As of today there are over a billion websites in the world and 200 million out of them are active. This means that over 80% of them have lost relevance or shut down.
Just building a site and launching it does not guarantee that Google will display it among its top search results. This is precisely why you need to implement the latest SEO practices to make your website rank and generate organic traffic.
What Is SEO And Why It Is Integral To Your Success
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) refers to the process of fine-tuning the content and design of websites to make them appear within the first few results for relevant searches.
Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) offer thousands of results for literally any common search. However, consider how often you go over to the second page of a Google search or look beyond the 5th result.
Not very often, right? Thanks to Google’s ranking algorithms that constantly scan millions of pages and furnish the user with the ones with the most valuable content according to their searches.
Hence, we generally do not have to open more than four or five results on search engines to resolve your queries.
This is exactly why leading businesses hire web developers to build and maintain their online presence and drive up sales. The primary benefits of incorporating the best SEO practices include:
- Enhanced organic traffic through web searches
- A more engaging user experience on your site
- Increased brand image and credibility among users
- Growth in local visibility and sales
- Scalable results on user behavior and preferences
- Detailed analysis and insights into your website’s popularity and performance
- Improved efficiency of on-page ads
- Not too heavy on your budget, and
- Rise in lead generation and conversions.
In this segment, we explore the best SEO techniques you need to apply to design a website that ranks higher than your competitor’s.
Key Elements of SEO-Friendly Web Design
Recent studies reveal that more than 25% of users click on the first result of a Google search. The first organic search result usually has a click-through rate (CTR) of 27%.
However, this rate declines sharply as we go down the order, with the second and third results securing about 15% and 11% respectively. The tenth place generally gets a meager 2.4% of the clicks. And the second page? It is safe to say that it does not see the light of day pretty often.
To make sure that your pages rank on Google, you need to design a responsive website that offers a unique and engaging user experience (UX).
Search engine algorithms will only promote your site if it provides value to the user and performs flawlessly across different devices and screen sizes. Here are some factors you must consider seriously while designing a website.
Let’s go back a couple of years. Remember making Google searches on your phone and getting pages that opened in desktop dimensions?
The content was illegible and you had to zoom in and out and scroll dozens of times to navigate the site. The buttons and menus were too small and you could not view all of the content at once.
Do you find such results on Google these days?
The answer is “almost never”.
This is because Google’s ranking algorithms have upped their screening processes big time, and prioritize mobile-friendly websites only. In short, your site won’t rank unless it is optimized for mobile viewing.
With over 5 billion smartphones in the world as of 2023, most people spend a significant part of the day accessing the internet on their mobiles. If you want to develop a successful educational website like Unacademy or an e-commerce platform like IKEA, you should employ the following practices to make your site function smoothly on mobiles.
- Design a responsive layout
- Optimize the speed of your site
- Incorporate subtle pop-ups (do not use too many)
- Use the viewport meta tag
- Declutter the design elements
- Use large and readable typography
- Avoid long blocks or paragraphs of text
- Make the touch controls big enough for the average human fingertip
- Test your site on mobile devices, and
- Make the site usable in both portrait and landscape mode
While hiring a graphic design company to design your website, make sure to look for a established agency with demonstrated expertise in responsive web design.
Page Load Speed – Why It Matters in SEO
Page speed is the time needed for a page on your website to load fully, starting from the moment of clicking or tapping on it. It is a bit of an umbrella term that refers to all aspects of navigation on your site.
Page loading speed is essential for SEO as search engines do not want to provide users with results that take too long to open. Pages with poor load speeds offer an inferior user experience and have a high ‘bounce rate’, which is how quickly users visit and immediately leave your site.
High bounce rates hamper your brand’s image among users and this adversely affects your conversion rate. While most industry experts suggest that 2 seconds or less is a decent loading time, there is no ideal metric for page speeds.
In short, you must make your website take the least time possible to load, or your traffic and sales will be eaten up by faster sites.
Optimizing a website for speed requires advanced technical skills and you should seek help from a web development company, which is often needed. If you want to build a website that outperforms the competition, you must ensure the following steps.
- Reduce file and image sizes
- Convert your images to WebP wherever possible
- Create a full version of your site in static HTML
- Reduce HTTP requests
- Allow browser caching
- Utilize a Content Delivery Network (CDN),
- Choose to build single-page applications that take less time to load
- Use simplified redirects while modifying your site, and
- Use tools like Google Page Speed Insights, Google Lighthouse, and Web Page Test to check and improve your page speeds.
Clear Website Structuring
Website structure is the organization and integration of all the pages on a website along with the navigation between them. Website structure can be linear, networked, or hierarchical, depending on how you approach the design.
