We mentioned before that search engines don’t see content on web pages the same way we do. They are limited in the way they crawl and index the content that you publish. So, if you want to get listed in their results, you must make sure that the most important content on your pages is accessible to the search engines spiders. Why did we use the image of coffee? Because everything below fuels people to your website. The more factors you take into consideration, the more fuel your website has and the more visitors you will have - it's as easy as that!
How search engines read pages?
You can check what elements on your page are visible and indexable by the search engines using Google's cache or other similar tools. Here’s what they’re looking at:
The content on your pages. Engines have a hard time reading through images, flash, java applets, or generally all sorts of non-textual content. You can best ensure that the search spiders can see and understand your important words and phrases same as your readers if you place them in basic HTML text format.
This can’t always work, as we also need visual, more engaging, interactive content, to score better on other ranking factors (we’ll discuss this more further in the guide). So to get your visuals indexed by the engines you can explain the content of your jpg, gif, or png images with alt attributes, provide text descriptions of your flash and java content, and have transcriptions of your video and audio files in HTML.
A crawlable link structure. It means you should make it easy for the search engines to crawl the whole content on your website, ensuring that every page that you want indexed is linked-to from another page on your site. If search spiders can’t reach a page, for them it’s like that page doesn’t even exist. All your great work on content creation, keyword targeting, marketing, … it’ll all be worthless without a solid internal linking structure.
Keywords. They’re the base of the whole search process. As search engine spiders crawl and index the content on the Web, they store the data in separate databases around mutual keyword terms and phrases to have it better organized and easily accessible when needed.
So if you want to give your page a chance to rank in search results for “sunglasses”, you should make sure the term is prominently used in the indexable content of that page – the text, titles, and meta data. Use your keywords naturally throughout the whole page, or Google will choose to ignore it if your targeted keywords are irrelevant to the content.
Search engines' ranking algorithms look at the way target keywords are used on a page to determine its relevancy to a specific search query. Following are some of the best practices when it comes to keyword usage and targeting, as well as other important on-page optimization tactics:
Keywords in the text. Include your target keyword in the first 100 to 150 words of the body copy on the page. Mention it again two or three times, including its variations. Avoid starting with a long, rambling intro, but get fast to your point; you want to get readers interested, not push them away. If there are images on the page, add your target keyword in the alt attribute of at least one of them, – the chances are this will bring traffic to your site from image search as well.
Title tags. Title tags are very important for both SEO and user experience as they provide valuable information on the content included on a web page. You should place your keyword closer to the beginning of the title tag, this way confirming to search engines that this is exactly the topic that the page targets. To increase the awareness for your brand among searchers, you can place the name of your company and/or business at the beginning or by the end of your titles tags, depending on what you’re trying to rank for.
Also be mindful of the length of your title tags, as search engines only show the first 65 to 75 characters on their results pages, and if your keyword is longer or later in the title tag, it’ll be cut off.
Title tags are not only for the search engines to read, but for people too. They need to be descriptive, readable, and appear natural to readers’ eyes. It’s very important to consider the whole user experience, and create title tags that can pull in more organic visits to your website.
Meta tags. Different meta tags provide search engines with different information about the content on a web page. So there are meta robots that control the activity of search engines spiders, meta descriptions, meta keywords, and so on.
Meta description tags are very important part of search engine marketing. They are not used by the engines as a ranking factor, but rather serve as a marketing tool to help attract more clicks from search results pages. Meta descriptions are displayed below links on result pages with bolded search keywords, which can draw greater attention and traffic.
You should have your target keyword mentioned at least once in the meta description, and try to keep the tags up to 160 characters as search engines will cut snippets that are longer.
URL structure. Page URLs are visible in search results and in browsers’ address bars, so they need to be descriptive of the pages’ content to attract visitors and be user-friendly. Use your target keyword once in the URL, separate the words with hyphens (-), and keep the link short to be easier to add in emails, blog posts, social media and to appear fully within search results.
Other important elements of a SEO-friendly web design
Links to other relevant high-authority blogs and websites. Outbound links to other websites give additional clues to Google and other search engines about the content on your pages to see if they’re relevant to their users’ search queries. The higher the authority of the pages you link to, the greater your authority and rankings, so select your external links wisely.
Support words with quality multimedia. Images, screenshots, videos, and infographics will keep readers longer on your pages, interacting and engaging with the content, and since Google very much appreciates such signals, the pages will most certainly go up in the SERPs. Multimedia content is also perceived as more valuable by readers, which means they’ll link to it more often and boost its ranking even more.
Page loading time. According to KISSmetrics, “40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load”. Loading speed is an important ranking signal to search engines, and the improve your loading times you should optimize your images, use less multimedia, store your data locally or set up a CDN, change your hosting service, or use plugins like Advanced lazy load and similar.
Social sharing buttons. As we’ll discuss later in the guide, positive social signals such as engagement, likes, comments, shares and mentions are considered by Google as valuable indicators of people’s true satisfaction with a certain brand or product. Make sure your pages are connected with your business social profiles, and add the most important social buttons to enable readers to easily share and comment on your content.
Hopefully you should get the idea that there are many things you can do to help improve your visibility on search engines. So go out there and get seen!