If you want people to find your business online, it needs to not just show up on search results but appear pretty high up on the first search engine results page (SERP). This is because 75% of the people don’t scroll past the first SERP. On the other hand, when your website is optimized, you generate targeted traffic of interested buyers, which means that you get to maximize leads and sales.

But optimizing is much more than just using the right keywords in your content. Here’s a look at key strategies to optimize your website for best results.

1.   Page Load Speed

Slow page load speed is among the biggest reasons for website seeing a high bounce rate. Research shows that 40% of the visitors will abandon a site that takes more than 3 seconds to load. In fact, each second of delay in loading reduces user satisfaction by 16%. Slow loading is also considered by Google while ranking websites. So, quick load times will help you rank higher on SERPs.

There are various ways in which you can improve load time, such as:

  • Minimizing image size
  • Delete unnecessary plugins
  • Enable browser caching
  • Minimize CSS and JavaScript files
  • Reduce redirects
  • Reduce server response time

2.   Focus on Search Intent

Search intent refers to the reason for a user’s search query. This is what Google focuses on while listing search results. There are basically 4 types of search intent:

  1. Informational – Where the user seeks specific information, such what “top website optimization strategies.”
  2. Navigational – Where the user is looking for a specific app or website, such as “semgeeks” or “Amazon.”
  3. Commercial – Where the user is looking for a product but hasn’t made up their mind yet, such as “best smartphone.”
  4. Transactional – Where the user is interested in making a purchase, such as “buy Samsung Galaxy online.”

Did you know that 46% of all Google searches have local intent? So, keep the search intent you wish to target while creating content for your website. You might wish to address most of the above categories and can do so through your blog, explainer videos, product pages, etc.

3.   Mobile-First Approach

Google has been ranking websites on its mobile-first index since 2018. If you haven’t yet optimized your site for smaller screen sizes, here’s what you need to do:

  • Use a responsive design, where images and other elements will scale according to the size of the screen.
  • Use shorter meta titles, which are easier to read on smaller screens.
  • Avoid long-form content.
  • Avoid pop-ups that prevent visitors from seeing your content.
  • Don’t use the mobile version for cloaking. Make sure users and search engine see the same content.

The key is to ensure that your site is adaptive to every type of device, from the desktop to tablets and smartphones.

4.   Enhance User Experience

Firstly, research shows that 88% of the people are less likely to return to your website after a poor user experience. More importantly, for every $1 you invest in optimizing the user experience, you get a return of $100, which equate to 9,900% ROI.

The first step is to analyze your website to identify UX issues. So, look at user flow, exit pages, heatmaps and session recordings. To ensure the best UX, make sure your website is:

  • Easy to navigate and use
  • Content is unique and satisfies the user’s need
  • Attractive and builds an emotional connect
  • Integrates design and navigation for an intuitive experience
  • Appears credible and trustworthy
  • Adds value for the visitor

5.   Core Web Vitals

Launched in 2020, this is one of Google’s algorithms that evaluates the health of a website. The ultimate aim is to determine the quality of user experience offered by the site. Google intends to combine Core Web Vitals with its new Page Experience algorithm, to be launched in May 2021, to rank websites.

The algorithm will judge “loading experience, interactivity and visual stability of page content.” The good news is that there are tools available to help you judge the core web vitals of your site, such as PageSpeed Insights, Lighthouse and Search Console.

6.   Technical SEO

Technical SEO refers to tools that supervise the SEO of a website and resolve issues as they are encountered. With these tools, conducting an SEO audit of your site has become easier than ever before. To optimize technical SEO for your website, here’s what you need to do:

  • Ascertain that your site is mobile friendly
  • Check robot.txt files, which is where most sites experience bugs
  • Look for status code errors and fix them
  • Check and rectify duplicate meta title and description tags
  • Check the indexing of your website using Google Search Console
  • Use Google Analytics to check website traffic across different webpages and fix the content of underperforming pages
  • Check for and fix broken links, which drastically impact UX
  • Use Google Search Console to submit your XML sitemap to Google.

7.   Optimize Your Site for Voice Search

Voice search has gained popularity quickly. Statistics reveal the 71% of consumers prefer voice search over typing to conduct queries. However, what is important to know is that the way voice search is conducted is different from text search. Most commonly, voice searches tend to include longer phrases or even sentences, compared to the 2-3 words used for text search.

So, optimizing for voice search should be a separate exercise to include:

  • Long-tail keywords, which are keywords with more than 3 words, and multiple semantically related keywords.
  • Use structured data or Schema, which help Google to better understand the themes and subject of a webpage.

8.   Focus on Authoritative Backlinks

Regardless of how many changes Google makes to its algorithms, one thing that it still gives important too are credible backlinks. The higher the number of backlinks to your webpages, the higher they will rank on the SERPs. However, remember that only high-quality backlinks will positively impact ranking, while questionable ones could hurt it.

Some of the link building strategies that work include:

  • Fix broken links
  • Use Resource Pages
  • Mine for backlinks
  • Claim unlinked mentions
  • Reclaim links

After you develop a new version of your website, make sure you use an A/B or a benchmark usability test. This way, you can identify any remaining issues and fix them before you take the new version live.