The structure of your site is vital to SEO as a well-segmented website creates a better user experience and helps Google crawlers scan it faster. These guarantee you higher rankings for search results.
The most effective practices followed by any SEO company to craft a well-structured website include:
- Examine the websites of your competitors and study their approach.
- Research and categorize keywords
- Clearly segment your pages according to categories for better accessibility
- Avoid page duplication
- Use readable URLs – avoid long and sketchy ones like “www.how-to-design-a-website-with-best-seo-practices-in-2023-67*&$hjiy_890dll23&$”.
- Make full use of internal linking to connect to your relevant pages
- Try to leverage quality backlinks
- Create a sitemap that stores all the pages and contents of your site, and
- Incorporate relevant site links for search results.
On-Page SEO Strategies To Make Your Website Rank
You need to optimize both on and off-page elements of your website to amplify its visibility on search engines. The key elements of on-page SEO that you must focus on consist of the following factors.
Keywords: Research, Placement, and Optimization
Keywords refer to the entries or search terms that users type into search engines while looking for products, solutions, or answers. Incorporating relevant keywords helps ranking algorithms recognize your pages as valuable to the person searching, and display it among the top results.
Keyword research refers to the process of identifying and analyzing the terms that people type into search engines. This data is then used to gain insights into the most popular search terms and compare relatable ones.
Proper research helps you target the right keywords, spot marketing trends, increase organic traffic, and boost sales. You should base your keyword research on three key elements:
- Relevance – Google ranks content for search intent. Your content will not rank for a particular keyword unless it meets the searchers’ needs and offers value.
- Authority – Search engine algorithms prefer sources that are more authoritative than the rest. You need to enrich your pages with relevant and useful information and build quality backlinks to establish authority.
- Volume – Google measures keywords by search volume or the number of times they have been searched during a specified time. High-volume keywords have a high authority, and hence provide more visibility in search results.
Every digital marketing company is utilizing the benefits of thorough keyword research and here are five steps to help you do the same.
Step 1: Utilize Keyword Research Tools
There are a bunch of effective SEO and keyword research tools that help you come up with keywords based on relevant search phrases that are actually being typed in by users. You should make use of tools like Google Keyword Planner, Google Trends, Ahrefs, Free Keyword Research Tool, and Keywords Everywhere.
Step 2: Create a Framework
Make a list of the relevant topics based on your knowledge about your niche industry. Come up with five to ten topic buckets that, according to you, are important to your business.
Step 3: Convert the Topics to Keywords
Step into the shoes of your existing and potential buyers. Modify the topics into short search terms that your users are likely to use. Use keyword analysis tools to find what is being searched, where it is being searched, and how frequently.
Step 4: Study User Intent
User intent refers to what the user is searching for – purchase, comparison, information, and so on. For instance, if you are studying the keyword “how to write a blog”, the word “blog” may mean a blog article or an entire blog website to different users.
Step 5: Take Related Searches Into Account
If you are confused about keywords people are searching for a specific topic, put in a similar search on Google and you will find a “Searches related to” section at the bottom of the first result page. For better results search these terms, and then search their related searches as well.
Now that you have researched the most suitable keywords, you need to optimize them to effectively rank your site and drive traffic. You need to follow these practices to ensure that your keywords work.
- Audit your on-page elements like the content, URL structure, title and header tags, meta descriptions, images, etc.
- Map your keywords – analyze and decide which page and section a particular keyword can be placed in.
- Add keywords at relevant segments on your pages.
- Avoid stuffing the pages with keywords – keep a 200-word interval between keywords.
- Keep your target audience in mind while researching and placing keywords.
Meta Tags, Titles, Descriptions, and Headers
You may not always notice meta tags on websites. However, they play a role in search engine rankings and need to be integrated properly into your pages.
Meta tags are elements that provide information about your page to search engines. They can be found in the header section of the HTML code. These tags tell search engines how your page appears in search results and is displayed to the user.
This is the first element of your page that the user sees on a search engine result page (SERP). The meta title appears in blue for organic results. It is of utmost importance in SEO and heavily influences search rankings.
You must make sure that your meta title has sound grammar, one relevant keyword, a natural tone, and is about 50 to 60 characters long. Google cuts out titles that are more than 600 pixels or 60 characters long.
The meta description is a summary of the page and offers the users a sneak peek into its contents. It is located just below the meta title and is used only for a preview on the result page.
Create a meta title that offers a clear description of what your page will provide to the user in a unique yet not too sales-oriented language. It should ideally be 130 to 140 characters long and contain just one suitable keyword.
