One of the biggest challenges on-line businesses face today, is to be well ranked on the different search engines; above all to be well ranked on Google (https://www.netmarketshare.com/search-engine-market-share.aspx?qprid=4&qpcustomd=0). We all know this. But what to do exactly can be quite confusing.
I had the opportunity to recently follow a course on SEA basics and best practices. These very useful tips on SEA – taught by Mr Arnaud de Terline (https://www.linkedin.com/in/arnaud-de-terline-55540914) – were completed by a very interesting conference on SEO I had the chance to find and watch on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nhot524-qa0 . Here is a synthesis I suggest you to follow in two blog pieces. Let’s start with the first one. I hope both of them will help you.
Best practices to improve your SEO
1- Make it crawlable
First we need to understand what crawling and indexing mean. On the web, softwares – called crawlers (that is to say “search robots”) – are used to find all pages accessible to the public. The most famous robot is Googlebot.
These Crawlers examine web pages and follow links contained in there, in the same way you do when browsing the Internet. They go from link to link and return information on these web pages to search engines servers.
On Google’s servers, pages are ranked thanks to this information: from A – highest rate corresponding to these pages that are stored permanently in the main index – to F- – lowest rate corresponding to these pages seen by the crawler but never crawled. Not to mention the pages ranked 0 and that are not even seen by the crawlers.
To ensure a good ranking “grade”, some best practices have to be respected:
- Have a well-structured website:
- Avoid flat website structure and orphan pages;
- Have one or several sitemaps (general and by main theme);
- Limit your navigation depth to a maximum of 3 clicks;
- Stop the 404 pages in favour of 301 redirections or 410 code;
- Limit the use of 301 (permanent redirections) and 302 (temporary redirections) pages.
To help you on your website structure, here are some very useful free tools: screamingfrog, Watussi Box, AWStats Log analyzer, visual site mapper, SeeUrank, XenuLinkSleuth.
2- Improve internal page rank
A well-structured website will directly improve your internal page rank; the latter is tightly linked to the global SEO ranking of your website.
“The Internal page rank is the page rank computed considering only pages in your analysis scope, as opposed to the standard page rank used by search engines which takes into account the entire web – or the part of the web they have visibility over. In other words, the internal page rank indicates how your website’s page rank is distributed within your website.”
When developing your website structure, you should take into account all matters related to internal page rank.
3- Avoid duplicate content
If the structure has to be of quality, the content too, has to be of quality.
Indeed robots do not analyse only the structure. They also analyse content. And what search engines hate most is to face same content on different pages (URL). Indeed when there are multiple pieces of identical content, it is difficult for the search engine to decide which URL is more relevant to a given search query. They are forced to choose by themselves which URL is most likely to be the best. Your page rank will be lowered.
(source : https://moz.com/learn/seo/duplicate-content)
Happily there are some ways to work this around or at least to limit the negative effect:
- To create a txt file: in this file you can mention all pages that should be ignored by the crawlers;
- To put in place canonical tags;
- To avoid as much as possible duplicate content,
- To work on title and description tags.
Here you will find all details https://moz.com/learn/seo/duplicate-content
4- Improve your CTR in the SERP’s
But content and structure are nothing, if no internet users click and view your pages. Part of your website success will thus depend on your CTR level.
First here is the translation of the title of this part: “Improve your Click Through Rate (CTR) that is to say the ratio of users who click on a specific link to the number of total users who view a page, email, or advertisement (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Click-through_rate) in the Search Engine Results Pages.
Some easy things can be put in place to improve your CTR and indirectly improve your ranking.
For example, adding a structured data to the code can increase page visibility: the rich snippets – A small piece of code that changes everything.
“Snippets are the lines of black text that accompany every search result listing. They describe the page’s relevance to the phrase that the searcher used as his search query, with the words that match the query shown in bold as shown below.
Rich snippets are additional pieces of information that the search engine is able to identify on the page, used to enhance the searcher’s understanding of the value of that page. Ratings, pricing, and availability are commonly seen in ecommerce rich snippets.” (http://www.practicalecommerce.com/articles/82075-SEO-Using-Rich-Snippets-to-Increase-Clicks)
Here you will find a very interesting infographic on that matter: http://socialmedia.biz/2012/10/22/a-visual-guide-to-rich-snippets-infographic/
5- Increase social signals
Content, structure and code are one thing. But ranking is not limited to that. Social networks have a great impact on ranking; it is very important to increase the social signals. And this takes account UX (User Experience) that is a major asset of all today’s websites.
The social sharing bars should be used accordingly. The size should be different according to the position. The position should be determined according to ergonomic standards. But the goal should always be the same: encourage internet users to click! In that sense, adding counters could be a good option.
6- Boost social linking
In order to make the most out of social Networks, social linking should be boosted as much as possible. And here again some simple actions can be put in place:
- Twitter cards: With Twitter Cards, you can attach rich photos, videos and media experience to Tweets that drive traffic to your website. Simply add a few lines of HTML to your webpage, and users who Tweet links to your content will have a “Card” added to the Tweet that’s visible to all of their followers.
- Google+ connexion, Open graph and Rich Pins : these are also some small parts of codes that will allow you to take advantage of your connection through Google+, Facebook and Pinterest.
(Must-Have Social Meta Tags for Twitter, Google+, Facebook and More: https://moz.com/blog/meta-data-templates-123 )
7- Improve page display speeds
“Page speed can be described in either “page load time” (the time it takes to fully display the content on a specific page) or “time to first byte” (how long it takes for your browser to receive the first byte of information from the web server).
No matter how you measure it, a faster page speed is better. Many people have found that faster pages both rank and convert better.
Google has indicated site speed (and as a result, page speed) is one of the signals used by its algorithm to rank pages. And research has shown that Google might be specifically measuring time to first byte as when it considers page speed. In addition, a slow page speed means that search engines can crawl fewer pages using their allocated crawl budget, and this could negatively affect your indexation.
Page speed is also important to user experience. Pages with a longer load time tend to have higher bounce rates and lower average time on page. Longer load times have also been shown to negatively affect conversions.”
Website ranking is not to be limited to SEO
Of course there is no question that all this, is just an introduction. The purpose of this review is to help you understand and define your SEO priorities. This is by no means a silver bullet.
Through this quick overview, you will be able to implement all that will be required from an SEO point of view, to ensure a good ranking for your website. You are now able to understand that, with the rigor, labour, time and technology, you can positively act on this ranking.
But SEO is not everything.
To ensure optimum ranking to your website, you will have to work on other areas: for example, you will always have to keep informed of the latest news (Google considers today’s mobile compatibility as an essential element in the ranking; tomorrow?); you will also have to regularly monitor your website not to be surprised and to anticipate the necessary changes (https://www.zionandzion.com/google-analytics-best-practice/).
But more importantly, you will have to understand SEA (Search Engine Advertising) and the importance of its use.
This is the second part that I suggest to discover next month: “SEO & SEA – All you need to know for your website to well rank (Part two) “.