The Baby Steps to Great SEO
There has always been a huge disconnect between developers and the mavens of the SEO industry, because “good” Web development doesn’t always coincide with good SEO. Why? Because search engines have their own rules, and ultimately, those who don’t adapt to these rules will not be able to take advantage of the search engines wealth of traffic.
SEOExplode states that another reason is that Web developers, UX designers and other creative folks responsible for the back end aren’t always aware of what makes good SEO in the first place.
So if you are working with a developer and an SEO company and the two aren’t talking, you will probably have huge headaches down the line. The SEO company has to work with the developer and vice versa. There also has to be mutual respect between the two, because both parties provide valuable input that will benefit the website in question. So in the end, the two have to walk side by side toward great SEO.
What do SEO metrics mean?
If you are not a techie or an SEO expert, it is easy to feel lost when you look at SEO statistics. But no matter how ugly they may seem to the uninitiated eye, those figures are not meaningless and they actually convey a complex story that reveals what you can do to further improve your website. To make better sense of the figures, consider the following questions:
- The bounce rate is high – Why are people not dwelling or staying on the page? What could be driving them away if you already have great content?
- Some pages are drawing in a lot of attention, but others are barely attracting reads – Why are users drawn to these popular pages? What makes them more accessible through Google? What makes people click on them instead of your newer posts? Why is your website seemingly stuck with offering older, long-form content to users?
- There is a sudden spike in traffic, which was uncharacteristic before – First of all, what made the spike possible? Where is the traffic coming from? Who or what is referring the sudden influx of traffic? Answering these questions just might give you a window of SEO opportunity that might benefit the website in the long term. But you have to take into consideration the referral sources and the possible reasons why people are taking an interest in your content.
- There is a massive influx of traffic in one or two pieces of content – Can the end results be duplicated for the rest of the website and the future content that you will be publishing? What can you do to achieve similar content objectives?
- There is a steady stream of traffic from established referrers – Question is – how much do you know of this traffic? What are these users possibly interested in? Can you whittle down the possibilities to take advantage of this regular stream of traffic and possibly amplify it even further by tapping into people’s personal social networks?
- You get a mixed report about the devices being used to access your website – Gone are the days when laptops just dominated the scene. Now it’s all mobile devices of every brand and shape. How well do you know the composition of users that are coming in to view your website? If you are getting more mobile users than PC or laptop users, what can you do to ensure that these users are getting the best possible experience when they land on any of your pages?
SEO and developers working together
You’ve probably already noticed that the guide questions above all require the participation of both the SEO company and the developer – because the developer tweaks the website, and the SEO company digests analytical data to make sense of how your website is being used (or ignored) by the stream of traffic that should be generating income. Let’s call this your website’s optimization story, and there’s plenty of things you can do along the way to improve it.
Granted, no one can do it alone. It would be nearly impossible to do good SEO on a website if you are literally and physically alone in doing all the work. Some websites owners have done it yes, but it took them years and years of trial and error to get good results. Good SEO really requires the participation of SEO companies and a dedicated developer team that will take care of the technicalities for you. This way, you can focus more on the business than working in the business itself. See the big difference?
SEO: Change is constant
Nothing ever stays the same in the landscape of search engines. You can either be frustrated by this, or challenged in a good way. It’s not going to be easy. Algorithm changes mean you have to adapt as well. But let’s just remember that algorithm changes are actually the result of multiple factors, with user actions and tendencies as the main driver.
For example, why did Google places the carousel at the very top in the first place? Because people are looking for fast answers, and the carousel offered the possibility of getting that. Type “prehistoric spider” in Google and you will see what we mean. Google will show you not just results for “prehistoric spider” but related searches that might be helpful in your overall “search journey” as Google likes to call it. Google is monitoring user behavior so much that it’s melding user behavior with the search experience more and more, each year.
Then there’s the ubiquitous ‘rule’ about faster page loading time. Google didn’t add this ranking factor just because it wanted to, but because computer behavioral research has shown that people tend to navigate away from pages after five seconds of unresponsiveness or generally unsatisfying behavior. For example, a page that keeps buffering for a minute or more because the code is messed up or there are just too many frames or heavy images will be left in the dust. People access the Internet on their phones more frequently, so they expect websites to be responsive to their devices.
And let’s not forget the looming presence of artificial intelligence and voice assisted technologies.
The battle is going to be even fiercer because voice assisted technologies will surface information that is very specific to queries, and everyone wants to be in that position to provide information when a search is made via Alexia or Google Assistant. Websites also have to be accessible to the disabled who are completely dependent on non-visual technologies to get around.
Ultimately, you are faced with the challenge of working with two different teams who might have completely opposite ideas about how to make a website work better. Design is just one part of the problem. Let’s say you are trying to promote products on a website.
Google has very specific guidelines when it comes to crawlability, but developers may not be aware of all these guidelines. It’s important to reach a level of compromise with both so the website can stay in top shape while being able to convert consistently. Adding elements to the pages shouldn’t interfere with the best SEO practices, and SEO practices in general should be taken into account but should also not reduce the usability of a website.