Header tags communicate the structure of a webpage to both the search engine and the users. They are not generally categorized under meta tags and are simply referred to as ‘titles’. However, they are as important for search rankings as meta titles and descriptions.
The header or the <H1> tag can be used only once on a page, most commonly as the headline. Do not use multiple header tags per article as this confuses Google’s crawlers. It is possible in most cases to use a different header tag than your meta title.
URL Structure and Permalinks
A URL (Uniform Resource Locator) can be defined as the web address of an online resource, such as a webpage. It is located at the address bar at the top of your browser window.
URLs are crucial from an SEO standpoint as they inform search engine algorithms about the contents and purpose of a page so that they can rank them accordingly.
A URL has several parts segmented according to type for the search engines to identify them and users to navigate the site better. These are:
- TLD (Top-level Domain)
Here are some practices you should follow to optimize your URLs for SEO.
Use the HTTP Secured Protocol
HTTPS or HTTP Secured shields your users’ sensitive and personal data from hackers. It is also a considerable factor for ranking on Google searches. You can purchase and install SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificates from web hosting platforms like Bluehost and GoDaddy.
From an SEO point of view, it is not mandatory to use ‘www’ as your subdomain. Google states that it is alright to use either subdomains or subfolders. Besides, omitting the subdomain also makes your URL shorter and more readable.
Choose a Suitable TLD
Which TLD to use depends on the purpose of your site. For non-profit organizations, “.org” is the apt TLD while educational sites should use “.edu”. If you have a commercial website, “.com” is to be used, and so on. If you conduct business outside the U.S., your country-code-TLD such as “.au” for Australia and “.in” for India can also be used.
Make use of Subfolders and Slugs
Create subfolders and organize your content logically to make it easier for users to know where exactly they are on your page and where they can go next.
A slug is that part of the URL which demarcates a particular page or post on a website. Google says that your slug should exactly describe the contents of the page. The most effective way to make your slug short and useful is to use the page’s target keyword as the slug.
Ideal URL slug: “/womens-handbags/”, “/adidas-running-shoes/”
Bad URL slug: “/product1234/”, “/pageabc%023/”
Permalinks and SEO
A permalink, shortened from a permanent link, is a web address that remains unchanged throughout the lifetime of a page. In order to make your permalinks SEO-friendly, they should start with HTTPS, be short and to the point, and include the page’s target keyword.
Permalinks have remained one of the most effective WordPress development trends for years. WordPress provides multiple options for setting up your URL structure, with the ‘Post Name’ setting being the most useful one. With this setting, your permalinks will omit all unnecessary information and WordPress will automatically separate it with dashes.
While permalinks are meant to be permanent, there are relevant scenarios where you might want to change them. For instance, if you want to make your URL shorter, you need to inform the search engine by implementing a 301 redirect to your .htaccess file.
Internal and External Linking Strategies
Internal links are links on one page of your website to other pages. They help both the users and search engines to find content and navigate your website.
For instance, if you want a finance website designed for investing in stocks, your pages should clearly link to other related pages such as SIPs, mutual funds, and bonds.
Internal links are also crucial for your backlinks to work as PageRank gets shared from other sites to yours. Google’s PageRank was created by founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin during their university days.
It is an algorithm that ranks pages based on the cumulative strengths of all hyperlinks on the web. The more the number of inbound or backlinks, the more PageRank the page will get.
While new and updated algorithms have been deployed by Google, PageRank still holds its relevance.
Internal links serve two purposes:
- Enable users to move around your site, and
- Help search algorithms crawl all the pages of your site with the least number of steps possible.
The common areas on websites where interlinks are placed are:
- Site Navigation – Links are generally put on the topbar, sidebar, and footer sections that are uniform across all the pages.
- Related Searches – These appear as sections on pages that point out to other pages that contain related information or products.
- User Sitemaps – A sitemap is a page or section that contains links to all the other pages of a site.
- In-content Interlinks – In-content links within the text, especially in the case of blogs. Internal links are extremely advantageous to SEO. However, do not overuse them as ‘link-bombing’ can be easily spotted by Google crawlers and have a negative impact.
External or outbound links are the ones on your site that link to other websites with different domains. In the early years of SEO, external links were avoided as they were considered to hand out your PageRank scores to other sites.
However, the ranking algorithms have evolved and outbound links to relevant and high-authority sites do provide value. Make sure that you do not use too many external links on blogs and in general.
Off-Page SEO Techniques
Off-page SEO refers to factors that are not on your site and are controlled externally to direct traffic to your pages. These include inbound links, social media posts, local SEO, and so on.
