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Home  /  Design   /  SEO – Getting the basics right, matter.

SEO – Getting the basics right, matter.

SEO

2019 is here and it is time to gear up for Google’s mobile-first indexing, if you have not yet done so. We have all been warned about this approach for a long time; but what does it really mean? How does it affect your website and rankings on Google?

A study conducted by Outbrain; has found that search is the number 1 contributor of traffic to content sites. Mobile users have surpassed desktop users globally during 2017 already.

In a bid to stay abreast of serving the best possible results for all devices; Google has warned that for mobile users they will priorities serving mobile friendly results higher on their Search Engine Results Pages (SERP’s). This means that your organic search traffic could take a serious dip if your site is not mobile responsive.

Although Google has emphasized that they want to roll out the mobile-first index in a way that doesn’t hurt non-mobile-friendly sites, it might mean that you have some respite before your site stats will drop. This is however the best time to focus on a long-term strategy for your website to ensure you are ready.

What you need to do?

The first thing you need to do is find out if your website is mobile responsive. Usually a quick check on your phone would tell you if you need to worry; but for a more “scientific approach” you can use a site such as SEO SiteCheckuphttps://seositecheckup.com/ – for a quick audit.

This audit will give you an overview of the status of your current site and includes a host of other checks which will be beneficial when redeveloping your website.

My site is not mobile responsive what now?

This is an opportunity to review your complete website strategy and ensure that your site ticks all the boxes from an SEO perspective as well as enrich your website the best possible content you can provide.

Find a reputable digital agency; such as Ladybug Digital to review your current site and strategy. Your development plan should not only focus on device usage but should also focus on the other best practices for SEO.

What are the basics?

Metadata:

It might sound old school, but although Google announced, all the way back in 2009, that meta descriptions (and meta keywords) have no bearing on search rankings. That’s not to say, however, that these descriptions aren’t important for SEO. On the contrary; Meta descriptions present a major opportunity to separate yourself from the riff-raff and convince searchers that your page is worth navigating to.

For a review of the good the bad and the ugly where metadata is concerned; go to: https://moz.com/blog/seo-meta-tags

Image Alt tags:

For a long time, it was okay to neglect the images on your site and still rank without using alt text and image file names to boost your page relevance. On-page SEO is more important than ever, so excluding images will prevent your website’s SEO from being the best it can be.

Search engines cannot see images on websites, so it is important to give the image an alt text and relevant file name to ensure Google knows what the image is about. By not creating this text, you lose a huge opportunity to be as visible as possible online. It helps Google if the text on the page where the image is located mentions the image, too, so always try to reference your images in your text, close to where it lives on the page, using keywords like the alt text/filename of the image. Google also recommends providing descriptive titles and captions for your images, so consider adding those when relevant.

The image types Google can index include BMP, GIF, JPEG, PNG, WebP, and SVG, so be sure to only use these image file types on your website to make it possible for Google to index them. Name your image files something that is indicative of what the image is itself, rather than something like IMG2394870.jpg. Yes, keywords matter here as it matches the content with the onsite images.

Google Image Search results are an additional traffic stream which should not be left in the lurch.

Site Maps:

Crawl optimization refers to the things you do to help Google discover, crawl, and index your fresh content easily. You can use these tools to help Google index your new content as quickly as possible; having an XML sitemap is necessary if you want to build a crawlable site. Thus, tell search engines as fast as possible that you have new and fresh data.

There’s a difference between a (usually HTML) site map built to help humans navigate around your site, and an XML Sitemap built for search engines. Both are useful, and it’s great to have both. A site map on your domain can also help search engines find your content (since crawlers can follow the links on the page). However, if you submit an HTML site map in place of a XML Sitemap, Webmaster Tools will report an error because an HTML page isn’t one of our recognized Sitemap formats. Also, if you create an XML Sitemap, you’ll be able to give more information than you can with an HTML site map (which is just a collection of links).

Submitting a Sitemap helps you make sure Google knows about the URLs on your site. It is not, however, a guarantee that those URLs will be crawled or indexed.

Sitemaps give information to Google to help better understand your site. This can include making sure they know about all your URLs, how often and when they’re updated, and what their relative importance is. Also, if you submit your Sitemap via Webmaster Tools, we’ll show you stats such as how many of your Sitemap’s URLs are indexed.

Another reason for creating and utilising XML site maps are the Panda algorithm update focused in part on removing duplicate content from search engine results pages — meaning that if a site is not deemed the content originator, it’s at risk of being excluded from the results altogether.

XML sitemaps are just one tool that can help content creators establish their stake as the content originator.

