Website Search Engine Optimization: The Foundation of any and every SEO Campaign
By: Blair Neher Aug 22, 2023

Website Search Engine Optimizations: The Foundation of any SEO Campaign

How to Make a Great Website: Part 7

In the final article of our “What Makes a Great Website” series, we are diving into Website Search Engine Optimization. When it comes to search engine optimization (SEO), on-site website SEO is where it all begins. It lays the groundwork for all the other SEO efforts to follow. But as I preach regularly, its only a PART of a comprehensive SEO campaign. There is no one-and-done with SEO. SEO is the long, consistent game with amazing rewards at the other end.

What is SEO?

But before we get too deep, let’s define what we are talking about here. The shortest answer possible is, SEO is about improving your chances of connecting with the consumers that are searching for your products or services.

Going a little deeper….Search Engine Optimization, often abbreviated as SEO, is a strategic process employed to improve a website’s visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs). It involves various tactics, from on-site optimization to content development to link building and on, all aimed at making a website more appealing to the search engines.

The Front-Line Goal of SEO

The front-line, measurable goals of SEO are two-fold:

1. To improve WHERE our business shows up in the Search Engine Results for the search terms that are relevant to our offerings.
2. To improve HOW our business visually appears in the Search Engine Results.

Search Engine Rankings

We’ve referenced Search Engine Rankings a few times, let’s put a quick definition of that into play. Simply put, Search Engine Rankings are where a business lands in the search engine results for searches relating to their business or business offerings. Search Engine Rankings are a number that simply indicates which place you are in for a particular keyword. #1 being the best case.

With all of the definitions and benefits of SEO out of the way, let’s get into what website search engine optimization translates to in practice. Here are the main focal points when it comes to on-site SEO.

Website Optimizations – Behind the Scenes

When it comes to Website Optimizations for Search, many factors are hidden behind the scenes. In the code and under the covers are data points, configurations, and tweaks that are necessary for on-site SEO. Let’s dive in.

Meta Data: The Unseen Cogs in the SEO Machine

Diving deeper into the topic of Website SEO, we find ourselves face-to-face with a powerful yet unseen force: meta data. At its most basic, meta data refers to information that describes other data. In the realm of website SEO, the most important meta data pieces are the Meta Title and Meta Description.

Every web page has a Meta Title and Meta Description, although you won’t see them on the page itself. Instead, they are found within the coding of the webpage and are used primarily by search engines. If you’ve ever done a Google search, you’ve seen meta titles and descriptions in the Search Engine Results. They are the headline and the snippet of text, respectively, that show up in search engine result listings. This means they’re extremely important for capturing the attention of potential visitors.

Now let’s dive into the art of optimizing meta data. The Meta Title should accurately represent the content of the page while incorporating the primary keyword. It needs to be both engaging and descriptive to catch the searcher’s eye. Meta Descriptions, on the other hand, should offer a clear summary of the webpage content and entice the user to click through to the site. Including relevant keywords in your Meta Description can also potentially boost your site’s visibility on search engines. Lastly, and most importantly. ALL META TITLES AND DESCRIPTIONS MUST BE UNIQUE. This means each and every page must have a unique meta title and description.

It’s extremely important to note that just adding proper meta titles and descriptions to your website will not make your search rankings go up. However; poorly optimized, missing, or duplicate meta WILL negatively impact where you show up in the search engine results. Still, they play an indirect role by affecting click-through rates. A well-crafted meta title and description can significantly increase the likelihood that a user will click on your page in the search results, which can positively impact your overall SEO efforts.

Finally, an honorable mention goes to Meta Keywords. Once upon a time, Meta Keywords were considered an essential part of SEO. However, times have changed. Modern search engines have evolved beyond the need for Meta Keywords, and as such, they are no longer relevant or used by search engines. Filling your site with Meta Keywords won’t necessarily harm your SEO, but it won’t help it either. Today, the focus is firmly on creating high-quality, relevant content that serves the needs of your audience.

Schema Markup: Manipulating the SERPs from the Shadows

Staying knee-deep in the technical, let’s set our eyes on another tool in the SEO toolbox: schema data, also known as structured data or markup data. This form of back end data offers a way for you to help search engines understand your website’s content better, enabling them to provide more accurate and enhanced results for users. But what exactly is schema data and how can you leverage it to boost your SEO strategy?

Simply put, schema data is a type of microdata that is added to the coding of your webpage. It creates an enhanced description or ‘rich snippet’ which then appears in search results. While it doesn’t directly impact your search rankings, schema data can significantly improve your site’s visibility and click-through rates, making it an invaluable asset in your SEO repertoire.

When properly implemented, schema data gives search engines a deeper understanding of your site and its content. For instance, if you run a restaurant, schema data can connect your business to your website and provide search engines with information about your location, hours of operation, menu, pricing, and even customer reviews. When users search for restaurants, this information could appear directly in the search results, making your business stand out from the competition.

