Digital marketers are always talking about the most important factors for search engine optimization. The truth is, there are more than 200 factors that are considered in regard to your visibility and rankings in search results; some are more important to address and a few are critical to your success. Fundamentally, you need a solid base or foundation. 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). This is done to generate qualified traffic to a site. In other words, the primary goal is to allow people who are interested in your goods and services to easily find you when they search online.
This is done by providing a high-quality user experience and better informing the search engines about the content on your site. In order to do so, a website needs to be crawlable, indexable, visible, accessible, fast, secure, and engaging to those who visit.
Let’s take a look at some of the basics needed for a foundation that can be built upon.
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 simply put, your target visitors will not be able to find you online, 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 website should be crawled, and how to allow the search engine bots to properly do so, is extremely important to become visible in the SERPs. For example, it is a common practice for a web designer to “/Disallow” the site from being crawled while it is being built, if he/she overlooks removing that “/Disallow” command before making the site live, the search engines won’t even look at it.
Once these issues are identified, crawlability errors are corrected, and your pages are crawled, you’ll be able to move onto the next step, indexing your site.
Indexability & Security
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 duplicate content, and errors in canonical declarations and URL redirections. Google and the other search engines often see the different versions of your site as altogether different websites. In other words, you must tell the search engines that the “www” version of your website is the same as the “non-www” version.
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.
Accessibility & Load Speed
After indexability is addressed, it’s time to make sure your site is accessible. Accessibility includes a wide range of topics, but to narrow it down some, it really addresses the ability to navigate and interact with the site. Pay attention to your server performance, your site’s ability to resist spam and hacking, HTTP status, It is important to ensure that your website has a properly configured SSL certificate that informs the engines that your site is secure and that it redirects to that secure version or you risk your potential visitors seeing the dreaded “Not Secure” Page.
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 the 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 is more informative and result in clicks. Providing quality content that is authoritative and relevant to what your audience is searching for 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 – This is vital because it is the first impression your potential visitors get of you and your business when they search.
- Creating content hierarchy through informative headings, lists, and tables
- Providing detailed product or event information
- Including engaging images or videos
- Conversion Optimization
- 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 par and can support a solid 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 viewed 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!