Search Engine Optimization or SEO can't be done in a single day. You can in one day though make a lot of small changes and improvements that will help you get a great jump start on improving your SEO. The improvements we outline today are all foundational items that are needed for any SEO and items we've been fixing left and right for many clients we've taken on updating their websites over the past several months.
Page Title – The page title shows in the title or tab of your web browser as well as within the search engine result pages or SERP. Every page should have a page title and that title should be unique for every other page on the site. The title should be between 55 and 60 characters in length.
META Description – Although the META Keywords is not used by any major search engine (no reason to fill that out) the META Description is used by the major search engines. The description should give a brief synopsis of your page. This description stands a good chance of showing on the SERP if the search engines feel it is relevant to the page itself. The META Description should be around 150 to 160 characters. Each search engine varies so we normally think of the description as a short TWEET of what the page is about. This make is short, concise, and without a lot of fluff.
Website URL – Your domain name defines who you are on the internet. This piece is written in stone as once you purchased it you can't change it without purchasing another domain name. The part to the right of the final slash of your domain name(e.g. https://www.domain.com/) is what we're talking about. This should use your page title, have keywords, etc. without being "spammy" or false in nature. The page should match the content of the site. You should never go more than three levels deep in the URL structure and most modern content management systems or CMS will guide you away from doing so.
Keywords in your content – As we said earlier the META Keywords is no longer used as too many people abused it and the search engines over the years have greatly progressed in their capabilities in understanding natural text. Your content should be written for a human, not a computer, to understand. You should include keywords on each page if it makes sense on the page. If there is a lot of keywords you want on a single page think about making another page. Do NOT keyword stuff on your page. This is where you add the same word repeatedly in hopes of ranking. Most times it will have the reverse benefits for your site.
H1 Header Tag – Every page on your site should have one, and only one, H1 tag. This is the highest header, is often at the very top, and we often refer this as the title of a book chapter heading as it only should appear once per page just like a title should only appear once for a chapter. This should tie in with the title, META Description, URL of the page, and if possible the first paragraph of the page.
H2 through H6 heading tags – These can appear multiple times on a page and often go H2, H3, back to H2, H3, H4, etc. Normally you do not skip numbers but skipping (e.g. going from H1 to H5 is allowed). Using keywords in these headings is beneficial if it fits the content of the page. Again, do not keyword stuff.
Images – Images are an important aspect of telling the story on your website about your company. There are three primary formats for images. These are GIF, PNG, and JPG files. GIF is great for lower resolution, transparent and animated images, PNG is great for higher graphics and can also handle transparent backgrounds, and JPG (or JPEG) are great for the highest quality images. When saving your images, they should be at the highest compression level that will create the smallest size possible while not losing quality for the users.
Filenames – Image and document filenames on your site can help your SEO by having keywords in them. Often, we will see Document.pdf and image.jpg as used names. These do not help your SEO at all. By changing Document.pdf to MyCompanySalesFlyer.pdf you are giving a lot more information, using keywords, etc. Images and documents should all have names that mean something even if a human is not going to see them as a human will be the one maintaining the system. Another item to note on filenames you should avoid spaces in the name. If your site is already live don't change those files but going forward when you upload your files make certain that spaces are removed. It's common to use a dash (e.g. -) where spaces are located.
PDF Files – The content of your PDF files and other files should not be stored as images. The easiest way to tell is to load the file and see if you can select the text with your cursor. If the whole file is selected and not the text the PDF is most likely not going to rank well on the search engines.
Alternate Text – Every picture we know needs to have great and useful filenames with keywords. Behind those pictures is some hidden text. This text helps people with disabilities as well as the search engines to know about what the image is. Like the META Description the alternate text should clearly define what the image is about as quickly as possible without a lot of "fluff".
Internal Links – We all love backlinks from external sites but a great way to improve and add credibility to your own pages is to link to them from your pages. By using keyword rich, branded and normal anchor text in your internal linking process you will improve your internal SEO.
Speed - Search engines, like users, love a fast performing website. You want to make certain your website loads as quickly as possible. We strive for loading within 3 seconds for all content "above the fold" (this is the part before you start scrolling). The faster your page loads the better the user experience is for your site visitors.
Security - The green lock is extremely important now. Whether you have an eCommerce site or not every page of your website should use the green lock. You can learn about what the green lock is in John and Kyle's Digital Talk explaining what the green lock is. You can read our blog "Can your online brand be trusted?" here.
Google My Business – A great way to improve your SEO is to ask for reviews from people that are interested in your products and services. You can capture reviews on your website, Facebook, or within your Google My Business page. To setup Google My Business go to https://www.google.com/business/. You will need a Google Gmail account (free) to create your page. This Gmail account is also needed for your Google Analytics account setup if you don't already have one.
Google Analytics – Knowing who comes to your site is important. Just as knowing how they navigate and use your site is important. There are many great products out there that give you great insights and analytics. The one we use and recommend for every site, even if we use other analytics software, is Google Analytics. The price is right – free - and it helps you see a lot of great insights about your website, if Google has you properly indexed, and if Google sees any bad trends with your website. To setup Google Analytics go to https://www.google.com/analytics/. We always recommend getting reviews on multiple locations and sites to hit the widest audience possible.
Blogs – Blogs are one of the best ways to add unique content to your core site and show positive change to your website. This change should have quality content (Content is King) and be relevant and helpful to your audience. When you create blog articles make certain to categorize them so that it makes finding them easier with the proper blog categories. The blog should also be part of your main website (e.g. domain.com/blog) so that your main website gets the SEO credit. When you have blog.domain.com you lose some SEO ranking as it is not part of the core site and any links to the main site are considered more as backlinks than internal links and new content to your core site.
If you feel the list above is already overwhelming or that you don't know what you need to fix the team at JM2 Webdesigners is here to help. We have plans in place to handle your complete SEO needs as well as SEO Audit needs with guidance on how to fix your site. JM2 can be reached at 219-229-1633, email at sales@FawkesDM.com, or through our online contact form here.