Content is the key to ranking on search engines, but an overhaul of your copy is not always the answer to your SEO problems. Today we’ll show you why SEO isn’t what you think it is. You’ll learn about the overlooked aspects of website optimisation that influence how Google rates - and ranks - your website.
In the tech world, and the world in general, stereotypes are very harmful. It’s even more applicable to dynamic environments. The ever-changing nature of technology means that you often have to discard what has been engraved in your mind.
So what is the most common SEO stereotype?
“How?”, you’ll ask. “It’s literally in the name – search engine optimisation!”
SEO used to be all about “hiding” keywords – in image alt text, in metadata, in blocks of text visitors would barely ever see. It was all about tricking search engines into thinking your website is the best. Not anymore.
That’s because search engines are just means to an end. Their goal is to deliver the best results to their visitors – that’s how they make money. Ultimately, this means you should optimise for your target audience.
Why? Just ask yourself this one, simple question: am I the only one on the Internet offering a specific service or selling this product?
If the answer is no, then how long do you think would it take for your customers to find an alternative when they encounter friction on your website? Probably less than loading your own site.
On the Internet, competition is just one click away.
Based on data from Google, more than half of your visitors will abandon your site if it takes over 3 seconds to load. That’s because it’s easy for them to find an alternative.
Sometimes you’ll gain a ton of performance by simply optimising images. Online image compressors like Optimizilla will allow you to decrease the file size of your images by as much as 90% with no visible quality loss.
If you can’t replace your images yourself, or don’t understand the other issues flagged by the tool you’ve used, you must contact a web agency. Most of the time, fixing these issues won’t take more than a day’s worth of work.
But in some cases, there’s one underlying issue that can be quite expensive – the hosting. While they’ve come a long way and you’re rarely see glaring performance differences between reputable hosting platforms, your website can still be slowed down by a lack of a Content Delivery Network (CDN) or servers in the wrong part of the world.
No, really. Do it. It looks scary, but you’ll find your way around it. It’s enough if you browse the basic reports and look for a couple of key metrics:
A quick look at these statistics will be a good baseline. From there, you can move to optimising these pages…
Gathering feedback from your visitors and testing improvements is crucial for all aspects of your website. Aside from the obvious direct benefit of increasing sales, this will also improve your SEO.
Google has access to an abundance of performance metrics about your site, many of which are available in your Google Analytics. They can easily tell how often visitors leave your website without a single interaction by monitoring the bounce rate on every page. If you’re looking to rank high for a specific keyword using a page that has 95% bounce rate, you can imagine that it won’t happen.
So what can you do about it?
Unfortunately, it’s impossible to list universal and easy fixes here. You can use services like Hotjar (has a free plan) and CrazyEgg (free trial) to learn how your visitors browse your site – generate heatmaps of their clicks and mouse movement, scroll maps to see whether they reach the important elements on a page, and create surveys to gather feedback.
If you’re not familiar with conversion rate optimisation (CRO), we have a handy guide to A/B testing for low traffic websites. It’s a good start, even if your website racks thousands of visits each month.
And while optimising content is an effective CRO strategy, most of the time you won’t need to do it. Reordering sections of your page, moving buttons to more popular areas on the website are just two examples of how to increase engagement on a page.
If one of your actions from the steps above was to delete a page, you’re likely to create a broken backlink. This happens when another website is still linking to your deleted page. They have no way of knowing that you’ve deleted that page, so potential visitors will see a 404 page. If it’s their first encounter with your brand, it will definitely leave a mark – a negative one.
If your marketing team doesn’t use an SEO tool internally, you can easily access the links from Google Search Console. Simply go to “Coverage” and you’ll see a list of errors. The one you’re looking for is “Submitted URL not found (404)”. Identify these links and create a 301 redirect.
In case you’re wondering “why should I bother” and the above explanation is not enough, there’s another reason. SEO specialists actively look for broken backlinks of their clients’ competitors to fill the gap.
They will be quick to message the owner of the website with a broken backlink to let them know about it and suggest a replacement. Yes, you’ve guessed it right – that replacement will link to your competition.
Unlike backlinks, internal links are not on a pedestal – but they can be incredibly important. As we’ve explained in our article about internal linking, having important pages deep in your structure could affect their Page Authority and make it rank lower.
If you’re looking for evidence that SSL certificates help SEO, just remember that Google’s own browser goes above and beyond to flag these sites as not secure. It doesn’t have to be a direct ranking factor – a hard-to-miss message that you’ve landed on a website that is potentially not safe will scare away your visitors – increasing your bounce rate. That’s not to say a lack of SSL certificate always means trouble, but for the average person this will be enough to leave your website.
You can learn more in our article about the benefits of SSL.
This is the ultimate takeaway from the article. We’re not looking at optimising for machines anymore – that hasn’t been the case for years now. Quality content is always the key, but it’s not always the issue.
If you’ve completed all of the steps above and would like to learn more about creating the best content for your business website, here are a couple of articles from our experts that will help you:
Originally published Jan 22, 2021 2:07:14 PM, updated May 26 2021.