As part of Mucker’s ongoing Growth Series Webinars, we recently invited Jacque Alec, the CEO of Capconvert, to go deep on the topic of technical SEO for startups. A recap of the areas that he covered as well as the full webinar recording is found below.



Understanding the Search Engine Results Page (SERP)

A good way to think about search is essentially as roadmaps drawn by targeted keywords, which branches outward to create intersections that become digital real estate - websites, media, ads, and more. These intersections are where the magic happens, where potential customers discover your offerings, and where online presence translates to tangible growth.

The whole purpose of SEO is to then optimize your digital assets and direct “search traffic” into “site traffic.” Before jumping in and optimizing for Google, it is vital to first understand the anatomy of SERP (Search Engine Results Page) features. Some common elements of an SERP include:

  1. Sitelinks: These are additional links under the main webpage link to help users navigate the site.
  2. Image and Video Packs: Rows of images or videos related to the search query.
  3. People Also Ask: This is a list of related questions that users might be interested in based on the original search query.
  4. Top Stories: A carousel of news stories related to the search query.
  5. Featured Snippets: These are brief summaries of an answer to a user's query, which appear at the top of Google's search results.

As demonstrated by Jacque in the webinar, different keywords produce distinct SERP features, which require different optimization strategies. For example, a featured snippet on Google has a 45-55 word limit, meaning that “you can optimize non-brand FAQs to show for that.”

In a nutshell, the value of search is “to drive inbound qualified traffic to your site that is actively engaged in searching.” This means utilizing the principles of SEO to ensure that the right people - those who are actively looking for what you offer - find their way to your digital assets.

Top 5 Ranking Signals for SEO

Ranking signals in SEO are the criteria that search engines use to determine the order of results on their SERPs. There are around 200 ranking signals although only 18 are confirmed by Google. Jacque ranked the top 5 ranking signals in order of importance:

  1. Authority: A ranking signal based on the quality and quantity of a website's inbound links. It can be specific to a page (Page Authority) or an entire website (Domain Authority). High authority often leads to higher search engine rankings.
  2. Page Speed: Search engines favor faster pages for providing a better user experience, leading to lower bounce rates and potentially higher conversions.
  3. Meta Tags: An element in SEO that provides search engines with insights about a webpage's content. These tags communicate to search engines by letting them know which keywords a website would like to be ranked and indexed for.
  4. Content: Higher rankings are achieved with high-quality, relevant content that uses keywords naturally and provides substantial value to the user.
  5. Relevance, Distance, and Prominence: Relevance assesses how well a business matches a user's query, Distance calculates the business's proximity to the user or search location, and Prominence evaluates the business's recognition based on web data.

SEO Meta Tags

What keywords would you like Google to rank for your digital property? SEO Meta Tags are, at its core, snippets of text that describe a page's content and don't appear on the page itself but in the page's source code. These tags communicate to Google and let its search engine understand the keywords that a website wishes to rank for.

“Think of every keyword like a ladder,” Jacque said. “You want to climb to the top of that [ladder] to achieve first page rankings.”

In order to achieve that, a website must first be indexed by Google through using the following meta tags:

