In 2023, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is as relevant as ever was, if not more so. The virtualization of commerce, amplified by the Covid-19 lockdowns, is continuing, with an expected $5.9 trillion in e-commerce sales this year, according to Oberlo (Shopify) data.
With more people using the Internet to research brands before making a purchase, having a representative website is paramount. But that’s only half the job because your website must rank well on the Google Search Engine Results Page (SERP). SEO is the number one go-to tool to ensure your website is visible and attracts organic traffic, which marketing specialists turn into conversions.
SEO is a dynamic discipline highly dependent on Google’s search engine. In this guide, we will explain the essential SEO guidelines in 2023 to make your website rank as high as possible.
The Benefits of SEO in 2023
We could write this paragraph in one sentence: the FirstPageSage data reveals that the first organic Google spot enjoys a staggering 39.8% Click Through Rate (CTR). The number looks even more impressive compared to 2.2% in spot 10.
In other words, you must aim to rank as high as possible on Google because lower spots are often not worth the investment. Consider that many Internet users check only the first few suggestions, and we cannot confirm if anyone goes to the second page for help at all.
SEO ensures your website is easy to find and attracts organic visitors. Furthermore, SEO professionals can target a specific consumer base that’s more likely to make a purchase. For example, if you’re an iOS developer, you want to attract mobile customers but not Android users. SEO ensures that your website is visible to relevant consumers. Not all traffic is the same.
SEO is a relatively inexpensive way of benefiting your brand. Firstly, if you organically rank on several keywords, more people will get to know your name looking for information. That’s why blog posts are an excellent brand awareness channel. Once you fill your website with useful, keyword-optimized content, people will start sharing it on social media snowballing your marketing campaign. Here’s how to do it.
The first step is optimizing your website SEO-wise. It includes website performance, security, content structure and quality, keyword use and interlinking, device compatibility, and different media types. Let’s go over each.
Google considers website performance before assigning an index. One of the most important criteria is page load speed. Nearly a third of users will go elsewhere if the website load speed increases from one second to three, with an average load speed of 1.65 seconds on top spots. That’s what you aim for.
To reach this goal, you must compress your on-site videos and images to reduce resource consumption. A dense and compact code base is essential if you’re building a website from scratch. No less important is a fast and reliable web hosting service provider. There’s a lot here, so we recommend reading our guide on optimizing website loading time.
This is a relatively recent addition to Google’s ranking algorithm. Most websites now run on the HTTPS (instead of HTTP) protocol that applies additional encryption to protect users’ online traffic from surveillance and cyber attacks. It’s easy to discern whether a website uses a secure protocol because web browsers mark the ones that don’t with the ‘insecure’ tag on the left of the address bar. You can imagine how well website visitors receive it.
Google also frowns at websites without HTTPS implementation. You can easily secure your site by getting an SSL certificate from any business that sells them. It will ensure the connection between the web server and the user browser is encrypted, and Google will rank you higher.
Simultaneously, don’t forget about personal cybersecurity. Hackers can target your website if it stores valuable user information. You can quickly secure your website database with a strong password using a password manager, and additional file encryption software ensures you can upload/download data to the server without risks.
Content Structure and Quality
This is one of the most important parts you must pay close attention to. Google is exceptionally picky about content quality, and it’s easy to make mistakes not knowing what it looks for. You don’t write content for the search engine; it’s there to answer your reader’s questions. Google will notice if your readers are satisfied because they will spend more time on your site, decreasing the bounce rate.
Firstly, ensure your content is informative. It must answer a specific query, for example, ‘The best apple cider in Northern England.’ A blog post that provides an elaborate answer with different apple cider types, links to nearby pubs, and table content will surely rank well. Google prioritizes long content of at least 1000, best if above 2000 words wrapped in a title, headers, and images and videos with the ALT tag—rich content!
Content makes the base of the website, and keywords make the base of good content. When people browse online, they look for answers, like where to get the best apple cider in the UK. Google marks the query and looks for answers on indexed websites. If your blog post has keywords people seek, Google will rank your website higher to make it more visible.
When structuring content, forge the title around the essential keyword, and place supporting keywords in relevant paragraphs. For example, write about modern and heritage ciders, wood-aged ciders, etc. You will target more keywords for additional volume, and people, including Google, will consider you an expert opinion.
Lastly, create inner backlinks using specific keywords. If you have another blog post on strawberry cider, place these words in the href tag and add a link to it. Interlinking helps users navigate your website and Google index it.
According to EarthWeb, more than half of all search traffic comes from mobiles. Smartphones aren’t going anywhere, but possibly desktop computers are. Google will rank you much higher if your website has a mobile version. In website development, it’s called Responsive Web Design (RWD), meaning the site functions equally well on different devices.
More Media Types
Users will enjoy your website more if you add pictures and videos. Remember to add an ALT tag because Google’s crawl bot does not watch or listen; it only reads. It will inspect the ALT tag and its relevance in the context and rank it higher if everything fits.
After working on the on-site SEO for a while, you can start competing for the top positions. However, ensure there are no stones left unturned on your website. Investing resources in backlink building only to get dropped in SERP because your mobile version is buggy will set you back a few weeks.
Let’s say your content is just as good as your competitors and even better! But month after month, they remain a few spots above. The chances are good that they have a much better backlinking strategy. It’s how Google knows which website is better if they both have similarly high-quality content–it checks backlinks directed at both websites.
There are several ways to get good backlinks. Firstly, people will mention you organically if they find your website informative, which costs nothing! But emerging brands cannot expect organic mentions early on and should utilize other methods.
You can guest post on authoritative websites that allow it. If you provide them with high-quality content and include a backlink to your domain, Google will notice that a respectful website is pointing to you improving SERP placement.
You can also enhance your backlinking strategy by inspecting competitors. Utilize tools like our Backlink Checker to inspect what backlinks point at your competitors and contact those domains to also point to you. Although this task will take at least a few months, once you outperform the competition, you will only have to maintain the strategy and enjoy steady organic growth.
In 2014 Google released the first search quality guidelines with the E-A-T concept. It stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness, and that’s how Google measures content quality. You may ask why this is not in the on-site SEO. That’s because it’s not enough to state ‘I’m an expert’ on your website for Google to believe it.
You can build expertise by writing good content, but Google will check for authoritativeness elsewhere. Utilizing authorship is an excellent way of proving authoritativeness. If your apple cider expert has written more articles on the topic, Google will find it on the Internet, improving your ranking. Furthermore, your domain is trustworthy if other prominent cider brands and websites point to it.
The key points of ranking higher on Google in 2023 are high-quality keyword-optimized content, overall website performance and mobile version, and backlinks built around authority and trust. You will learn more tricks the deeper you go, like using the PAA section for even more traffic and Google snippets for brand awareness. However, it’s best to start with the very basics, as SEO is easy to understand but hard to master.