How does website speed, SEO, content, and schema affect rankings?

Website design and development

Ever since I signed up on Quora almost four years ago, I had never written down a good response to any question therein though I have been sharing, liking and commenting on many that I have read through. I should say it’s a great platform for information especially in line with information technology.

For the first time, I recently spared sometime and responded to a question, in a field I should say I’m familiar with, and thus chose to share it here with you who may have not got a chance to read it.

How does website speed, SEO, content and schema affect rankings?

Google Analytics dashboard screenshot
Google Analytics dashboard screenshot

Since we’re in a digital age and the urge to embrace technology and digital and online marketing has never been so high as it is during this period, I found it worth sharing a few ideas that can help us improve our understanding of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and rankings. So below was my answer (with a few edits).

Well, all the above affect your rankings in search engines and social media platforms in different ways. But let’s first understand what ranking is, exactly.

When you search for a word or phrase like ‘What is Search Engine Optimization?’, the algorithm of search engines breaks down your phrase to separate the keyword(s) from the rest (which are common English words), and the robots then run through several pages on the web that;

  1. have the keyword(s) in their title;
  2. in their meta description and;
  3. in their body content (which translates into relevancy)

The algorithm then ranks the page results in relation to relevancy, authenticity, reference (which other pages on the web refer to this one) and number of page visits/views. So, that means the ranking of a page mainly depends on its relevance in relation to what a user is searching for, and since search engine robots search through millions of pages on the web, the faster your web page is, when loading, the better. So, to achieve the above, speed, SEO, content & schema come in.

Typical Google search results page
Typical Google search results page

To get the exact answer, let’s start from the bottom of the list: –

i). Schema: Schema has everything to do with your database design and layout or structure. The clearer the structure of your database is, the faster it is to retrieve relevant data from that database. That means, before you think of content, first properly structure your database and determine proper relationship between tables, character encoding, primary and foreign keys.

ii). Content: After properly structuring your database (schema in this case), then let’s think about the content that will be put into that database. In fact, before starting any web project, one of the first issues to deal with, is content or its source. Since we understood that the relevance of a page is one of the main considerations for page ranking, it’s now important that we also agree that this relevance is driven from the content. Would you expect a page about Apps development to appear first before Digital Marketing , when a visitor searches for the latter? Definitely NO!

iii). SEO (Search Engine Optimization): After properly structuring the database and adding relevant content to the tables, then we may not even worry about SEO. However, SEO has everything to do with the presentation of this content on the web – this is like designing an informative and attractive slideshow for presentation to your audience.

Like mentioned earlier, SEO depends on the layout of your page, with relevant content. The layout of web pages can be broken down into: –

a) Document type
b) Head section, which includes the title, meta keywords and meta description
c) Body section, where the content goes, and
d) Footer section

Once you have these sections properly laid out, your page is then optimized for search engines robots to discover it. Robots search through the title of the page, meta description and content to retrieve that web page. However, this extends to all other html tags and their usage. For instance, you can’t have heading 4 before heading 3, 2 and 1 and you can’t have poorly nested html tags.

<h4>Welcome to our page</h4>
<span><p>This is our first paragraph</span></p>
<h1>And this is our second heading</h1>

With a properly structured database and relevant content, all these sections can quickly and easily be retrieved from the database with a suitable and respective server-side programming language.

iv). Website speed: Like mentioned before, search engine robots run through millions of pages comparing their content with the keywords or phrase searched by the user. The faster the loading speed of your page, the better.

On this, we need to discuss issues that increase the speed of a website.

a). The layout of your page. Layout may include the structure and use of html elements. This layout also goes into errors generated from the code. If the website was not properly laid and it generates errors (from either client side and server side), its loading speed reduces. So, debugging pages is always important.

b). Use of heavy content like images, videos and audio. Always optimize this content before using them on a page. It’s also important to use CDN (Content Distribution/Delivery Networks), to pull some content from external sources, without necessarily having to host them on your server. For videos, try YouTube, for images try Shutterstock and audio, try SoundCloud. Other CDNs include, Google for jQuery and fonts and Bootstrap for styling.

While this page explains more on sizes and dimensions of web images (Best Image Sizes and How to Save Images For the Web (2020) – Flothemes), it’s also advisable that your images should not exceed 768 kbs, and don’t exceed five images on one page.

In summary, all the above contribute to the relevance and speed of your website, which in turn help in improving the search engine optimization and then the ranking.

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