Is Your Website Set Up for SEO Success?

If you read our first post on SEO basics, you already have a basic idea of what it is and how it works. Today, we will get into a little more detail about setting up your website for SEO success.

First, why is SEO important? There are a few reasons:

  • SEO brings in highly qualified traffic.

  • It’s sustainable.

  • It’s cost-effective.

  • It can give your business a competitive edge.

  • It provides insight.

  • SEO can help your website gain consistent and engaged traffic.

  • It gives your website, and business, higher credibility.

But, how can you improve your website’s SEO? That’s a great question. The truth is, SEO is a complicated and ongoing process, but there are some first steps you can take to make sure your website is set up for SEO success. If you start with a poorly designed site, you will already be at a disadvantage.

Let’s take a look at your website, based on these three questions:

  1. Can search engines find your site?

  2. How are search engines indexing your pages?

  3. How are search engines ranking your pages?

Can search engines find your site?

Your site’s navigation is key to search engines finding it. Make sure the navigation is clear, well-organized and labeled for optimum user efficiency. Make it easy for users to find what they are looking for. Mobile and desktop navigation should show the same results—make sure there’s no discrepancy between the two. All primary pages should be linked through navigation. Check for errors, such as 404 Page Not Found. Not only will these errors affect your site’s ranking in search queries, but they are frustrating to visitors. Within your site, you will want to make sure your best content isn’t hidden behind login forms or search forms. Content needs to be easily accessible to search engines that are crawling for relevant information. Also, don’t forget meta descriptions. A meta description is a snippet of about 155 characters – a tag – which summarizes a page’s content. Also, remember that search engines see text, not images, so you will want to make sure all images have alt tags. These are text alternatives for images so search engines understand what they represent.

How are search engines indexing your pages?

Google crawls and stores websites at different frequencies, so larger well-known pages will be crawled more frequently than smaller lesser known pages. Unless your site is brand new, it has probably been indexed already. You can check how often Google is crawling your pages by logging into Google Search Console. If you haven’t signed up for Google Analytics or Google Search Console yet – do this today! If you want your pages crawled more often, create content more often!

Make sure your site loading speed is fast. has a great site speed checking tool; Google has one as well. Make sure ALL of your pages are being indexed. You can do this by submitting a sitemap through Google Search Console. Also, using Google Search Console can help you identify and fix any indexing or crawling errors your site may have.

How are search engines ranking your pages?

After crawling and indexing sites, search engines will rank results in order of relevance to a search query. Google has more than 200 ranking factors in their algorithm. That’s a lot! We aren’t going to discuss each one today, but we will highlight a few.

Google Rank Factors include:

  • Domain. Your domain is a relevancy signal for search engines. Having a keyword as the first word in your domain will give an edge over sites that don’t have a keyword in their domain. Adding keywords to your subdomain can also give your site a boost, so you may want to add these where you can. The domain registration length also determines relevancy. Legitimate, valuable domains are usually paid for in advance for several years, whereas doorway or illegitimate domains are rarely used more than a year. So, the date your domain is set to expire in the future can be used as a factor in ranking.

  • Page level. A few page level factors to keep in mind are keywords in title tags, description tags, your URL, URL strings, and you H1 tag (the HTML tag that indicates a heading on your website), content, page load, image optimization, update frequency, outbound links, mobile optimization, multimedia, and internal links.

  • Site level. At the site level, keep in mind the factors that make the site user-friendly. Some of these include breadcrumbs-descriptions, contact pages, architecture, site security, terms of service, privacy policy pages, and user reviews.

  • Backlinks. are links to your sites from external sites. These are important to building site credibility and increasing rank position. When it comes to backlinks, quality does matter. The age, credibility, authority, diversity, location, and quality of backlinks will help sites rank higher in search results. Ideally, your website should include backlinks from many different credible, authoritative sources.

  • User Integration. User integration is the reason Google Analytics is your BFF for SEO. Google Analytics will help you monitor click rates, bounce rates, high direct traffic, high repeat traffic, and visit length. These factors reveal a lot about the relevance and effectiveness of your site, how many users are visiting, and how long they are spending on your page from a search. The more time users are spending on your page, the more Google likes it.

  • Brand signals. Brand signals include brand searches and branded searches with a keyword, higher ranking content that is tied to verified online profiles, social media pages with likes, followers, and engagement (only from legitimate sites, please), and un-linked brand mentions- mentions of a brand that aren’t linking back to the brand’s site. These brand signals contribute to the relevancy of your website when it comes to search results.

  • On-site spam. On-site spam is detrimental to a website’s relevancy and should be avoided. This includes low quality content, or content from content farms, links to spam sites, too many pop-ups or distracting ads (especially full page-blocking ads), and over-optimization or keyword stuffing. These techniques are not helpful to readers and Google will penalize sites that incorporate them.

  • Off-site spam. Finally, off-site spam includes an unnatural influx of links, a high percentage of low-quality links from sites used by black hat SEO farms, or a high percentage of links that are unrelated to your site. If Google algorithms sense off-site spam, Google may think your site has been hacked and it can be de-indexed completely.

By examining your site through these questions, you can better understand how it is being ranked and incorporate some of these factors. While there is no quick solution for SEO, this is a great start to set up your website for SEO success.

In our next post on SEO basics, we will discuss a few ways to increase website credibility and drive traffic to your website.

If you have questions about your website or SEO, contact The Social Bullpen today. We can create custom solutions to help you reach your marketing goals.