Appearing in the top places of the search engine results pages (SERP) is of fundamental importance to determine the success of a website. Therefore, you need to know what are the main factors that influence the ranking of your keywords and climb the positions as it has already been explained in this introductory article about SEO.
Table of Contents:
- 1. Site Accessibility
- 2. Loading Speed
- 3. Responsive Web Design
- 4. Inbound and Outbound Linking
- 5. About SEO and Domains
- 6. Content Optimization
- 7. Keyword Usage
- 8. Heading and Meta Descriptions
- 9. Images
- 10. The Importance of a reliable Hosting Provider
According to various studies, there seem to be more than 200 factors that impact on positioning, some of which affect only marginally, while others impact very significantly. This article describes the top 10 most important SEO factors.
1. Accessible Website
The first step to optimize SEO is a domain name relevant to the content of the site and the address (Url) must be accessible to search engine softwares that analyze sites structure (spiders) .To facilitate indexing there must be the robots.txt file, to indicate to Google the areas of the site to be scanned and those to be ignored.
Also very important also the sitemap that lists all its pages. If you use WordPress, simply install a Seo optimization plugin like Yoast SEO or SeoPress and the map can be generated in simple steps. Otherwise you can use a tool that generates online maps such as XML Sitemaps, and then upload the map to the root folder on the server via ftp.
Both HTTP and HTTPS protocol pages are scanned, but the second is to recommend since it’s safer because it is associated with an SSL Certificate that encrypts data between user and server. To do this, simply assign the address starting with https:// to your site at installation and start detecting and installing the SSL certificate from the security section of the control panel in the personal area of your Hosting Provider.
All the Web Hosts recommended in this list include free support for Let’s Encrypt certificates.
2. Loading Speed
Site loading speed is a crucial factor for a fulfilling user experience and as an element that contributes to scale search engine results pages
Google provides for free a series of tools that allow you to analyze and optimize web pages loading speeds to both mobile and desktop devices. Click to visit Google PageSpeed.
3. Responsive Web Design
A responsive website, which adapts to the screen of any device is rewarded by Google in terms of visibility. This is because search engines take into account the fact that more and more people are using smartphones to surf the web than desktop or laptop computers. As a result, indexing is done by prioritizing smartphones, and a site that doesn’t take this into account risks being removed from search results.
To check if a site is mobile-friendly just use the Mobile Optimization Test that is part of the Google Search Console webmaster tools.
4. Inbound and Outbound Linking
Links also play a vital role in an SEO strategy.Links can be inbound, outbound and internal.
Search engines take into consideration the number and quality of incoming links (from other sites, also known as Backlinks) to determine the authority and relevance of a website’s content. Ideally, important websites that are highly regarded by Google should include a link to your site on a relevant topic. Links from long-running websites with high authority are more valuable than links from any low-quality site.
Internal links, which refer to content on the same site, also have their own value. They help crawlers of major search engines to better analyze and index the site. They also offer visitors easy access to content by improving the user experience.
5. About SEO and Domains
Most domains that compete in Google’s top 10 with one or more keywords have been online for more than 3 years, in which case age matters.
If a domain matches or contains a certain keyword, it is undoubtedly an advantage for sites that have quality content. While sites without relevant content suffer a penalty because this may imply the use of spam.
Country top-level domains (with extensions .it, .de, .uk, etc.) can help a site rank better in a particular country, but tend to limit its chances of ranking globally.
6. Content Optimization
Obviously the content of a website is crucial within a strategy of positioning in search results pages, everything revolves around it.
The content must be current and original in order to be better positioned. The ideal is to associate quality with a fairly long content, obviously you should not add words just to add content. Rather, better analyze those topics that need further study.
In general pages with more than 1500 – 2000 words associated with interesting and quality content rank better.
You must try to avoid pages with duplicate content because this negatively affects SEO.
7. Keyword Usage
Search engine algorithms are based on keywords, which are phrases or words that users enter to find what they are looking for. These are also the words and phrases that make up and help describe the content of a website.
Focusing only on the keywords with which you want to aim for the top of Google’s search results is not enough, but you should add related terms that help search engines to index more efficiently.
A valuable tool for searching and analyzing keywords that affect your site is Google Search Console. Google’s free suite of tools for webmasters is essential to successfully scale SEO rankings. If you still don’t use it, it’s time to log in and connect your sites.
But be careful not to enter too many keywords (Keyword stuffing), because the attempt to obtain visibility in an artificial way is an indication of a content of poor value and will be interpreted as spam. As a result the site will undergo a penalization.
