How to Optimize Your Site for SEO Performance

What makes a website perform from an SEO perspective? It’s a dynamic mix of content, user-experience, and web development. Strategic SEO needs the entire web industry – from writers and marketers, to developers and designers. Here are some SEO optimization strategies you need to adopt to ensure that your site is performing to the highest possible SEO standard.

Regular Auditing Bad SEO performance is often caused by a lack of data auditing. SEO success hinges on regular analytics deep dives to ensure that your site’s search environment remains at an optimal level. Implement frequent analytics meetings to ensure that all departments and stakeholders are aware of key web metrics. Address badly performing pages as an organization and implement improvement strategies. Fix 404s (broken links) as soon as they appear with 301 redirects (crucial for large ecommerce sites). A broken link can cause revenue loss and will interfere with site crawling and indexing. As well as regular analytics reviews, invest in high-level SEO audits every now and then. Make sure that you invest in someone with a good understanding of technical SEO who can pass on key recommendations. Be aware that you may not be able to fix everything immediately – prioritize tasks that affect indexing and user-experience first. Great Content That People Can Share Don’t waste money on low-performing content that clogs up your site and devalues your brand. You need actually good content that will form the basis for backlinks, social shares, and brand mentions. You need content that is going to invite comment and engage. So how can you make your content more shareable? How can you create content that will work for a link building tactic like the Skyscraper Technique? Always be topical and newsworthy. Try to write content that is ‘of the moment’. Seasonal roundups and content that is looking towards future industry trends are perennially popular. Struggling to come up with anything? Buzzsumo is a great content research tool that tells you the most shared posts based on your keywords. Do one better than your competitors – survey the playing field and observe what your SEO competitors are doing. Sites that rank well will have invested in quality content in the form of guides, tutorials and factsheets. Creating your own content library of downloadable and shareable resources will improve key engagement metrics like dwell time and social shares (and they can also be used for lead generation). Ego bait is great for when you are struggling to get shares and mentions from industry leaders. Everyone loves to share when they’ve been featured – factor in expert roundups, reviews, and interviews into your content calendar. Offer value and use keyword research tools like answerthepublic.com to help find user questions that need answering. Always focus your content around people’s main concerns. (Optimizing your site thematically like this will also help up your relevancy metrics). Always consider your buyer personas (including negative ones) when you are developing new content to ensure that you are hitting the mark. Going off-topic could mean wasting expensive content resources. Don’t just rely on people to share – make sharing integral to your website structure with sharing icons, pop-ups and social share plugins. Make sharing easy and natural – people won’t do it if it’s a hassle. Don’t forget to heavily promote and outreach your content with targeted social media and email campaigns. Speed (Especially on Mobile) Websites that are slow aren’t going to impress users or search engines. Speed is becoming increasingly important, so keep optimizing your site’s front and backend environments for speed and usability. Mobile speed is crucial for SEO. Here is how Google’s mobile-first index is impacting ranking and SEO. Take advantage of the open source Accelerated Mobile Pages Project and optimize your website for fast mobile browsing. Factor in speed to all your design decisions – use images, video and complex design elements sparingly and always explore the latest compression and minification options. Speed isn’t just a performance issue, it has a big impact on overall site user-experience too. Don’t accept slow load times and explore different development and hosting options when needed. Here are some SEO speed best practices. Metadata & Structured Data Make sure that your website is tagged up correctly so that search engines can choose content elements to display in dynamic search fields. You want search engines to be able to parse your content and pick out key elements like reviews, product images etc. Rich snippets and rich cards (mobile only) are there to give people a more inviting (and faster) search experience. By optimizing your site with structured data markup you are giving yourself the best chance of showing up in these fields. Remember to write unique title tags and meta descriptions for all your pages and give your image alt texts some love too. Fresh and Meaningful Backlinks & Brand Mentions A great site won’t go far without authority, which in turn is dependant on links. Authority is judged on the number, quality, and relevance of backlinks and brand mentions to your domain. Use link analytics tools like Majestic to monitor your current backlink portfolio. Be aware that having an unnatural link profile (too many keyword anchors, links from spammy/irrelevant sites) may have a negative impact on your rankings. If you have lots of link spam, it might be appropriate to consider link disavowal; but this is an advanced SEO tactic that should be handled with caution. Mass disavowals are not recommended. Need to get more links? Use the power of content to gain more natural links, either through outreach or guest posting. Always offer value with your content and match it to your intended target with personalization. Another way to raise domain authority is to focus your efforts on local citations and brand mentions – reviews and directory registrations are key to this local SEO tactic. Streamline & be purposeful SEO performance issues often come down to pages having mixed purposes. Due to keyword mismanagement, some sites are forcing search engines to choose between ranking different pages on their site for the same keyword. This can lead to ineffective search positions – find your purpose first. Don’t risk confusion – make sure that each page has a clear search purpose and a coherent user-experience. Talking about different things on the same page? It may be time to branch out. How well are your landing pages optimised? What pages are making it to the index first? A proper keyword strategy should help you define page purpose. Keep refining and redefining your keywords. Ever had SEO performance issues? What tips did you find most useful for your website?

