Search engines are the most important part of the Internet as we know it – without them, it would be nearly impossible to find the information we need and the World Wide Web wouldn’t have grown nearly as big without them. New and existing websites alike can get a lot of visitors from Google and Bing (the two biggest search engines at the moment), and that traffic can be used to generate leads, sales and therefore, revenue, which is the basic need of any business.
In order to rank on the first page of a search engine for any search term you want, you need to make sure your site is SEO optimized, and while there are a lot of articles and books about this field, the basics are actually pretty simple – if you’re just starting out, here are the only factors you need to remember and work on in order to have your blog picked up by Google and Bing and ranked high enough for it to matter:
Incoming links are pretty much the most important part of SEO – they indicate that other sites trust you enough to post links to your content, and search engines factor that in and rank your site higher on the results page. It’s pretty easy to get links nowadays, but getting good links is what matters most, and that takes quite a lot of work. You need to get links from relevant pages (and not site wide links, either – those don’t work anymore). You can post guest posts, submit to social bookmarking sites, post links on Twitter and Facebook, upload videos on YouTube – all of that can work towards your goals.
Obviously, what’s on the site itself also matter a lot. In fact, I’d say that backlinks + the content account for 80% of the success in SEO, and the many tests performed by various marketers prove it. You must have good content that will keep a reader engaged and will provide him useful information. If readers just come, take a peek at the text and find nothing interesting, they will go back faster than you can blink, and Google sees that. Of course, if your articles are complete garbage (written by automated software or even by non-native speakers), the search bots will recognize that and penalize your site for that.
Titles and Descriptions
The title is pretty important, not as important as the content for bots, but very important for human readers. If the title is engaging, the visitors will click on your site on Google’s results page, but it must not be misleading, or they’ll go back just as fast (locations to a very high bounce rate, which is never good). The 160 characters description is also mostly intended for people to read and make up their minds to visit the page or not, so pay attention to it and write it yourself – alternatively, you can explain what the articles are about in the first paragraph, as Google picks that up automatically if you haven’t written a description yourself.
Page Load Speed
This is a newer introduction, and while it doesn’t matter as much as the above trio, loading speed is significant enough for Google to penalize your site if it’s slow or reward it if it’s fast. This is the main reason I recommend you get a VPS or dedicated server from a reputable company (like Softlayer, for example), so that you don’t have any downtime and have your pages load as fast as possible. Alternatively, you can use a distributed CDN for even faster load speeds around the world (check out Softlayer’s service, it’s great).
Site Activity and Age
You should always update your site regularly, and as often as possible. That will show the search engines and people that you’re serious about it, and they will both reward you with a higher ranking and regular return visits. The age of the site can’t be controlled, but the older a domain has been active, the better it will rank – this is the same reason you should try to get links from blogs older than 1 year.
Search engine optimization is still a pretty important part of the online world nowadays, and investing a bit of time and money on it for your website will be completely worth it in the long run. Of all the real and alleged factors that influence the ranking of your site in search engines, the above five have been proven to be the most important time and time again, so you should focus on them before you try anything else.