By Sandy Moore
With millions of websites on the internet, it is important for your website to stand out and appear on the first page of the search engine results. This drives more traffic to your site. According to Moz, “On average, 71.33% of searches result in a page one organic click. Page two and three get only 5.59% of the clicks. On the first page alone, the first 5 results account for 67.60% of all the clicks.”
SEO (search engine optimization) is the practice of structuring your website content to improve your website’s ranking position with search engines. It can improve user experience and help visitors find your website. SEO is best implemented as a long-term strategy rather than a short-term plan, but there are some ways to quickly improve your rankings for your website.
First, start by analyzing which tools and resources you have available to help you with the process. There are a variety of platforms to assist with improving your SEO, such as SEMrush, Moz, Yoast SEO, and HubSpot. These tools can help you determine how to improve your website, and how to select and optimize for your targeted keywords. Some of these tools allow you to test your website for free, while others have a monthly subscription service to receive more advanced reporting and analytics.
Let's analyze which tactics you can start implementing now to improve your overall search rankings.
6 Quick SEO Fixes for Website Optimization
Improve Technical Errors
During my 20-year career, I’ve yet to come across a website that doesn't have technical errors. To address these, the platform, SEMrush, reviews technical errors and then breaks them down into three categories: errors, warnings, and notices.
Errors tend to be the higher priority issues that should be addressed first when you're making technical updates. Examples of these errors could include 404 errors, duplicate content issues, sitemap inconsistencies, and redirect changes and loops. SEMrush has collected data on more than 100,000 websites and 450 million pages to determine the most common issues. Findings included that:
- 50 percent of websites had duplicate errors
- 45 percent of websites had missing alt attributes
- 10 percent of websites had broken internal images
I’ve also seen common technical errors include missing XML sitemaps, missing or incorrect robots, and incorrect rel=canonical issues. Addressing these errors will fix your overall site audit score and help you rank higher for intended search terms.
Ensure Website Security
You may be asking yourself, “Why would website security affect SEO?” In 2014, Google announced that if a website didn’t have an SSL (secure Sockets layer) certificate then it would be marked as insecure, which could result in a large amount of traffic lost from your site. Over time, research has shown that HTTPS sites are favored in the search engine rankings over HTTP sites, if the two sites have similar content. If you haven’t already, consider updating your site to include an SSL certificate.
Update On-Page SEO
On-page SEO is the most critical way to ensure that search engines know how to rank your website. It is essentially a road map for search engines to select which search terms are most relevant to your webpage’s content and match search results accordingly.
To start optimizing, each webpage should focus on one targeted, long-tail keyword search term. Once you select your keyword (or search term), you’ll want to ensure that it is in the following locations on your website:
- Page URL
- Page title
- Alt text
- Meta description
- H1 (heading)
- Body copy
If you are hosting your website or blog on the HubSpot CMS, HubSpot’s optimization tools are the perfect resources to confirm that your on-page SEO attributes are correct. For WordPress sites, you may want to check out Yoast SEO to assist with this process.
Check Website Vitals
Website vitals are just as important as technical errors for influencing your website’s rankings. Google announced in May 2020 that website vitals will have an impact on search engine rankings.
What are website vitals? Glad you asked. These are website components such as page load time, visual stability, and interactivity. You can measure these attributes using a variety of tools but one of my favorites is the HubSpot Website Grader, a free tool that gives you a high-level overview of how your website is performing for performance, mobility, SEO, and security. Based on your results, you can dig deeper into what areas of your website may need to be improved.
Optimize for Mobile
Think about how often you search on a mobile device versus a desktop. Quite often, right? Search engines acknowledge this and reward websites that are mobile-friendly. SEMrush confirms, “More than half of all searches today are conducted via mobile, and those numbers are growing.” If your website isn’t already, you’ll want to choose a mobile-friendly configuration. In addition, you’ll want to make sure that your webpages are ranking for keywords typically used during a mobile search, as well as a desktop search.
Avoid Duplicate Content
As you add new content to your website, avoid duplicating content or using the same copy on more than one page. Search engines view multiple pages containing the same content as trying to rank higher by reusing the same content. As Moz points out, “When there are multiple pieces of, as Google calls it, ‘appreciably similar’ content in more than one location on the Internet, it can be difficult for search engines to decide which version is more relevant to a given search query.”
When you create a new blog post, don't post the same content on another page within your website. You’ll also want to revise out-dated content, rather than setting up a new webpage that could be flagged as duplicate content. If you need to create a webpage, set up a 301 redirect from the old page to the new one, or set up a nofollow code to block pages from being indexed. When you use both of these tactics, search engines will know which webpage you prefer to rank for within the search results.
By reviewing your website and making the appropriate updates, you’ll begin to see the results pay off with search engines. Although, remember: You should think of your SEO strategy as a long-term plan, not a short-term fix.