With Google continuing to dominate the top position in the battle of the search engines it makes sense to consider how to optimise your site for Google, before considering Bing SEO, Yahoo SEO or any other contenders for your time.
Skip down the page for a printable page of things to keep in mind. Complete them all and you'll have a solid website on your hands.
Google have the most user data from which to infer which search results are more relevant to your query. The more data they have the more relevant their results. The more relevant their results the more likely you are to use them when searching again.
As a side note on how incredibly intelligent the Google algorithms are these days, consider that their AI engines have been used to find planets in a way never before possible.
All of this means that you should take what Google wants from your website very seriously.
A 33% increase in traffic can, if conversions are optimised, result in a substantial growth of inbound business enquiries.
You might not be doing anything inherently wrong but even so it is likely that making small changes to your site could have a noticeable impact on your incoming web traffic over time.
See another example for a much larger website below:
So what can you do to see Google SEO results like this for your website?
Many of these topics are likely familiar - but they are essential, and you may not be making the most out of them.
Search engine optimisations tasks for any website
Use unique page titles which describe the content of the page
Use heading tags appropriately
- Use heading 1, 2 and 3 tags to outline the structure of your content, not for styling purposes alone.
- Publish content that is well written and easy to follow
- Don’t rehash or copy existing content as this doesn't add value
- Improve the structure of your URLs using /category/article rather than just /article for example.
- Custom 404 page (allow for the possibility that a user removes part of a url)
- Use descriptive and intriguing meta description tags
- Make your site easier to navigate on any device, use responsive websites and breadcrumbs rather than excessive dropdown menus
- Offer quality content and services
- Write better link/anchor text (i.e. look at our Drupal SEO guide)
- Optimise your use of images (compress them, do not put much text in them)
- Make use of free webmaster tools
- Make effective use of Robots.txt by 'noindexing' admin areas of the site, or unpublished or draft articles, while indexing every single piece of content you'd like to be found in search results for.
- Be aware of rel=“nofollow” for links. If you do not want to endorse a website but you want to link to it, then use nofollow.
- Guide mobile users accurately
- Promote your website in the right ways
- Do not make spelling or grammatical mistakes
- Do not try to 'game' the system.
Google search engine optimisation broken down by task
Page Title tag
- Unique, Accurate Page Titles
- Title should be in the tag
- Unique title for each page on your site.
- Can list website name, business or other bits of information
- Titles should accurately communicate the topic of the pages content.
- Do not - use vague titles or words unrelated to the content
- Avoid keyword stuffing, or using lengthy titles which are unhelpful.
Description Meta Tag
Description should be in the tag.
Words in the description snippet on search results pages are bolded when they appear in the user’s query.
- Description tags should both inform and interest users if they saw it on an SERP.
- Avoid unrelated, generic, keyword-stuffed descriptions.
- Use unique descriptions. You can automatically generate them for large sites.
Improve the structure of your URLs
Descriptive categories and filenames for documents on your site leads to you being more organised and sites crawling your documents better. It also creates easier friendlier URL’s for people who want to link to your content.
- Use words in URLs.
- Avoid lengthy URLs with parameters and session IDs, generic names like Page1, excessive keywords.
- Name directories so they do not go to deep and remain understandable.
- Avoid capitalising in URLs
- Avoid multiple URLs showing the same content - set up a 301 redirect or canonical if you cannot redirect.
Make your site easier to navigate
Use breadcrumbs lists to allow users to quickly navigate back to a previous section or the root page.
Allow for the possibility that a user removes part of a url e.g /news/2010/baseball to try and see either all news, or all news from 2010. Will they get a 404?
Prepare two sitemaps
One for users who are having trouble finding pages on your site - group these links by subject and avoid broken links! (HTML Sitemap)
one for search engines (XML Sitemap).
Try to avoid a navigation based entirely on dropdown menus, images or animations. A user should be able to reach all pages on a site via normal text links.
Have a custom 404 page that kindly gives users a way back to a working page on your site.
Offer quality content and services
Users know good content when they see it. Organic or word-of-mouth buzz is what helps build a site's reputation with both users and google and it rarely comes without quality content.
- Anticipate differences in users’ understanding of your topic and offer unique, exclusive content.
- Users enjoy content that is well written and easy to follow.
- Do not make spelling and grammatical mistakes
- Do not embed lots of text in images. Users may want to copy and paste the text and search engines can’t read it. (i.e. if you provide an infographic - then have the text on that page too.)
- Stay organised around the topic. Breaking content up into logical chunks or devisions helps users find the content they want faster. I.E. Use paragraphs, sub headings and layout separation.
- Don’t rehash or copy existing content as this brings little value to users.
- Avoid having duplicate or near-duplicate versions of your content across your site.
- Do not keyword-stuff, have blocks of text like ‘frequent misspellings used to reach this page’, or hide some text from users so that only search engines can find it.
note: New content will not only keep your existing visitor base coming back, but also bring in new visitors.
Write better anchor text
Links on your page, internal or external, should consistently link the same text to the same pages, so that users and google know what the page you are linking to is about.
Avoid ‘click here’, anything generic, using the page’s URL (unless you are promoting a new website address).
- Make it easy for users to distinguish between regular text and the anchor text of your links. Content becomes less useful if users miss the links or accidentally click them. Avoid using CSS or text styling that makes links look like regular text.
- Only user internal anchor links when they help with user site navigation, and do not fill the anchor text with keywords.
Optimise your use of images
All images should make optimal use of a filename and alt attribute for those using a screen reader. Another reason is that if using an image as a link, the text for that image will be treated similarly to the anchor text of a text link. Don’t use too many images for links when text could serve the same purpose.
Put all images in one folder to simplify the path to your images. Have the extension of your filename match the filetype and use JPEG, GIF, PNG and BMP image formats whenever possible.
- Use brief descriptive filenames and alt text.
- An Image Sitemap file can provide googlebot with more information about the images found on your site. It’s structure is similar to an XML sitemap file for your web pages.
Use heading tags appropriately
Use heading tags to emphasise important text. There are six sizes from h1 to h6, 1 being the most important and 6 just more important than normal text. Heading tags are usually visual cues to a user that this text is important and could help them understand something about they type of content underneath the heading text.
Multiple heading sizes are used to create a hierarchical structure for your content - making it easier for users to navigate through your document.
imagine you’re writing an essay outline
- Put some thought into what the main points and sub points of the content on the page will be and decide where to use heading tags appropriately. Avoid placing text in heading tags that wouldn’t be helpful in defining the structure of the page.
- avoid use headline tags where other tags may be more appropriate.
- avoid erratically moving from one heading tag size to another.
- Use headings sparingly across the page
- Too many heading tags on a page can make it hard for users to scan the content and determine where on topic ends and another begins. Don’t use them excessively, throughout the page or put lots of text in heading tags. Do not use heading tags for styling and not presenting structure.
Dealing with Crawlers
Make effective use of Robots.txt
Be aware of rel=“nofollow” for links
Use nofollow for comment spam links, comment columns and message boards. Also use it to warn people
SEO for Mobile
Run your website through Google's mobile friendliness tools
Prioritise legible content rather than imagery as the page loads
- Guide mobile users accurately with responsive menus and hierarchy
Promotions & Analysis
Maintaining your website
Consider hiring web developers in order to keep your website safe and secure today, and into the foreseeable future.
We can help you directly, or point you in the direction of decent help. Please contact us if you'd like to hear more.