In the fourth and final part of our ‘What Is SEO Optimisation?’ series of articles, we start off by looking at another factor Google considers: the usability of web pages.
Google wants to show results that keep its searchers happy. And this goes beyond providing the “right” content for the query.
There are a couple of confirmed ranking factors that relate to usability.
The first is page speed. Google found that as page load time increases, the chance of someone leaving your website without visiting another page goes up dramatically.
And it makes sense. If Google were to show slow-loading pages that result in bounces, then that dissatisfaction would increase amongst their users.
As a result, Google announced that page speed has become a part of their mobile search ranking algorithm.
The second usability factor is “mobile-friendliness.” Today, websites should appear correctly no matter what device you’re on and no matter what browser you’re using.
This is often referred to as “responsive design.” Google has shifted to “mobile-first indexing.” This means that they’ll mainly use the mobile version of the content for indexing and ranking. So all new websites will be “mobile-first” by default.
All of these things and many more factors can be summarized into ‘user experience’. Google wants to return results that are both relevant and provide a solid user experience.
A very cool and somewhat controversial way that Google works is through personalised data. Google keeps track of your location, past search history, and search settings to “tailor your results to what is most useful and relevant for you in that moment.”
But as many people are becoming aware of privacy issues on the internet, this may leave you extremely satisfied or perhaps, on edge.
Let’s next look at a few examples of how personalisation affects your Google searches:
We’re based in Plymouth, Devon (UK), so when we type in the letter “pl,” Google provides relevant search suggestions to my location like “plymouth argyle,” (which is our local football team), and “plymouth herald” (which is our local newspaper).
But if we lived in London, then we’d see very different results that are relevant to that location.
Let’s next look at how they tailor search suggestions based on previous searches.
Let’s say we want to find “hotels in milan.” We’ll start typing in “hotels,” and let’s say that we actually changed my mind halfway through the search. All the results would be tailored to my location as Google thinks we want a hotel close to me.
But what if we first searched for “What to do in Milan.” The results would be lots of things to do in Milan.
So if we now start typing in “hotels,” you’ll suddenly find that Google’s first autosuggestion will be “hotels in Milan,” which was not the case before.
These are just a few basic ways Google works, and it’s absolutely critical that you understand this when you’re learning SEO.
By understanding how search works, you can begin optimising your pages with some level of direction and awareness.
So how do you start optimising your website for search? If you’re new to SEO, then we highly recommend reading our next series of Blog posts on ‘SEO for beginners‘, where you’ll get an insider’s guide to how you can optimise your website for higher Google rankings.
You can also sign up for our Website ‘Kick-Starter’ videos by clicking here. We’ll send you one short video a day that takes you step-by-step through the SEO process to help kick-start your website and get it ranking higher in the search results.
In our next blog post, we’ll reveal the 7 most common SEO myths and facts, so you will know what’s true and what’s fiction, helping you rank your website higher than your competitors.
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Pete Skuse (The SEO Guy)
Plymouth SEO Services – Let’s put your website to work for your business