Your website can attract more traffic If you can manage to rank increase your website ranking higher in search results for queries related to topics covered on your website. A good website ranking translates to more traffic which in-turn means better earnings and more opportunities for your website to establish a brand presence in the market.
Your website ranking position is determined by a number of factors including its layout, usability, loading speeds, etc. We’ll explore the most essential elements of website design later in the article. Before we do that though, there’s one point that NEEDS to be mentioned. Read on below.
User friendliness vs Keyword optimization
Optimizing your web pages for keywords and using keywords to attract visitors on your site is only one part of Search Engine Optimization.
Although researching proper keywords and using them in your written content is an essential part of a good website strategy, there is one mistake that many website owners make. That mistake is giving too much importance to keyword optimization. An article chock full of keywords can do more harm than good to your website. Let me explain why.
I also made the same mistake in my early years of writing website content for SEO. If you’re a writer, then you might agree that many times we have to modify our content to fit the needs of proper keyword optimization. In doing so, writers many times have to modify their writing style to fit certain keywords in sentences. Sometimes writers have to change their vocabulary so that they could include keywords in their content. Another thing that writers have to do sometimes is increase the length of their content to accommodate keywords and maintain good keyword density.
All these actions have one thing in common. They all have the tendency to compromise the user friendliness of your content.
When it comes to SEO, just remember this, the ranking criteria used by search engines to rank websites is centered around user friendliness at its core. Besides keywords, search engine algorithms also evaluate how visitors interact with your website. Visitor’s session duration, broken links, bounce-back rate, page views, internal links, external links and much more.
It is very crucial for web developers to craft a website strategy that maintains a healthy balance between user friendliness and keyword optimization. Do not compromise user friendliness for keyword optimizations. Make your content as natural as possible so that readers can relate to it. Remember, if your website visitors are happy with you and value your content, your website rankings are guaranteed to improve.
Make your written content sound more like a conversation between you and your visitor rather than writing a lengthy piece which seems to have come out from an institutional textbook. Understand that your website is a platform for you to express your individuality, use your website to create a brand and personal style which encourages your visitors to express themselves.
That’s a load off my chest. With that aside, now let’s see how we can achieve the right balance between these two.
Do this to boost your website ranking:
Now we’ll explore techniques that have been proven to increase your website ranking and I’ll also suggest some tweaks to achieve that sweet balance between user friendliness and computer friendliness in your content.
As promised, firstly let’s see how we can improve our website ranking through website design.
First and foremost, make sure that you are using a responsive theme that can adjust webpages automatically to fit various screen sizes. It’s old talk now that more users on the internet today use mobile devices rather than traditional PCs. So it goes without saying that if you own and operate a website in today’s age, you’ll need to optimize it for mobile devices.
Here’s some elements of web-design that help improve your search rankings:
- Different kinds of tags:
Meta-tags, Image alt-tags and heading tags are all great ways for you to specify and separate different elements of your webpages.
- Heading tags – H-tags help you define your content to search engine crawlers. Use H1 for the main heading only, while using H2 and so on for different subheadings to show content hierarchy. This lets you differentiate between your main headings and subheadings making it easier for crawlers to interpret and separate different elements of your webpage.
- Meta tags – Meta tags are the short snippets that appear under webpages listed on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). You can optimize these snippets for your keyword and use them as a short description for your content. This can be a sort of free advertisement and you can use a meta description to show what value your article provides.
- Image alt-tags – Alt-tags are the text alternate for the images you use on your webpages. They serve a dual purpose. Firstly, if an image fails to load on the webpage or if the visitor is using a text-only browser, the alternate text can define the image for the user. Secondly, you can also optimize you alternate text for keywords which can make it easier for search engines to relate your image to your keyword making your website appear in results even if the user is searching by images.
- Use W3C standard coding where applicable:
Use W3C recommended practices whenever you have to write any code for your website.