  1. Title Tags: A type of meta tag that specifies the title of a web page. They are displayed on search engine results pages (SERPs) as the clickable headline for a given result, and are critical to both SEO and social sharing.
    To look for title tags of your website, type site: in front of your website’s address. For example, type site: in Google’s search bar. The results page indicates all the title tags on your website at the current moment.
    Jacque highlights that the optimal length for a title tag is 55 characters or fewer (spaces included). Title tags exceeding this limit risk being truncated by Google, which will negatively impact their ranking. This truncation may lead Google to perceive the page as not providing information concisely enough, potentially leading to a lower evaluation.
    Another way of optimizing title tags is rearranging the format into:
    {keyword} | {path} - {brand}
    Ex. Preferred Vendors For Startups | Network - Mucker Capital
    This method offers a neat and effective way of signaling Google to prioritize specific keywords in your title tag therefore supporting the climb up the ranking ladder. Additionally, utilizing tools like Google's keyword planner can assist in identifying the most suitable keywords for your content.
  2. Header Tags: HTML elements that explain the structure of a webpage not only to site traffic but also search engines. They range from H1 to H6, with H1 being the highest level (usually the title of a page) and H6 being the lowest.
    It is crucial to make sure that each page on your website has an H1 tag, don’t make assumptions just because the text is bolded! Instead, double check with tools such as the Ahrefs browser plugin. For header tags, Jacque suggests making the length equal or less than 30 characters while including a keyword as close to the start as possible.
  3. Alternative (ALT) Text: This is an attribute added to an image's HTML tag on a webpage. It provides textual descriptions of images for search engine crawlers and improves accessibility for site users. On top of that, an ALT text is also a HTML element that directly communicates with Googlebot by “describing” images to it. By optimizing ALT texts, you are also providing a signal to Google for what keywords you wish the image and the page the image is on to be ranked for.
    Format recommended by Jacque:
    Length ≤ 125 characters
    Include keyword(s) near the front with a statement description of the image.
  4. Paragraph Text: This part is where approximately 85% of your site’s copy will be, and it’s a HTML element denoting a majority of the site’s content.
    Using tools like Google’s keyword planner tool, Ahrefs’ keyword explorer, and Semrush, you can find out user intent related to your keyword which can then be integrated into the body copies on your webpage.
    While there is no limit on the length of your body copies, Jacque notes that a successful optimization of paragraph text should include 2-3 keywords per every 50 words or so, and keep the content easy-to-understand in a concise manner.
  5. Meta Description: A type of meta tag in SEO that provides a brief summary of a webpage's content. It is often displayed in search engine results pages (SERPs) underneath the title tag and URL of a page.
    Although optimizing your meta descriptions won’t necessarily improve your site’s ranking, it can improve organic click-throughs (CTRs), which can positively affect a page's ability to rank. Google SERPs will automatically highlight the user input keywords within a webpage’s meta description meaning that, generally, it will increase the amount of organic CTRs.
    The best practice for meta descriptions is to keep the content within 130-150 characters with a 2-sentence structure:
    1st sentence describes the page / 2nd sentence describes the brand.

Page Speed

Page speed is a critical factor in SEO rankings due to its impact on user experience. Search engines like Google tend to favor websites that load quickly, as users tend to leave or bounce from sites that take too long to load. Currently, page speed is a Google-announced ranking factor, emphasizing its importance in effective SEO strategy.

To test your website’s page speed, Jacque mentions Google Pagespeed Insights (PSI) which tests 5 metrics relevant to the diagnosis of page load speed:

  1. First Contentful Paint (FCP): This metric evaluates the duration from the initiation of the page load to the moment any element of the page's content becomes visible on the display. This could be any piece of content from the document object model (DOM), such as text, an image, or even a background canvas render.
  2. First Input Delay (FIP): This metric quantifies the interval between a user's initial engagement with a page (such as clicking a button or a link) and the point at which the browser can effectively react to that engagement.*Getting replaced by Interaction to Next Paint (INP) in March 2024.
  3. Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): This reports the render time of the largest image or text visible within the viewport relative to when the page first started loading. Simply put, “it measures how long your websites takes to load the largest piece of content on a page.”
  4. Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): This is a metric that quantifies how much a page's content visually shifts around during load time. For example, a high CLS score is an indication of more unexpected layout shifts. This may include users trying to click a button just as it moves due to a late-loading ad or image, which results in dissatisfied site users.

Optimizing page load speed, as Jacque underlines, is an extremely important and complicated process. It involves strategies such as reducing file sizes of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, and optimizing images to lessen data transfer. These additional steps can improve page load speed as well:

Compress Files - Enabling Gzip file format is a useful method for file compression and decompression. In the context of page load speed optimization, Gzip is commonly used to reduce the size of the files sent from your server to the browser, in turn, increasing the load speed.

Images are recommended to be ≤ 200 KB and in jpeg formate instead of PNG.

Minify Code - This is the process of removing extra characters from code to reduce its size, therefore improving load times. These unnecessary characters can include white spaces, line breaks, and comments, which are useful for making code more readable for humans but are not required for the code to be executed by browsers.

  • Google Recommended Tools
    Minify HTML: HTML Minifier
    Minify CSS: CSSNano
    Minify Java: UglifyJS

Web Host - Finding an SEO-friendly web host is another great way to increase page load speed by ensuring maximum uptime and high site security. Jacque compiled several key points for choosing a web host:

  • Content Delivery Network (CDN) - Look for hosts that can access servers around the globe to decrease the distance between site users and data transfer.
  • Bandwidth - A web host that provides ≥ 10 GB Network for data transfers is more ideal.
  • Domain Name System (DNS) - This is the system that translates human-friendly website names, like, into numerical IP addresses that computers use to communicate.
  • Recommended Tool

Concurrent File Loading - Navigate to KeyCDN and test whether your website is on HTTP 2. Generally, webpages will load faster when on HTTP 2 compared to HTTP 1 and gives benefits such as:

  • Combining requests
  • Enabling simultaneous downloads
  • Prioritizing requests

Thanks to Jacque Alec with Capconvert for sharing this information.


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