google search engine with magnifying glass user looking for optimized websites

How to Start Optimizing a Website

Optimizing a website is the first step in increasing website traffic and conversions—especially when executed as part of a local search engine optimization strategy. While it may be the first step, website optimization is a multi-step process that caters to the latest visitor search trends and updated algorithms initiated by search engines.

The whole effort can be overwhelming, but that shouldn’t push “optimizing a website” to the bottom of the to-do list. To the contrary, the latest estimates put the number of Google searches at approximately two trillion searches a year. A study published by Search Engine Land found that more than three-quarter of all local searches end in a sale. The statistics behind search engine optimization are undeniably persuasive, which is why it’s time for every business to dive into optimizing their website and make it a top priority.

Consider search intent.

The first step of optimizing a website is to consider the intent behind the users searching for the website. Simply, what keywords would they use to find the website? This is an important step in the process, because being ranked for the wrong keywords results in a high website page bounce rate. Put simply, searchers aren’t going to browse through the website and buy if the site doesn’t have the information they were searching for.

A key factor in keyword research should be the rise in voice searches. According to a study done by Adobe, almost half (48%) of all searches are initiated by voice. The increase in voice searches are leading to the rise of “near me” and “how to” search phrases, which should be included in website content. (Keyword research can be completed by a company in-house or outsourced to search professionals.)

When keyword research is complete, the keywords should be strategically included in all website content. An effective website page should include optimized titles, website text, meta data, and content.

Worry about website speed.

According to Google, when the time for a website page to load goes from one to three seconds, the chance of an online user leaving the website increases by 32%. That number almost triples, to 90%, when page loading speed goes from one to five seconds. The number increases to 106% when loading from one to six seconds. From one to 10 seconds, the chances of a bounce are a whopping 123%.

These SEO statistics lead to the next consideration: website speed. Slow websites repel visitors, and search engines have noticed. Search engines are now placing an emphasis on website loading times, and businesses should take note and use Moz best practices for page speed.

A secondary consideration of this process is evaluating the overall website navigation. Every website should be classified as easy-to-find, with visitors able to find information quickly and minimal page redirects. The latter also can increase website page speed and reduce the website bounce rate.

Make it mobile-friendly.

This aspect of optimizing a website has long-term roots, as reflected in the 2012 Google article that stated that more than half of all users were less likely to utilize a company because of a bad mobile experience. According to Google, more than half of all searches are done on a mobile device. According to Pew Research Center, 8 out of 10 Americans own a smartphone.

These SEO statistics point to the importance—no, the necessity—of having a mobile-friendly website. Mobile-friendly sites rank higher in search engines, making it an essential part of an optimized website. Google has even published guidance on mobile-friendly websites. Put simply, every page should be easy-to-use on a desktop or mobile device. This should include all forms, including contact forms, which are a key step in converting visitors into online customers.

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