Want to learn how to make your Website SEO Friendly? Then you’ve come to the right place! In this article, I’ll show you step-by-step exactly how to ensure that your site is SEO Friendly so you can start out-ranking your competitors on Google.
In other words, if you’re looking to get on the first page of Google’s search results; then keep reading!
The majority of businesses understand the value of having a website, but often don’t have the time or know-how to ensure their website is SEO-Friendly.
Regardless of the type of business you own, your website should act as a salesperson 24/7.
Whether you have a ‘Brick & Mortar’ local business, a strictly digital e-commerce store, or a service-based business; the majority of your website traffic will come from people using search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
Google alone processes 100 billion searches a month. With that many searches, you can safely assume that your prospective customers are performing some of those searches.
ASK YOURSELF THIS: How often do you turn to Google to answer a question, find information, or solve a problem?
I’ve got news for you… Your prospective customers rely on Google as well, and they are searching for the products or services that YOU offer.
An SEO Friendly Website is the best way to ensure that when your prospective customers are searching, they find you.
What Is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of increasing the quality and quantity of website traffic by increasing the organic (non-paid) visibility of a website or a web page to users of a search engine, such as Google.
Higher Ranking = Increased Visibility. The higher the website is, the more people see it.
The acronym can be misleading because SEO is about more than search engines, it’s about people.
To be successful with SEO, you need to understand what people are searching for online, the questions they are asking, answers they are seeking, the words they are using, and their preferred type of content.
Understanding what people are searching for will allow you to connect with the people that are searching online for the products or services that you offer.
Before diving into Search Engine Optimization (SEO), I think it’s important that you have a basic understanding of how search engines work.
How Search Engines Work
Search engines use complex computer programs known as ‘Spiders’ that ‘Crawl’ the internet to find publicly available information.
They visit each website to find out how many pages they have, and the type of content present (Text, Images, Videos).
When ‘Crawling’ a site they follow links to other pages or external sites, thereby discovering more and more pages.
Pages identified by the search engine spiders are organized, sorted and stored in an ‘Index.’
They store information like when a page was created or last updated, the page title and description, the type of content present, associated keywords, and the incoming and outgoing links.
If your website isn’t in their index, it won’t appear on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) for any searches.
What Is An SEO Friendly Website?
SEO-Friendly websites are designed and structured using certain techniques that ensure search engine spiders are able to access and navigate them.
The content on your site is evaluated, indexed, ranked and stored in databases.
When someone performs a search, Google uses the keywords they entered to find the most relevant content in their database.
There are around 200 ranking factors that Google uses to determine search results.
They can be divided into 3 broad categories:
- Technical SEO
- On-Page SEO
- Off-Page SEO
To understand what SEO is all about, imagine a bowl of soup. There are three important aspects:
- The bowl represents the technical stuff, forming the structure & foundation of the website (technical and on-page SEO) – without proper bowl, the soup would spill all over the table.
- The soup represents the content of your website – it is the most important part. Bad content = no rankings. It’s that simple.
- The seasoning represents the quality backlinks & off-page SEO increasing the authority of your website – the last ingredient to make your SEO soup perfect.
An SEO Friendly Website needs to be optimized in all 3 areas: Technical SEO, On-Page SEO, and Off-Page SEO.
I will explain each of these factors, why they are important for an SEO Friendly Website, and how you can implement them on your website.
A common misconception regarding SEO is that you can implement a few SEO techniques and you’ll automatically start seeing better rankings.
SEO Requires Patience.
To see the maximum benefit from your Search Engine Optimization efforts, it’s essential that you incorporate SEO into your website from the very beginning.
Your Marketing Strategy Should Guide Your SEO
An SEO Friendly website is the cornerstone of an effective inbound marketing strategy.
You don’t want just anyone to go to your website.
Ideally, your website will attract the people who are likely to become leads, and eventually customers.
How do you get these people to your website?
By providing great content that is relevant and valuable to your ideal customer.
How will they find your content? Through search engines!
Determining your marketing strategy allows you to focus on building your authority and rank for the topics most important to your ideal customers.
By understanding your ideal customers, knowing what they are searching for, and the intent behind those searches, you’ll be able to build your website to appeal to just the right audience.
The first step we take when we kick-off any campaign is to get to know the target audience, and campaign goals.
This allows us to develop a marketing funnel focused around content.
Skipping these steps will leave you essentially ‘flying blind.’
You certainly don’t want to invest your time or money into building a beautiful website, only to discover it’s attracting the wrong audience.
Identify Your Target Audience
Identifying your target audience is a critical first step.
It will guide your decisions when designing or optimizing your website.