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C in short) is a regulatory community that issues rigorously researched recommendations for web-pages so that websites can look and operate uniformly or in the same way on all web browsers.
The standards set forth by W3C are effective and useful because these practices ensure that websites work and operate the same for users anywhere in the world regardless of their browser or location or technology.
If you use one of the various Content Management Systems (CMS) available today, you may not have to use code too much since these CMSs offer interactive (drag and drop) website building.
These standards help improve your website SEO by giving search engine crawlers the opportunity to navigate your website more efficiently than normal coding practices.
Once again user experience comes into play. It has long been established that page loading speed is a critical factor for website ranking. Your site can suffer from a high bounce rate and bad ranking due to slow loading times.
In today’s fast paced world with extreme internet speeds, users are accustomed to web-pages loading in a matter of seconds and if they don’t load within that short duration visitors will not stick around waiting for your site to load and will mostly bounce back to where they came from.
Work on your website loading times and reduce it to as low as you can. But before you do that, you should check the loading time of your competitor websites so that you can get an idea of what you’re up against.
- Colors and white space:
Talking about colors might sound redundant but you need to think carefully before you choose the colors for your brand these days more than ever. Brands that incorporate primary colors and secondary colors have a wider color palette to choose from when creating new pages.
However, having a rainbow of colors or too many colors on your website can be distracting for the users and also goes against brand consistency. Ideally, go for two or maximum three colors which can represent your overall site and brand. This makes it easier for visitors to focus since you’re not overloading their eyes with sensory feedback which would happen if the visitor’s eyes had too many colors to notice.
White space refers to the amount of empty space between the elements on your page. This makes it easier for the user to overview you content and navigate your webpage easily because the elements will be sorted by empty spaces in between. This also translates to a simple and minimalistic website design which enhances the user-experience thus improving your website ranking.
- Use CTAs to your advantage:
Your website serves as a connection between you and your visitors and converting those visitors into customers or regular consumers is what will ensure that your website has a steady traffic flow rate all the time. Repeat visitors are the people that will help you create a community for your brand and this will let search engines know that your website is valuable.
Here CTAs play an important role. Use relevant and properly designed CTAs to encourage users to sign up for newsletters and various offers. Place CTAs strategically on your website to convert visitors. Consider offering freebies (e-book, course, consultation, a gift, etc.) to get visitors’ contact information (e-mail most commonly) so that you can engage in conversations with them.
Your website’s content is the most important part of your website. After all, your content is the most fundamental thing that you can use to provide value to your visitors and attract new visitors.
Your content defines what your website is about and the quality of the content defines how well your website ranks on search engines as well as in the eyes of your visitors. As the owner of the website your first and foremost priority should be to provide unparalleled value to your consumers. However, content creation gets a little tricky when you have to strike a balance between the value you provide and the returns you wish to receive.
But don’t worry, through effort and with determination you can achieve anything.
Let’s explore a few ways that can help us reach that sweet spot through content optimization.
- Keyword optimization:
As we discussed earlier, certain practices used for keyword optimization can sometimes compromise the usability of your content and hinder your progress towards a good website rank.
Moreover, like all good marketing practices you have to focus first on giving, giving and giving. Instead of trying to please the search engine bots by using keywords in abundance, write content that is natural, free flowing and provides visitors with great value.
Good user-centric content will push you higher up in search ranks, faster than any other type of content.
Use your keywords in the right places and there won’t be any harm done to your website’s ranking. Optimize your images for your keyword by writing alternate text. Optimize your meta description for your keyword by writing rich and attractive snippets that define your content in two to three sentences. It’s not about how much you use the keyword; it’s about how well placed your keywords are in your content.
- Write 10x content:
What does that even mean you ask?
Well, the idea and its criteria was put forward by Rand Fishkin in one of his videos for Moz and it’s pretty simple to understand:
Due to oversaturation of similar content on the internet content writers need to change their thinking. Instead of trying to be as good as your top 10 competitors, aim to create content that is 10 times better than your top competitors.
