Step 4 – Optimising A Website

We’re back with Step 3 of the ultimate SEO guide 2017, we’ve learnt the basics, we’ve got the correct tools now its time to start working on optimising your website.

Section 1: Web Design & Website Issues

  • Are any of the images really blurry, too big or too small? If so make sure that they are clear and at an appropriate size.
  • What does the layout look like? Look at your website and then look at you competitor’s. If you can honestly say to yourself that its of similar quality or better, then you don’t need to alter the web design, but if your looking at their website and thinking “I’d prefer to go to this website than my own if I was a customer”, then it needs work. Either hire a web designer or learn how to do it yourself but do not neglect web design.
  • What is the navigation like? Can you jump from one important page to other quickly and conveniently? Can you get from the contact page to the home page to a product page without having to have a bit of fumble about on the website? If the answer is yes, then you need to link all of the important pages to each other preferably in a navigation table at the top of the page.
  • Are you placing information on the wrong pages? Homepages should be like the front cover of a book, they should grab the attention of users but not overload viewers with information. Make sure your homepage is clear and simple but leave the detail to the other pages on your website.
  • Have you got any broken links? Broken links will negatively effect your SEO they can happen from mistyping the url or pages that are deleted. Go onto your Google Search Console account and have a look to find any broken links.
  • Does your website respond well on mobile and tablet? It’s a common error for webmasters to think their website looks okay because they always check on their computer but when they check on their phone they realise their page is completely unresponsive. Check if your website is responsive on mobile devices and edit if necessary.
  • Is your site loading correctly? The best way is to use a site like Pingdom and if you have poor loading speeds consider changing hosting provider.

 

Section 2: Meta Tags, Alt Text, Sitemap

Meta Tags

In our glossary of terms we briefly go over what meta tags are, here we’ll show you how to best optimise metatitles and metadescriptions. When you search for your website on a search engine such as google you’ll see at least two things a title and a description, these are known as metatitle and metadescription respectfully. You can edit the meta description with either Yoast or All In One SEO which if your using WordPress you should be able to already edit. If you don’t have these plugins you should be able to type the metatitle and metadescription directly in html or use an alternative plugin/widget.

 

The first example here is an instance of bad practice, whereas the second example is an example of good practice. So what is wrong with the first example? Firstly the metatitle is written like a sentence, whereas the second is written like a title capitalising the first letters of all of the words (except break words such as “on” “of” etc) looks a lot neater. In the first example the metatitle, has a “…” this is because the title is too long to fit in the search engine, most web development software such as wordpress will state the limit of words, it is always to stay within this limit. Also note the bar “|”, when using a title split different information into different bars as it looks neater.  Next we have to look at the description. Firstly there are several spelling errors in the first and there are none in the second. The first example’s metadescription is not captivating enough, whereas the second grabs your attention, and uses expressions like “keep your best friend warm and dry” which add a personal touch. And finally in the second example its very obvious they are trying to promote dog coats  as “Dog coats”, is found in the title, and is also found within the first few words of the metadescription, whereas the focused keyword is less obvious in the first example. This is a principle we must employ throughout all of the content on our websites, it maximises the aesthetic value, and highlights the most relevant words (keywords), in a non-spammy way.

Alt Text

Alt Text is the text used if an image is not available. It’s particularly useful in visually impaired users, when a page cannot be loaded for whatever reason but in terms of SEO it helps web crawler bots understand an image so that they can rank it effectively in the SERPs. Most Content Management Systems will have an option in the gallery section for alt text and if not you can write directly in html  like so “<img src=”dogcoat.gif” alt=”Dog Coat”>”. Do this with every image you have on your website especially if your business is centred around physical products as its a way you can get viewers to your website in an often neglected side of SEO. Later in this guide we will discuss infographics but for now just remember that when you develop an infographic make sure you use descriptive alt text.

Sitemap

Sitemaps basically make the job of crawling your website easier for website crawl bots, they are essentially XML files that outline every URL on your website. Again for Word Press its pretty easy to do just download the Google XML Sitemaps plugin and you just simply activate it and it’ll do all the work for you. If not you can use and XML Generator, and then submit it to webmaster tools off both Google and Bing.

Section 3: Schema and Structured Data

In our glossary of terms we outlined what schema and structured data are, now its time to learn how to implement schema into your SEO campaign. There are three types of structured data, RDFA JSON-LD and Microdata, the difference being that Microdata and RDFA produce a rich snippet both on your page and in the search queries, whereas JSON-LD will just appear in search queries. As a general rule of thumb I would always recommend using JSON-LD, its what is recommended by Google and also having rich snippets featured on your page can looks messy and unprofessional however it may suit certain websites. Therefore for the purpose of this blog I will focus on how to implement JSON-LD schema however it is fairly easy to edit the process for both microdata and RDFA. Firstly I’ll focus on webmasters that can use a plugin when using a Content Management System (CMS) such as WordPress and then I’ll talk about how you can place schema directly into your html.  If you are using Wix than unforutnaly as of yet you cannot manually add schema. In WordPress there are several schema plugins you can download but I personally find “markup (JSON-LD) structured in schema.org” is one of the easiest to use.

Once you’ve downloaded and installed the plugin you’ll see a screen like this.

I’ve focused on each category that is relevant to our website your site may be structured slightly differently if for example you run a news website or you run a lot of events you may want to include a rich snippet of these categories. In the next blog we will start talking about how you can use blogs to boost your SEO, so lets set up the schema ready for when you start developing blogs. You can use either article or blog posting, but I’ve always used blog posting as I think its a more accurate category.

You can now enable the schema and direct the output to posts as done above. Most of the rest of the data is automated but there may be one or two things you might want to edit. Now just go through the rest of the categories you feel are relevant to your website and fill in the data you think is relevant.

If you can’t use a CMS plugin then just type into google JSON-LD generator. Then apply the same principle as above and just fill in the fields. Then all you’ll need to do is copy and paste the script into the <head> section of your html document.

Now whether you’ve used a CMS plugin or you’ve copied in the markup generator directly its time to check in google’s structured data testing tool. Which is fairly easy to use you just need to put in your URL and it’ll tell you if it recognises your data, if there are any warnings, or if there are errors.

Its pointed out the warnings on my page but upon closer inspection these are issues such as the price not being included which irrelevant to my business as every price we give for our packages is calculated per project and client.

So that’s it you’ve now optimised your entire website. Its time to start focusing on producing content, stay tuned for our next blog where we discuss content development.

Step 3 – Using the Correct Tools

Step 5 – Developing Content

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