Answer the following questions to help identify your target audience:
- Who are my current customers?
- What Problem do my products/services solve?
- Who are my competitors?
- What problem do their products/services solve?
- How are your products/services better at solving a problem?
After answering these questions, you’ll be better equipped to create your website.
By understanding the pain points and problems of your target customers, you’ll know exactly what type of content will attract them to your site.
Here at Cre8tive Digital Media LLC, our target customers are businesses interested in improving their presence online.
Hence our website and the content we produce is aimed at helping businesses with SEO & Digital Marketing.
A great source of inspiration on what type of content you should create is your current customers.
Survey them to find out what their pain points or problems are.
Then create content that helps them solve it.
Spy on your competition. Identify where they are doing well and where they are lacking.
Using your observations, reverse engineer what they’re doing right, find ways to improve upon it and then incorporate it into your own website.
Identify Your Marketing Goals
What purpose will your website serve?
Are you the owner of a jewelry store, looking to attract more customers to your physical location?
Do you have a restaurant and want to implement online ordering?
Making a website SEO Friendly requires knowing the purpose your website serves.
Common Goals of an SEO-Friendly Website:
- Raise Brand Awareness
- Get More Leads
- Drive Sales
- Establish Yourself as an Authority
Identifying the purpose behind your website will guide your decisions, and help you create a website that appeals to your target customers.
To begin, we’re going to go over the foundation of an SEO-Friendly Website; Technical SEO.
To get your site to the top of the Search Engines Results Pages (SERPs) requires a significant investment of time.
Before we start creating content, or trying to get reviews from customers, we need to ensure that our website is properly optimized for search engines to crawl and index it.
This is what’s known as Technical SEO and it’s the most important aspect of any SEO strategy.
You can create all the content you want, but if your site isn’t properly optimized, then you’re not going to rank.
When a visitor arrives on your website it’s essential that the page load as quickly as possible.
According to research conducted by Google, 53% of mobile site visitors leave a page that takes longer than 3 seconds to load.
Technical SEO is about a lot more than just website speed.
It ensures that search engine spiders can access, crawl, interpret and index your website without issues.
It’s called “Technical SEO,” because it doesn’t have anything to do with the actual content of the site, nor how it’s promoted and marketed.
SEO Friendly Website Structure
If our website was a house, the Technical SEO would be the foundation and framing of it.
With technical SEO our aim is to optimize the infrastructure of the website.
Below I’ll go over the different aspects of Technical SEO, and outline the steps you should take in making your website SEO Friendly.
Choose An SEO Friendly Domain Name
Before a website can be accessed, it first needs to be set up.
Choosing a Domain Name is the first step in Technical SEO.
Your best bet will be the name of your business or brand.
Why should my domain name match my business or brand?
- It will make it easier for people to remember your website
- Potential customers won’t be confused when they try to find your website by searching your business name
- A consistent name across channels will help with brand recognition
- It just makes sense… If PEPSI had chosen ‘lampshade.com’ for their website, it would be pretty confusing
Your domain name is purchased through a domain name registrar such as GoDaddy, HostGator, NameCheap.
After purchasing a domain name, it needs to be linked to an IP address.
Unfortunately, the internet isn’t smart enough to understand names like “Cre8tiveDigitalMedia.com” as website addresses without some help from “Domain Name Servers (DNS).”
The internet uses “Internet Protocol” (IP) addresses (18.104.22.168), whereas humans prefer names like cre8tivedigitalmedia.com because they’re a bit easier to remember.
This is where a DNS comes in, linking the human-preferred domain names with the machine-preferred numbers.
When choosing a DNS provider, ensure they provide fast, reliable, and secure name servers.
This can have a significant impact on your site’s Technical SEO.
Here’s a breakdown of the different components of a domain name:
The TLD (Top Level Domain) is the extension that appears after your domain name.
If possible, get a ‘.com’ extension. It’s the most popular, most common and recognizable.
Certain situations will call for using a TLD other than .com. Non-profits often use ‘.org’ and depending on your industry a ‘.co’ or ‘.net’ are acceptable alternatives.
When choosing your domain name, try to avoid using hyphens. It can be harder to remember and can in some cases appear spammy.
Example of Good Domain Name: https://StevesRoofingCompany.com
Example of Bad Domain Name: https://steves-roofing-company.com
Choose An SEO Friendly Hosting Provider
Choosing a good hosting company is essential.
You’re better off paying a little more for a reputable provider than trying to save a few bucks and having your business suffer.
A good hosting company will provide fast and reliable hosting.
