Google uses over 200 ranking factors to determine Search Engine Results Pages (SERP) positions and constantly adjusts those factors and their importance with algorithm updates.
The shifting landscape of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and its’ many ranking factors can make it hard to determine what you need to focus on to grow your website’s organic traffic.
Fortunately, there are a few core elements of SEO that stay mostly the same. In this article, I will break down 5 key aspects of SEO so you know exactly where you need to put your effort.
1. Consistent Publication of Great Content
Content is the lifeblood of the internet and is essential for SEO. Great content is what users are looking for, and as a result, so are search engines.
What is great content?
Defining great content isn’t that easy because what “great” is depends on the purpose of the content and its audience. But as a general rule, great content is any content that provides valuable and relevant information to the consumer.
Great content can come in a number of formats (video, blogs, graphics) as long as the content is tailored to meet consumers’ needs.
When attempting to create great content for your website, focus on your users. If you make answering their questions your primary goal, you will be on the right track.
From there, you just need to make the content easy to engage with. Make sure your content is easy to read and formatted appropriately. Add visuals that help to explain your content and make the content easy to navigate.
2. On-page SEO
On-page SEO involves the more technical aspects of SEO optimization. Making sure your website is healthy from an SEO perspective is one of the core building blocks of SEO.
Many site owners overlook the basics of on page SEO because it seems unimportant and tedious. But not doing the basics of SEO will negatively impact your SEO results.
A site with many “minor” SEO issues is a major red flag to search engines. Make sure you cover the basics if you want to see your site traffic and rankings grow.
To optimize your website’s on page SEO, you should do the following:
- Optimize your title tags
- Optimize your meta descriptions
- Optimize your URL Structure
- Optimize page load speeds
- Add image Alt text
- Add structured data markup
- Eliminate 404s
- Ensure your website is crawlable
- Optimize your website structure
On-page SEO isn’t glamorous, but it’s necessary.
3. Mobile Optimization
Google made mobile friendliness a ranking factor in 2015 and started using mobile first indexing in 2018. These two algorithm updates mean your website’s mobile version significantly impacts your website’s performance in search.
Your website must be optimized for mobile to see the best returns for your SEO efforts.
A website that is optimized for mobile:
- Uses responsive design to change appearance to fit any screen size dynamically
- Prioritizes website load speeds so pages load quickly over any connection type (cellular data, wifi etc.)
- Keeps design elements simple to retain visual clarity on a small screen
- Uses large font sizes, so the text is readable on any screen size
- Provides information in a concise and accurate manner
4. Great User Experience
Making sure your website users have an awesome experience is another essential aspect of SEO.
If you want to build a base of users who keep coming back to your site, you need to ensure they enjoy using it.
We have all had negative experiences with websites. When a website is poorly organized, doesn’t answer our questions, or is difficult to use, we rarely become repeat visitors. This behavior is true of almost all users.
No matter the reason, people rarely return to a website that is hard to use or doesn’t provide information in an easy-to-consume format.
Having great content on your website will only help you grow if visitors to your site can they can easily find and engage with it.
This is where having a great user experience comes in.
User experience falls into various categories, from page load speeds to site navigation to content organization. But the main goal of user experience is ensuring visitors to your site can find and access the content they are looking for as quickly and painlessly as possible.
Slow load speeds, poorly formatted content, confusing navigation bars, and intrusive pop-ups make your website harder to use and result in a bad user experience. If users routinely have a bad experience on your site, they will stop coming back, preventing you from building a loyal base of users.
5. Backlinks from High-quality Websites
The last key element of SEO is backlinks from authoritative websites. Links act as a kind of “vote” for your website. The more of these votes you have the better for your website.
When a site has links from other websites that search engines already consider credible, it boosts the credibility of the linked site.
If you want to build your website’s authority, backlinks are vital.
So how do you go about building links?
Create “great content” and then make sure people know about it.
When you execute on tip one, “consistent publication of great content,” you will organically gain links to your site as people reference and share your content. This is Google’s preferred method of link building and is also one of the most effective.
While organic link building is the preferred method for building links to your site, it’s not a replacement for outreach.
Make sure you post your content on other platforms. Reach out to site owners in your niche and share your content with them. A well-written email can do wonders for building links to your site.
If you invest in these 5 core elements of SEO, you will be well on your way to building your website’s authority and traffic.
SEO isn’t nearly as complicated as it seems. Consistently invest in the basics, and you will see results.