What is SEO for Google? SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and it involves improving a website or app so that search engines like Google rank the site higher in their search results.
This article will focus on Google since, as of today, Google controls 83% of the search market share on the internet. (That’s desktop and mobile combined; Google’s search market share for purely mobile is even higher.) Even focusing on Google isn’t too helpful since 90% of all pages ranked Google are never seen by users, but aiming your SEO for Google is a good way to start.
Elements of SEO
1. Accessible by the internet and Google
For the first step for SEO for Google, the site needs to be public on the internet and have its own IP (Internet Protocol) address. An IP address is how computers differentiate the billions of host servers of websites from each other; each website has a different IP address. When you type the name of a website (the URL), your computer (the source IP) looks for the IP that is attached to that website (the destination IP). Thus, a website needs an IP address for other users (and Google) to access.
2. Make Content that Users Like and are Looking For
Once the user has gotten to the website, what do they find? Almost all users are not there for you or your company. I’m sorry, but it’s true. They are there for information and help with their problems. They want answers to questions and to be entertained while doing as little work as possible. Thus, if you want to keep them on the site, the site needs to have the information that they want or at least info that they find interesting.
More than just getting users attention, quality content builds consumer trust in the website and its brand. They are more likely to use it over competitors when looking for information or products. Search algorithms know this so it is programmed to keep websites that users used, liked, and went back to later higher on the list of websites, making it more likely for more users to find that info. If a website wants to be higher in the rankings, having the content that users are looking for and making it easy to find and understand is key.
3. Use Keywords to attract users and Google rankings
Most people type in a short phrase into Google when they are looking for something. ‘How to write in cursive’, ‘who was the president during WWII’, etc. These short phrases are made up of keywords that users are looking for in the sites they see available to them. Google’s bots keep track of the most common keywords that users are looking for and make suggestions for users as they type.
The bots also look for sites that have these keywords and rank them higher in the search results for those keywords. Sites and pages can target multiple keywords in different ways to further get user’s and Google’s attention: they can put the keywords in the title, headings, and body of the content; they can put in in the URL (Uniform Resource Locator) of the page; and they can put the keyword(s) in alt text in images in the content.
4. Speed/Other User experience elements
Speed is key for SEO for Google. First, the site needs to be fast to load pages, known as the website’s load time. This has only gotten more important in recent years since users’ patience for pages that take longer than a few seconds to load has decreased dramatically. A frustrated user will leave the site resulting in a high bounce rate. Google checks a site’s pages’ load time and puts faster pages higher in their search rankings.
Second, users need to be able to find elements. A simple and easy-to-use sitemap helps users find the page with the info or other content they were looking for, along with supplemental pages. The consumers also need to be able to use the page and its elements easily. Consumers hate broken links and widgets/plugins that just don’t work. Make sure your site is user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing to them so that they keep using it and Google ranks it higher.
5. Add Share-Worthy Elements that others will Link to in their content
First, make content that is authoritative with statistics and tips for users. Second, make interesting, informative infographics that better show concepts and statistics for readers. Other bloggers and companies will use your content as their source when they use the statistics or infographics in their content. In other words, make content that others want to ‘steal’ for their SEO for Google.
Further Google’s Standards
Since more people surf the web on their phone or table than a desktop, a website must be mobile friendly. Google ranks these sites higher in search results so make your site mobile -friendly to improve your SEO for Google. Being mobile-friendly has a few parts to it:
- Account for slower mobile speeds (including bad connections)
- Make menus short and sweet with only a few items in them
- Make sure links are far enough apart that users don’t click on a different one accidently
- Use large and easy-to-ready fonts
- Use fast and simple Themes
- Make sure pop-ups are removed for mobile users (this just slows the site and irritates users)
- Make sure images are the right size on mobile; many are too big and are cut off
- Check formatting of everything on different mobile sizes; getting a site looking nice on everything from a large desktop to a small phone is difficult but well worth it
No one wants to get a virus or other malware on any device, and cyber-security only goes so far. Google checks sites for possible security breaches and labels any it thinks may be dangerous to a user’s device. Secure your site with a security plugin and disable and delete unused plugins as they are potential security breaches Also, be careful of what websites you link to or how any downloads appear since Google may think these may be a security threat as well.
HTTPS for Security
Next for SEO for Google, algorithms check if a site has HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure), which encrypts data and prevents it from being intercepted by hackers on the way to its destination. This is particularly important for ecommerce sites since people will be entering their credit card information across the internet. To check if a site has HTTPS, look to the left of the URL; if there is a padlock logo, it is HTTPS secure. HTTPS will be at the start of the URL when double clicked on.
Intrusive Interstitial Guidelines
Many sites don’t do this in their SEO for Google. Intrusive interstitials are a category of annoying elements that worsen user experience in a number of ways including pop-ups, a standalone interstitial, or other content that needs to be closed by the user to read the content they want. Intrusive interstitials can be identified as having the following qualities:
- Blocking content that user was reading
- Slowing down the user’s device
- Breaks the user’s immersion by forcing them to close it
The way to make sure that interstitials on a website are not penalized are:
- Make sure it does block content (unless it is to make sure that users are the correct age to see it)
- Pop-ups only appear when users reach the end of the page or exit the page
- Interstitials only take up a small portion of the screen
- Interstitials are easy to close and don’t slow down the page
- Mobile screens are not covered or slowed down by them
SEO involves improving a website or app so that search engines like Google rank the site higher in their search results. SEO for Google’s elements are:
- Being accessible by the internet and Google,
- Containing content that users are looking for,
- Containing keywords that users are searching for,
- Having a quick load time and good user experience,
- Containing share-worthy elements,
- Being mobile-friendly,
- Being safe and secure within and without the site,
- And avoiding intrusive interstitials.