Most importantly, it will have great customer service. Choosing the right hosting provider will have a significant impact on your site’s Technical SEO.
Your hosting needs will depend on the type of website your building.
An e-commerce store has vastly different needs than a travel blogger.
Some things to consider when choosing a hosting provider:
An SEO-Friendly website requires a reliable server.
Server reliability is measured by its’ ‘Uptime Score’.
This refers to the percentage of time your site will be available.
No hosting company can guarantee 100% uptime, but don’t accept anything below 99%.
Location Of Server
As trivial as it may seem, the location of your hosting provider’s server can impact your site’s performance.
Your best bet is to find a hosting company with a server that is close to wherever the majority of your website’s visitors are.
Page speed is a major ranking factor for Google.
Choosing a hosting company with servers that are in close physical proximity to your website visitors, means the data only needs to travel a short distance.
For example, let’s say your audience is in Phoenix, Arizona and your servers in Bangalore, India.
It’s going to take a lot longer for the data to travel back and forth than if the servers were in Denver, Colorado.
Use A Content Delivery Network (CDN)
A Content Delivery Network (CDN) significantly increases site speed.
They’re made up of a group of servers distributed geographically, the servers deliver content based on physical proximity to users.
CDNs have become increasingly popular, and the majority of web traffic is served through CDNs.
Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) allow sites like Amazon, Netflix, Instagram, YouTube, Etc. to deliver content quickly and efficiently to their users regardless of location.
How A Content Delivery Network (CDN) Works
In order to minimize the distance between a website visitor and it’s server, a CDN keeps a cached version of your website on multiple servers in different locations geographically.
Your website is then delivered to visitors based on their proximity to the CDNs servers.
An easy and effective way to improve your site’s Technical SEO performance is to use a CDN.
Get Hosting With Security Features Included
When choosing a hosting provider, make sure that they offer an integrated SSL certificate.
Most reputable hosting providers will include this for free, but I’d recommend checking to be certain.
An SSL certificate will keep your website secure and encrypt all communications.
Websites that are secured with SSL certificates can be identified by the “https://” in the address bar of your browser window instead of “http://.”
This is a must-have when it comes to Technical SEO and building an SEO Friendly Website.
In fact, Google Chrome now marks un-secure websites.
Below is an example of an SSL secure website:
A secure website also sends a message to visitors that you care about protecting their data.
This is especially true if you have forms or a shopping cart on your site.
Choose A Hosting Provider With A Responsive Support Team
Good hosting providers offer great (and free) 24/7 customer support.
At some point whether now or in the future, you’ll inevitably come across a problem with your website.
Whether it’s not functioning properly, or it crashed and is unavailable.
It’s times like these that having a great support team to turn to is critical to get your site back up and running as soon as possible.
Technical SEO problems on your site can have a negative impact on your rankings if they aren’t quickly resolved.
Find Hosting That Offers Regular Website Back-Ups
For whatever reason, hackers love to compromise websites.
Taking the proper measures when building your website will make this more difficult for them.
Choosing a hosting provider that offers regular backups for free is highly recommended.
In the event, your website is compromised by a hacker, having a backup of your website secured off-site is a godsend.
Your hosting provider is able to easily restore your site.
Putting dozens, if not hundreds of hours of work into your website, only to have it brought down by a hacker would be devastating.
The situation would be made far worse if you didn’t have a recent backup of your site to restore it from.
Best Hosting For SEO Friendly Websites
Here at Cre8tive Digital Media LLC, we use Bluehost as our hosting provider.
They provide 24/7 customer support and include SSL certificates.
Some of their plans offer backups.
They are one of the most well-known hosting providers and their site has an extensive ‘Knowledge Base’ with video tutorials that cover just about anything you may need help with.
Below is a list of some of our other recommended hosting providers that we have used in the past or our clients have used:
What’s The Best Content Management System For SEO?
What Is A Content Management System?
A content management system (CMS) is an application that allows you to create and manage web content.
The system allows multiple users to create, edit and publish content on your website.
There are plenty of content management systems available such as Drupal, Joomla, Squarespace, and WordPress.
The most popular, hands-down is WordPress.
One of the primary reasons WordPress is so popular is its SEO-Friendliness. WordPress makes it easy to optimize the Technical SEO of a website.
Things to consider when choosing a CMS:
- Responsive & Mobile-Friendly Design – This is extremely important, as over 60% of website visitors come from a mobile device. Make sure that whichever CMS you choose has themes available that are responsive, and will look good on any device.
- User-Friendly Interface – It will make your life a lot easier if you’re using a CMS that doesn’t have a steep learning curve. You want something that your team or employees will be able to learn and use relatively easily.
