Crushing a Rock Star Website Design – Part 2 (Boosting Your Search Engine Rank)

by Kim Tonkovich; November 30, 2020

There are nearly 2 BILLION sites on the web, of which about 400 million are active.  After Part 1 of our Crushing a Rock Star Website Design series, now you may have an awesome website design!  But it doesn’t matter if no one can FIND IT!

61.77% of Internet users search with Google Chrome, and 75% never scroll beyond the first page of search results.  In fact, 67% of the total clicks in Google searches are the top 5 search results.  So it is imperative that you take the steps necessary to boost your search engine rank and get found. 

The U.S. Census Bureau Quarterly Retail E-Commerce Sales Report estimated that from the 1st quarter to the 2nd quarter of 2020, U.S. retail e-commerce sales increased by 37% to $200.7 billion, and is over 44% higher than the same period in 2019.

Here are some ways to optimize your website, boost your search engine rank, and take a slice of that pie!

  • Navigation

Google uses what’s called “breadcrumb” markup to categorize information from site pages. So it may be beneficial to use “breadcrumb navigation” on your site, which is a style of architecture that helps users know where they are.
  • No Broken Links

Broken (or “dead”) links are links on your site to a page that is no longer there or can’t be found.  Clicking on a broken link usually leads to an error message.  Broken links on your website will affect your Google search ranking.
  • Optimized Images

Optimizing images means reducing the file size of your images as much as possible.  Unoptimized images will slow the page load speeds of your website, which also negatively affects your SEO and search engine rank.  You need to reduce (or compress) your file sizes as much as possible without sacrificing the quality of your images.  Also include alt-tags and titles on your images.  This may result in them showing up in Google image searches.
  • Mobile Optimization

Your website content must be responsive, distributable to and optimized for all types of devices.  According to Forbes, 45% of consumers abandon websites that display poorly on their device.  You can check the mobile-friendliness of your website with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.
  • Optimized Call-To-Action Buttons

Larger call-to-action buttons tend to get more clicks than other buttons and links.  But be careful not to make them too large.  Pay attention to the color you choose for the button.  Studies on use of color in marketing have shown how color influences certain reactions and emotions.  It is said that red call-to-action buttons often produce better results.  But pay attention to how the button contrasts with the rest of your page design.  Your button should include the use of a verb.  For example, “Buy Now”, “Click Here”, “Learn More”, etc.  Or try the increasingly popular reverse psychology two-button choices, like “Yes, I Want More Customers” alongside “No, I Have Enough Customers”.  Place your button(s) directly after or below the informative content on your page, as this leads visitors to believe clicking the button is the natural next step.
  • Page Speed

Page speed is the time it takes for your website pages to fully load.  Page speed does affect your Google rank.  And equally importantly, the longer it takes for pages to load, the more likely visitors are to abandon your site.  Google’s PageSpeed Insights Rules recommend that you avoid landing page redirects, enable compression, improve server response time, leverage browser caching, minify resources, optimize images, optimize CSS delivery, prioritize visible content, and remove render-blocking JavaScript.  You can check your page speeds using Google PageSpeed Insights or Ahrefs’ Site Audit (also known as SEO Analyzer).
  • Keywords

Keywords are the words your audience uses to search for products, services, or information.  In order for users to find your website using keyword search terms, your website needs to be optimized with keywords in anchor text, the body of content, titles, images, meta descriptions, etc.  The Google Keyword Planner is a free online tool that will generate recommended keywords based upon your search in the tool for words or phrases related to your business.  Some experts recommend using Google RankBrain friendly medium-tail keywords rather than traditional long-tail keywords.  To help you with your selections, the research tool will also show you how often certain keywords are searched.  Whether you do or don’t post a Google ad, the tool will help you with selections to use on your website.  Search engines read left to right, so when entering your keywords, list them in order of your primary keyword or phrase first.  Keyword prominence is also a factor.  It is said that there is a correlation between first page Google ranking and having a keyword appear in the first 100 words of the page’s content.
  • Optimized Metadata

Every one of your site pages should be optimized with title tags and page descriptions. This metadata is what will appear in search engine results.  If these are left blank, your website pages could potentially show up in searches displaying irrelevant default content.  Your title tag is the most important relative to your rank.  Your page description won’t affect your rank, but will show up in searches so users have a clearer understanding of what the page is about, which will likely help with your click-throughs to your site.
  • H1 and H2 Header Tags

The purpose of heading tags is to explain what the content on the page is about.  Headers won’t necessarily improve your SEO, but they will make your content easier to read and navigate, and will create a better user experience.  The H1 heading should be the main name or title of the page or post.  The H2 subheadings identify sections of the content on the page.  H3 subheadings indicate sub-sections of the H2 heading. 
  • Rich Snippets

