Website Optimization Strategies to Boost Google Rankings
Learn website optimization strategies that can help you rank higher on Google and tips to maximize your website's visibility.
July 7, 2023
Imagine you’re the owner of a website that you’ve spent months developing. You love it. It’s filled with eye-catching graphics, informative content, and makes you look like a pro. But there’s just one problem—no one is finding it online.
So, you decide to do some research. After doing a little “Googling” you discover you need a website optimization strategy.
That’s what this article is all about. I’m going to explain why having an optimization strategy is essential for every website. When you’ve finished reading, you’ll have a list of tips you can use to improve your site’s performance.
The Purpose of a Website Optimization Strategy
As a brand auditor, I know first-hand how important a high-performing website is in today’s fast-paced digital world. I’ve helped dozens of brands gain an online competitive advantage by optimizing their sites.
An optimized website will rank higher. Naturally, this makes it easier for consumers to find it on search engines.
Optimization also helps improve the user experience.
The term “user experience” gets tossed around so much that many people aren’t even sure what it means anymore. When it comes to websites, the user experience simply means a site is easy and fun to use. It also offers some type of value—whether that’s information, a way to purchase a product, or to entertain.
Websites that offer a positive user experience have a better chance of keeping visitors on the page. Sites like this attract more organic traffic, blog post readers, and video watchers. These websites also convert more visitors into engaged followers and paying customers.
The purpose of a website optimization strategy is to make sure your site performs well for search engines (i.e., Google) and delivers a positive user experience.
Since Google gets over 86 percent of searches globally (on desktop), we should pay attention to what they have to say about website optimization.
Why You Should Use Google as a Guide When Developing a Website Optimization Strategy
Google is the undeniable kingpin of the online search space. Its influence and market dominance have only grown over the years. There’s no reason to think this trend will end anytime soon.
For this reason, we should consider Google’s best practices for web developers when optimizing a website.
When you follow Google’s guidelines when optimizing your website, you increase the chances that Google will index your web pages. This is the first step to getting them to the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs). That’s where all of your customers are.
In fact, the number one ranking page on Google search for a specific topic gets almost 40 percent of the total traffic.
There’s another reason to listen to Google. Adhering to their rules can help you avoid penalties and warnings. Google will often penalize websites that use “black hat” practices such as link spamming and cloaking. These penalties can seriously harm your website’s rankings and online reputation.
Google has created their guidelines to give users the best possible online experience. So, Google has done the work for you. All you need to know is how they define an optimized website.
Google’s Website Optimization Recommendations
According to Google, ranking a website starts by answering the following five questions:
Is my website showing up in search results?
Do I serve high-quality, relevant content that matches user intent?
Is my local company showing up in Google's business listings?
Is my website's content easy to access on all devices?
Is my website secure?
Any website optimization strategy you use should align with at least one of these questions. Otherwise, you could end up wasting your time.
Optimization Helps Your Site Manage Algorithm Updates
Optimization is valuable for another reason: search engine updates. Technology changes rapidly. At The Brand Auditors, we focus on strategies that will survive algorithm updates and other events that can wreak havoc on search rankings.
In the sections that follow, we’ll dive deeper into the details, starting with how to address each of the five questions above.
Search Engine Visibility
Search engine visibility refers to the percentage share of website traffic that comes from organic search results. You can use this metric to measure ROI on your search engine optimization and content marketing strategies.
For example, let’s assume your website or landing page is in second place for a specific keyword query. Google may estimate that the second-place website receives 14.6 percent of all clicks from the target audience for that search term. That means your website would have 14.6 percent visibility for that keyword.
Total visibility is the average traffic share from all ranking keywords.
Brands should track their search visibility to evaluate their current SEO or content strategy. Software and other SEO tools are available to make the job easier.
Google Search Console, for example, allows you to access details on your website’s existing traffic and search performance. Paid website optimization tools provide other valuable metrics related to web pages and user behavior.
There are other SEO metrics to track. Click-through rate (CTR), average time on site, and bounce rate are examples. These can tell you whether visitors like your content and if branding efforts are making an impact on conversions.
Website Content Quality
Quality content is imperative, and not just for websites. In recent years, Google has released algorithm updates that emphasize the value of a site’s content. There have been three recent updates in particular that I’ll mention here.
The first, released in 2018, was the EAT update. E-A-T stands for expertise, authority, and trust. The purpose of this algorithm update was to boost the authority of websites with content that gives users the best topic-specific information.
For example, Google considers a medical website with posts written by a doctor to be trustworthy. This stands in contrast to a wellness website with posts written by a casual blogger who shares their views on various health topics. The doctor’s credentials and expertise give her more content authority on the subject.
The second update was the Core Web Vitals update released in 2020. This update measured performance metrics as ranking factors. Website speed and bounce rate are examples of performance metrics. This update forced many brands to invest in optimization to get their sites up to par.
