A good search engine optimization strategy is crucial to the success of your overall marketing. SEO helps improve the quality and usability of your website and how search engines respond to it, leading to higher search engine rankings, more traffic, a better user experience, and increased trust from visitors.
The execution of your SEO strategy and the backend set up of your website play a critical role in the success of your website and marketing strategies. Today we’re digging into the nitty-gritty and sharing some of the basic technical SEO to get you started on the right path.
Every element on your mobile website impacts user experience (UX) and directly or indirectly impacts your SEO as well. Mobile-first indexing is here, so pay special attention to your mobile site and make it good.
1. Configure your site for mobile. If you haven’t already done this, you need to. There’s just no way around it.
2. Think local. Since many users utilize their phones when on-the-go and Google takes into consideration where the mobile searcher is located, you should be keeping local in mind. This is especially important if your business relies mostly on nearby customers. Be sure to include your address where relevant within the content and utilize structured data.
3. Keep site design in mind. Think about how people use their mobile devices, then plan and design your site accordingly. Avoid using things like Adobe Flash and pop-up ads that aren’t always supported and can cause issues on mobile devices. Also, consider the location of buttons and your nav bar in relation to how people scroll and click on mobile.
Users have little patience for slow websites. Very low patience. In fact, if your website takes more than three seconds to load, you could be losing more than half your visitors. All in all, that can have a significant impact on your SEO and overall marketing efforts, and your bottom line. Here are a few tips to help your site load faster.
5. Optimize your images. Compress images for the web to help reduce load time. Also, consider the file format. JPGs are generally better for photos and PNGs are good for infographics.
6. Utilize browser caching. Use a cache plugin to keep your website ready to go so the browser doesn’t have to reload the whole page every time.
Links within your website header and footer, content, and navigation can have a big impact on your SEO. Familiarizing yourself with these different types of links and how search engines respond to them will help make your SEO efforts more valuable. Below are a few things to keep in mind.
7. Content links matter more than navigation. That means links to individual products and articles included within the content of a page are going to hold the most weight.
8. Links within your footer don’t carry much weight. If you have an important link in the footer of your website, but not in your navigation or linked elsewhere, we recommend updating that. Research shows that footer links often get devalued and carry little value for SEO.
9. Highly visible links perform better. Small fonts and tiny links are easy for visitors to miss. Google also doesn’t seem to like them as much. Keep visibility in mind and do some testing.
10. Only the first link counts to a URL on a page. Multiple links on a page to the same page, including the navigation, don’t matter. Only the first one counts for link value in Google’s eyes. The same goes for pages that are linking to your site.
11. New tab vs. same window — both are fine. Google doesn’t show any preference between links that open in a new tab or the same window from an SEO perspective. Either works but we still prefer to open off-site links in a new tab to keep visitors on your website.
12. Text links seem to perform better than image links with alt text. It’s better to have the first link be a text link than an image.
13. The same link or anchor text on multiple (or all) pages can get you in trouble. Be sure you’re varying your text and key phrases.
Duplicate content is when you have the same or very similar content on more than one page on your website (or other websites). Duplicate content within your own website is often a result of the backend programming of the website. For example, if your e-commerce website creates a unique URL including the category, for each product listed in multiple categories, that can create redundant pages and therefore cause problems and impact your organic search visibility. It makes it difficult for search engines to decide which version is more relevant, which to index, and where to direct the link metrics. That means lower rankings and loss of traffic to your site. Keep the following in mind with duplicate content:
14. When finding duplicate pages, removing the duplicates is the best option. However, if that is not possible, implementing a 301 redirect is the next most effective fix. Ask yourself the following to help you select which page to redirect the others to:
- Which page the site internally links to the most?
- Which page is currently ranking the best?
- Which page has the most organic traffic historically?
15. You can use a canonical tag if redirects are not an option to consolidate pages. Though canonicals are not as effective as redirects, they do provide an avenue to try and guide search engines to the correct page. They also work for pages with parameter issues.
SEO is more important than ever when you’re in the process of creating or redesigning your website. Unintentional indexing of development servers and staging sites is a common technical SEO issue that often gets overlooked. Here are some tips to keep in mind to make sure your development site isn’t being indexed.
16. Try HTTP authentication. Requiring authentication is an effective way to keep pages from being indexed and keeping users and search engines out.
17. Try IP whitelisting. This is another effective method to avoid indexing and unwanted users to your site. Only the IP addresses you select will be able to access these pages, such as your employees and clients.
18. Do something. Many people opt to “do nothing” when it comes to preventing indexing of staging websites, either because they don’t know or just hope that no one will be linking to this area. This is a risky option and not ideal from a technical SEO perspective.
19. If the staging site does get indexed, 301 redirect it to the main website and submit a remove request. Submit a remove request within Google Search Console for about 90 days. That will assure you have time to fix it properly.
20. Utilize robots.txt. Your development website should have a robots.txt file blocking search crawlers from crawling and indexing your development website. Just as important, make sure to edit the robots.txt file after launch so that you are not continuing to block them after launch.
Need more SEO insights?
Just like the rest of the online marketing world, SEO is complicated and ever-changing. Understanding it and implementing technical SEO best practices can be challenging and time-consuming, especially on top of other day-to-day responsibilities. Thankfully, that’s why we’re here! Our experts can help you develop and implement an SEO strategy that takes your website and digital marketing efforts to the next level. Want to learn more? Schedule a free consultation to discuss your SEO questions and challenges with our team.