In the 2020s, very few people working in modern businesses need explanations about SEO or Search Engine Optimization. To put it simply, SEO is the practice of identifying internal and external factors that may influence the amount of traffic you’re awarded from search engines and trying to influence them in return.
Therefore, good SEO practices help you remove the uncertainty in your marketing. If you get it right, you can start to benefit from long-lasting and comparatively inexpensive organic marketing channels for your business, as long as your SEO is properly maintained. However, to achieve the holy grail of a successful SEO marketing channel, your strategy needs to be in sync with other key aspects of your business, including product, communications and website development.
Therefore, in this piece, we’ll aim to identify the main areas of SEO that we can immediately address when designing, developing and maintaining your website to ensure long-term, high-quality traffic to your site.
Google Algorithms – Growing and Crawling Since 1997
As the world’s leading search engine, it’s an absolute priority for Google to constantly enhance the browsing experience of any user looking to find a solution to a problem, a product, service, or anything else they currently desire to find. This means that algorithms designed to identify the best websites for those purposes are constantly crawling the world wide web, judging each website on over two hundred factors including time spent on the website, load speed, or content fit with respect to search intention.
These algorithms are always changing, with quarterly major releases and a multitude of minor ones on a recurring basis. Some of these changes can be monumental and get a proper heads-up, such as the mobile-first indexing change which received about a year of notice for marketers and website operators by Google, giving them plenty of time to adapt their websites for mobile optimization. Other updates are a lot more sudden and go without a prior warning, such as Google’s update to its spam filters, which can seriously affect the traffic you’re getting to your website.
The truth is that the majority of the partners that approach us are missing the basic fundamentals of a sound SEO implementation at the core of their website.
In SEO generally, things can happen overnight – you can wake up to your Google Analytics page showing red due to an overload of bad links or sub-par UX on your website, which has driven bounce rates up. With so many variables to consider, it’s good to have a reliable partner to constantly monitor and analyze the performance and come up with ways to improve it. The size of your company and scope of operations determines how intensive that attention should be. But good SEO doesn’t have to be rocket science. The truth is that the majority of the partners that approach us are missing the basic fundamentals of a sound SEO implementation at the core of their website.
WordPress SEO During Design
Good SEO practices start with the design of your new website. The development or a relaunch of your new website is a multi-year investment, one that is going to be with you through multiple unprecedented developments, changes in the business strategy and response to external market conditions.
This means that, when designing the content strategy and information architecture of your website, you have to think long term. How big is your website now, versus how big is it going to be in two or three years? Preparing a website with long-term strategic and content goals in mind will result in a design that can scale and accommodate new products, services and content pieces as they get rolled out. Scaleable UX design facilitates the ultimate browsing experience and ensures your navigation and click paths don’t get cluttered or confusing.
When designing the content strategy and information architecture of your website, you have to think long term.
When designing the content architecture of your new website, make sure to conduct proper keyword research to avoid internal company speak. This means that, when naming your sub-pages, or sub-headings, the language and terminology that you use should be optimized to fit the one spoken by the target audience you want to speak to.
As for UX, a good rule of thumb is to always ask yourself – am I designing this website for my boss or my customer? Including expert consultations and user feedback in the design process will increase the chances that the user experience will be flawless from the get-go, which will help with scoring well on SEO factors as well. Simply speaking, you should try to avoid designing, building and implementing a complex UX to find out that people just don’t understand the flow of your website.
WordPress SEO in Development
When developing SEO measures for our partners, the common trend I see is that SEO participation is U-shaped. That is to say, the majority of work from an SEO perspective takes place in the beginning, during the conception and wireframing or design phase, with less during development followed by a peak pre-launch. However, that does not mean that there are no areas that we can optimize during this very essential stage of creating a website.
One thing we need to take care of when putting a website together is the amount and quality of plugins we are implementing to make a website a reality. Outdated plugins do not only create a security vulnerability for your business. Many plugins introduce an additional script or style for your website to run, which can massively slow down the PageSpeed, one of the key factors that Google algorithms judge when analyzing your website. PageSpeed can also be affected by additional factors, such as your user’s physical distance to the server your content is stored on. If you have an international audience, it makes sense to invest in a Cloudflare setup, so that Google algorithms reward your site when they recognize that the average page speed for all users is fast regardless of geolocation.
WordPress SEO of a Finished Website
A website is never finished in the true sense of a word. It needs to be constantly updated, maintained and improved. Apart from security, its performance remains a constant priority and therefore, there are a few things we need to keep in mind when nourishing SEO.
One of the key areas of your website that are sure to influence its SEO is content. Content marketing is a potent tool for a variety of businesses and sectors. Unfortunately the content space can be somewhat bloated, with low-quality blogs or comparison sites. It’s easy to give in to temptation and start writing content for the sake of content. However, it’s important to remember that our audience and Google algorithms will appreciate quality rather than quantity when designing our content strategy.
New businesses need to put time and effort into researching what their customers want, and not get distracted by what the competition is currently offering. Next, they need to analyze current knowledge gaps in the industry regarding information, content types, sizes and angles and act to fill those gaps. After some time, those content pieces need to be refined based on the data and comments of past readers. Similarly, companies undergoing a relaunch need to take this time to analyze old content, remove outdated articles and actively improve and update the new ones. When doing so, go for high-quality, sticky content that’s shareable and optimized for mobile. Lastly, make sure to structure your content so that it can be easily found and indexed
You don’t only want to create content that’s readable by your audiences. You also want to create active pathways that lead between your content and other pages on your website, as well as the wider web. Similarly, a domain deemed as strong by Google has a lot of backlinks secured on other high-quality sites. That’s easier said than done. You also need to keep an eye on your backlink profile and make sure you are not hurt overnight by an increased amount of low-quality websites linking to your profile.
Some of our partners ask me, ‘what’s the shortest path to this possible goal?’ I always tell them the truth. There are tricks and quick fixes, but we shouldn’t go for them.
Search Engine Optimization doesn’t have a lot of shortcuts, and the details are very important. This can be a source of frustration at times for our customers and partners.. During consultations, some of our partners ask me, “what’s the shortest path to this possible goal?” I always tell them the truth. There are tricks and quick fixes, but we shouldn’t go for them. Quick fixes usually only have short-term gains , it is often only a matter of time before the next updated to Google’s algorithm, where we will have to revisit a particular topic again . Instead, together we come up with sustainable solutions to make the best possible version of a website and reap the results for the long term.