Website Functionality and SEO

Website Functionality and SEO

Websites & SEO – Why It Matters

 

One of the most important pieces of having a successful website is having a successful SEO strategy. SEO stands for search engine optimization, and if you’re not utilizing it, your website is most likely suffering as a result. You can have the best content and the easiest to use website, but if it is not SEO-optimized, you’re missing out on a huge chunk of internet traffic.

So what exactly is SEO? Basically, it is the science of making your website rank higher in search engine results. In today’s jungle of websites, search engines are in charge of deciding which websites will be the most relevant to your searches and have the best content for you. Websites that show up on the first page of Google results have a much higher rate of traffic, and that number increases the higher up in the results you are. But being on that first page doesn’t happen by chance; it’s a digital art form that requires a lot of work.
There’s a multitude of different components that make up SEO, but here is an overview of the main ones:

1. Content Optimization

This may look like a fancy phrase, but it’s actually a lot less complicated than it sounds. Content optimization is making sure your website matches what the search engines are looking for. Every search engine uses tools called “crawlers”, programs that scour practically every website on the internet. They look at things such as content quality, how easy to navigate the site is, how organized the structure is, does it have an SSL certificate, etc. They then take their findings back to the search engine and the site is then given a rank.

However, a site can be given several different rankings, depending on what keywords the crawlers find. Keywords are one of the cornerstones of SEO. Search engines tend to rank sites higher than others based on their choice of keywords used in their content. For example, if you searched for “quality furniture” in a search engine, it would look through their indexes to see what websites that have stored under those keywords. It also considers the quality of the content of those websites and, based on where in the world the search is coming from, automatically displays results that it believes will be most beneficial to the searcher. SEO is the way of making sure your website is what the search engines are looking for. Some ways of doing this are:

  • Keyword optimization. Based on the purpose of your site, the next step is to optimize your content around a few specific keywords. Analytic tools are a huge part of this, as they tell you what keywords are popular, what keywords are trending, and even suggest better keywords to use. You can then re-word your content and even the code behind the scenes to give your site a better chance of getting noticed by search engines. It’s a fine art, however; using the keywords too often or too little, or using them in the wrong place can have a worse effect on your rankings than not using them at all.
  • Image descriptions. This is basically adding a text description of images and videos on your website so that the crawlers are able to know what it is picturing, as they are unable to view images and videos.
  • Meta tags. These are in charge of the website information that shows up under the site names in search engine results. Having strong keywords and short-but-sweet descriptions of your website makes a big difference in your search rankings.
  • Site accessibility. One of the biggest factors in search engine rankings is user accessibility. While search engines used to be focused solely on content quality, they now place a heavy emphasis on content presentation as well. They look at how easy to use the site is, if the site map is organized well, etc. Basically, the better experience a visitor has on your site, the higher your ranking becomes.
  • SSL certificates. Having a secure website is a must for today’s digital world, and SSL is taking the internet by storm as the top player in digital security (you can check out last month’s ebook and blogs for more information). In fact, in the time since we wrote that content, search engines have added even more weight to having a SSL certificate and have started removing websites that don’t from their search listings. This is a huge shift and proves that your website must have a SSL in order to be seen.

2. Easy to remember URLS

Another key part of SEO is making sure your URLs are optimized as well.

For example, take a look at these two URLs:

Now, which of these two would you be most likely to remember? Obviously, the first one. The easier a URL is to remember, the easier it is for visitors to find their way back to your site. While it is most important to make sure your website comes up in search results, it is equally important for your URLs to be optimized in case visitors can’t remember what they searched for and need a second way to return to your site.

3. Link Building

Much like humans create communities that create better communication between a large group of people, so do websites need a digital community in order to rank higher in search results. The most common way of doing this is through link-building. That is, linking other websites that have similar goals to yours to your website in return for them doing the same. Crawlers look at how many links a website has directing traffic to it, as well as directing traffic to other similar websites. If your site has a lot of links from reputable sources pointing visitors to you, the crawlers will assign a higher rating to your site. Conversely, if you link to reputable websites on your site, crawlers will reward you for your neighborly goodwill as well.

Summing It All Up

As you may have guessed, SEO can quickly become a complicated process. It all boils down to this: the better your website is for visitors to have a quality experience, the higher your search rankings will be. Due to the many different aspects of SEO, it can seem overwhelming at first. The importance of SEO, however, far outweighs the daunting challenges it can pose. If you are interested in boosting your traffic, let us know! We’d be glad to partner with you and do your SEO for you, allowing you to focus on what really matters: growing your business.

A Look Ahead at December

A Look Ahead at December

Website Functionality Content Series

Next month, we’ll be discussing what makes a website successful.  Our new e-Book, which will be released on Dec. 1, is on website functionality and covers steps you can take to improve both your website and the experience that visitors will have on it.  Each week after that, we’ll be diving into the details of what exactly website functionality means and practical tips you can use for your website.  Here’s a sneak peek:

  • December 5th: Converting Leads into Clients
  • December 12th: Intro to Google Analytics
  • December 19th: SEO and Website Functionality
  • December 26th: Best Practices for Website Functionality

If you’re already on our mailing list, you’ll automatically receive your copy of the e-book when it’s released, as well as get notifications when each of the blogs go live.  If not, click the link below to get signed up!

SEO & SSL

SEO & SSL

Why SSL should matter to me if I want to be ranked on the first page of Google?

 

As with many things related to website search engine optimization (SEO), the answer comes back to Google. There are many search engines out there to choose from, but Google is the top choice and has been for the last decade. What that means for your website and your SEO practices is that if you’re wanting to boost your rankings in web searches, you have to follow Google’s lead.

In 2014, Google announced that they would have an increased focus on websites that use SSL and HTTPS encryption as part of their dedication to provide safe, secure websites to users in their searches (SSL and HTTPS work hand in hand to provide top notch security for websites).

Google stated that having a website with SSL would have little to no effect on SEO practices, as it would only use it as a tie-breaker between two websites that ranked the same in listings. However, in the last few years, there has been a small, almost imperceptible shift in rankings towards websites that use SSL encryption, as well as hints dropped by Google executives that that shift will only continue to grow in the upcoming months and years. In plain language, it is now very important that your website has an SSL, and it will only continue to increase as time goes on.

Today, 60% of all first-page Google results are SSL-encrypted websites. Internet browsers now show a glaring red X next to the website name in the address bar if a website is not SSL-encrypted. Chrome and Safari take it one step further by giving you an error message whenever you click to follow an un-encrypted link, warning you that the website is not SSL-encrypted and your data is vulnerable. In some cases, based on your security settings, it will prevent you from even accessing or seeing the page itself.

That fact alone has changed how website design and SEO are viewed today. A few years ago, you’d often only see SSL-secure seals on websites that offered products or had an online store. Today, you’ll notice more and more of those seals on non-commerce websites. In the last month, I’ve come across them on blogs, news websites, and even Wikipedia. Even if you aren’t selling anything and provide only information on your website, Google no longer views a distinction between informational websites and commercial websites. Their sole focus is on the visitor’s security, and in order to have a chance at good rankings and keep them, you’ll need to as well.

Editor’s note

In the month since this blog post was written, we have seen another push by Google towards an SSL-only future: websites without an SSL have started dropping from Google search results.  This is a huge change, as it is no longer a tie-breaker, but rather a mandatory requirement if you want to stay in the race.