The Importance of Backlinks
When another website with a different domain name links out to your site through anchor text, it is called a backlink or an inbound link. It is just the counterpart of an outgoing link.
How to Build Quality Backlinks?
Evaluating and generating backlinks is no easy task. Hence, it is prudent to hire a website development company if you don’t possess the necessary technical skills. You should put the following steps into practice to build high-quality backlinks.
- Create valuable and insightful content that makes people naturally want to link to it.
- Utilize ‘Help a Reporter Out’ (HARO) to cater to the requests of journalists and fact-finders.
- Make guest posts by teaming up with other sites relevant to your niche.
- Publish research and market it to the press using digital PR tools like Prowly and Muck Rack.
- Study the backlink profiles and strategies of your competitors.
Social Media Engagement and Its SEO Impact
Although social media has no direct influence on search rankings, the links you share on your social media platforms boost the exposure of your site. Effective social media marketing strategies improve your search performance by ensuring:
- Wider distribution of content
- Increased lifespan of your posts
- More organic traffic to your website
- Confidence among users
- Superior brand image, and
- Improved local SEO.
Any webpage that gains solid traction or goes viral on social media is likely to be ranked among the top results by Google for a foreseeable period.
For SEO, the social media platforms you must focus on include LinkedIn, Medium, Twitter (now ‘X’), Facebook, Quora, and Pinterest.
Measuring and Monitoring SEO Performance
Once you have implemented the necessary SEO techniques, comes the time to audit and analyze how your website is performing in terms of search rankings. An SEO audit covers KPIs and metrics like
- Crawlability and indexing
- User experience
- Website architecture
- Competitor assessment
- Keyword research
- On-page SEO factors, and
- Backlink profiles.
Google Analytics 4 and Its Importance
Google has completely remodeled the way SEO audits are conducted with its Google Analytics 4 in October 2020. GA 4 enables you to study website traffic and user behavior by allowing you to:
- Collect and compare data on your website
- Work with event-based data
- Get measurable results with charts, graphs, and comparative infographics
- Use privacy controls like cookie-less assessments and the nature of conversions, and,
- Integrate strategies into all platforms.
You must deploy the following steps to get the best results out of Google Analytics 4 and similar tools.
- Make sure your pages are indexed in Google’s database.
- Scan for duplicate versions of your website.
- Run frequent site crawl tests.
- Look out for ‘Manual Actions’ from Google.
- Evaluate the performance of your site on mobile screens
- Check the loading speed of your site.
- Review your organic search traffic.
- Examine your internal links and backlinks.
Real-world Examples of Successful SEO-Optimized Websites
Websites designed with SEO strategies in mind have a high chance of creating engaging and memorable user experiences. This results in more and more users returning to your site and trying out your products.
Let’s take a look at two popular websites that have successfully implemented SEO techniques in their design.
Dropbox is an online cloud storage service that offers file storage, synchronization, and client software. Here’s how their homepage looks.
The homepage has a catchy design with snippets and slideshows that inform users what services they can enjoy on Dropbox. To-the-point and impactful headings like “Keep life organized and work moving – all in one place”, and “Your files, not ours” are effective in engaging with users and making them explore Dropbox’s services and features.
The homepage also directs the user on where to go next. There are clear navigation menus at the top of the page and there is also a powerful CTA (call to action) that says “Get started”.
These SEO-friendly techniques are particularly helpful in the case of sites that are packed with features and functions. Use such grouping techniques to segment the various pages of your site according to purpose and relevance.
Airbnb is an online platform that connects people who intend to rent their property with those who are looking for short-term accommodation, especially for holidays and vacations.
Let’s take a look at Airbnb’s homepage.
The page features Airbnb-listed properties in popular tourist destinations along with the dates available, distance from the user, and price per night. The menu bar on top shows options of property according to types, a filter option, and the choice to see prices before and after taxes.
SEO is taken into account with clear and distinct navigation options and a search bar that allows users to make custom searches according to their preferred destinations, dates, and prices.
Such a user-centric design approach helps Airbnb connect and engage with more customers around the globe, boost brand awareness, and drive bookings and sales.
With millions of websites competing for a spot within the first page of search results, it is no longer enough to just build a top-notch website. The quality of your content or product comes into play after the visitor has opened your site. Having your site rank is the first step in showcasing and selling your products or services.
It is imperative to put the latest SEO strategies into practice and keep working on them to ensure a powerful online presence and organic search results.
If you are on the hunt for a site that clinches the top spots of search result pages, connect with us at Webgen Technologies today. As a trusted web development company in India, we have been creating engaging websites that outrank the competition.