One of the early topics that always comes up in discussion about potential website designs (and redesigns) is SEO – search engine optimization. At Thrive, we believe that your website team should also be your SEO team. The development of the site and the SEO strategy are inextricably intertwined and, if your website ultimately fails, these two teams would just end up pointing fingers at each other. It’s a little added pressure on us, but that’s okay. We think it should be the same folks handling both tasks.

But what sorts of things do we focus on when it comes to SEO? What will make your page rank higher at the most popular search engines?

Content is… (What’s Another Word for King?)

You’ve probably heard it more times than you ever cared to, but content truly is king. Although there is more to a website than writing some words, it is the single most effective thing you can do to boost traffic. The most important aspects of your content are 1) how frequently new content is added and 2) the quality of the writing as it pertains to being useful for your customers.

When you post often, Google (and others, though Google is the most popular search engine by leaps and bounds) see your site as having something fresh to say. It shows that your business is active online and therefore has something of importance to say. With the proper content management system, you can create news or blog articles that show up on other pages of your website – which causes those normally-static pages to be updated as well. As search engines notice that many of your pages are changing content at a frequent clip, they’ll infer relevant content is being added and boost your ranking.

Relevant content. Which leads us to the next part.

Even though a certain level of assumption is being made about your frequent posts, these search engines will still be measuring the quality of it as well. Here we are in 2015 and we find ourselves with some awfully smart search engines. Gone are the days where you could heavily spam a page with keywords and trick the search engine into boosting your page for those phrases. The content you write will have to appeal to human beings. Sure, search engines are still grading your content, but their algorithms have gotten so complex that anything short of human-friendly speak and value will be dinged as spam. Write content for your customers and search engines will reward you for it!

Mobile Optimization

That’s just tech-y talk for “is your site built to be easily viewed on mobile devices?” Just a couple of years ago, I wrote an article on this blog detailing the differences between Responsive/Adaptive sites and Mobile (native) Apps. Little did anyone know then just how important mobile readiness would be to search engines in 2015, but the article still holds true.

On April 21, 2015, Google released an update to their algorithm – dramatically termed Mobilegeddon – that officially penalizes websites that aren’t mobile optimized to drop their rankings on mobile device searches. To put things in context, it is very rare for Google to give any kind of insight into what makes up their super-secret algorithms. What this means to us, you and me and agencies everywhere, is that Google is serious about sites being optimized for all devices.

The good news is that you have choices (see the linked article), but the bottom line is that something needs to happen if you’re not mobile ready.

Want even more good news? Google created a Mobile-Friendly Test tool for you to see if your site passes!

Performance

One of the lesser-known factors of search ranking is website performance. Without getting too technical, there’s perceived performance and actual performance. Each has its own challenges, but the long-and-short of it is that the size of your website pages matters.

This load time infographic (still accurate, although from 2011) by KISSmetrics shows that almost 50% of all traffic will abandon your site if it takes more than 10 seconds to load. Furthermore, KISSmetrics claims that a 1 second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions.

What does this have to do with SEO? If we think about what a search engine’s primary objective is, a lot. Search engines exist (and make money) when they serve the best results to searchers. If you were constantly being sent to sites that took 10, 15, 20 seconds to load, you’d find a different search engine. One that cares about your valuable time. And that would be bad for business, since less traffic to the search engine means decreased ad sales. (It’s always about the money, right?)

So how do we test the speed and size of your web pages? There are a few great tools. I won’t get into what each of them do, but each has it’s own set of features that measure the speed and cost of your website.

What Now?

That’s a lot to think about, isn’t it? Even more to take action on. If you read my article a few weeks ago, I talked about what you get when you hire an agency. The great news is that this is what we do at Thrive. We have processes in place and people on teams to handle all these things. We do these things (and more) for SEO while we build websites!

If you’re looking for a higher search engine ranking, a mobile-ready website, a logo, brochure, or any other branding help, give us a shout! It’s what we love to do!


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