How to Optimise a Webpage in 2019
Website optimisation… Now there is a buzzword that everyone is constantly talking and writing about. Maybe you thought optimisation was a strictly mathematical term if you were one of the math geeks like me who took calculus. To put simply, website optimisation is making sure the website can achieve business goals. Not only is it a fundamental aspect of performance marketing in SEO, but it has also been a living and transforming concept. Originally, we used to follow a series of protocols to make sure our webpage closely aligned with our target keywords. But, Google has evolved and can now focus on user intent, making many traditional optimisation protocols outdated and less effective. One must educate themselves in what the concept has transformed into. Conveniently, here’s your guide to what’s in and what’s out in website optimisation strategies.
Traditional Webpage Optimisation Methods
Traditionally here’s how we used to approach webpage optimisation:
- Understanding what shape your website is currently in (does it have some strengths, or did it miss leg day?) Imagine going on your webpage as a potential user. Is it easy to follow, straightforward, visually engaging? Does it yield the results you are seeking from it?
- Labelling images with alt tags. Well-chosen images don’t only make your page visually engaging, but the alt attributes can also help Google or search engines understand what your image is about. This ultimately improves the relevance and accessibility of your site.
- Keywords, keywords, keywords… Recognizing the significance of keywords and strategically placing them in your content used to be the go-to tactic for optimisation. This involved: Checking if the targeted keyword is in the URL, page title and the meta description. Keywords were also naturally nested on H1(the main topic), H2(subsections of H1) and so forth. The keyword would be placed in the first and last 50 words, specifically prioritizing keywords in the front of the page and ensuring a general keyword density of 3-4%. This algorithmic optimisation helps the click-through rate in the SERPs(search engine results pages) and reinforces that the content the visitors see is relevant to what they were looking for. Let’s walk you through an example:
- Say you have a website for unicorn food. You would want to showcase the keyword ‘unicorn food’ in your website title, page title, subtitles, even the URL itself. This would allow Google to understand that your page is extremely relevant to unicorn food. So, if someone is looking to buy food for their pet unicorn Google might prefer to put your website on one of the top search results.
Newest Strategies for Website Optimisation
That was then, but this is now… Lots have changed since people first heard the term website optimisation. Now, you type in webpage optimisation on Google and it yields over 770,000,000 results! Traditionally, webpage optimisation resulted in the creation of webpages designed for search engines, not human beings. But Google has advanced and knows better than simply tracking keywords. It can now understand meanings of groups of words, the intent of the search and so much more. You might have noticed the changes yourself as your search results become more and more personalized and practical.
A Little Bit of History on What Has Changed
Google released an update in 2013 called Hummingbird: a complete transformation to the existing core algorithm. This update allowed for an extremely sophisticated understanding of searcher intent to present the most relevant results. The algorithm was designed to make the semantic search a reality, basing the SERP results not on simple keywords and language but broader contexts involved with the searcher intent. An example of how this works: imagine you are searching for the word chocolate cake. Google can detect that you are likely not searching for a simple definition of a chocolate cake and yields recipes, nutritional facts and similar features of the word that has to do with what the researcher intended to view while searching.
In 2015 Google released RankBrain, a component of its algorithm that utilizes machine learning to improve relevance in search engine queries through components like searcher location, personalized data unveiling true intent. A similar update on the Google search quality algorithm came in September 2018. All these core updates were targeting improving Google’s interpretation of searcher intent according to refined search quality guidelines. All these updates and components of Google’s algorithm affect how we choose to optimise our sites by putting the right features on our pages.
So, how will we adapt our website optimisation techniques in 2019 according to the newest trends?
- Being mobile-first: Did you know that Google can penalize webpages that don’t resize for mobile devices? What’s more, it is no longer enough to only be mobile-friendly. Since 2016, there has been an upsurge in people using their mobile devices while browsing the internet. Today, over 58% of site visits are from mobile devices. Here are some quick tips on making a webpage mobile-friendly:
- Scaling images
- Using short meta titles
- Use shorter content
- Avoid pop-ups
- Leveraging SEO tools: Search Engine Optimisation is tricky business as it is critical securing/improving your ranking in search engines like Google. Here are a few tools that can help:
- Google Search Console (free): helps you see how Google views your webpage and especially track which keywords your visitors are using to get to your website
- SEMrush and MozPro (both subscription): helps you understand the value of specific queries, returns similar keywords, advertisements and products, also giving you a glimpse of your competitor’s strategies.
- BuzzStream (subscription): allows you to analyse how your competitors are doing it, what keywords are they using, what kind of experience do their website provide and how would you change it. It also provides information on keywords like rankings, relevant social media accounts, domain age, etc.
- Google AdWords Keyword Planner (free): Gives information on search volumes and competitiveness of a keyword from its CPC (cost per click)
- Content marketing: it is critical to update and improve your site continuously to gain a better positioning in Google. Let’s go back to the unicorn food example. Try to make your website a site that visitors seek not only to buy unicorn food but receive unicorn FAQ, read about the newest trends about unicorns. Is there a trend of unicorns preferring veganism, is there a new diet option using alternative sugar products in the food? Let your customers learn through you! Yet, always ensure quality over quantity. Google is now much better at identifying low quality links and content. After creating a hub of resources, utilise social media platforms to promote the content. Follow current trends, latest hashtags to stay relevant and stay original to stand out.
- User Experience (UX): capitalizing on user satisfaction is more important than ever. It is essential to make sure your site is: useful, usable, desirable, findable, accessible, credible, valuable. When I’m going on your unicorn food site, is it taking me more than a minute to find where the shopping page is, is the subscription page too complex, is the payment details page repetitive? Well, it shouldn’t be!
In short, times have changed. Digital platforms are not meant to be designed for search engine crawlers; they are for human beings. And that is what webpage optimisation strategies should be based on: human needs and wants.