Every website is different. And the truth is, there isn’t one correct way to build a high-ranking website. Google has many rules and guidelines for boosting SEO rankings, covering everything from design and appearance to structure and written content. However, there are seven fundamental characteristics that all well-built websites possess, to help rank your website higher on Google.
1. Clear goals that meet user intent
Every website must have a specific purpose and audience. How well the website accomplishes its goals and serves its audience is vital to SEO rankings.
Website owners need to know their audience — their demographics, desires, and intentions when navigating a website. The products and services offered by a website should meet a visitor’s needs.
Effectively meeting search intent, for example, requires an understanding of all the different ways visitors land on a particular page. Website owners need to map the user journey from beginning to end and ensure content is in the right places.
2. Strong technical SEO
High-ranking websites have fast loading speeds for visitors from all around the world. In addition, good websites are easily crawlable, showing search engines which pages are correctly indexed.
Picking a sound content management system, such as WordPress, will ensure websites have covered the basics of technical SEO. At Orange Coast Websites, we use the Yoast SEO plugin to help boost the SEO of sites we build.
3. Safe and secure
Search engines and visitors want to know that the website is safe and has trustworthy content. Suppose a website is constantly down or missing a green lock icon. In that case, search engines are less likely to recommend the website in search results. For this reason, website owners need to work on building and maintaining trustworthiness in the website experience.
Preventing an attack is much easier than fixing a hacked site. IEEE Computer Society recommends updating software and plugins, adding HTTPS and an SSL Certificate, creating strong passwords, recording user access and administrative privileges, backing up the website, and using a secure web host.
4. User-friendly design
It’s one thing to create a website that looks beautiful. It’s another thing to create a website that is both beautiful and accessible.
User experience (UX) includes a website’s appearance and experience. User experience design, according to the Interaction Design Foundation, “involves the design of the entire process of acquiring and integrating the product, including aspects of branding, design, usability, and function.”
Users not engaging with your website will hurt SEO rankings. For example, suppose the text color on the website is challenging to read, or the buttons are difficult to click. The users will become frustrated and leave.
Satisfied users are more likely to make a purchase, sign up for a newsletter, or complete another action that will meet the needs of website owners. For this reason, easy-to-see and -click call-to-action buttons should be in all the right places throughout the website.
5. User-centered content and design
Visitors want to feel welcomed. When they land on a website, they want to find content presented in a user-friendly design that will help them accomplish their goals and boost the overall experience.
The Interaction Design Foundation defines user-centered design as “an iterative design process in which designers focus on the users and their needs in each phase of the design process.”
To create a user-centered website, website owners must understand user behavior and create straightforward, easy-to-understand, and helpful content.
More and more people are accessing websites from their mobile devices. These visitors don’t want to manually zoom in on a page to view content created for a desktop screen. Images, text, buttons, and navigation need to resize for mobile traffic automatically. Otherwise, Google will lower the website’s rankings in its search results.
When building a new website, adopting a mobile-first approach is essential. Websites developed desktop-first often lose important design features and capabilities when converted to mobile view. A mobile-first mindset will help developers stay focused on the basic needs of all visitors and avoid creating a cluttered and difficult-to-navigate website.
7. Robust Schema framework
Websites must be able to “speak” to search engines. Search engines need to read the website content to determine if the site’s content matches a search query. That’s why a website needs to have structured data in Schema format.
Put simply, Schema markup is like a translator for search engines. It describes elements on a page so that search engines can know precisely what kind of content a website has. The more certain Google is about a website’s content, the higher the website’s ranking in the engine’s search results.
At Orange Coast Websites, we use the Yoast SEO plugin, which has a built-in Schema framework that builds a complete graph for each website, allowing search engines to know the content and how it relates to search queries.