How to Make your Website Search-Engine Friendly?
“SEO is not something you do;
It is something that happens when you do everything else right”
Once you have a website you have to think of optimizing it for the various search engines. Your aim has to be to appear on the top page of Search Engine Results whenever a user runs a search on the relevant keywords in your niche. Someone was right when they said…
“The Best Place to hide a dead body is Page 2 of Google Search Results”
So what exactly do you have to do if you want to reach the top page of Google Search Results?
You have to work on your onsite SEO…. You have to work on your offsite SEO… and then you have to find the right mix between the two
In this article we will be talking about onsite SEO
Talking about online SEO, here is a check list that can be of help to you:
Onsite SEO includes all aspects of your website such as:
The main thing you need to keep in mind while designing your site structure is Search Engine optimization. It has to provide an excellent user experience. You have to make it easier for users to find what they came looking for, on your website. At the same time, you will also have to make your site structure appealing enough for the search engines to index your website.
A good site structure is one that…
- Reduces the bounce rate and makes your users dwell on your site for longer
- Has a lot of sitelinks (Google’s algorithms will automatically award your website with sitelinks if it has a great site structure)
- Is Optimized for Web Crawlers (this is the only way you can get your content indexed)
Here are a few things you need to remember while creating your site structure:
Make sure you plan out your site hierarchy well before you actually create your website
This can be done on a spreadsheet, a whiteboard, a word processor or even on a piece of paper. This is all about organizing your information. It should be simple and it should make sense. This hierarchy is going to determine your URL structure as well as your navigation.
A site hierarchy would usually look something like this:
Keep it as logical as possible without complicating the process. The main categories should be unique and distinct. The subcategories should relate to their respective main categories. The number of main categories should not be more than seven. You need to maintain a balance when it comes to the amount of subcategories within each category.
The URL structure that you create needs to follow your navigation hierarchy
The second main element in developing strong site structure is your URL structure. If you’ve logically thought through your hierarchy, this shouldn’t be too difficult. Your URL structure follows your hierarchy. The words that you use in your URL should follow your site organization pattern, while covering the appropriate keywords.
Use CSS or HTML for creating your Site Navigation
Stick to a navigation structure of shallow depth
While making sure your navigation structure follows your site hierarchy, you need to make sure you don’t bury your pages too deep into your site. Shallow sites are always better as they are easier for the crawlers to access and are simpler to use.
Make sure your header lists out your main pages
Too many menu elements can make your website too distracting. Ideally you should be using text links that have appropriate anchors. Also, include a footer that duplicates the list that you have used in your header. While doing so, make sure you don’t add any additional category or change the order of your page links.
Ensure your internal linking structure is comprehensive
Internal links make it easier for users to navigate through your website. While spreading your link juice across websites, internal links establish the information hierarchy for your website. Basically, they keep your site structure well-integrated.
The rule is simple. Every page of your website should contain a link to and a link from another page on your website. These are the links that tell the Search Engines how to access your website and which are the main pages of your website.
Also to be considered, as per the checklist above, are XML sitemap, Robots.txt and Redirects…
Every website should have a sitemap to which every page of that site links. XML sitemap is what you submit to the search engines so as to help them index your websites. You need to make sure these sitemaps are always updated.
The Robots.txt File that you submit to webmaster tools tell the search engine spiders about those pages that they are not supposed to index. Even if it is empty this file has to exist. A Robots.txt file looks somewhat like this:
Redirects are used when you want to send the users as well as the search engines from one URL to another. 301 redirects are permanent redirects that pass about 90 to 99% of the link juice to the redirected page. It is the best method of implementing redirects on your website.
Your site structure is best developed when you are creating a brand new website. Nevertheless, in case you are redesigning or revamping your website, you can work around a few navigational elements so as to improve your site structure. Once you have an excellent site structure in place, you can expect some great SEO.
When it comes to optimizing your page structure for the Search Engines, the main things that you have to focus on are your keywords and your web content.
You may be tempted to include a lot of keywords in the content that you create on your webpage. However, this is not going to take you anywhere.