In addition, schema data can trigger rich results or features like product pricing, star reviews, events, and more to appear directly in the search results. These enhancements make your website more enticing to click on, leading to improved traffic and potential conversion rates.

However, implementing schema data does require a level of technical knowledge and care. Various types of schema data exist, each designed to provide specific types of information to search engines. You need to choose the right schema for your business and implement it correctly to ensure optimal results.

Remember, while schema data doesn’t directly boost your website’s rank in search results, it helps search engines understand your site better. And a search engine that understands your site is more likely to serve it to the right users at the right time, effectively enhancing your visibility in today’s competitive digital landscape.

Website Speed: The Correlation Between Website Performance and SEO

In the ever-evolving digital world, speed matters. A fast-loading website isn’t just essential for user experience, but it also plays a crucial role in SEO. Search engines, like Google, factor in page loading times when determining search rankings. When your website loads quickly, it provides a better user experience, reducing bounce rates, and signaling to search engines that your site is user-friendly. Major search engines, with Google at the forefront, have integrated page load times into their algorithms. Why? Because a rapid, responsive site is often indicative of a positive user experience. High bounce rates can act as red flags, indicating that visitors aren’t finding what they’re looking for or are frustrated by sluggish performance.

While website speed is incredibly important for SEO, it’s only one piece of the performance puzzle. The stability, fluidity, and consistent delivery of your website’s content across various devices and platforms are equally essential. Inconsistent experiences can alienate users, especially those transitioning between devices. By ensuring a seamless, swift browsing experience, you’re not only catering to your audience but also sending clear, positive signals to search engines. This holistic approach to website performance underscores its pivotal role in today’s SEO strategies.

Website Optimizations – Front and Center

Now let’s get into the Search Optimizations that we can view on the site itself. These are the structure and configurations that will serve both the Search Engines and your visitors.

Heading Structure: Organizing Your Content For SEO and Humans

In the world of website SEO, the structural design of your content holds significant weight. Headings are more than just larger fonts or bolded text; they act as signposts that guide both readers and search engines through your content, ensuring the journey is smooth and comprehensible.

Enter the world of H1, H2, and H3 tags. The H1 is paramount—it’s the primary headline that captures the essence of your page. Imagine walking into a bookstore; the H1 is the name of the book, giving you an instant idea of its theme. Subsequently, H2s and H3s act like chapter titles and sub-chapters, offering further clarity and structure to the content. These tags are crucial from an SEO standpoint, as search engines meticulously scan them to gauge the organization and relevance of your content. By strategically deploying and optimizing these tags, you not only enhance user experience but also signal to search engines the hierarchy and importance of information, making your site more navigable and rank-worthy.

On Site Content: Depth, Quality, and Relevance

We took a deep dive into website content earlier in the series which is HERE. Without question, your website content has a massive impact on your Search Engine Rankings. In fact when it comes to just on-site optimizations, your content is probably the most important piece. Not only the depth of your content, but the quality and relevance as well. Google loves consistent, quality content.

Website content covers quite a bit. Brand messaging, core website content, recurring content, and educational content. Each of these play into your content value as a website. The websites are watching the quality of your content, the consistency of your new content, and if your content answers the query.

More than anything, Google wants to know how well you answered the user’s question. The question the user asked the search engine. The question that you raised your hand to answer. This is where content comes in. Your content should be built to serve those users and their questions.

Optimizing User Experience: Crafting Seamless Experiences for Better Rankings

As we’ve journeyed through the extensive world of on-website SEO, one aspect that’s crucial yet often overlooked is User Experience, or UX. Now, you might wonder, “Isn’t UX all about creating a smooth browsing journey for users?” Indeed, it is. But what many don’t realize is how deeply intertwined UX is with SEO. Google, in its never-ending quest to offer users the best possible results, looks beyond just keywords or meta tags. It’s diligently observing how users interact with sites: Are they staying on the page or bouncing back quickly? Are they navigating through multiple pages or just dropping off? Did you answer the user’s questions? Effectively and intuitively?

Such interactions are powerful indicators of the quality and relevance of your content. A website optimized for a stellar UX ensures that visitors find what they’re looking for efficiently, enticing them to stay longer and explore further. This positive engagement doesn’t just win you points with your audience, but it’s also a glowing recommendation in Google’s eyes. When your site is crafted with thoughtful UX, it’s akin to a gripping novel that readers can’t put down, signaling to search engines that your content is not only valuable but a delight to consume. And in the vast digital ocean, that’s a beacon that’s hard to miss.

If you’ve made it to the end, congrats. This is a massive topic, and I’ve really just given the high level points on each. Each one of these topics goes far deeper down the rabbit hole. Each one of these topics requires a substantial amount of work to optimize your website for the search engines. Remember, there are as many behind the scene optimizations are there are front and center optimizations.

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