The importance of website speeds and Website Optimisation techniques for increasing Google ranking, and how to start maximising your search engine visibility
Today, most of us rely on search engine results to find information on products, services and facts. Gone are the days of dialling a directory service, scouring the local classifieds or consulting the faithful phonebook – now more commonly used as a doorstop!
With such a high concentration of services in one place, it’s more important than ever to pay close attention to how your website ranks in Search Engines – this means the position on the page of search results where your website is displayed.
In this article, we’re going to explore just some of the top Website Optimisation considerations – what you need to do, and how to go about doing it. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that some of these factors might need to be outsourced to professionals, but much of it can be well planned out by webpage owners and businesses, which reduces the time our expert team needs to spend implementing your requirements. With great testing and analysis, a web development company worth their salt will be able to demonstrate concrete results after Website Optimisation.
What’s all the noise about search engine result pages?
Well, let us tell you now – it’s kind of a big deal.
It’s helpful to think of your website as a digital storefront, and search engine results as the street or real estate that your storefront sits on. No one wants their store tucked away down a dodgy looking alley, mixed in with sketchy stores (think virus-infected and fake webpages). No – you want the best for your store! You want a premium position on the main street, surrounded by other trusted and credible stores.
Now stay with us on the storefront metaphor; of course, the only way to get such a great display position is to create an equally great store with products, services, features and user experience that delights visitors enough that they follow through with a purchase, referral or reference.
The circular catch with Website Ranking is that the more people who like your store, the higher it will begin to rank on search engine results. At the same time, it can only rank higher on search engine results – and thus show up on Main Street – if your store (website) is constructed and optimised in a way that Google and other Search Engines can ‘read’ it properly and ascertain that it contains relevant information for those doing the searching.
While there are quite a few Search Engines available for us to choose from, Google is by the far the front runner with a search engine market share of 92%, globally. For this reason, the majority of search engine Optimisation and Website Optimisation that goes on at Jezweb and other web development companies is crafted to please the “Google Gods”.
Why Should You Optimise Your Website?
Firstly, Optimisation means attracting customers – can they find you, but do they walk in the door? Next, it means making the most out of the existing traffic and converting this traffic into paying customers. Lastly, it means ensuring the current customers spend more time on your website – their average session duration should increase if you’ve built your website well. If you want your site to be constantly bringing in new customers and keeping them – webpage Optimisation is the key!
Website Load Speeds
Why is your Page Load Speed important for search engine results and user experience?
Your website speed and performance has never been more important than it is today and quite frankly, it’s only going to become more important as time goes on.
User expectations are growing at the same pace that their patience is decreasing; our use and access to Search Engines as our main mode of finding information and conducting our daily business has meant that using websites has become as instinctual as breathing, for many. Internet use now feels like an extension of our bodies, much like driving your car: We drive our cars without thinking and similarly, we make decisions about spend, movement and traffic based on expected results – when we don’t get the results we assumed we would – we might feel annoyed or change our direction. Some of us might even swear a little…
If your website takes too long to load, users quickly move on to another site rather than waiting another second or two. Even if they do stick around, they will become frustrated and disappointed, and are more likely to abandon the site before completing what they first set out to achieve.
The ideal page loading speed for users is less than 1 second, and anything longer than 10 seconds guarantees that they will try a different site. This is called ‘Bounce Rate’ – how long it takes before a user leaves your page. The longer the Page Load Speed, the higher the Bounce Rate will be. We don’t want to wait too long to be acknowledged when we walk into our local café either. Have you ever walked out of a store because you couldn’t get the attention you needed?
Site speed also plays a huge factor in search engine Optimisation. You can optimise the keywords and user experience all you want, but if your site is consistently slower than the competition – it will never pop up first in Google searches.
Before starting your website speed optimisation process, you should determine your current loading time, and what factors may be slowing your site down. You can do this with a number of site speed tools such as those by Google PageSpeed Insights, GTmetrix or Pingdom – though interpreting and acting on the results may require technical assistance depending on your level of knowledge.
