Basic website SEO Requirements & how to improve your ranking
Domain authority is often overlooked or overbought into depending on what way you look at it. Cheap, quick fix SEO companies which no doubt fill your email spam boxes promising the moon and back with next day delivery, often buy in too much. Domain authority means other websites link to your website as a reference or authority in the subject area. The domain authority of the website linking to your website will also affect the 'boost' your website receives when linked to ie a council/government website linking to your site will provide a much larger boost than a local blogger with little traffic.
Sharing the same or similar industries also plays an important role. I.e if a textile recycler linked to this website - a web design company - the benefit would be minuscule compared to if a web hosting company recommended us in a link as a web designer.
More importantly going back to those email spamming SEO companies, if your business website is linked to too often by disreputable websites or known backlink spam websites then you'll receive a ranking penalty. Google has also removed most of the benefits of being associated with directories also so that is no longer a source of domain authority. Although it's still useful if your potential customers browse those kinds of websites.
Keywords are the oldest word in the SEO book, however, it's not about keyword stuffing as you used to see in the past with website. In which you'd include as many variations of the keyword on different pages and use the keyword as much as possible in content. This type of SEO boosting is now frowned on by Google as it results in poor content. Which results in a lower search ranking for your business website. Just remember that the keyword for SEO is 'Content' in 2018 and beyond.
This isn't to say you should move away from Keywords and H1/H2 altogether in 2018. They're still important and vital for reaching customers searching them. However they should flow in your content naturally, the focus should be more on writing for your customers, not for the search engines.
Mobile responsive websites
Mobile responsive websites are vital for SEO, as well for user experience in 2018 and beyond. If your website is not mobile responsive then you are certainly losing customers and sales. So what do we mean by mobile responsive? You can take a test here used by Google itself to determine if your website is responsive but a simple explanation is this.
If you use your mobile and navigate to a website and you have to zoom in on text to read or the website is essentially a miniature version of how it would look on a desktop. It's likely not mobile optimised. Mobile optimised websites change the content into easily digestible columns in which the content is easily navigated and read.
If you have a website designed before 2010, its fairly likely your website isn't mobile responsive. Our research and others indicate that up to 70% of your potential traffic is mobile if you sell to the public.
This is also vital for speed optimisation but it's important enough to mention twice. Image optimisation is one of the most underrated website SEO tools. You should optimise your image size to its intended use on the website, you can also use alt tags and titles to explain your image and page to open up potential customers and clients searching on google images, bing and more.
If you're using WordPress we recommend using shortpixel. Having tested numerous wordpress plugins extensively, shortpixel had the best reduction in image size while maintaining nearly identical image quality. In most cases you can reduce your image file size by up to 70%.
Protip for 2018 - use SVG images where possible - as being scalable vector images they can go to any size without losing quality. They also are very small file sizes perfect for speed optimisation.
If you have active social media networks, ensure they are linked to your website both in the about section and any website fields in the profile. While every post you make shouldn't include your website URL ( including website links reduces your post reach to your own audience on networks like Facebook and comes across as spammy anywhere else - especially Twitter!)
Some design tips for 2018 - it's better to leave your social media linking on your website for footers or embedded into sharing your content. Leaving it in your header ultimately means traffic is more likely to leave your website without interacting with what is probably the most important aspect of your digital identity. Focus on making your website the hub that all networks funnel traffic to and you're on to a winning formula.
Protip - use a website like GTmetrix and the 'waterfall' tool to analyse bottlenecks in your page speed loading time and to ensure your server response time is working for you.
Great consistent content, great performance from a speed optimised website and a good digital marketing strategy will result in the best user experience. Your website also needs to be easily navigated with ideally a maximum click depth of 2. If your user is getting easily lost in a minefield of links or is finding it hard to find your content/products then your user experience will suffer
In summary, you can see how Google is putting a focus on good content, websites which are authorities and respected in their industries. Also vital are websites that are performance built for the modern audience, that is - quick loading websites suitable for the growing majority of mobile users.
*Article updated for 2019
If you're looking for more website design ideas - why not check out our post on how to make your website your best employee