- On-Page Content Optimization – Your CMS should allow you control over things such as ‘Title Tags,’ ‘Meta-Descriptions,’ ‘Header Tags,’ ‘Image Alt-Text,’ and the URL or Permalink Structure of your pages. Each of these elements plays an important role in building an SEO-Friendly Website.
- Plugins – These play an important role in extending the functionality of your website, and make certain aspects of building and maintaining a website significantly easier. An SEO plugin will help a ton with optimizing your site and pages. You’ll be able to set target keywords for pages and posts, create XML sitemaps, setup URL redirects, and much more.
Which Content Management System Should You Choose?
Here at Cre8tive Digital Media LLC, we use WordPress for all of our websites.
Here are a few reasons why we chose WordPress:
- It’s the most popular CMS in the world. Which means it’s stable and secure. Additionally, there is an endless number of tutorials available on YouTube. If you run into a problem or don’t know how to do something, odds are you can search on YouTube and find a video explaining how to do it.
- Simple and easy to use. You don’t need any programming or coding knowledge to get started.
- SEO-Friendly, allowing you to install plugins to help optimize your content.
- Allows your site to grow as much as you need. You could have a 1 page ‘Brochure Site,’ all the way up to The New York Times (Which is a WordPress site) and beyond. WordPress can handle it all.
Here is a list of other popular and credible CMS providers:
What Is Crawling & Indexing?
Before your website can rank on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), it has to be crawled and indexed by search engine spiders.
The internet is constantly being ‘Crawled’ by search engine spiders like Google, Bing, or Yahoo.
The spiders go from page to page by following links.
When they land on a page they read the content and then index the page in their database.
This allows for easy retrieval of information when a user searches using a keyword or phrase related to the content on a page.
Making sure that Google’s spiders can crawl and index your website is what Technical SEO is all about.
This should be your top priority when creating an SEO Friendly website.
I use Google as an example because ‘Google’ is synonymous with search, making up over 90% of search traffic.
Making sure that your website can be properly crawled and indexed can be a tedious process.
That said, I highly recommend taking the time to identify any problem areas now, instead of Google finding them later.
How To Check If Your Website Is SEO Friendly
A quick and easy way to find out if Google has crawled & indexed your site is to perform the following search:
Go to Google and in the search bar type: site:yourwebsiteurl.com (No space after the colon)
To check Cre8tive Digital Media I would type: site:cre8tivedigitalmedia.com
You can see the results from my search in the screenshot below.
Content That Cannot be Indexed by Google
An SEO Friendly Website will consist of content that is primarily HTML text format.
As advanced as the search engines and their algorithms are, there are still some types of content that cannot be seen or read by them.
- Audio Files
Flash isn’t very common on websites nowadays.
It used to be very popular to show animations, but it’s since fallen out of style and become associated with spammy websites.
Image SEO – Adding Alt Text
As I mentioned above, search engines can’t see images.
This is why adding ‘ALT Text’ to every image on your website is essential. The alt tag of an image should describe the image.
Blind and visually impaired people use Screen Readers that read the text on the screen as well as the alt text of images.
WordPress makes adding ALT Text to your images very easy.
Not only does this make your site SEO Friendly, but it also allows your images to appear in Google’s image searches.
Now that we’ve covered details such as your domain name, hosting provider, CDNs, and how Google crawls and indexes your site, let’s get into the good stuff.
Being the dominant search engine, Google can be tough to please.
Fortunately, they provide us with some pretty powerful tools the help out in our quest to reach that coveted first page of the search results.
One of the best tools for guiding you in building an SEO Friendly Website is Google Search Console.
Use Google Search Console to:
- Find out how many of your site’s pages have been indexed by Google
- Troubleshoot any issues Google had Crawling and Indexing your site
- Receive warnings or messages about the health of your website
- See how many links are pointing to your website
- Determine what keywords your site is associated with as well as the position of your rank in the SERPs
How to Add your Site to Google Search Console
Adding your site to Google Search Console is actually pretty easy.
Two Common Indexing Issues You May Not Be Aware Of
While there are a plethora of indexing and crawling issues you might encounter with your site, two of the most common are:
- Your Meta-Tags are set up to disallow indexing
- Your page is blocked because of robot.txt
Robot.txt is a text file that’s created to instruct search engine spiders on how to crawl your website.
When a search engine spider arrives on your website, it goes to the robot.txt file.
The file basically tells the spider which pages are OK to crawl and index, and which pages should be ignored.
The reason for this is that there are pages on your website that you don’t want to be displayed in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).