Technical Search Engine Optimisation: build a strong structure
Technical SEO is all about making sure the technical web development elements are all in order. If you build a structurally unstable house, it might fall over or be scary and confusing to visit. Likewise, if your website build isn’t up to scratch, Search Engines will have trouble ‘reading’ it and understanding the content with their bots, and potential customers won’t want to stick around long enough for you to benefit. If the website build has enough technical problems, it also means that it will have frequent issues and crashes – it may not even be useable.
A small sample of the typical things that technical SEO specialists look at includes:
- Site crawling and indexing
- Site architecture
- Security and HTTPS status
- XML Sitemaps
- Duplicate content
- Structured Data
- Broken links
- Orphan pages
- Page load speed
- Mobile friendly and device friendly viewing
- Set up Google Search Console and Google Analytics
- Install SEO plug ins (for WordPress)
If you don’t have your ‘house’ in order, Google and other Search Engines will rank your website and webpage results lower down the page. Considering that most users never navigate past the first page of results; if your page is not ranking in the first page – you might as well not exist on the internet.
On-page SEO: creating valuable, helpful and high-quality content
The type of content that you fill your website with makes a huge difference to your search engine rankings. On-page search engine Optimisation is also commonly referred to as SEO content. After all, content is the reason you have users visiting in the first place. The first hurdle was getting them to the site – if they’re now browsing your website, you can assume that your page load speed and other technical website functionality is working well.
Having the right kind of content will also reduce Bounce Rates and increase average session times – users are more likely to stick around on your website once they have decided it’s useful, and they will spend more time there. Low Bounce Rates and longer session times tell Search Engines that users love your site, and the Search engine will rank it higher in response.
The main objective for on-page SEO specialists is to make sure that Search Engines can understand the topic of your content and recognise that the website is a useful and valuable source that people want to find. Part of making sure that Search Engines can do this is by making sure all content contains elements such as:
- Keyword research – Spending the time to research the best keywords to target in webpage content. This is done using a number of tools including (but not limited to) Google Keyword Planner, Keywords Everywhere, Answer the Public and Ubersuggest.
- Keywords in content – These are the main words and search queries that users are typing into their Search Engines and looking for. Content should contain as many of them as possible, while still being a pleasure to read and relevant to the user.
- Keyword Optimisation – Choosing just the right place to put keywords to maximise their effect, and using SEO Meta tags
- Content structuring – Structuring your content in the right way does a lot for SEO, such as using headings correctly, adding the right amount of text, and inserting relevant images. In this way, Crawlers can read, understand and index the information on the page more readily. It also means that human users can digest and navigate through the content more easily as well – they will spend more time there, and they might even share it with a friend!
- Internal linking – Internal linking within content to other pages or articles on your site creates a strong web of information for the user. This means they are less likely to navigate away from your website, because you’re providing them doorways to the content they need without leaving. Search Engines reward you for this because it shows you are creating useful content and web pages, as well as boosting your average user session scores.
- External linking – linking to external websites from your content should be done with careful consideration. You should only link to other webpages that are high quality, an authority on the topic, useful to the user and trusted by Google and other Search Engines. The trust rating for websites can be referred to as a domain score. High domain scores indicate a very trusted website, and if they also have relevant and helpful content for users on your website – Crawlers will recognise and reward for that.
While this is not an exhaustive list of the things On-page SEO experts will cover, it hits the main points of consideration.
Off-Site SEO: Working offline to boost search engine results
Off-Page SEO techniques help to build relationships and influence between your website and other websites that you want to be associated with. Essentially, it’s a networking party out there! When another website links to you, they’re basically handing out your business card to their readers.
Our On-Page SEO section mentioned external linking – where we link to external sources because they provide trusted and valuable content that either reiterates our content or further informs the reader. But with Off-Page SEO, most of the aim is to create high-quality backlinks – this is where other websites link to your website as a trusted authority on subjects or because you have great content. This can be done in several ways such as:
- PR campaigns
- Guest blogging
- Social media activity
- Word of mouth referrals that turn into online activity
Off-page SEO is the act of influencing your Search Engine page results by interacting with people and business in the bricks-and-mortar world to funnel positive activity and perceptions online. As much as we optimise webpages and their content, it is difficult to replace the power of brand perception and word of mouth, and these should never be underestimated as ways of converting intangible goodwill into tangible backlink value.