Because if you think about it, mostly the results for a search query are very similar to each other. This is mostly because a problem can only have a number of solutions and with so many websites out there, most of those same solutions are covered in every article. This means that you can’t really create “Unique Content” anymore.
What you can do to have the edge now is create content that surpasses all of your competitors and provides impeccable value along with a great user experience.
- Use multiple mediums:
With an increasing emphasis on voice search, increasing demand for video content and with the rise of a plethora of social platforms you really are spoilt for choice.
Gone are the days when you could just publish written content and expect great visitor response. With growing popularity and quantity of videos, many people prefer to have something explained to them face-to-face. Incorporating enticing and content relevant videos in your material can help you satisfy this want of people and open your website up to a new stream of visitors who like watching your videos.
Craft and establish your brand presence on social media. Social platforms are where people spend most of their online time these days and these platforms serve as an information exchange point where people express their views and opinions while sharing new information every day. It’s no secret that social media marketing should be on the list of your priorities when it comes to increasing awareness about your brand and attracting visitors to your website.
Links, whether internal or external, are another significant aspect of website ranking factors.
Think of the internet as a web of networks. Websites that refer to your domain and the websites that you refer to can all be seen as interconnected.
Search engines evaluate and rank your website based on how well your website is linked to other websites on the internet. The websites that you are connected to need to be credible and authentic sources of information with good ratings if you want to have good ratings yourself.
Internal links also play a significant role in website rankings. Internal links going back and forth between your own website’s content provide search engine crawlers with a map for your website and help these bots understand and interpret your site more efficiently. Internal links between different pieces of related content also help your visitors navigate your website seamlessly taking them from one piece of content to another.
Creating awesome content to attract new visitors to your site and making them stay there is two thirds of the job. The last but probably the most essential part of building a brand is having an engaged audience.
- Engage your audience:
What is an engaged audience? An engaged audience is the audience that frequently and regularly visit your site and share their thoughts on your brand and your content. These are the visitors who drop comments on your posts and even share them with their peers.
This kind of consumers don’t just appear out of thin air though. You have to be the one to initiate engagement with your audience. Regularly ask your audience for their opinions and feedback, accept criticism and improve yourself accordingly. Always try and reply to as many comments as you can and give genuine responses.
- Be social:
Social media channels provide you the opportunity to engage with millions of people who are interested in the kind of content you produce. I would recommend that you start your social media accounts from the very beginning stages of your website’s development.
While you work on your website and design, you should also make an effort to be present on social media. Because the audience that you gather on social media can easily then be redirected to your website, especially if they’re engaged with you and trust you.
If you do this right, you may not have to spend as much as most do on inorganic(paid) promotions.
- Don’t repeat same content:
Audiences found on different platforms have their individual tastes and perceptions. I recommend that you focus on a select few – at most 3 – platforms where most of your audience is found. This will reduce your load and by decreasing the quantity of effort you can increase the quality of your efforts.
Now that you have a limited number of active social platforms you can focus on creating quality content for all your channels individually instead of having to worry about creating more content for more social media platforms.
- Be active on forums:
Answering questions asked by people on social forums is also a great way for you to build backlinks as well as a reputation for yourself. Answer questions whole heartedly and focus on solving the user’s problem.
A fair warning here, don’t put your link in the answer if it doesn’t fit and don’t answer questions just for the sake of linking, these practices will get you banned or marked as a spammer on most platforms.
Website design, content and social engagement are the three pillars of website ranking success. If you want to see your website rank higher on search engines, focus on building a user-friendly experience on your website. Design your content to be human-friendly and hold nothing back when it comes to providing value to your readers.
It seems like a lot to do at first especially if you’re just getting started but we should never forget that great goals require great effort and the one’s who put in the effort are the ones who reap the rewards.