Featured Rich Snippets are photos and short description previews that display alongside search results.  They include a fragment of your web page content on the top of the Google search page in a box, along with the headline and URL link to the page.  To qualify for Google Snippets, your website needs to already rank on the first page of the Google search and your HTML code needs to be optimized. Google chooses Featured Snippets based upon content length, format, page authority, and use of https://.
  • Structured Data Schema Markups

The Schema Codes help search engines identify the essential information and content elements on your website pages.  “Itemscope” identifies the object on your web page, “Itemtype” defines the category of the object, and “Itemprop” outlines the features of the object.  Schema codes can be generated at https://www.google.com/webmasters/markup-helper/.  Pages with microformatting tend to have much higher click-through-rates (CTRs), with directly boosts page rank.
  • SSL Certificate

Installing a SSL (secure socket layer) certificate to your website conveys to users that your website is safe and verified.  And this is now a key Google ranking factor.
  • Sitemaps

Submitting a sitemap of your website’s architecture allows search engines to crawl and index your site and its pages.  You’ll need to start by creating a sitemap from within WordPress.  You may need to install a plugin like YoastSEO to do so.  Once your sitemap is created, it can be submitted to the Google Search Console, Microsoft Bing Webmaster Tools, and other search engines as https://www.[yoursite].com/sitemap_index.xml.
  • High Quality Content Length

You should have content on your pages that increase the length of time a user spends on your page (called “dwell time”).  According to MonsterInsights, long-form blog pages with an average of 1,890 words tend to rank on the first page of Google searches.  Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines for raters also suggests that user comments on articles and blog posts should contribute “a lot” toward ranking.
  • BackLinks & Referring Domains

Having backlinks to your site on other relevant and authoritative websites (also called inbound links) is a factor Google uses to determine the relevance of your content.  It is said that this is one of the most important factors in Google’s ranking algorithm.  A free backlink check tool can be found at https://neilpatel.com/backlinks/ which will show you how many you have to your site and where they are coming from.  It is also important to have outbound links from your site to other authoritative sites.  This shows users that you use reliable sources and provide them with valuable information.  But be careful and use outbound links sparingly.
  • Videos

MonsterInsights reports that you have a 53 times greater chance of ranking on the first page of a Google search if you have videos on your website or blog. Videos can be uploaded into your YouTube account and then embedded into your site.  YouTube is the second largest search engine after Google so this offers more exposure.  Then embedding the YouTube videos into your site will improve backlinks and boost your Google rank.  Using YouTube for your videos is recommended due to Google having purchased YouTube in 2006.
  • TrustRank

TrustRank is an algorithm used by Google (originally built by Stanford researchers) to determine whether your site is trustworthy and useful, or if it’s spam.  The algorithm has the capacity to evaluate if your site is authoritative and safe.  TrustRank measures signals like whether your site has a security certificate (SSL), if outbound links on your site are authoritative, if the content is useful and consistent, if backlinks to your site are coming from other authoritative sites that have a high PageRank, etc.  When Google crawls, indexes, and ranks your site, it searches specifically for an About page, a Privacy Policy page, a Terms of Service page, and a Contact page that includes a physical address.  Your site’s TrustRank will directly and substantially affect your search ranking on Google.
  • CTR, Dwell Time, Bounce Rate, and PogoSticking

RankBrain is the algorithm that Google uses to evaluate organic click-through-rate (CTR), dwell time, bounce rate, and pogosticking.  It is the third most important ranking signal.  Dwell Time is the amount of time users spend on your site after clicking on your search result.  Low dwell times will drop your rankings, and longer dwell times will increase your rankings.  Bounces are when users visit your site, don’t find the information they’re looking for right away, and so quickly click out of it, or rather “bounce”.  Pogosticking is when users perform a keyword search and then bounce around from one site to the next until they find a site that has the information they’re looking for and holds their attention.  If your site has a high bounce rate and users often pogostick out of it, it has a significant impact on your rank.

So now that you understand some website optimization basics and what it takes to get found, don’t you think it’s time to upgrade your site?

Once you’ve worked with your website designer and mastered your SEO, it’ll still take some time for your site to creep up in the search engine rankings.  In Part 3 of this series, we’ll review ways to promote your website and increase your traffic right now!

Crushing a Rock Star Website Design

< READ PART 1 – Website Design Basics

> READ PART 3 – Promoting Your Website

> READ PART 4 – Analyzing Your Site Performance


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References

  • 100+ Internet Statistics and Facts for 2020; by Matt Ahlgren; WebsiteHostingRating.com; September 18, 2020
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  • Broken Links; by Rick van Haasteren; SiteGuru; 2020
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