SEO Factors You Can't Ignore in 2019

Many businesses seem to ask us one common question: “how can we be #1 for {insert highly competitive keyword here} ?”

Truth is, improving search ranking and building traffic to a website requires A LOT of hard work  and time despite any claims made by fraudulent companies to “get your website #1 in Google”.

If I, or other SEO experts had the capabilities to get startups ranking for highly competitive keywords easily we’d probably be sipping margaritas on a beach somewhere fanning ourselves with stacks of cash.

Owners are often times under the impression that simply having a website is all you need to be competitive in today’s online market. Perhaps they believed the motto  “if you build it, they will come” but developing a quality website is only the first step (and arguably most important) to building a successful online presence.

I have personally invested almost 2 decades of my life trying to stay on top of SEO trends (and still do) in order to better understand Google’s algorithm in order to help my clients improve their online visibility, as well as mine.

In this article, I’m going to cover four main SEO practices your online business or website can’t afford to ignore in 2019.

1. On-Page SEO

On-Page SEO refers to the effort of optimizing individual pages within a website. Typically this involves a combination of optimizing both HTML and content.

Consider the following factors when optimizing a web page:

i) Title Tag

This is arguably the most important SEO factor on a web page and is only visible when you mouse over a browsers tab. The title tag is what Google uses to create the headline in the Search Engine Results Page (SERPs).

 

Title Tag HTML

 

ii) Heading Tags (H1, H2, H3 etc)

A web pages content should be broken down into headings and subheadings. H1 is the main heading and H2-H6 are subheadings used to organize content on a page. Often debated, the H1 tag is an important element on a web page and should include keyword(s).

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iv) Page URL

The URL of a web page is another good place to include target keywords. Typically it is just the title of the page broken up by dashes. It would be good practice to keep it under 60 characters but going over isn’t a big deal. Removing stop words is also a good idea (a, but, the, or, a etc).

iii) Internal Links

Internal links are links that point to another page within the same website. These links help Google crawlers understand the destination page by the text used in the link and can help further optimize main pages within your website. For example, in discussing SEO in a natural sentence that contains the words search engine optimization I may choose to link it to the relevant page on this website.

iv) Image ALT Text

This HTML element is often ignored. It helps optimize images on your website for search in addition to optimizing web pages. If an image is not available, ALT text will be displayed in its place.

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2. Content

Content marketing should be in its own category when it comes to SEO. Albeit non-technical SEO it also coincides with branding. The content on a web page plays a vital role in SEO as it focuses on targeted keywords.

While many have suggested that content should not be written for search, which I agree with. It doesn’t hurt to see if you can retrofit target keywords without making it seem obvious.

Google love content freshness on a website which also why blogging is ideal for your content marketing strategy. New blog posts can target new keywords, become additional entry pages in Google to your website and further optimize your entire website.

3. Off-Page SEO

Is the search engine optimization that is done outside of a website. This typically includes building links on relevant and authoritative websites that point to your website. This practice can improve the position of a website within the SERP’s.

Google does not favour artificial link building. There are several SEO agencies and freelancers that practice “black hat” SEO techniques which are against Google guidelines. They typically involve spamming links on poor quality websites or any site that will automatically accept links which are usually comments, forums, signatures etc.

If a link is easy for anyone to achieve, chances are it isn’t a quality backlink. Good quality backlinks should be earned. Spending hours to create a well written piece of content for an authoritative website in return for a backlink is certainly one method to help optimize your website.

If you’re interested in learning more about link building, I highly recommend checking out the following article from MOZ.

4. Technical SEO

Technical SEO refers to both website and server optimization. The end result of this practice should improve the overall user experience and make it easier for search engines spiders to crawl your website.

The 4 technical SEO factors below are often ignored by web designers but if implemented can have a positive impact on search ranking and conversions.

Ecommerce WordPress Pet Store

i) Responsive Design

A responsive design means that your website can render or adjust to all devices including smartphones and tablets. This is especially important today as 53% of website traffic took place on a mobile device. Having a responsive website can increase time on site, conversions and improve search rankings. If your website is built in WordPress it may be time to invest in a responsive theme.

ii) Page Speed

Another key factor often ignored by web designers is page speed. While many web designers are focused on providing businesses with aesthetically pleasing websites with high resolution images they are the usual culprit in affecting loading time. Google has made it clear that page speed is a ranking factor. Slow loading pages can greatly affect user experience as 40% of visitors are likely to leave a site that loads more than 3 seconds.

How fast does your website load? Find out here.

ii) SSL

HTTPS - Technical SEO

Secured Socket Layer or SSL is a technology used to encrypt data being passed from a web browser to a server. In 2014, Google has made this a ranking factor in an effort to enforce security. This also affects user experience as 85% of users won’t shop on a website that isn’t secure. Installing SSL isn’t complicated, you can get it setup using CloudFlare or if you’re website is hosted with SiteGround they provide FREE SSL setup using Lets Encrypt.

iii) XML Sitemaps

An XML sitemap is a file which lets search engines know which pages should be indexed within a website. This file is not only important to have but should also be submitted through Google Console to notify Google of this file. Typically this file is found when typing a websites domain + sitemap.xml into a browser.

XML sitemap on NexToronto.com

iv) Google Console (Previously Google Webmaster Tools)

As previously mentioned sitemaps can be submitted through Google Console. This free tool is provides highly useful reports on search performance for a domain. Site Owners can submit their website and XML sitemap and  gain valuable information on any search issues, alert for security concerns, testing mobile and structured data and disavow spammy links.

iv) Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

AMP was a project that was backed by Google to improve the loading of content on mobile devices. AMP versions of pages are usually stripped to bare bones, leaving mainly text and images. Since AMP pages load quickly this can improve user experience in addition to improving search ranking.

Structured Data using Rich Snippetsv) Structured Data Markup

Is additional code which can be added to a website to allow Google to better interpret website data and present it in ‘Rich Snippets’ in the search results which is more visually appealing. Having your search listing enhanced with structured data can make your listing stand out there increasing clickthroughs to your website.

Conclusion

The SEO factors outlined in this article can make a tremendous impact on user experience, search engine rankings and most importantly conversions.

NexToronto is a professional web design company that specializes in SEO and can help your business address any or all of the factors mentioned above.