We hear the acronym SEO all the time, but what does it actually mean? SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. In practice, this means tailoring your website so it tops the list of search results.
Google is cagey and vague about what will get your website to the top of the results because they want you to buy ads to achieve that goal. When you buy ads, they put your page to the top of search results for keywords you pay money for. For example, you can pay Google to put your website at the top of the search results for keywords like “best red wine.” This gets more complicated when competing websites aim to be at the top for the same keywords. If you’re willing to spend more money than your competitors, you can stay at the top.
However, there are multiple best practices you can do at no cost to improve your website’s ranking.
Is your website up to code?
Although Google won’t tell you their algorithm, they are very open about the code requirements that they use to crawl or inspect pages for keywords. Google Chrome provides a tool called Lighthouse that will actually give you a grade on how your page performs. Just open your website in the Google Chrome browser, right-click anywhere on the page, and select inspect. You will see a modal pop up at the bottom of the page. Select the Lighthouse tab, then select generate report to see how you do. If you got lost, Google has directions with pictures to help you out. The report includes four categories—Performance, Accessibility, Best Practices, and SEO—along with grades for each (0-100).
Google favors fast pages. If your website is slow to load, take a look at their suggestions. Some might be too technical, but others are straightforward, such as making your images smaller.
Making your website readable and usable for everyone greatly increases your user experience. It is not only the right thing to do, it’s also required by law under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Companies can be found liable for not providing accommodations for users of their websites. Google’s search bots also use accessibility standards to crawl and rank your site. Adding alt text to describe your images to screen readers is an easy fix. Clearly naming your link text is a common issue and simple to fix, no code required. Instead of using “click here,” describe the action or item that the user will see when they click on a link. Which link would you click:
Click here to download the resource.
“Download resource” is easy to see and understand, plus screen readers and search bots can recognize the link for what it does. Not only is it better UX, but you’re also going to improve your search rank.
You will most likely need the help of an engineer to implement website best practices. Hiring an agency such as eStreet.co to create your website will save you time and headaches. A lot of DIY website builders like Wordpress, Shopify, and Squarespace aren’t built for performance but rather for your ability to manage content. At eStreet.co, we do both. We create a beautiful, fast, and secure website with your business goals in mind. We can also implement a content management system that’s customized to your needs to simply update and edit your website. The best part? You just pay for the domain and the build, we leverage tools to serve it at no- to minimal-cost.
Finally, Google will let you know if you have the basics on your website that their search bots can crawl. If you can sense a theme here, these are also things you will need an engineer or at least an integration/plugin to solve. Every page should have a title element and a description element. These elements make up what’s known as the meta: identifiable attributes you can give to search bots and scrapers. You can see the meta data when you post links to Facebook:
As you can see in the above image, the title is Home, the description is the text below, and we also give Facebook the URL and an image. All eStreet.co websites come standard with this information because we want you to have a visible website.
Searching for the right words to say
Google Trends is an excellent and free tool to see what words are popular and to compare your own words. Simply enter your search phrase into the search bar and see the results. You can also compare keywords and isolate results to specific regions. What’s more popular: Rioja wine or Spanish red wine? See the results! Most people in the U.S. like a fruity Rioja, but people in Kentucky and Pennsylvania are a little less region-specific and can enjoy a Spanish red. This is valuable data that can be used for where you operate or for buying ads.
Google has another tool called Search Console that you can add to your site with either an eStreet.co engineer or a plugin/integration on your DIY site. Search console will tell you what keywords people are using to search for your site as well as report on crawling errors Google encounters when it’s trying to get data from your site. You can also connect it with Google Analytics to see how users behave on your site depending on each keyword.
Armed with these tips, you—or your hired engineer—can now optimize your website for SEO. While buying ads on Google is an easy way to get your website to the forefront of results lists, tinkering around with your SEO will ensure your site will organically rise to the top.