But early in 2023, Google (and in Google fashion) retired site speed and design for mobile users as search engine ranking factors. Instead, they implemented updates to reward the overall quality of web page content.
The Helpful Content Update, was released in mid-2022. This update is Google’s attempt to promote more diverse and original content. The update not only evaluates the quality of a single web page, but the entire site as well.
By satisfying the updated algorithm’s criteria, your site stands a better chance of ranking higher. This will lead to an increase in website visitors.
To do that, include a routine content quality check in your website optimization efforts. One way to check content quality is to assess readability. Content should be relevant to the user’s search intent. It should also be authentic and written for humans, not just for ranking.
Given the rise of artificial intelligence, many companies have turned to AI writing tools to create content. If you elect to use these tools, proceed with caution. Though Google doesn’t directly forbid the use of AI for content creation, the quality of AI-generated content is generally poor without human oversight. Of course, we expect AI content generation tools to improve soon.
SEMRush’s Content Quality Score is a valuable tool for evaluating the content quality. It provides a score based on several factors, including readability, originality, and grammar.
Businesses that want to attract customers that live nearby should include a plan to get them in their website optimization strategy.
Google My Business (GMB) is a free tool offered by Google that helps entrepreneurs, businesses, and organizations build an online presence. Companies can add their profile to Google Search Console and Google Maps. The profile includes contact information, business hours, a description of services and products, and customer reviews.
This platform helps companies increase local reach by allowing them to post updates and promotions. You can monitor performance data using GMB Insights. Businesses can adjust their optimization strategies accordingly to stay on top of competitors.
Google My Business allows customers to access the brand’s details when searching for businesses in their area. This contributes to brand authority and increases visibility at a local level.
Improve Site Structure
Website and content structure can be complex, but you must make it easy for search engines to index pages. One of the best ways to do this is to organize content using categories or sub-categories.
In this section, I’ll share some tips on optimizing aspects of site structure.
Research has shown that visitors spend very little time on websites that are hard to navigate. If users can’t find what they’re looking for—and fast—they will leave your website.
Easy navigation makes a site more usable. Search engines such as Google consider website usability when ranking sites in search results.
To improve navigation, start with a thorough website. An audit includes using heatmaps, reviewing user feedback and comments, and analyzing website metrics (i.e., bounce rates and conversion rates). With this information, you can find out how easy or difficult it is to use your website.
Another tactic is to simplify menu design. Get rid of unnecessary navigation options that make it difficult to find content. Keep the number of menu items as low as possible. Group related topics and create clear descriptive menu labels.
Website schema is a form of structured data markup used to provide search engines with detailed information about your website’s content. Schema makes it easier for search engines to index pages and get it in front of the best audience.
There are a few key types of schema that you can use: organization schema, local business schema, breadcrumb schema, and product schema. The choice depends on your website’s topic, content, and overall objectives.
To use website schema, you will need to create a specific markup code you can embed in your web pages. This markup code gives search engines all the information they need regarding services or products you offer, your location, and prices.
Images and Alt Text
The size of image files has a significant impact on how quickly your site loads, so compress them as much as possible without affecting quality. Also, be sure all images have descriptive ALT text so search engine spiders can crawl them for keyword relevance. This helps improve SEO rankings for important keywords associated with your business that may not otherwise appear anywhere else on your website.
Cyberattacks are becoming a bigger problem as each day passes. Even small businesses and websites with low traffic volumes are at risk. The best way to stay safe is to have a properly optimized website and added layers of security.
Create strong passwords, use two-factor authentication, and update software, plugin, and operating systems regularly to protect against cyber threats. You should also watch user accounts for suspicious behavior or any other concerning activities.
One of the most important steps towards website security is selecting a trusted hosting provider with excellent customer service and strong safety measures in place. Good hosting companies can protect your site and reduce the chances of cyberattack.
Search Engine Optimization Strategies to Boost Performance
The goal of on-page SEO is to improve performance and enhance the user experience.
Here are a few examples of on-page SEO tactics:
The quality of keyword research separates many of the excellent sites from the bad. A strategy that focuses on finding relevant keywords and identifying the searcher’s intent is the foundation of higher rankings.
The “right” keywords are those that have enough search volume to be worth targeting, without being too competitive. Strategic—and intentional—keyword placement attracts more organic traffic from engaged audiences and can enhance the marketing campaign performance.
Without a proper SEO analysis, it’s difficult to make sure target keywords appear in title tags, meta descriptions, and other important locations.
Internal linking structure connects one web page to another within the same domain. A well-designed internal linking structure helps users find relevant information on a website. Perhaps you’ve seen related posts positioned at the bottom of a blog post. These posts with related topics. Using internal links builds your website’s topical authority.
Search engines use internal links to establish the site’s hierarchy and determine the most important pages. An organized internal linking structure can help key pages rank higher.
