the competition.
If your business has a brick-and-mortar location, it’s extremely important that your website is showing up in the three-pack in maps. The three-pack is the list of the top three locations that match a search query. You should have your business listed in local directories like Yelp, Yellow Pages, Google My Business, and Apple Maps to improve your chances of showing up in the three-pack.
Backlinks and Domain Authority
Your website has a domain authority score that is based on how long it’s been alive and how many websites are linking back to it. The more backlinks you have to your site, the more credible you seem to the search engines. When we perform an SEO quick audit on your site, we will look to see how many backlinks you currently have and how you can get more.
Request an SEO Quick Audit Today
If all this tech talk still doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, why not leave it to us? At Syndicate Marketing, SEO is what we do. Let us optimize your website while you focus on running your business like the pro that you are. Go to our website to learn all about our search engine optimization services and request an SEO Audit. We’ve helped many Delaware businesses create websites that work well, and we can’t wait to do the same for you!