Just how profound can XML sitemaps be for indicating content origination?

In theory, the content originator would likely have the earliest indexed timestamp for the content.

Another benefit to adding sitemaps with Google specifically is to catch sitemap errors. Google Search Console – https://www.google.com/webmasters/ – provides detailed information about the status of each sitemap added and any errors it finds; this in turn allows for these errors to be addressed and pages re-optimised for inclusion in the search engine.

SEO SITEMAP

404 Pages:

A 404 page is a page which are not found or does not exist on the website in question. Many SEO professionals and website owners will use a 301 redirect to take visitors to the site homepage rather than showing them a 404-error page. Though this is the safest option in terms of retaining the strength of your incoming links, it isn’t always best from a user’s perspective.

If you have a page on your website that receives high volume traffic from search engines or other websites; and you’ve decided to get rid of that page for some reason, then you probably should use the 301 to redirect the search engines and users to an alternative page (not necessarily the homepage). Assuming an alternative page exists.

If there are lots of links pointing to inactive or non-existent pages on your website that return 404 errors, you’re missing out on PageRank that could help you rank higher in Google’s search engine results and generate more traffic.

Since PageRank matters on both a page and domain level, your entire website can suffer from 404 errors specific to certain pages. Because of this, it’s important that you redirect important links that return 404 errors for users.

Alternative solutions in dealing with 404 errors can also be found here presented by Google for webmasters.

Duplicate Content:

Webmasters are confused about penalties for duplicate content, which is a natural part of the web landscape, because Google claims there is NO duplicate content penalty, yet rankings can be impacted negatively, apparently, by what looks like duplicate content issues.

Webmasters are confused about penalties for duplicate content, which is a natural part of the web landscape, because Google claims there is NO duplicate content penalty, yet rankings can be impacted negatively, apparently, by what looks like duplicate content issues.

Webmasters are confused about penalties for duplicate content, which is a natural part of the web landscape, because Google claims there is NO duplicate content penalty, yet rankings can be impacted negatively, apparently, by what looks like duplicate content issues.

The reality in 2016 is that if Google classifies your duplicate content as THIN content, or BOILER-PLATE content, then you DO have a severe problem that violates Google’s website performance recommendations and this ‘violation’ will need ‘cleaned’ up.

Duplicate content generally refers to substantive blocks of content within or across domains that either completely match other content or are appreciably similar. Mostly, this is not deceptive in origin…

It’s crucial to understand that if, in 2016, as a webmaster you republish posts, press releases, news stories or product descriptions found on other sites, then your pages are very definitely going to struggle to gain traction in Google’s SERPs (search engine results pages).

Google doesn’t like using the word ‘penalty’ but if your entire site is made of entirely of republished content – Google does not want to rank it.

If you have a multiple site strategy selling the same products – you are probably going to cannibalise your traffic in the long run, rather than dominate a niche, as you used to be able to do.

If you have many pages of similar content on your site, Google might have trouble choosing the page you want to rank, and it might dilute your capability to rank for what you do what to rank for.

Google has given us some explicit guidelines when it comes to managing duplication of content.

  1. Recognize duplicate content on your website.
  2. Determine your preferred URLs.
  3. Be consistent within your website.
  4. Apply 301 permanent redirects where necessary and possible.
  5. Implement the rel=”canonical” link element on your pages where you can. (Note – Soon we’ll be able to use the Canonical Tag across multiple sites/domains too.)
  6. Use the URL parameter handling tool in Google Search Console where possible.

Other ranking factors:

Back links:

Yes, backlinks are of major importance to Google, this affects your authority score and will ultimately affect your SEO ranking.

Gone are the day when websites could build some grotty backlinks and make an impact on their SEO result. Backlinks now have a link score and if your backlinks are not coming from a bouquet of quality website you are doing more harm than good.

It should also be noted that multiple links from the same domain is not adding additional value, as this will be counted as a single link by Google.

In a nutshell your reputation is built by the company you keep; so, choose wisely.

Bounce rate:

The interlinking of content on your website will assist in lowering your bounce rate and in effect send the signal back to Google that the link; page relevance to keywords are well matched. Thus, having a positive impact on your rankings.

Looking at all these elements and other best practices; which should be applied as standard by your development company; you can see that getting the basics right; will have a positive impact on your SEO.  Reviewing social media and ensuring a sound content strategy; should also be part and parcel of your development. You should ensure that your development strategy encompass all these areas of development and more. 

Regardless of how you look at it; 2018 provides you with an opportunity which; unless you make use of it; might leave you in the lurch.

You can contact us for a comprehensive review of your current web status; as well as a complete digital strategy.

 Act today!

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