Backlinks (External Links)
Backlinks are links from other websites that lead to your own website. They act as votes for the key pages of your website, showing Google that your site is valuable and authoritative. Google views a site with quality backlinks as one that has more authority and trustworthiness. So, if you can get more backlinks, it will help improve overall search ranking.
Focus on getting high-quality backlinks from industry-level websites. These backlinks should relate to your topic. It also pays out to have a manual outreach campaign that targets popular publications. Some of them may cite you as a source for their own content.
Fix Broken Links
The last type of link I’ll mention is the broken link. These are one of the common website problems. Changes in content structure or updates to URLs usually result in a broken link. These can block user access, so it’s necessary to have a process for replacing or deleting broken links.
Regularly scanning your website for broken links is an essential optimization strategy. It improves click-through rates and increases page views. Most of all, it prevents users from becoming annoyed when they can’t access a page.
Deleting outdated posts and pages should remain a priority. If you edit any website URLs, include 301 redirect that sends users to an updated page.
A sitemap is like a blueprint for a website that helps search engines index the content of that site. It shows which pages on the website are important and makes sure all the vital pieces, including updates, are in the map.
Sitemaps help search engine crawlers locate critical content more efficiently. Companies should keep their sitemap up-to-date so that it reflects any changes made to their site’s structure or top pages. This increases visibility in SERPs over time, which leads to more traffic.
Use Google Analytics to Improve Your Website Performance
Google Analytics is a powerful tool. It enables a brand to analyze and improve several aspects of a website. For example, companies can track a user’s browsing behavior (i.e., user intent). This includes the pages viewed, time spent on each page, and other events.
Website analytics data can help businesses identify ways to improve user satisfaction.
It’s also the best way to check traffic sources. For example, this shows companies which channels generate the most visitors and conversions.
How to Access Google Analytics
- Sign up for a Google Analytics account.
- After registering for an account, add the code to your website. We recommend installing it in the website’s footer. Then, read these instructions to install the code.
- Once you have added the code, you can track website visitor behavior.
You can also adjust marketing strategies based on traffic sources. For example, you can see if users visit your site via social media, organic search, or a paid advertisement.
Analytics can also measure the effectiveness of your website’s marketing campaigns. So, you can track how many visitors convert into customers after landing on your website. This data helps companies make informed decisions about their marketing efforts.
Connect Your Website to Google Search Console
Google Search Console allows website managers to monitor their site’s performance from Google’s perspective. GSC offers features that help you improve website visibility, drive more traffic, and boost conversions.
To connect Google Search Console to your website:
- Sign in to your Google Search Console account.
- Click on “Add property” and enter your website URL.
- Choose a verification method (HTML tag, domain name provider, etc.) and follow the instructions provided.
Once your accounts are linked, you can view Search Console data directly within the Google Analytics interface. This gives you a comprehensive view of your site’s performance.
Conversion Rate Optimization
Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is key to getting high ROI from your website. The goal of CRO is to reduce a site’s bounce rate and increase the chances that visitors will take action. Signing up for a newsletter or making a purchase are examples.
A/B testing is a page optimization strategy and one of the most accurate ways to measure the effectiveness of various design features. Testing reveals which elements are the most successful in getting users to act.
Here are some conversion rate optimization tips:
- Test Your Call-to-Action: One of the most critical elements of any website or page is the call-to-action (CTA). Test colors, sizes, and statements on your CTAs to see which gets the highest conversion rate.
- Simplify Forms: Long or complicated forms can discourage visitors from completing them. Make sure all forms are short and succinct and only ask for essential information.
- Use Persuasive Copy: Crafting web copy is an art form, but it’s essential for getting visitors to convert. So make sure your copy is clear, concise, and compelling.
- Use A/B Testing: Testing is the only reliable way to determine the page design, copy, or layout most effectively converting visitors. Test different versions of your page or website to see which gets the most responses.
- Leverage Social Proof: Social proof is a powerful tool for increasing conversions. For example, suppose a website has a lot of positive reviews from customers. In that case, other people are more likely to make a buy.
In website design, social proof can create trust and credibility. We can do this in many ways. Displaying customer reviews, Facebook likes, or the number of newsletter subscribers are examples. These signals help build brand authority. As a result, people are more likely to respond to a company’s offer.
How The Brand Auditors Can Help Your Company Leverage Website Strategies
Most brand audits include a website performance review. We’ve helped many brands improve their websites. As a result, they have seen transformative changes in their website rankings and visibility.
Our web optimization services include:
Google Analytics: user behavior analysis and organic traffic assessment.
Search Engine Rankings: organic search, search query analysis, voice search
UI / UX Design: website structure, navigation, layout, images, and other factors related to user experience design
Content Marketing: audience segmentation, long-form content, content accessibility guidelines, content relevance, duplicate content issues
Mobile Optimization: responsive performance on mobile devices
Web Hosting & Security: issues that may compromise security—includes checks for hosting quality, content delivery network, and cost comparisons
Technical SEO Audit: analysis of page speed, compression, core web vitals, and other technical SEO issues
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