We recently touched on some of the top search engine optimization (SEO) myths out there that trip up local business owners. Yup, these are the things that could end up wasting a ton of your time if you’re trying to get your website ranked in online searches.
Enough is enough!
Here are the top 4 Google SEO ranking factors.
Let’s talk about what you can do to maximize your efforts and stop spinning your wheels when it comes to SEO.
1. Simple, conversational content.
It may sound strange, but if your website sounds natural when read aloud, this could actually benefit your search engine ranking. Why? Attribute this to Google’s Hummingbird algorithm, where it optimized results for voice search.
The best advice we’ve got on writing for your website:
- Be conversational. Write your website in the most natural, simple language you can.
- Mix it up. Use different language each time you talk about what you do. Try not to be overly repetitive with your keywords. Note: This is not the case when it comes to writing for your online listings. Those need to be identical from site to site.
- Keep things short and sweet. Like, everything. Use short words, short sentences, and short paragraphs.
2. Image tags.
When you upload images on your site, they’re accompanied by what are called image tags. These tags are where the web expects you to help clarify what’s contained within the image, so it can reference it at the right times. Not all images are uploaded with these tags filled in or even filled in correctly, which contributes (in part) to poor SEO.
What goes into image tags?
- Alt attributes/text – Describes what’s in the image and why it is relevant to the page. Pro tip: These don’t just go for the flashy images of your business in action. They’re also relevant to call-to-action buttons, navigation bar images, and the like.
- Title tags – Shown when someone hovers over an image. Use this to tell someone what to do with the image, where it’ll take them if it’s clickable, and so on. While these aren’t as critical as alt attributes, they’re still worth including.
It’s not just browsers that use these tags. Blind and visually impaired individuals rely on these tags to learn what types of images populate web pages as well.
3. Mobile optimization.
These days, mobile friendliness is becoming one of the most important Google SEO ranking factors. Google’s search console offers you a tool that will check your website’s mobile friendliness for free. So use it! This tool will analyze your website for top factors affecting mobile friendliness and tell you what you may be missing the mark on.
What affects the mobile friendliness of your website?
- Page and site load speed. More on this in a sec.
- Proximity of clickable elements. It may seem like a great idea to lump call-to-action buttons on the same area of the page. But if you do so, make sure they’re fat-finger-friendly. If folks are accidentally clicking the wrong button and bouncing back to the initial page after the error, Google will pick up on that.
- The width of your content and images. Most websites are designed to be responsive to the screen they’re viewed on. That means they’ll automatically adjust to whatever width needed. That said, if your website isn’t new, you may not have this functionality built in. Try viewing your site on a mobile device, and see for yourself. If you have to do a lot of zooming and pinching, this is a cue your site may not be responsive or adaptive. Pro tip: Google recommends web design software providers they think build the most mobile-friendly sites, should yours need an adjustment.
- Site navigation. Mobile device users want to avoid having to click thru multiple pages to get what they want. So organize your top content such that it’s 3 or fewer clicks away at all times.
4. Page speed.
More specifically, page loading time. Just how fast should it load, you ask? Your site, and each page within, needs to load in 2 seconds or faster. While this may seem like a bit of an outrageous standard, Google isn’t being a stickler just to make your life more difficult.
It’s all about user experience. If searchers arrive at a site that struggles to load, that’s not a good experience. And Google doesn’t want to be the one responsible for sending them there. (Friends don’t let friends view slow websites.) So it punishes slowly loading sites by pushing them further down the search results pages.
A couple ways to improve your site speed:
- Ensure whatever is powering your site doesn’t use overly complicated or uncompressed scripts. If you used a website builder, most of these will help keep things simple for you. If you had a web developer build a custom site on your behalf, check in if you think this may be an issue.
- Double-check the file sizes of your images. If you’ve uploaded images or video files, make sure they’re small enough that they’re not hindering your load time. There’s a fine line between using high-resolution (not blurry) photos and approaching too-high of file size, so walk it carefully.