Web Design & SEO: 10 Key Factors to Optimize for Top Rankings

by Kedet | June 24, 2022


We’ve always shared marketing tips on the Advertising Institute. In this blog, we’re veering off our typical route on paid ads and are going to discuss web design and Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Why? Well, your website is your sales person working 24/7 for your brand. Having a well-structured website optimized for performance helps with organic traffic (which ties in closely with your advertising efforts)!

If there’s one thing you should know about Google’s search algorithms, it’s the fact that they keep changing. As tedious it can be, you gotta keep up with them if your goal is to get to the top of search engine results page (SERP) and stay there.

Google favors websites that are optimized for search, aka SEO-friendly websites, especially those that offer a positive experience for all users. Such sites are ranked higher, which means more organic traffic for them over time. And, more traffic means more leads and more sales. Definitely a dream come true for digital marketers!

On the other hand, websites that are ranked at the bottom have little to no chances of getting found. Even if they may have the most attractive design or well-written content, securing a good ranking is highly unlikely if they fail to implement SEO practices.

Whether you’re starting a new website or you already have one but you’re struggling to rank well, this post is definitely for you. We’ll be discussing the top 10 factors that will take your site up to the top of Google search. Let’s begin, shall we?

Page Speed

Google wants users to go through a stress-free browsing experience, which is why it has made page speed a major ranking factor. After all, everyone loves fast webpages.

Pages that take too long to load will result in a higher bounce rate, causing their rankings to drop. If your website fails to load in under three seconds, expect your traffic and leads to decrease. In today’s world where online users want answers immediately, they’ll leave your site for another if they don’t get their answers within a few seconds.

To determine your page speed, just head over to Google PageSpeed Insights. Type in your website’s URL and click the “Analyze” button. It will then score your site’s speed (for both desktop and mobile) based on specific metrics. After that, it will give you a list of things that you need to modify in order to speed up your website.

Mobile Friendliness

Back in September 2020, Google announced that it was switching to a mobile-first approach. In other words, it will predominantly use the mobile version of any content for indexing and ranking. If you’ve only optimized your website for desktop and not for mobile devices, you’ll be hurting your SEO efforts.

And, with 4.32 billion people using their smartphones to browse the internet, it makes perfect sense that you’ll want to keep your website as mobile-friendly as possible. Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Use large fonts to make it easier for people to read on a small screen
  • Invest in a responsive website design that automatically resizes to fit respective devices
  • Add accessible menus for seamless navigation
  • Minimize the use of images
  • Eliminate pop-ups

High-Quality Content

Content is king, and that’s something Google can’t argue with. It’s another ranking factor to prioritize.

Any content that readers find unique, valuable, and relevant to their needs will make its way to the top of SERPs. Not only that, but they will also perceive the brand as a thought leader and a credible source that can help solve their problems. That’s why websites that consistently create such content are rewarded with good rankings.

So, what exactly is high-quality content?

It’s one that provides real value to the audience and answers the questions they have in mind. It should be able to cover topics that your target audience are interested in. If you’re running a coffee shop, for example, you could write about the different types of coffee beans or the proper way to brew coffee to boost engagement from readers.

While there’s no rule of thumb when it comes to content length, you might want to keep it long, but not too long. On average, posts with 1,890 words rank on the first page. So, an ideal word count is between 1,200 and 2,000 words.

It all comes down to the topic being discussed, though. Again, Google prefers pages that provides detailed solutions and fully answers a user’s question, as opposed to pages that offer little value despite longer in length.

Backlinks, which are links from one website to another, play a vital role in Google’s search algorithms.

Google counts backlinks as votes for a certain page. The more backlinks point to your pages, especially if they come from high-authority domains, the higher your chances are of ranking in a relevant search query.

However, it’s important to remember that not all backlinks can hold the same value. Some can actually be harmful to your site, and we’re talking about those that come from low-quality domains.

Aside from backlinks, it’s also crucial to focus on internal links. Search engine bots use these links as a signal that helps them analyze and properly index the information provided.

By linking to your own pages, you can help Google and your visitors discover more content on your website. At the same time, internal linking can improve the search engine ranking of the linked page.

Keywords

You’re probably aware by now that keywords serve a huge purpose in the world of SEO. For Google to bring up your page in its search results, your content should contain the keywords your audience usually searches for.

So, how will you know what keywords will bring you good results, and which ones to avoid? Simple: Use a keyword research tool.

With an array of tools available online, you’ll never run out of options. If you’re looking for the best ones, though, we suggest SEMrush, Ahrefs, Google Keyword Planner, Ubersuggest, and Serpstat.

Once you have your keywords, make sure to spread them naturally throughout the body of your content. As much as possible, insert them in your title tags, meta description, header tags, and URL, too.

User Experience

Google loves its users so much that it only wants to give them a list of websites that provide a pleasant browsing experience. Any website you find on its first few results pages will guarantee you nothing but a good time.

If you’re wondering how it measures user experience, Google uses an AI program called RankBrain, which incorporates other ranking signals such as:

  • Click-Through Rate (CTR): The percentage of visitors who click on your website link in the search results
  • Dwell Time: The length of time visitors stay on your website after arriving
  • Bounce Rate: The number of visitors who quickly hit the back button without interacting with your website

Website Security

Google wants to ensure users that the websites they’re visiting are 100% safe, hence making website security a leading ranking factor.

Two of the simplest ways to let Google know that your site is fully protected against hackers are by enabling HTTPS and getting an active SSL certificate. Enabling HTTPS makes it possible to encrypt all the data between your website and your user’s browser. In short, this will prevent hackers from gaining access to any sensitive information.

Website Structure

From a crawling and indexing perspective, your website’s architecture is critical, especially if you’re just about to launch that website. It’s basically what allows bots to discover your site and its pages.

Creating a sitemap is a great place to start, as it’s where you place all the important pages you want crawlers to find. It helps them easily navigate through your website, locate new content, and index your pages.

Social Signals

Having your website shared by users on social networks tells search engines that it deserves a good ranking.

While social shares aren’t a direct ranking factor, there’s no denying that the highest-ranking pages in Google search results often have a lot of shares. Either it’s because more social shares generate more traffic to the page itself, or more shares help the content build more backlinks.

Whatever the reason is, one thing’s for sure – getting more social shares does impact your search engine rankings, just indirectly.

Now that you know the top 10 ranking factors, it’s time to start optimizing your website. Having a website with a good user experience that ranks well is crucial for driving organic traffic. It is an area of digital marketing you need to do well aside from running digital advertising campaigns.

We hope these tips helped and that you can get started on climbing those ranks!

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