In recent years, creating successful web pages has become an increasingly complicated art that involves a multitude of considerations.
A decade ago SEO was the only game in town, and it was easier to anticipate searches that would land up on your page by using key words and exact name titles. Although we have lived with search engine optimization (SEO) for some time, that’s not to say all small business owners are comfortable with it. Many hand it over to an Internet company that does its “magic” in a mysterious place with little accountability about what’s going on. SEO can be like the Hans Christian Andersen fairytale The Emperor’s New Clothes. Your SEO provider may tell you he or she has dressed up your website to attract all visitors but in reality, it’s naked. You probably won’t even realize.
While SEO was once the entire focus of an internet marketing strategy it’s now just an important plank. There are a plethora of new mediums and platforms that we ignore at our peril. But it’s still important to know the secret to a successful web page.
A survey by Moz in 2015 gives some valuable insight about the kinds of pages that will help your SEO. Moz says it surveyed the “opinions of dozens of the world’s brightest search marketers” and ran correlation studies to better understand the workings of the search engine algorithms. Moz asked the opinions of more than150 leading search marketers who provided expert opinions on over 90 ranking factors.
As well as picking the brains of search experts, the team at Moz, led by Dr. Matthew Peters, ran a wide-ranging correlation study to determine which features of websites and pages are linked to higher search rankings. Moz partnered with a number of organizations including SimilarWeb, DomainTools, and Ahrefs.
In the world of SEO there are no hard and fast answers but the survey shows the characteristics of web pages that rank higher with the search engines, and most crucially Google, which has updated its algorithms frequently over the last three years. The top five are as follows.
The most important characteristics of successful web pages.
1 Domain Level Link Features
Improving domain level link features is the top way of ensuring your site ranks higher. You should focus on your link profile by getting more links from other well-linked-to pages. Quality links to your site are worth their weight in SEO gold. Consider getting links from local business organizations like chambers of commerce. The importance of links to your site may seem counterintuitive. It doesn’t seem very fair that you may have the highest quality site but a competitor is receiving a better ranking because of the number of authoritative links to his site.
Google is focused on returning results from sites that are a leading authority in their market. It’s looking for sites that have proved to be a great resource for people who are seeking answers within your industry. For that reason it’s important that the sites linking to your are relevant to your industry and not spammy.
2 Page Level Link Features
Talking about page-level link features is a technical way of saying you should aim to get high quality links aimed at a single page of your website. According to the 150 experts who were surveyed, good links to your page is rated 8 out of 10 in terms of importance by Google. The search engine also looks at how popular each page of your site is and gives it a ranking. You can improve page level link features by getting links to your site from important bodies or publications such as blogs in your industry. Directories at a local level and sites such as Wikipedia are also important.
3 Page Level Key Words and Content Based Features
This is the third most important feature and it received a 7.8 out of 10 from the experts. Google is very discerning about content these days. A successful page should target a single, narrow topic. The primary key words should appear in the page’s URL. Google prefers content that’s broken up into headings and you can bold or italics for some key words. Primary key words should appear at least a couple of times in the body and you should use ALT tags for illustrations. See this article about adding alternative text to illustrations on WordPress.
4 Page Level Key Word Agnostic Features
This one is a bit of a mouthful. It’s nothing to do with religion, rather everything on the page that’s not related to key words. You should make sure your content is functional and easy to read and the right length. I’d suggest at least 500 words for a blog post and 800 words for a web page. Make sure your content is unique to your page and not duplicate. Programs such as Copyscape or Grammarly can scan your pages for duplicate content.
5 Engagement and Traffic Query Data
It’s important to get visitors involved in your website and to keep them engaged rather than having them bounce quickly off again.
There are a number of ways to keep visitors stimulating and engaged and it’s important to consider the appearance of your pages. Today very few people will want to plow through intense, text-rich copy that’s not broken up. If a lot of people are hitting the back button on your pages, it will increase the “bounce rate” which is an indicator that your page is not interesting enough. Some ways to improve engagement include:
- Encourage visitors to get involved with comments or feedback. Ask questions.
- Use visually-pleasing informational images, charts, graphs and infographics
- Use engaging video and embed it in pages and graphics.
- Link to “related pages” below the primary page content
- Utilize interactive elements on the page
- Use interesting images that complement text rather than stock photos.
These are the top five ways of improving the performance of your web pages. There’s no magic bullet, it’s fast-changing and there’s no guarantee your pages will appear on the front page of Google. You should be wary of anyone who tells you they will.
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