Once the basics of search engine optimisation are in place, these are the areas to look at next.
Last week I outlined a set of elements of your website which are in the “second-tier” when it comes to SEO. In other words, they’re not your primary concern (these are), but once the basics are in place, these are the areas to look at next. I promised the remainder of the “second-tier” this week, and here they are. Some of these might surprise you a bit.
We begin with site speed. It seems rather unfair that this should play a part in determining where your site appears in the Google results, but there are a few reasons. Google is a business, making money from the web, and the more it can encourage the web to be a more pleasant experience, the more people will use it, and the more Google will profit. Also, I suspect that Google has found a correlation between the sites people are interested in and those which respond the fastest – not because they’re fast, but because the sites belonging to the most widely sought-after businesses also happen to be those which are getting the most investment put into them. There’s more on the subject here, and I’d encourage you to read that.
The amount of “fresh” content also plays a part in how well your site fares in the Google results. Again, I suspect this is the result of Google finding that sites which are updated frequently happen to correlate to those which people prefer in the search results. Here’s where a blog, or any way of updating your site easily, comes into play. If it’s hardly any effort to update your website, you’re far more likely to actually do it.
Finally, a design element: the arrangement of the content on the page and in particular, the amount of content available to view without scrolling. Suppose your page is about “blue widgets”, and people click through from Google to be confronted with a page which, at a glance, is clearly is about blue widgets. That’s going to get a far higher engagement rate than a page where the information about blue widgets is “below the fold” and requires scrolling down to find it. Confronted with that, visitors aren’t going to see anything about blue widgets without making an effort, and many will just jump back to Google. Clearly, such pages won’t appear to have provided a relevant result and will be marked down. So get plenty of content up at the top.