If you own a business on an online platform where the website popularity matters when it comes to sales, you are undoubtedly familiar with SERPs and page ranks. Because, these are highly crucial for bringing more customers to your website and thus boosting your sales in a natural and organic way. Different search engines follow different algorithms to rate a website and bring that site to the front pages. However, there are certain basic factors that help in boosting the ranking in result pages of any search engines and these factors are not going to change.
For past few years, search has meant Google for quite a lot of people, with Bing and Yahoo just closely following. The latest news anyway is that the alliance that Bing and Yahoo have formed has increased their market share, which might turn out to be a bad news for Google. Whether you are optimising for Google, Bing or Yahoo, the truth remains that you need to put some efforts in bringing your website to gain better positions in their search results. Here are, therefore, some of the common principles that search engines follow in ranking websites:
Improved Click through Rate (CTR) and reduced bounce rate
Your website’s CTR, in other words, the number of times it is clicked in the search divided the number of times it is displayed, depends on where exactly the site is placed in the search engines. This indicates that it is not enough to just bring the website to the front pages but you need to make the visitors click on it. The number of times visitors click and the number of times they return to your site make a difference here. In fact, even the time frame that visitors take to return to the site is taken into account, which means that you cannot get away with just a better position in the search engine, but you need to make the visitors come to you and convince them to return to you some way or the other.
Logically following the CTR is the bounce rate, which represents the number of visitors who reach your website and bounce away to other sites almost immediately as they couldn’t find what they required. Today, search engines, especially Bing, has started measuring the bounce rate, if the visitor returns to the result pages within less than minute, it doesn’t really look good for your site as it would mean the site couldn’t provide what the visitor wanted. On the other hand, if the visitor could stay in the site for a longer duration the search engine would consider the site compelling.
A protocol supported by Google, Bing and Yahoo, Schema.org helps you to mark your content according to their type so that the search engines can recognise them as they are such as images, product descriptions, locations, reviews, etc. Schema also helps you in defining the semantic relationships between the different components. Schema is still not known to boost your rankings; however, being promoted by search engines to reduce their own costs and efforts, we can safely assume that they are definitely going to add extra weight to those websites that use the protocol.
Original and quality content
This is perhaps the most common and oft-repeated requisite in any SEO related article or blog post, that a website requires quality content to boost its ranking. And there is no surprise in that. If you want visitors to come to your site and spend their time there, you definitely have to offer them what they need. A good website needs information relevant to its users that would help them do transactions with you. And original and quality content does not mean some random words, keywords, obviously, but well thought out ideas logically and sensibly put together in sentences that have no errors.
A user friendly website is not one that has a lot of images and interaction; in fact, it is far away from that. User friendliness is a combination of different factors, the content mentioned above being one of them. The right images in the right resolution, informative videos, faster loading time, easier navigation are all part of the combined effort of making a website user friendly. It is easy to put one or two of these factors in the site, but users tend to stay back in a website when all these elements are put together to make the site attractive and relevant and helpful. Besides, you need to know the right balance in which you need to include these items. For example, if you add too many videos, the site would load slower. At the same time, you cannot completely avoid the graphics to make the website totally empty of colours and graphics. In other words, it is balance that you need here.
Of course, there is no website now without a link to its social networking profile. In fact, adding the necessary buttons for social media like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ is not just necessary but not adding it can take away points from you in the eyes of search engines. In fact, Bing has admitted that it uses the data from Twitter and Facebook in its algorithms to check the website’s popularity among the users. You can make use of this fact is by adding these buttons at the strategic locations of your web pages.
Relevant URL, keywords and meta descriptions
The links and URLs you choose for your website play a pivotal role in making users click them. Choosing a random link that doesn’t seem to have any relation to the business you do or the keywords you are focussing can make the users ignore your site even if it is in the front pages of the result pages. Therefore, keyword-rich links could divert visitors to you who might end up converting once you convince them to buy from you. The same rule applies for the keywords and meta descriptions you choose for the site.
It is important that you realise how important the keywords you choose are. For this you might have to do a detailed research on the keywords you have chosen as well as keywords of your competitors. If your website is not optimised for the keywords related to your business, no matter how much you try to make the website attractive, visitors might not come to you and convert. To ensure that your website is optimised adequately for the keywords, make sure you do a thorough analysis and optimise the website for those keywords. This also means that you should not stuff the website with the keywords and thus give an impression of spamming.
The descriptions that you provide for the website to accompany the URL in the search pages is as important as the positions they occupy there. Most visitors would be reading your titles and descriptions before they choose a website to click. Providing relevant details that are short and at the same time to the point can make a favourable impression on the users and they would click your website.
Good crawlability and structure
To ensure that your website is crawled and indexed by the search engine robots you need to make the site easily crawlable. Adding an HTML sitemap could help you in this as you can include all the necessary web pages that you wish to be indexed. Similarly, each time you add a new page, make sure that you add the page in sitemap. Remember that unless you add the pages in the sitemap they will not be indexed by the search engines.
Good internal navigation is also important for the search engines to go through all the important and optimised pages in the website. Also, this is important for the visitors also that they can move from one page to another and find the page they want quite easily. Hence, if you have added external links in your web page, do make sure that the search engines do not leave your site through them. Add proper alt tags for images so that search engines could read them.
To make your website a favourite for your targeted audience the list above is not entirely sufficient. However, you could concentrate on them as the first step in optimising the website so that you start improving your position in the result pages. After all, these preliminary steps would help you in establishing your position in search engines first before you starting moving up to reach the front pages.