8. Heading and Meta Description
Including keywords within titles is very important because it is through them that search engines first evaluate whether or not the content is relevant to user searches.
The title of the post or page must have the attribute H1, the other main titles of the page H2, the subtitles H3 and so on according to a hierarchical system.
If you use WordPress, it’s easy to insert titles thanks to the block system introduced since version 5.0. So just insert the Title element from the blocks menu, select the header layer as shown in the picture below and write the title.
It is also recommended to create a meta description of the type “description” of about 160 characters that includes the keywords and that is able to attract visitors. The “meta” elements are not visible on the page, but contain very valuable information for search engine crawlers and can be viewed in search results.
Using WordPress it’s all much easier, once you have installed the excellent Yoast SEO plugin. Actually you don’t need to download it, just install it from the Plugins/Add new menu in the WordPress back-end. Once installed, in the tabbed section at the bottom you can edit the title and description as well as being able to preview the snippet of when it will show up in Google search results.
Images impact both SEO and user experience. Images allow readers to better understand page content and add strategic text breaks.
Among the various types of images there are purely aesthetic ones, explanatory infographics or screenshots that help you better understand the steps of a tutorial.
Images can weigh several megabytes, so it is recommended to compress them before using them, otherwise they would slow down the loading time with consequent SEO penalization. A very useful online tool to compress images is Optimizilla, just drag on the page up to 20 images and will be applied a series of sophisticated algorithms that allow the maximum possible compression without loss of quality. You then only need to re-download the optimized images to use them.
Images should be accompanied by a description using the attribute “alt”. By inserting keywords in this description you can understand that the images are relevant to the content and are helpful for SEO.
The alt tag also helps to make the site more accessible as its content is identified by screen readers used by visually impaired people.
10. The Importance of a reliable Hosting Provider
All that has been explained so far only makes sense if the optimized website is always online, working and with the necessary resources available. These factors depend directly on the quality of the web hosting service we choose, that must have a decent uptime, run on updated components and must be scalable to deal with increases in traffic if needed.
Main reasons why you should choose a reliable host:
- Server Uptime
In the eyes of a search engine the reliability of a site based on the constant reachability (Uptime) is fundamental because it is able to guarantee quality search results. On the contrary, if the site, due to internal server problems, is often unreachable (we talk about Downtime) when the search engine crawlers try to analyze and index it, it will be considered unreliable with a consequent loss of authority.
- Loading Speed
User experience is more rewarding if a site loads faster. That’s why back in 2010 Google stated that this parameter significantly influences the visibility of a site in search results, as already explained in point 2 of this article. Even if this aspect does not depend completely on the web host itself, the web host must still provide the necessary resources and an adequate infrastructure to benefit from the most efficient optimization technologies to cope with the demands of the web traffic.
- Server Location
The geographic location of the data-center where your server resides affects speed. The closer it is to the site visitor, the faster the data arrives and search engines take this into account. Alternatively, a CDN (Content Delivery Network) can be used to make a site’s content available globally without latency issues. For example InterServer, a U.S. host, provides it for free as explained below.
Other features that a reliable web host must have is a prompt support service available 24 hours a day, security tools such as firewalls, automatic backups and support for SSL certificates and the ability to scale the hosting plan at any time if necessary. All of course offered at the right price/quality ratio.
Three Hosts that can help improve SEO
A2 Hosting: Among the best hosts overall, A2 stands out for its above-average performance and excellent support service. They have recently remodeled their offer, guaranteeing even better performance thanks to the use of the latest generation of servers and making plans more affordable, especially for long-term subscriptions starting at $2.99 per month with the current promotion. You can choose the nearest datacenter (the European one is in Amsterdam) and they take care of migrations from other hosts free of charge. Another element that SEO benefits from is Dedicated IP address, which you can choose when subscribing.
Hostinger: A surprisingly affordable yet solid hosting company. In addition an excellent uptime and excellent speed, Hostinger provides quality SEO tools. There are a number of detailed guides for internal and external optimization, and now the free SSL certificate is available even with the cheapest plan. For an additional $9.99 per month you can take advantage of an advanced SEO Toolkit.
Interserver: Only one shared plan to choose at $2.5 for the first billing cycle payable monthly thanks to the current promotion, but very powerful. There are no bandwidth limits, storage space is unmetered and you can add how many sites you want. Servers reside in the U.S. but thanks to Cloudflare, the content delivery network (CDN) available at no extra charge, site content is uploaded to a network of servers located in various global locations and made available worldwide without delay.
Of course, if you have a higher budget and many visitors the best thing is to rely on a professional managed hosting service that guarantees high performance and less hassle. Read more…
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