Google has started penalizing websites that stuff too many keywords on to one page. The best thing is to come up with five most targeted and specific keywords or keyword phrases for each of your web pages and then optimize your pages for them.
You have to use your keywords in:
Title Tag: This is the heading of your page that tells the search engines, what your page is all about. The keyword or keyword phrase that you include here has to relate to the content written on the page. The title tag cannot be more than 70 characters and should include your brand or business name along with your keyword.
Meta Description: This is a short description of your web page. It should be clear and useful for the searchers. Make sure you use action-oriented language and provide some benefit or solution through your meta description. Make it relevant and specific and stick to 155 characters or less.
Body: Apart from Title tags and meta descriptions, adding keywords or keyword phrases to the body of your content is also very important. However, your content should follow a natural flow without appearing as if you have tried to stuff the keyword or key phrases into it. Try using long tail keywords for better results.
In case you are using WordPress for your domain, you can make use of the many free plugins to add title tags and meta descriptions easily.
Less is always more when it comes to web content. Keep it as short as possible. Make your paragraphs shorter – a three line paragraph should be preferable. You can even let those single lines fly here and there.
Your content should be absolutely unique and should not be copied from any source. Plagiarism is a big No-No when it comes to SEO. Always try to answer the question “why you should care” when preparing content for your web page. This will tell the users what they will get from reading your content.
As there is less scope for uploading too much content on your website, you could use a lot of images, videos and infographics on your webpage. If you are using images, make sure you include ‘Alt Tags’ that will describe the main purpose of including that image on your page.
While being informative, your content should also be useful and engaging to your readers. Use catchy headings and powerful CTAs that focus on converting your visitors into customer.
Although SEO and usability are two different concepts, one might affect the other in many ways. While SEO is all about driving traffic to your website, usability is about how you maintain that traffic on your site. A site with low usability may not be able to convert your visitors into customers.
Usability should always be user-centered. It is their goals and requirements that you need to meet through your website, your products and services. So make sure you consider different aspects such as:
Your website has to be accessible to users whenever they try to visit. Here are a few basic things you need to consider here:
Mobile-Friendliness: With more and more people using their smart phones, you have to make your website mobile-friendly. It should appear and read well on different screen sizes, despite slow internet connections
Load Speed: You have to make sure your webpage loads within the first 3 seconds of the visitor landing on it. If not there are high chances of your visitors abandoning your site, which increases your bounce rates. Also, make sure you invest in a good hosting set up so that your visitors do not get any error message while they are trying to visit your site.
Broken links: Broken links can lead to a whole lot of frustration to the users. They may also bring your ranking way below. You have to double check the links on your site and keep updating them regularly. A 404 page usually means an instant return to the Google Search Results.
Making sure your visitors find what they came looking for, is the main aim of creating your website. Therefore you have to maintain a high level of clarity in your website. Keep it as simple as possible, leaving out unwanted details. Choose a minimalistic design with a lot of white space. Although it might seem boring, it is better to stick to what users already know. Make sure your entire website presents a consistent experience to your visitors. As far as possible, guide your visitors while they are navigating through your site. Invite feedback whenever possible.
Establish credibility by providing enough information about you on your ‘About Us’ Page. Mention your goals and how you wish to achieve them. Talk about the values you believe in. Mention the kind of benefits your users can get by choosing you over your competitors. Use a few testimonials and work references to win the trust of your visitors. Finally, give them an easy way to contact you by including your contact details or putting up a contact form in your “Contact Us” page.
Keep testing the usability of your website again and again. This might require a lot of research on your side; but it is definitely worth.
Once you have made sure you have optimized every aspect of your website for the search engines, it is time to monitor the performance of your website. You can find many tools such as Google Analytics to do this. This will tell you what your competitors are doing that you are not, where you are going wrong and what you need to do to improve the performance of your website.
Instead of looking for better SEO strategies that can help optimize your website, focus more on enhancing the user experience on your website. If your website is relevant and offers what the users are looking for, the search engines will automatically index it.