Regular Auditing

Bad SEO performance is often caused by a lack of data auditing. SEO success hinges on regular analytics deep dives to ensure that your site’s search environment remains at an optimal level.

  • Implement frequent analytics meetings to ensure that all departments and stakeholders are aware of key web metrics. Address badly performing pages as an organization and implement improvement strategies.
  • Fix 404s (broken links) as soon as they appear with 301 redirects (crucial for large ecommerce sites). A broken link can cause revenue loss and will interfere with site crawling and indexing.
  • As well as regular analytics reviews, invest in high-level SEO audits every now and then. Make sure that you invest in someone with a good understanding of technical SEO who can pass on key recommendations. Be aware that you may not be able to fix everything immediately – prioritize tasks that affect indexing and user-experience first.

Great Content That People Can Share

Don’t waste money on low-performing content that clogs up your site and devalues your brand. You need actually good content that will form the basis for backlinks, social shares, and brand mentions. You need content that is going to invite comment and engage.

So how can you make your content more shareable? How can you create content that will work for a link building tactic like the Skyscraper Technique?

  • Always be topical and newsworthy. Try to write content that is ‘of the moment’. Seasonal roundups and content that is looking towards future industry trends are perennially popular. Struggling to come up with anything? Buzzsumo is a great content research tool that tells you the most shared posts based on your keywords.
  • Do one better than your competitors – survey the playing field and observe what your SEO competitors are doing. Sites that rank well will have invested in quality content in the form of guides, tutorials and factsheets. Creating your own content library of downloadable and shareable resources will improve key engagement metrics like dwell time and social shares (and they can also be used for lead generation).
  • Ego bait is great for when you are struggling to get shares and mentions from industry leaders. Everyone loves to share when they’ve been featured – factor in expert roundups, reviews, and interviews into your content calendar.
  • Offer value and use keyword research tools like answerthepublic.com to help find user questions that need answering. Always focus your content around people’s main concerns. (Optimizing your site thematically like this will also help up your relevancy metrics).
  • Always consider your buyer personas (including negative ones) when you are developing new content to ensure that you are hitting the mark. Going off-topic could mean wasting expensive content resources.
  • Don’t just rely on people to share – make sharing integral to your website structure with sharing icons, pop-ups and social share plugins. Make sharing easy and natural – people won’t do it if it’s a hassle.
  • Don’t forget to heavily promote and outreach your content with targeted social media and email campaigns.

Speed (Especially on Mobile)

Websites that are slow aren’t going to impress users or search engines. Speed is becoming increasingly important, so keep optimizing your site’s front and backend environments for speed and usability.

Metadata & Structured Data

Make sure that your website is tagged up correctly so that search engines can choose content elements to display in dynamic search fields. You want search engines to be able to parse your content and pick out key elements like reviews, product images etc.

  • Rich snippets and rich cards (mobile only) are there to give people a more inviting (and faster) search experience. By optimizing your site with structured data markup you are giving yourself the best chance of showing up in these fields.
  • Remember to write unique title tags and meta descriptions for all your pages and give your image alt texts some love too.

Fresh and Meaningful Backlinks & Brand Mentions

A great site won’t go far without authority, which in turn is dependent on links. Authority is judged on the number, quality, and relevance of backlinks and brand mentions to your domain.

  • Use link analytics tools like Majestic to monitor your current backlink portfolio. Be aware that having an unnatural link profile (too many keyword anchors, links from spammy/irrelevant sites) may have a negative impact on your rankings. If you have lots of link spam, it might be appropriate to consider link disavowal; but this is an advanced SEO tactic that should be handled with caution. Mass disavowals are not recommended.
  • Need to get more links? Use the power of content to gain more natural links, either through outreach or guest posting. Always offer value with your content and match it to your intended target with personalization.
  • Another way to raise domain authority is to focus your efforts on local citations and brand mentions – reviews and directory registrations are key to this local SEO tactic.

Streamline & Be Purposeful

SEO performance issues often come down to pages having mixed purposes. Due to keyword mismanagement, some sites are forcing search engines to choose between ranking different pages on their site for the same keyword. This can lead to ineffective search positions – find your purpose first.

  • Don’t risk confusion – make sure that each page has a clear search purpose and a coherent user-experience. Talking about different things on the same page? It may be time to branch out. How well are your landing pages optimized? What pages are making it to the index first?
  • A proper keyword strategy should help you define page purpose. Keep refining and redefining your keywords.

Ever had SEO performance issues? What tips did you find most useful for your website?

This article was contributed by guest author:

Gareth Simpson

Gareth Simpson – Technical SEO & Startup Founder

Gareth has worked as an SEO for almost a decade now and has recently started freelancing as a technical SEO in Bristol, UK. His SEO specialisms are content and blogger outreach…and he likes green tea.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image credit: Pixabay