Essential optimization techniques
– Truthfully, SEO is an ongoing effort. There isn’t one specific tactic that you can implementat the start to succeed at the race. It’ll require many factors to be evaluated, tweaked and then refined. With that said, there’s still a handful of variables that are absolutely essential to your success. I’m going to focus on these key areas for now to give you a foundation for your continued effort. So, first off, search engines are built around their ability to index pages. So it’s very important that your site is accessible to crawlers and that crawlers can get to every page on your site.
Search engines love text. It’s the easiest for them to parse. If you’re using images in replace of text, then you too, will have a problem. Search engines love clicking links. If you’ve got your links tucked into a custom java script navigation, well your crawability might be impaired. So as you look to your site, make sure you have at least one regular text based hyperlink to every page throughout your site. And it’s usually best to build a flat site hierarchy versus a deep site hierarchy.
To help understand this, let’s look at a flat hierarchy. Here, you can see our homepage at the top. And then the links that we have on our homepage are represented by the second line of pages. These might be things like “About Us”, “Services” “Locations” and “Contact”.If we had, for example, multiple locations, we would place those under the “locations” pageand create a unique page for each one. A deep structure looks more like this. As you can see, some content is buried deep within the site. This means the user has to click more times to arrive at the same content.
This also means that Google has to travel further through the site in order to index that content. And the further that Google goes, the less value its applying to each page. It simply sees them as less important. One other thing to pay attention to is siloed content. In this site map, you’ll see that we have a page and its sub pages are off to the side. Here there is no direct link from the homepage or any page for that matter to get to that content. This suggests to Google, if it could even find it, that it’s not important at all.
There are some exceptions to every rule. In certain situations, there’s simple too many categories to show them all at one level. In other cases, showing specific topics too soon,will just confuse your user. And users will understand your offerings much better if you include some intermediate category pages to help establish context. Focus on building a site that is easy to navigate for your users with your most important content linked clearly and prominently. Next, be sure to look at how your URLs are named.
It’s a great idea to have natural language URLs free of any extensions. If you have an eCommerce site, a URL of clothingsite.com/mens/pants/denimjeans is going to be much better than clothingsite.com/productid=1237AC You get the idea? Along that same concept, be sure your title tags are unique to each individual page and they include a clear topic. Don’t start your title tags with your domain name.
Simply put that at the end. Be sure each page has a unique meta description. Google often uses the meta description as the short text that is visible in search results. Don’t just list keywords here. Create a meaningful sentence or two that will entice the visitor to click.Next, make sure you’re taking advantage of heading tags. These are the H1, H2 and H3 tags. You always want your heading tags to appear in order on your page and you should only always have one heading one tag. Avoid using your heading 1 tag to say things like “About Us” or “Contact Us” instead focus on the core topic for that page.
Check that every image on your website has a well defined name and an alt tag description.No need to key word stuff in these tags. Just make them natural and relevant to the userand Google will reward you. Finally, be sure to use a sitemap both in HTML and XML formatalong with a well defined robots.txt file. I really recommend that you sign up for Google webmaster tools. It’s a great resource that will help you inspect the overall SEO health of your site. You’ll find the free sign up at google.com/webmasters.
Use that dashboard to review how many pages have been crawled and indexed. See a list of crawl errors and identify any html improvements Google recommends for you. If you have a moderately sized site, check out the tool Screaming Frog SEO Spider at screamingfrog.co.uk You can crawl your site just as a search engine would, see a list of any broken links, along with an output of all your heading 1 tags, meta descriptions and title tags. Work through each page on your site to make sure it’s technically sound.