Best Practices for Optimizing Your Website for Search Engines

Search engine optimization can be a tricky field for marketers. On one hand, SEO is never easy, it takes a lot of time to get right, and it doesn’t usually lead to immediate results. On the other hand, many marketers believe that, when successful, SEO delivers the strongest returns of any digital marketing channel.

That explains why one recent study found more demand for SEO services than any other type of digital marketing!

Whether you’re hiring an SEO service or optimizing in-house, your site will need to follow the same basic set of best practices. At their core, those best practices will depend on the design of your site, how you target keywords, your meta information (including things like title tags), and the overall quality of your content.

How to Optimize Your Website for Search Engines

Mobile-Friendly, User-Centric Design

Today, roughly twice as many Google searches occur on mobile devices as on desktops. That’s why Google recently switched to a mobile-first search index.

So when Google scans your site to calculate its search rankings, it doesn’t look at your desktop website. Instead, it bases its rankings on your site’s mobile version. And if Google determines that your site doesn’t work well on mobile devices, you’ll plummet in search rankings.

The lesson here is simple. If you want to rank well on Google, you need a mobile-friendly website. That means designing your site from a mobile-first perspective. And it means keeping your site as fast and lean as possible.

You also want to make your site easy for users to navigate. Your most important pages should be easy for users to find. Your menu should be simple and well-organized. And your pages should have key features in intuitive locations.

Also, make sure that you’ve got a complete and accurate sitemap! This will make it easier for Google to crawl your website, and it will give your site a small-but-appreciated bump in search results.

The Right Keywords in the Right Places

Keywords have always played a crucial role in SEO. In recent years, that role has changed significantly thanks to RankBrain and other search advancements.

But if anyone tells you that keywords no longer matter, they’re kidding themselves. While Google no longer requires exact match keywords to appear on your page, that doesn’t mean they aren’t looking for keywords in your content.

Instead, Google’s algorithm is doing something much more complicated. When a user types a query into Google, the algorithm parses the intention behind the user’s query. Then, Google maps out the language on your page to see if your website satisfies that query.

To do that, it doesn’t just look for terms that the user typed into Google. It also looks for related terms and phrases and examines how they relate to one another on the page.

So if you want to appear at the top of search results, you need to identify the keywords that searchers use to Google your business. But you also need to think about which other words Google expects to find in your content, where it expects to find them, and how they relate to one another on the page. 

Unique Title Tags, Meta Description & URLs

When your website’s content appears in search results, users see three things. First, they see the title of your page. Underneath, they see a preview of the page’s URL. Finally, they see its meta description — a short blurb provided by the page or generated automatically by the search engine’s algorithm.

When they’re on your website, most users will pay little attention to your page title or your URL, and they can’t see your meta description. But in Google search results, they’re the only elements that users see. So if you want people to actually click through to your site, you’ll need to make these elements as compelling as possible.

These elements also play a crucial role in optimizing pages for specific keywords and queries. Using keywords (or close synonyms) in your title tags and URLs will boost your rankings for these search terms. Also, any keywords that a user searches for that are in your meta description will be bolded by Google, making your pages more visible.

Content that Meets E-A-T Standards

One of Google’s most important ranking signals is something called E-A-T.

This tidy acronym stands for Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness. These three qualities play a big role in how Google calculates the quality of your on-page content. And the higher Google perceives the quality of your content, the higher your pages will rank in search results.

So how can you optimize the quality of your content? Here are a few strategies from Google’s own guidelines on the subject:

  • To optimize for expertise, try to write content that satisfies search intent as fully as possible. 
  • To optimize for authority, you’ll want to generate things like backlinks, social media mentions, local listing citations, and online news coverage. (Just make sure that mentions of your brand are mostly positive!)
  • To optimize for trustworthiness, your site will need things like a secure domain, a clear privacy policy, and accurate contact information on your website. You’ll also want to boost your brand’s online reputation.

Optimize in Partnership with Experts

If you can implement the four best practices listed above, you’ll start seeing better rankings in search results. But if you want to consistently rank on page one, or if you’re targeting competitive search terms, you’ll need to go deeper. Much deeper.

That’s where the experts at Qiigo can help. Our SEO team has worked with multi-locations brands across a wide range of industries, helping our clients get more out of Google and other search engines.

We can help you implement mobile-friendly design, generate keyword-rich content, and optimize your meta information — all while packing your site with more E-A-T than Google can handle.