1. Implement a Responsive Design for User Friendly Experience on Mobile Devices
Most of us use mobile devices to access the web these days, and search engines are pretty good at determining what kind of experience your users have from their smart phones and tablets. Building a standalone mobile site is great, but Google makes no secret of the fact that responsive design is now the industry standard and preferred approach. Responsive websites dynamically adapt to the devices on which they display, so there is no need to show a distinct layout on iPad vs. desktop, etc. Responsive layouts are faster to load, and provide a more continuous user experience. Therefore, Google wants to promote them to its customers.
2. Avoid Borrowing or Duplicating Content from Other Websites
The worst thing you can ever do for your search ranking is to borrow content from another website. We frequently run across entire web pages (especially product pages of eCommerce sites) that are verbatim duplicates of one another. It is a simple matter for Google to detect the oldest, original occurrence of words or images on a page. Search engines want to make sure that the author gets credit, so any copies will be left behind, buried pages deep.
3. Develop a Process to Generate Regular, Unique Content for Your Website
Your website needs a blog, plain and simple. Sites which appear abandoned or infrequently updated are likely to lose out against competitors who always publish fresh, relevant content. A number of studies have shown remarkable increases in targeted traffic in test cases where the decisive factor was daily blogging. Excitingly, even students who blogged consistently were able to outrank pages written or optimized by experts in topics of their choice. Sadly, many organizations will invest half a million dollars in SEO before they create an internal content generation process that sticks.
4. Create Relationships With Credible, Partner Sites and Exchange Links
Like you and I, websites are known by the company they keep. Google analyzes the links you publish, and who’s linking to you. Today, quality matters more than quantity. Beware of bulk-purchasing links, or allowing an agency to add your website to unknown directories. Reach out to bloggers and colleagues in your industry and offer to promote a link to their content, if they’ll do the same for you. Not only will this provide another source of traffic to your site, it also gives the search engines a sense of your online reputation, which can improve your ranking accordingly.
5. Evaluate and Optimize Your Page Load Speed
How long will you wait for a web page to load? If you’re waiting for more than five seconds, the data would indicate that you are patient indeed! As imaging and video content continues to improve in length and quality, keeping a rapid flowing, positive user experience can be challenging. We recommend a number of page, script and object cache technologies to turbocharge your media-heavy site. Google offers several tools to help you evaluate your site’s performance, so you can be sure that this is key to your search ranking, as well.
The Bad News
In terms of SEO, there are no shortcuts to success. Google updates its ranking algorithm frequently, giving preference to sites it believes are providing an optimal user experience. In the early days it was possible to drive traffic through tricks such as keyword stuffing and artificial content generation. Today, we are seeing sharp decreases in page rank (or even outright banning from Google) when organizations attempt unconventional, or unethical optimization of their internet presence.
Food For Thought
Search engines are simply attempting to provide the best content in the most accessible format to their users. What if every time you searched on Google, the first website you clicked was full of spam or viruses? Eventually you would find another way to surf the web! Now ask yourself, if you worked for Google, would you want your website to appear on page one, or page one hundred?.
The Good News
A solid SEO strategy doesn’t have to be particularly difficult or expensive. Through our research and industry experience, we have identified a set of priorities to achieve sustainable ranking results. We encourage you to consider the suggestions below, and invest in some research of your own, before doing business with us or any other creative agency. SEO isn’t rocket science, and those who make it seem so may not have your best interest in mind.