How a website performs depends on many, many factors. You will often hear the term optimization in conjunction with preparing a website to perform well on the web. But what does that mean and how do you actually achieve optimization?
Merriam-Webster defines optimization as “an act, process, or methodology of making something (as a design, system, or decision) as fully perfect, functional, or effective as possible”. A pretty broad statement, especially when it comes to designing websites.
So what’s probably more important to remember is what you are optimizing a website ‘for’. In other words, what is the metric by which you will measure your website’s success? Will it be how well the website ranks on search engines for relevant keywords? Will it be how many visitor’s come to your website? Will it be how many conversions you receive from visits to your site by selling a product or generating leads?
The truth is that a properly optimized site should ultimately achieve success across all of those metrics. Higher rankings on search engines leads to more visitors to your site which leads to more conversions.
A basic rundown (and I mean very basic) on factors included with website optimization are: keyword research, content development, hierarchy implementation, error-checking and internal meta-data.
Before you even start building your website, you should research keywords and keyword phrases that will help reach your target audience. There are many tools available that can help you determine which keywords will help your site succeed. By checking keyword competitiveness and search volume, you can determine a set of keywords and keyword phrases that you can work into your content.
Once you have a good set of keywords to work with you can start developing content. First and foremost, content should accurately describe and provide information on what your website is about. There’s nothing Google hates more than a site whose content is solely written to promote keywords. Content should answer questions that people would naturally ask about the topic of your site. There are proper ways, however, of working keywords and structuring content to make it more effective for the metrics we spoke of above.
Website content should be viewed as a well written term paper. Most of us had to write a term paper in high school or college. Most papers included a thesis, opening statement, headers, and paragraphs. Properly written, the paper should lead readers through a hierarchy of information from a broad statement to more defined, descriptive information.
Websites are no different and should aim toward giving visitors the easiest path possible to find the information they are searching for. Information within sites should offer ample links to other pages to help visitors with their journey through your site.
This aspect of optimization is just like it sounds, checking a site for errors. There’s nothing more frustrating then clicking a link that looks it’s going to have just what you are looking for only to end up on unpublished page showing the dreaded “Error 404”. Broken graphics and images also diminish a visitors experience to your site. By thoroughly checking a site for errors before publishing, you can greatly enhance your target audiences experience.
Meta-data is perhaps one of the most important aspects of optimization. Meta information is usually not seen by the public except for on search engine results pages. However, it is meta-data that tells search engines what your site is all about. Meta-data such as page titles and meta descriptions are usually the information search engines choose to show in their results pages to searchers. It can go into much greater detail with things such as micro-data which helps search engines to further understand what your site is all about.
There’s no doubt that if you want your site to succeed, the it must be optimized. Again, this blog only covers a few basics of optimization. To learn more, contact the experts at Lifestyles Media Group!