How often do you click on the second page of a Google search?
Probably not too often.
The top 5 listings on a search engine receive 67 percent of all clicks and the first page of a search receives nearly 95 percent of web traffic. You read that correctly: only 5 percent of web traffic goes to page 2 and beyond.
If you believe investing in web optimization is unnecessary or too costly, we strongly urge you to reconsider.
A business’s website is their virtual store. Customers will avoid a business if they see a cluttered, outdated mess from the outside and will likely never return; the same applies to your website, except online users form an opinion in 0.05 seconds. A secure and well-designed site is even more vital to websites that offer online purchases. Would you rather swipe your credit card at a one-star, rundown motel or the Hilton?
Today, the majority of consumers visit a company’s website before actually entering the store. A well-structured website is more vital than ever and that fact is here to stay.
Don’t freak out, because providing online customers with a quality site is actually the best strategy to reach the top of search engine rankings. The key term is user experience—Google’s most important characteristic it looks for when ranking websites.
Google focuses on user experience because they want their users to continue using their search engine to sell advertisements. Users value navigation and optimization the most, which is why Google places user-friendliness as the highest priority. Even if you do not believe user-friendliness is the most important feature of a website (it is) Google is the primary search engine among 80 percent of online users. We’re at the mercy of Google—what they value is what we value. Sorry, but you must do whatever pleases the crown.
Marketers, web designers, and business owners MUST understand what Google values and how it ranks websites in order to simply stay afloat in the digital realm, let alone thrive.
So how does Google work?
Google sends out “crawlers” that scan websites looking for terms, keywords, site organization, site speed, and user-friendliness based on a users Google search. The crawlers work from a users perspective—the easier it is for the crawlers to navigate the website, the easier it will be for users and the higher your website will rank in the search results.
The crawlers search for keywords, links, site construction, and organization to rank websites. Keywords and semantic keywords are traced based on a users search. For example, when a user searches “baseball” crawlers will search for terms and tags such as “grand slam, bat, pitcher, home run, etc.” Note, Google values quality over quantity, meaning that keyword stuffing to cast a wide net of search results will bring down a website’s ranking. Site construction and organization are also pivotal to user-friendliness. Load speed, site errors, design, and navigation all link back to the to construction. A well-designed site coupled with quality, insightful content is the only way to legitimately reach the top of search results.
Google ranks websites based on mobile and desktop searches. Searches from a mobile device will lean more towards mobile optimization and vice versa, but both desktop and mobile rankings merge to leverage your site up or down the rankings.
How do I improve my websites ranking?
SEO aside, a company’s top priority for their website should always be to provide visitors with what they’re looking for. No keyword stuffing, cluttered tags, or shortcuts to boost your rankings that make your website look noisy and inconvenient for visitors. Google chose to match their guidelines that directly benefit users, but indirectly make marketing easier and more authentic. Website pages should be detailed with important information necessary to let visitors understand the purpose of your company and how they will benefit. Think about what users will search and build from it.
Your web pages should contain links to other web pages—but keep them authentic. As stated above, links help crawlers find your websites. Even better, links from other web pages to your website show expertise to the crawlers. This is why providing accurate information is essential, as other companies may use your content as a source and link your site to theirs.
Lastly, make your website easy to read and navigate. Web pages should be structured in a manner that is logical and easily accessible for all users.
For additional information, read Google’s SEO Starter Guide.