In today’s world, we don’t always turn to our parents and friends for answers to pretty much all our questions, but rather to Google. So it’s no wonder that business and website owners everywhere are doing everything they can to get their information found on Google. This is exactly what SEO, the practice of optimizing content to get a company’s website to appear as high as possible in organic research results, is everything about.
The first stage to reaching impeccable Search Engine Optimization is to create a website on a platform that facilitates customization and content updates and provides the tools needed to optimize elements of the site.
Once you’ve laid the groundwork for your site, you’ll need to pay attention to many small details, including metadata and links that may help. This article will show you what you need to do with these details and make sure your website meets Search Engine Optimization standards.
Let’s first take a brief tour of the history of web development, mentioning core UX techniques, White and Black Hat SEO, and then offer advice about how the readers can combine both to achieve balance in their designs.
The History of Web Development
Until Google and the term Search Engine Optimization existed, back in the early 90s or so, if you had a blog, all you had to do was gather a couple of keywords for the article and build your post around them.
That still has a presence today, but things have changed a lot, but back then, the technique of keyword building was plenty enough to get a site the traffic it needed. Today, that is not enough. But things have changed since the advent of Google and the increasing number of people getting involved in the endless mysteries of SEO.
We don’t have to go far, we only need to go back to the mid-1990s, 1995, to see how we have come to the present day in the field of Google and Search Engine Optimization.
The timeline goes something like this:
- 1995 – The internet became affordable for people. There has been a lot of evolution in HTML and spreadsheets.
- 1996 – Flash was born, offering users a more visual experience.
- 1998 – CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) Level 2 was released, which is also Google’s online presence. It was a great leap forward in web design and SEO.
- 2000 – The emergence of Web 2.0, the greatest success story of the Internet.
Until the 2000s, websites served the same purpose. Their purpose was to provide information to their visitors. As I said before, things have changed a lot and since Web 2.0, Web Design and Search Engine Optimization have attained a level of sophistication where no sacrifice is needed.
Before I give you specific tips and advice on how to make your website beautiful and SEO-friendly, let’s first look at what we mean by SEO and how we distinguish between the two.
What is SEO?
Simply put, Search Engine Optimization is the process of improving a website to get it to rank as high as possible in organic search engine results. So, the higher your website appears in search results, the more likely it is to attract new and existing customers to your website. We can say that SEO is the most important marketing strategy for any business.
To provide a positive experience for your users, you need to present them with relevant information. Therefore, SEO efforts should focus on the process of ensuring that search engines recognize your content as the leading information on the web for a given search query.
A blog article is not enough to understand how Search Engine Optimization works, but a few sentences will show you how it works in real life. Search engines use robots that crawl websites on the web to determine what content they contain and what the pages are about. These robots scan code and pick up the written text, images, videos, and more from web pages to gather all the information they can. Once they have gathered enough information about the type of information available on each page and have determined that this content will be useful to their search engines, they add these pages to their index. The index is essential for all the possible web hits that the search engine stores to provide to the potential searcher.
Search engines assess what gives the best results based on what searchers are looking for and what other information is already available on the internet. When someone searches, the algorithm matches the user’s search query with relevant information in its index, so search engines get an accurate answer to the query. Platforms then use hundreds of signals to determine the order in which content should appear for each searcher. These are the signals that SEO experts are trying to master.
However, Google doesn’t tell anyone what factors are used to rank, so all the optimization may have been done, but it often takes patience and changes to see the results.
The process is not straightforward as there are two areas of Search Engine Optimization: On-Page, and Off-Page SEO.
- On-page SEO refers to the strategies that you apply to your website, including everything from design and written content to metadata, alternative texts, and more.
- Off-page SEO refers to the steps you take outside of your pages. This includes elements such as external links, social posts, and other site promotion methods.
It’s important to address both areas, as it’s not known how Google will rate websites, so it’s a good idea to take advantage of as many tips and tactics as possible to ensure your website is successful in the Search Engine Optimization realm.
Having looked at some of the theoretical backgrounds of SEO, before we get into the tips and tricks, let’s look at the similarities and differences between White Hat SEO and Black Hat SEO.
We can see that these two Search Engine Optimization concepts are the opposite of each other. White Hat SEO tactics are in line with the terms of the major search engines, including Google. While Black Hat SEO is a catch-all term for practices that can improve performance in organic search results in ways that are frowned upon by search engines such as Google.
Here are some White Hat SEO examples:
- Offering quality content and services
- Fast site load times and mobile-friendliness
- descriptive, keyword-rich meta tags
- Making your site easy to navigate
In contrast, examples of Black Hat SEO include using shopping links or deceptive cloaking techniques. Any tactic that is considered deceptive or harmful to consumers is considered a Black Hat. As Google continues to evolve, Black Hat techniques are becoming less and less viable. That’s why I don’t want to share with you ideas that fall into the category of Black Hat SEO because they won’t drive traffic to your website successfully, rather I advise you to choose from the myriad of White Hat SEO options.
White Hat SEO refers to a Google-approved tactical package to improve your organic search rankings.
Best Practices for Creating an SEO-Friendly Website
1. Responsive design
Search Engine Optimization makes your website more friendly for mobile browsers. Today, 42% of users use their smartphone or tablet while browsing for your services.
If your site doesn’t convert well on a mobile device, they are unlikely to be willing to stay on your website. Check your site through the eyes of a mobile user. See how easy it is to use from a touchscreen, how quickly pages load, how readable and visible the content is, and how clear it is to complete a conversion. Today, a mobile version no longer means less content or limited functionality.
