Digital marketers are always talking about the most important factors for search engine optimization. The truth is, there are many factors that go into improving your visibility and rankings in search results; however, there are a few that are critical to your success. And, at a fundamental level, there is a bit of a hierarchy. If the lower needs on the ladder aren’t met, the ones higher up can’t be achieved.
Fundamental Factors of SEO
The goals of search engine optimization are to improve a website’s visibility and positioning in the search results pages (SERPs) to generate more qualified traffic to a site. This is done by providing a high-quality user experience and better informing the search engines about the content on your site. But in order to do so, a website needs to be crawlable, indexable, visible, accessible, and engaging to the search engine’s users.
Let’s take a look at some of the requirements that need to be filled first before you can attend to the ones farther up the hierarchy.
Let’s begin with crawlability, a URL’s ability to be discovered by search engines. If your site isn’t crawlable, its information won’t be identified by search engines and therefore won’t appear in search results, which means all your other SEO efforts will be useless. A technical SEO audit will reveal which of your pages can’t be crawled and why. A full understanding of which content on your websites should be crawled, and how to allow the search engine bots to properly do so, is extremely important to becoming visible in the SERPs. Once these pages are identified, crawlability errors are corrected, and your pages are crawled, you’ll be able to move onto the next step, indexing your site.
Following crawlability, but also going hand in hand with it, is indexability. Even after URLs have been crawled, there are things that can prevent them from being properly indexed and displayed in the SERPs. Some things that can prevent indexation issues include eliminating duplicate content, and providing canonical declarations and URL redirections. To make sure your site is indexed correctly, ensure that the pages are correctly set up and that consistent signals are being sent to the search engines as to what pages should be indexed.
Now that your site can be properly crawled, indexed, and navigated, next comes its ability to rank well in the SERPs. Rankability is where the more commonly discussed “ranking factors” of SEO come in. This concerns optimization, when it comes to expertise, authority, and trust and how it stacks up against its competition. Some of the most highly regarded elements of on- and off-page optimization lie in this bracket, such as backlink profiles, content quality, and providing topical relevance to your audience’s inquiries through keyword targeting.
Last in the hierarchy is clickability. It’s one thing to become visible in the SERPs, but you won’t stay there long if users don’t actually click into your site. This is where SEO and user behavior meet. Clickability comes down to how well your audience perceives your site in search results and their engagement with it (ie, they see your site and want to click it because they will find the answer to their inquiry there). Once at your site, can the user find what they were looking for and are they interacting with the site?
You can improve the way search engines are able to understand the content of a website and, in turn, their ability to provide results to a searcher’s inquiry that are more informative and result in clicks. Providing quality content that is authoritative and relevant to what your audience is searching is key here. There are many things that can be optimized when it comes to both on-page and technical elements of a website, and each site will have its own unique needs when it comes to this, but a few notable mentions are:
- Optimizations to page titles and meta descriptions
- Creating content hierarchy through informative headings, lists, and tables
- Providing detailed product or event information
- Including engaging images or videos
- Using additional navigation links to other key pages
- Using schema markup to provide the search engines with more information about the content of a site
While the world of SEO can help your site by leaps and bounds, you’ll want to make sure that the site is up to snuff and can support an SEO strategy before you get started. Sites that are not crawlable, indexable, or accessible will not see much gain from an SEO strategy, so producing a site that can be used by bots and humans alike is the first step to seeing more traffic.
If you’d like help building a successful SEO strategy for your website, contact us today!