Responsive Website Design
Having a responsive website isn't just a reccomended thing anymore. Google has officially stated that mobile-friendly websites will rank better in search results than websites that do not offer a mobile layout. Even if your current site is not mobile friendly, you can create a mobile site to redirect mobile users to the preferred layout. However, I've found that it is best to design one site that transforms based on the size of the screen. Building one responsive site over two separate designs not only saves me time, but also saves you money.
Get Verified In Google Search Console (formally Webmaster Tools)
Take the guessing game out of your standing with Google. Verifying your site on Search Console will give you a deep look into how Google sees your site. The Search Console alerts us of any errors Google sees with your site. 404 errors (page not found) are very common with sites that are constantly changing and not addressing them can hurt your ranking. The Search Console gives us a list of URLs that Google found errors on and this list can be used as a guide to getting your site back in good standing. One of my main tasks with maintenance jobs is addressing and correcting these errors and then letting Google know that we have fixed them.
A while back, Google changed up how they deal with keywords. They used to use them to directly correlate search results and help you find the right site. After a group known as Rap Genius started inserting rap lyrics into business websites meta keywords, Google not only changed their algorithm, they penalized Rap Genius (on Christmas of all days). So what does this mean for keywords today? Google still uses keywords, but only to establish relevancy. Now, they focus on what are known as LSI keywords. Today I use LSI keywords to create meaningful, relevant content. I have even discovered a way to find the exact LSI keywords Google is looking for on your page to establish relevancy. Shoot me an email and I'd love to share it with you.
Backlinks are crucial in building authority in search rankings. The more sites that point back to your site, the more Google can trust that you are serving quality content. Social media plays a huge role in obtaining backlinks. If you set your content up so that it is easily shareable, it will get out there. Posting your content on multiple sites can exponentially affect your ability to gain backlinks. Over the years, I have done some research on backlinks and have developed a method for obtaining backlinks guaranteed. I'll post about this method, hopefully later this month, as it is quite extensive and still undergoing testing.
Sitemaps are vital to letting Google know what pages you want to have indexed and what pages you'd like to keep hidden from search results. Without a proper sitemap management, Google could be indexing members-only pages and giving non-members access to paid features. It can also mean that the page you started to create, but didn't quite finish, is now out there for the public to see and for Google to penalize. Sitemaps are also used to create sub-links in search results that can take users directly to certain pages. A very useful feature, but it can come back to bite you if one of the sub-links points to a page for internal use only.
The URL structure of your pages is important for a few reasons. Google will pay attention to the words you are placing the URL and use them to establish relevance. Another reason is that people will see it and the more it makes since to them, the more likely they are to click on it. Seeing a url that ends in "/index.php?page=about-us&id=36844836" is much less friendly than "/about-us", resulting in fewer clicks.
Image optimization can make or break you on mobile devices. Everybody loves beautiful images on their websites, but nobody likes waiting 10+ secs for a webpage to load. In fact, 10+ secs load time will get your rankings penalized by Google. They want the best experience for their users and improper image optimization can keep you from the front page. There are many online tools that you can use to optimize your images for web use. Applications like Photoshop even have a "Save for Web" tool built in to accommodate these standards.
Of course a site needs content to engage users. The trick to this is finding your niche. Honestly, I've found that it is easier to write about something that you are passionate about. As far as Google goes, they want to see a lot of content. Larger content will get better search rankings. Assuming it is relevant and tagged correctly. Google doesn't give an exact number of characters or words to make it to the top, but they do recommend over 1000 words to stay competitive.
You need your content where people are everyday. Most people who have access to the internet are comfortable with some form of Social Media. Whether it is Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Reddit, Pinterest, Instagram, etc... your target user is most likely using one or more of them. Don't rely on them searching you out. Take your content to them! Make it super easy for them to view, save, and share your content and watch the visitor count rise and your backlinks increase. I use multiple tools to automate the process of reaching my audience where they already are. Contact me and I can show you how I can automate your social media reach too!
The fun part of being a web developer! Ok, not really. There are tedious tasks that I do every month for each one of my 75+ nationwide clients. Some of these tasks I mention above, like 404 redirects, but most of these tasks revolve around keeping your website as optimized as they can be. Once I engage in a project, they become a part of my portfolio. I take great pride in keeping my sites functioning as well as they can. I show off the sites I create to potential clients. This creates a mutual relationship and sense of pride in your design, as opposed to some developers who disappear after they've got your money. If you are having issues with your site (or developer) please don't hesitate to contact me.
Hey! You made it to the end! Thanks for stopping by and I hope you learned something about what you can do to improve your standing in Google's eyes.
| ||About The Author
John Darabos is a designer and developer living in Jacksonville, Florida with his wife and daughter. Having built websites for major companies all around the world, John has had major platforms to test his designs and search engine optimization strategies. His research has given him the foresight to build sites that are capable of reaching their goals and surpassing them.