Search engine optimization has two vital parts – on-page and off-page optimization. Each is needed to complement the other’s end goal, when being implemented, in order to work efficiently.
When we say off-page optimization, or “link building”, we mean the process of making the website/webpage popular through citations from other websites; on-page optimization, however, refers to making the website/webpage relevant to the targeted search term, so it is returned by the search engines when users searches for a specific term.
Nowadays, however, it seems that there’s more than just relevance and popularity needed to achieve better rankings in search engines; search engines, especially Google, are stressing the use of high quality content for sites that are aiming to be visible to their users through search results.
Several other aspects have started to emerge and begun to be used as factors when ranking pages on search engine result pages (SERPs), such as the authority of the domain hosting the content, the amount of trust search engines genuinely see in the site and the overall experience that the site is able to offer to its users (if the experience is worthy of being shared through their service as a search engine).
So below I’ve listed some of the optimization techniques that can help increase a website’s chances of getting more visible in the search results:
A few months ago, Google, Yahoo and Bing introduced Schema.org, a site that hosts a large list of website markup, which can be used by webmasters to mark up their content/pages, so search engines can better understand what their content is about.
Schema.org uses Microdata as its shared markup vocabulary; it’s composed of a new set of HTML tags that can help search engines classify a web content’s relevance through its important segments such as: author, topical scope and content type; you can view their full list of schemas.
Basically, using Microdata or Schemas in your web pages’ code can increase the chances of having your page show up on SERPs in rich snippets, similar to this:
To make sure that you’ve done the code on your pages correctly, you can use Google’s rich snippets testing tool to test what your listing will look like once Google parses your page(s).
One of the main benefits of employing Schemas on your pages and in aiming to get rich snippets for your landing pages’ Google’s search results is that it can somehow affect search engine users’ judgment when seeking for information, as these rich-looking snippets often result to high SERP click-through, which means your search listing is very capable of attracting highly targeted traffic to your site, even it’s not in the highest position.
To learn more about schemas, and how to use Microdata, you can check out Schema.org’s getting started page.
2. Authorship Markup
Another great addition to Google’s search results landscape that you might see more often this year is the display of the author’s profile image alongside the page’s search listing:
The objective of the profile image is to help Google determine the quality of a site’s content through the reputation of its author; Google knows that great content comes from great authors and that users are more likely to select content that they can see is written by a highly trusted/reputable author; therefore Google wants to show your image as a sign of trust.
In order to have your Google profile image be displayed on search results, you’ll first need to implement an authorship markup on your website or on other websites where you contribute content to, and to confirm your authorship by including a reciprocating link to those websites from your Google profile.
Here are some steps on how you can implement Authorship markup on your site:
- Your articles on your website should all link to your “author page” using rel=”author” – HTML5’s version of link relationship for authors.
- A link to your Google profile from your author page must be present and use the XFN link attribute rel=”me”.
- Your Google profile should link back to your author page to confirm ownership of the site. You can check the “this page is specifically about me” checkbox for it to create a rel=”me” attributed link to your site’s author page.
To learn more about authorship markups, you can check out Google’s Webmaster Tools Help page for Authorship.
3. Page Speed
Last year, Google added the page’s ability to load faster as a factor in ranking pages in their search results, since improving a site’s usability improves the site’s quality score - the faster the website loads, the faster its users can access the information or use the service being offered.
Determining how fast a page loads, and figuring out how to make it load faster, has been made easier by Google with their launch of Page Speed Online. It’s a free web-based tool which webmasters can use to track their web pages’ flaws, and aspects that could be affecting its loading process.
In using this tool, you’ll basically just key in the URL of the web page you want to test, and after a few seconds, the tool will display a score from 1 – 100, based on how it sees the page’s performance. It will then give suggestions on how you can further improve your page’s performance.
4. Trust Indicators
Before search engines vouch and place a web page higher on their search results to be returned to their users, they first want to make sure that your site and its content is trustworthy. Inclusion of trust indicators on your site can help enhance your content’s visibility/rankings on search engines, especially if they can be sure that you are providing authentic and high-utility information through your site.
Another way to exemplify trust signals from your site is with the use of Humans.txt. It’s a text file that you can upload in your site (pretty much the same as Robots.txt, but this file is both for humans and web crawlers) that includes information about the creator of the website.
5. Length of Content
Lengthier documents seem to perform well when it comes to ranking highly on search engine result pages, as the content is evident to carry more value/quality through its extensiveness in nature. With the recent Google Panda update, search engines appear to be stricter in this area of optimization, in which the size of the content/document somehow affects its search rankings, especially if it is competing with thinner web pages.