Hey there, you probably noticed these first 3 posts happened all on the same day. I won’t lie to you because friends don’t lie.
I needed at least 3 posts so the home page of this site didn’t look all lopsided. But since you’re reading this let’s get into search engine optimization.
Search engines can be tricky beasts. Obviously when I say search ENGINES, I mean search ENGINE, and by search engine I mean Google. I don’t know anyone out there who is still using Ask Jeeves or Bing. If you are, don’t worry, they all copy Google anyway so it all applies.
Optimizing your website so it appears on the first page in searches is a full time job in itself. But with enough discipline it can be handled by you, the business owner. It’s not impossible and it’s not even that hard to understand. Google is constantly updating their algorithms. The bots that crawl the web and decide which website is 2legit2quit and which one is just a poser are extremely advanced. Some companies will say they can “hack the system” and get your site on the first page in a weeks time. That’s bull shit. The truth of the matter is, it takes time and vision to get your site to appear on page 1 in the desired search results. So what goes into page ranking? Glad you asked.
1. Back Links
Anytime I explain what back links are I always use the same analogy. Imagine if you will that you just met a person in your favorite pub. The guy comes up and tells you he’s the greatest plumber in the region. According to him there’s nobody better. You might believe him but you’d still be a little skeptical of that if you’ve never heard of the guy before right? Right. Now instead imagine if 10 other people you’ve met before and respect came up to you and said “Hey, you see that guy over there? That guy is the greatest plumber in the region.” You’d probably start to believe it right? Right.
So in the example where the plumber is telling you he’s the greatest plumber in the region, that’s basically your website feeding Google information that it’s a plumbing website. Now Google will take that into account but that’s hardly what matters most.
In the example where the 10 other people tell you that he’s the greatest plumber, those 10 other people are 10 other websites. Those 10 other websites have links on them that point to your website. Those links all say “best plumber in the region”. Now Google sees that and goes okay these other 10 sites are corroborating the story so it seems more legit.
Now you’re probably thinking “Cool I’ll just go buy 500 domain names and have them all pointing to my plumbing site and that’ll put me on page 1”. It’s not that easy, quality matters more than quantity when it comes to backlinks. You’ll want to seek out well respected websites in your field to provide you backlinks. One highly ranked backlink will provide you a more significant boost than a million backlinks from no name websites. So put some work into your backlinking campaign and you’ll see your website’s SEO benefit greatly from it.
2. Mobile Readiness
In this day and age everybody is visiting your website via their cell phone. You’ll notice the aspect ratio of your cell phones screen is way different than your standard desktop or laptop computer. Your website needs to be able to properly display itself in that viewport. The Google search algorithms will actually give your website a boost if your site displays properly across all devices.
This isn’t difficult but it’s something you’ll need to take into account before you have your website built. Sure you can edit your website after it’s been built to display properly on mobile devices but the job is usually easier to complete while your building the website. If you’re not sure if your site is mobile ready, ask the person who built your website if your website is mobile responsive. If they ask “What does that mean?” go ahead and shoot me an email and we’ll get started building you a real site.
The keyword game has changed in semi-recent years. Websites used to just be able to pump their site full of whatever keywords they wanted to show up for in search results and the more keywords you had the better your SEO was. That’s changed drastically. Now, if you’re site has too much of a keyword you’ll actually be punished in search engines for it. Google now works off semantics when it comes to keyword processing.
The english language works very similarly. If someone were telling you about their plumbing business and they just kept repeating the word “plumber” you’d probably think they were having a stroke or something. If someone were telling you about their plumbing business, you’d expect to hear about pipes and clogs and drainage and more. Google has written this into their search algorithms so when coming up with content for your website, just focus on writing good content. The ranking will come naturally from that.
4. Content Optimization
The content you’ll have on your website will range from text to images to videos and maybe even more. If you have content displaying on your site, it takes time to load. Load time, or the time it takes your website to load, is another very important aspect of your website’s Google rank. The usual suspects for a site’s slow load time are images or videos.
Images are usually pretty easy to optimize if you have the proper software. If possible you’ll want to use a lossy style compression like a jpg. A jpg you can save at different quality sizes, the lower the quality of the jpg, the faster it will load. Now obviously you don’t want a website full of low quality images. The nice thing about jpg’s is you can usually lower the quality to a point where it’s not noticeable to the untrained eye, but you’ve cleared out a lot of the files bulk. Image files like PNG’s are usually larger and thus take longer to load. If the image your using can be turned into a vector file then you can convert it into an SVG file. An SVG will display as an image in your browser but the file itself is actually made up of code that, when processed by a browser, will display the desired image. Most vector editing programs such as Adobe Illustrator will output an SVG from a given vector file.
Videos can be a bit more difficult to compress as they are naturally larger files. Depending on how you need to use the image I usually opt to upload the image to an image hosting site like YouTube or Vimeo. From there you can grab an embed code and input that to your website. On the homepage of this site I’ve used a video as a background element. For that I usually use coverr.co. They provide compressed videos in multiple different formats so that you can easily implement them on your website. It’s like a stock video website that’s free. It’s pretty awesome.
I feel like I’ve rambled on quite a bit in this post. I hope to keep future posts shorter than this as most of you probably will not want to read all the way through due to shorter attention spans these days. Damn millennials (I’m a millennial so I feel like I can say that). Anyway, Google is smarter than you and knows everything. They’re like Lord Varys from game of thrones and their web crawling algorithms are like his little birds. Don’t try to cheat the system, just put in good quality content and watch your site reap the benefits from it.