There are a lot of factors that go into Google’s decision on how it ranks websites. This is why in this article, we want to highlight some of the most important factors that you need to constantly evaluate in order to have an effective website.
Why does SEO matter?
In the age of information, access, quality, and content are the most important parts of the equation.
When someone is searching the internet, they want to find the most relevant and accurate information in the easiest way possible. And Google knows this. This is why websites are ranked when you search for something on the internet. Google wants to make sure that you are being provided with the information most relevant to your search. But there are a lot of factors that go into Google’s decision on how that information from each of the sites that it ranks is relevant. Is the website credible? Is the website navigable? Is the website up-to-date?
These are some of the most important questions that Google bases its rankings off of for search engine result pages (SERPs). And these are the questions that your brand needs to not only answer, but needs to constantly evaluate and re-evaluate to make sure that your website is always as credible as it can be, as navigable as it can be, and as up-to-date as it can be. It is the difference between your website being one of the first few sites listed or not; people visiting your website or not.
This is why in this article, we want to highlight some of the most important factors that you need to constantly evaluate in order to have an effective website that conveys your brand experience well and also is able to reach and interact with your potential customers.
We’re going to start with a new program that Google has implemented as of 2021, and that’s its measurement of Core Web Vitals. Google’s core web vitals measure three aspects of a website’s load time: the Largest Contentful Paint, First Input Delay, and the Cumulative Layout Shift. In plain English, what this means is that Google will give your website a score based on 1) how fast a page loads once a user has clicked on its link (as the name suggests, the amount of time it takes for the largest piece of content, like an image, to be “painted” on the user’s screen), 2) the amount of time it takes before a user can fully interact with a page (how long it takes for a page to respond to scrolls, clicks, or keyboard inputs), and 3) the stability of a page as it loads (does the layout of the page change a whole lot as it loads or stay somewhat stable?).
Google has standards laid out for these three aspects that allow your website to achieve a grade of either “good”, “needs improvement”, or “poor” on your “Page Experience score”. If you want to measure your website’s scores, there are tools on the internet that simply require you to input a URL and that will run an analysis in about 10 seconds. One such site is PageSpeedInsights. Page load time is a key factor in SERPs.
While page load time is an important part of a User’s Experience (UX), it is not the only. As Google implements it’s new Page Experience ranking algorithm, it is going to be taking into account the accessibility of your website to mobile users, whether or not your page runs on HTTPS, and determining whether or not there are intrusive ads on your site.
Being accessible to mobile users in today’s business landscape is imperative. Think about your own experiences. When someone mentions a brand name to you that you haven’t heard of before, the first thing you likely do is look it up on your phone. This is your first impression of that brand and it includes everything from how smoothly the site pops on the mobile version, all the way to the accessibility of the content that gives you the information you are looking for. Having a mobile friendly website can be the difference between a lasting first impression that creates credibility for your brand or it can be an immediate turnoff that tarnishes your brand reputation and causes you to lose potentially loyal customers. The choice is clear. If you want to check how friendly your mobile version is right now, Google offers this tool to do a quick analysis: Mobile-Friendly Test. Check out this example of Nike’s performance.
Does your page run on HTTPS? If you’re sitting there wondering what that means or saying to yourself “I know I’ve seen that in URLs before but I’m not quite sure what that means”, you’re not alone! Making sure your website runs on HTTPS just means making sure that your website is secure. This can be accomplished most easily by purchasing a Secure Sockets Layer certificate. What an SSL certificate does is authenticates your website by making sure it relies on private connections so as to not jeopardize either your or your users’ data. It’s a quick fix that puts a lock icon next to your URL, telling your customers that you value their security while simultaneously adding credibility to your brand. And you guessed it, it is one of the most important aspects that you can cover when trying to improve your website’s SEO. Trying to determine if a site is secure? Google has put together this site to let you check.
Google is all about accessibility. Especially on mobile versions of websites. What this means is that if a pop-up takes up the entirety of your site when someone clicks on its link, Google will lower your site’s mobile ranking. No one wants to have a cluttered experience and Google has realized this. Make sure you do, too. If you want to check out what Google means by not having “intrusive interstitials”, check out this explainer.
All in all, remember this: Google wants users to be able to access the information they want in the easiest way possible. Your brand should want to do this, too, as a matter of business and as a matter of bettering your SEO. None of this work is static. It requires constant re-evaluation and updating to make sure that you are giving users the highest quality content, through the most navigable sites. This will help better user experiences with your site and increase your site’s ranking on SERPs. Make sure that you show up for your customers.
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Our founder, Callum Griffith was interviewed recently by Communication Arts on the creation of the Black Music Project – an online exhibition that educates visitors on the history of Black American music with an extensive compendium of artists and genres.