Site Structure for Improved SEO
When broken down, SEO can really be divided into three key areas – technical or site, authority and content. All work together and interlink to provide overall SEO; and improvements within each section can help boost SEO.
This is a look at the elements behind improving or optimizing the technical side of SEO. This is a great little checklist to use to audit your website or make sure everything is in order from a technical standpoint before you launch.
Title & Meta Description
Title and Meta Description are both important technical elements that should be considered what developing your website. These elements work together to display your website in search results. Keep these important things in mind:
- Title should be within 70 characters
- Meta Description should be within 150 characters
- Both should contain your keywords
Here is an example:
Your website should be structured using HTML headings – H1 to H6. Google (and other search engines) use headings to understand your data – with H1 tags perceived as more important than H2 and so on. It’s important to structure your headlines so that search engines can easily make sense of the data. For example, a recipes page might have “Recipes” as H1, “Beef Recipes” as H2, “BBQ Beef Skewers” as H3. You should try to have at least one H1 tag on each page.
Alt-Text Attributes for Images
Without an alt text attribute on your image, search engines won’t know what your images are representing. For example, let’s say you have an amazing photo of your BBQ Beef Skewers but they’re named “IMG 5234” (straight from the way the camera saved the image out). There is no way for search engines to read this image. Even if you have photoshopped “BBQ Beef Skewers” over the top of the image, search engines can’t read this. To get around this, all images on the website should be given an alt attribute to tell search engines what the image is about. Search engines can then use this text signals to rank images in search results.
Every website should have a Sitemap. Sitemaps basically tell search engines the location of all the internal pages and the importance of the pages on the website. Having this information makes it much easier for a search engine to find and index pages. The XML Sitemap should be submitted to Google Webmaster Tools, Bing Webmaster Tools and submitted to the robots.txt file.
A side note on robots.txt: Your robots.xt files is the first file to be crawled by search engines. While it doesn’t directly affect the website’s SEO, it does make it easier and faster for bots to crawl the website – which can indirectly improve your SEO.
Page speed has been highlighted as being used by search engines to rank search results. A slow-loading page takes longer for a search engine to crawl which can negatively affect SEO. Aside from SEO, a slow-loading page is also very bad for user experience. People hate waiting for websites to load – you’ll find a lot of potential customers will in fact leave the site if the load time is too long.
Underscores vs Hyphens
This is a funny one – Google doesn’t see underscores as word separators. Therefore something like:
“My_Brindle_Dog” would be read from Google search as “MyBrindleDog” – which won’t make much sense.
Fix this by ensuring you use hyphens (or dashes) in between words instead. These are read as spaces by Google. Using the same example:
“My-Brindle-Dog” would be read as “My Brindle Dog” – something that now makes sense and can therefore be displayed in search results.
These are just a few things to double check on any site currently live or in production. Other things to check for include:
- Broken Links
- Structured Data Markup
- Social Links
- Above the Fold Content & Load Time
- Mobile Compatibility
What would add to this list for improving website SEO?