2. Avoid Black Hat SEO solutions
I mentioned earlier that these tactics should be avoided if you want to develop an SEO-friendly website. But let’s look more specifically at what I mean when I talk about Black Hat SEO.
Avoid the following:
- Paid links – Buying links based on PageRank can be a simple task. You don’t have to worry about getting paid. Anchor texts are very powerful for ranking.
- Hidden content and links – It is considered bad practice to, for example, embed links in a single character, add text in the same color as the background, or set the font size to zero to improve rankings.
- Keyword stuffing – Always keep keywords relevant to the content. If your site is about specific areas of UX, don’t write about how a small business owner should pay taxes. The same goes for keywords. Use keywords that are relevant to the topic, but don’t go overboard with them. Google is smarter than you think.
- Content duplication – Myths say you can get penalized if you duplicate a piece of content, but this is not true. It doesn’t mean you have to practice this technique. Google tries to prevent duplication of content as it is confusing for search engines.
3. Black Hat SEO instead of White Hat SEO
Link building is very effective, don’t be afraid of it. It’s not a problem, in fact, Google positively rates it if you put links to your site in an article. This will show that your site has a high value.
If you do your research, you can not only avoid red flags, but you can more easily track which keywords work well for you. Also, use canonical tags to avoid duplication of content. This tells the search engine which site is the source of the content.
4. Use images and videos, but optimize them
Videos and images are more popular than ever for companies to showcase their skills and practices. Good images improve the user experience on your site. These images should depict the key messages of your website and anything that is not relevant or overused should be removed. This part can also be called the design of the website, which, if properly designed, can help improve the user experience of your website.
Furthermore, great design and the use of images and videos can help to increase certain metrics by improving the user experience. It can also increase the time visitors spend on your site, increase the number of return visits, and reduce bounce rates.
All these factors will help improve your site’s ranking. All of this is great if you use creative assets too, but don’t forget to optimize them, because if this step is missed, page load speeds can be unfavorable, which can degrade the customer experience.
Site load speed is one of the most important aspects of any Search Engine Optimization campaign, as members of today’s society are used to instant gratification. People are not willing to wait several seconds for a page to load. Load time is important for user experience, which is why Google starts ranking pages based on it. You need to optimize your site to reduce load times to get to the top of search results. I recommend optimizing or reducing all graphics, using smaller home page images, and deleting unnecessary sub-pages or pop-ups.
4. Finally, why is UX important for SEO?
In the world of digital marketing, it makes sense to invest in things that will deliver long-term results. One of these areas is continuous improvement in UX and SEO.
Improving the user experience of your website while focusing on the elements of SEO can go a long way in increasing your brand’s visibility. It also increases awareness and authority, while ensuring customer satisfaction, engagement, and loyalty. Trends are constantly changing, some disappear but are always replaced by a new trend, which is worth keeping track of if you have any online presence.
Following trends makes your site more relevant to your online audience. It’s not just about aesthetics, it’s also about increasing your Search Engine Optimization potential with a functional UX design.
Several factors can influence the evolution of SEO, and you need to keep an eye on and adapt to these trends as well.
Factors that shape SEO include:
- Simple site structures
- Rich content
- Providing mobile sites
- Voice search optimization
It should be clear to you by now that Search Engine Optimization is not just about keyword research and writing long, substantive articles, as the process is much more complex than that, and it’s worth looking at the UX areas too.
5. What is RankBrain and why is it important for both SEO and UX?
RankBrain is a machine-learning algorithm that Google introduced back in 2015 to help process online searches.
Therefore, it is used to achieve better results for online audiences. RankBrain takes into account a whole range of website features and elements. It allows you to decide where to place your site in the SERPs. This in turn determines whether your site is relevant enough to appear on the first page.
As the algorithm is driven predominantly by behavioral indicators, it is essential to emphasize a data-driven user experience and monitor key KPIs such as:
- Return rate
- Organic CTR
- Amount of time spent on the site
So we can see that the UX aims to improve these indicators and ensure a satisfying user experience. As a result, you will have more and more satisfied customers, you will develop loyalty towards your website, and you will have more and more conversions on your website.
Finally, remember that UX and SEO both serve to increase user happiness and satisfaction. If your visitors are happy with what they get, you can trust that Google will be happy too.
That’s your ticket to the top of the SERPs. Make sure you focus both strategies on the user, and by default, you won’t have a problem with the search engines.
Let’s summarize what you can do to make your website rank higher in search engine results.
Undoubtedly, the best thing you can do to achieve a high ranking is to create informative, high-quality content that answers visitors’ questions and solves some of their problems.
This requires a strong understanding of search intent and a willingness to do keyword research. You can only create great content if you know what your visitors are looking for and what you want to base your content on. Plus, good content leads to editorial links.
Plus, your site needs to be fast, secure, and easy to navigate. But it’s important to remember that in most cases we don’t know what factors are behind Google’s algorithms and we don’t know how they weigh these factors, so be patient, don’t go off the white road to the black site now.
In the world of digital marketing, UX and SEO are inseparable. If you want to be successful in the digital marketing world in 2022 and beyond, you need to address both areas. I suggest you use these tips to achieve success in the ever-growing online world.
I am Adrienn Pusztai, the Content Marketing Manager of Capturly.com, a full-scale website analytics tool. Our mission is to make it easier for our customers to make those business decisions that will result in amazing business development.