What is involved with website optimization?
There are three main areas of website optimization. Firstly, inserting strategically placed keywords throughout the website. Secondly, making sure the structure of your site is search engine friendly. And finally, the hardest bit of all, creating plenty of quality backlinks to your website from other sites. To explain in any great detail what is actually involved with each of these areas would take several lengthy SEO articles to cover the subjects properly. The purpose today is to explain in general terms what website optimization is all about.
You must understand how the search engine programs think
Website optimization is a real tightrope walk, you not only have to make sure that your potential customers are able to read it clearly but you also have to be aware of how the search engine programs will want to see it too. And that’s the tricky bit! Search engines see your website very differently to how you and I do. Their automated programs (web crawlers) are not interested in how slick the design looks, how many fancy pictures, videos and flash special effects you have built in. The only criteria that they use to judge what your website is about is by having a thorough look at your HTML code that is hidden behind the scenes. So you’d better make sure it’s spot on!
You have to weigh up cost against time.
Website optimization is not only very important but it is also extremely time consuming when done properly, especially if you are in a very competitive sector. I will not sugar soap this, if you intend to do it all yourself, be prepared for a lot of hard work if you want to get to the top of the search results. Website optimization can also be very frustrating, there always seems to be one more thing that you need to do. It could take from a week to several months of slogging away at your SEO before you start reaping the rewards of all that hard effort. If this seems like too big a task to take on, then your next call should be to an SEO specialist. If you are lucky enough to find a good one with plenty of experience, they will do a far better job than you could ever possibly achieve. There is an old saying “Time is money!” The benefit of going down this route is that it will free you up to focus more on all the other important aspects of running your business.
Wouldn’t it be easier to just use advertising programs to bring me traffic?
The final thing to throw into the mix is the use of advertising programs (sponsored links) to promote your site, the well established Google AdWords being one of them. If you are hungry for traffic it is very tempting to want to go for this quick fix option and side step the time and effort that you will inevitably have to spend on website optimization. In theory advertising programs seem like a great idea, but in practice there is a lot more to it than meets the eye. Firstly, be warned, you will need very deep pockets, there is a very real cost for using Adwords. You will be hit with a charge every time somebody clicks on your advert, this could vary from a few pence to several pounds per click, depending on how competitive your sector might be. Trust me, the money will soon rack up. Another area that is often overlooked using Adwords, is the surprisingly large amount of time that you will actually need to invest in managing your advertising campaign to keep you at the top. For a small growing business, there is only one valid argument for taking this approach, and that is as a stop gap strategy while you are waiting for your new website to start appearing in the search results.
Website optimization might take more time initially, but if you stick with it and finally succeed in getting to the first page, you will then be driving plenty of traffic to your website and it will all be for free!
Mike is an SEO specialist at spearheadprojects.co.uk
, occasionally he takes time out from work to provide free, straight talking and honest advice to help out novice web designers. His mission is to demystify the world of website optimization and to help people get to grips with their new diy website builder
On-Page SEO Optimization
Having clean codes, optimized HTML tags and metadata helps search engines crawl your site better and index and rank your pages according to the relevant search terms.
Make sure to check the following:
Your source code is the backbone of your website. The crawlers finds everything it needs in order to index your website here. Make sure your source code is devoid of any problems by checking the following:
INCORRECTLY IMPLEMENTED TAGS:
Examples of these are re=canonical tags, authorship mark-up, or redirects. These could prove catastrophic, especially the canonical code, which can end up in duplicate content penalties.
SERVER-SIDE CODE SHOWING UP ON THE HTML CODE:
Depending on how this is processed, the code could either cause errors on the website or show up as text on the front end, revealing secrets that your competitors can pick up on.
META ROBOTS TAGS:
Implementing this tag without making sure you do not apply the “noindex, nofollow” parameter to your most important pages, is crucial.
You may have hidden content in your CSS codes. Removing this content is crucial to ensuring crawling runs smoothly.
EXCESSIVE SCRIPT CODE:
This could slow down your page loading time which is bad for your SEO rankings.
Some tags for analytics may be available to competitors. Removing unnecessary tags is good practice.
Mark-Ups and Tags
Adding mark-ups improves the look of your SERPs listings and contributes to trust signals. The most basic snippets are:
Create a Google+ account for your website and use the authorship HTML mark-up in the website code.
NAME, ADDRESS, PHONE NUMBER (NAP) RICH SNIPPET:
This displays your business name, business location, and contact details on the SERPs.
This displays ratings of your products, images, price range, and availability.
This snippet shows the ratings and reviews exclusively on the SERPs.
Displays a thumbnail of the video display next to the listing. You can install this manually if you host your own video or if it is shared on a video sharing site (YouTube, Vimeo, Vine, etc), or automatically have this appear through the Facebook Share markup code.
Other specialized snippets are available and may be applied based on your specific needs and industry. These include snippets for recipes, people snippets (different from authorship mark-up because it shows a person’s position and affiliations, not the Google+ profile), music album snippets, to name a few.
You will also need to check your HTML tags and optimize all titles and header tags. Make sure your main keywords are part of your title.
Optimizing metadata helps crawlers interpret your site content better. It’s important to include the following details:
Keep your title within the character limit, and make it consistent with the web page’s title.
This displays your business name, business location, and contact details on SERPs.
Refer to your keyword groupings to determine which keywords you need to insert here.
There needs to be continuity between the title and header tag.
When planning your landing page, need to understand that for most instances, you should be able to drop paid traffic onto that landing page and still see good results.
An optimized landing page will work great for both SEO and PPC purposes. When your organically optimized page is not a good landing page which converts, you will be throwing away valuable traffic, and bottom line, you’ll be throwing away your money.
In order to get this mix right, focus your efforts on optimizing landing pages for search engines and for your potential customers. Go through a process of understanding how your audience thinks when they are searching for products and services online.
That information helps us determine which interests and needs need to be addressed during the customer journey. Here’s how we do it:
Captivating, Keyword Focused Title Tag:
On your landing page, this is the most important 8 – 10 words we’ll write. You should keep it both keyword focused and compelling enough to be clicked on above your competitors.
This text is the very first point of contact in search engine results and is thus a crucial component of your landing page optimization. Create descriptions that receive clicks through strong call-to-action.
Keyword-Focused, Powerful Headline:
Need to make sure that the user experiences continuity when making first contact with the website. The headline contains the optimized keywords and gives your potential customer a reason to stay on the page and engage with whatever is on offer. It also gives search engines the topical focus of your page.
Topically & Keyword-Focused Content:
It’s very important that the content on your landing page focuses on the topic and goals your website sets out to be achieved. Use the correct keywords and related phrases, but more than that, make sure that the content will be useful to your users. Use code to properly structure content for easy reading.
A good landing page doesn’t leave the user feeling unsure about the next step to take. It is clear and concise in providing the user with a motivation to take the next step. Create a clear goal and desired action for the user to take.
When grouping your keywords and creating the site structure, consider the website topics, what keywords you want to rank for, and what the general purpose of the site is. Also consider the customer journey and make sure that the site structure will make sense to your customers.
Trust & Credibility Signals:
Add testimonials and logos of companies your clients have worked with so far. This will send trust signals to their target market and add to their credibility. Encourage reviews from customers through social media and forum engagement, email surveys, and links to your clients’ local listings.
The importance of social signals shouldn’t be understated in significance when it comes to search algorithms. Make sure that your website pages are easily shareable by your users, making sure your visitors engage with your offerings.