To check your robot.txt file and make sure it’s set up correctly simply visit: “yourwebsiteurl.com/robots.txt”
Meta-tags are snippets of text in a web page’s source code.
When it comes to search engines being able to crawl and index your site, there are four types of meta-tags you’ll want to be familiar with.
They are the Meta Robots Attribute which basically tells the search engine spiders what to do with a page.
- Index – This tells search engines to Index a page
- No-Index – This tells search engines NOT to Index a page
- Follow – Tells the search engine spiders to trust and follow the links on a page
- No-Follow – Tells search engine spiders NOT to trust and follow the links on a page
For certain pages on your website, such as your sitemap, you may have a ‘No-Index’ on the page with a ‘Follow.’
You don’t want your sitemap showing up in search results, but you do want the search engine spiders to trust and follow the links on that particular page.
Pages where a ‘No-Index’ would be appropriate:
- Member Only Pages
- Thank You Pages
Robots.txt Optimization and WordPress
Several years ago, it was recommended for WordPress websites to block access to wp-admin and wp-includes folders via your robots.txt file.
This is no longer necessary. WordPress includes a @header(‘X-Robots-Tag:noindex’); tag, which is the same as if you added a disallow in your robots.txt.
What is a ‘Virtual robots.txt File’?
WordPress now uses a virtual robots.txt file by default.
Which means you cannot directly edit the file, nor will you be able to find it in the root of your directory.
While you’re building a WordPress site, you’re able to block all crawlers from indexing your site.
To do this, login to your WordPress Dashboard > Go to Settings > Click Reading.
The last option under the Search Engine Visibility settings is to “Discourage Search Engines From Indexing This Site.” Check the box.
Once You’ve finished building your website and you’re ready for search engines to begin crawling and indexing your site, you need to return to these settings and UNCHECK THE BOX!
Robots.txt SEO Best Practices
Test Your robots.txt File: This is to make sure that you aren’t blocking any website pages that you want to be indexed and appear in search results.
One Set of Rules For All Spiders: Specifying rules for different search engine spiders can be confusing and hard to keep up with. You’re far better off using one set of rules for all bots.
Excluding Pages From Being Indexed: If you have pages on your site that you don’t want being indexed by search engines, you’re better off placing this tag in the header: <META name=”robots” content=”noindex,nofollow”/>
What is an XML Sitemap?
An XML Sitemap is a file listing the important pages of your site.
Sitemaps make it easier for search engine spiders to navigate your site as well as find new pages or posts.
You can submit a sitemap for your posts, videos, and images.
Why Do I Need a Sitemap?
A sitemap helps search engines find, crawl, and index pages on your site that may be new or updated.
Sitemaps are especially helpful if your website doesn’t have a good internal linking strategy.
If your website is new and doesn’t have any incoming links, a sitemap will serve as a discovery tool.
HTML vs XML Sitemaps: What’s The Difference?
HTML Sitemap: This is a version of your sitemap that humans can read.
XML Sitemap: The XML Sitemap is for the search engine spiders.
We include a link to our HTML Sitemap in the Footer of our website.
It’s not the most visited page on a website, but it can help users to navigate your website, especially if you have a lot of pages.
How To Create An XML Sitemap in WordPress?
There are numerous ways to create an XML sitemap, and most platforms have this functionality built-in.
On the off-chance that they don’t, it’s easy to create one.
If you’re unsure whether or not your website has a sitemap you can easily check by entering the following into your web browser’s address bar: https://yoursiteurl.com/sitemaps_index.xml
It’s worth noting that a sitemap is not a static file.
It needs to be updated when a new page is added to your website, or when changes are made to existing pages.
Which is why you should use a plugin that automates this process.
If you’re using WordPress, there are plenty of plugins that can help with this.
One of the most popular is Yoast SEO.
Creating an XML Sitemap with Yoast SEO Plugin
As the most popular SEO Plugin for WordPress, Yoast SEO has some great features, one of which is the Sitemap functionality.
Once you’ve installed and activated the plugin, your first action should be to ‘Enable the XML Sitemaps.
’From within your WordPress Dashboard, on the left-hand side go to ‘Yoast SEO’ > General > Features > XML Sitemaps.
Once you’ve enabled the XML Sitemaps Function, you’ll need to configure what to include in your XML Sitemap.
On the left-hand side, under General, Click Search Appearance > Content Types
Now you’ll determine which content types to include in your sitemap.
For most websites, you’ll only need to include your ‘Posts,’ ‘Pages,’ and exclude everything else.
If you have an E-Commerce website, you’ll also want to include ‘Products.’
Up next is Taxonomies. The majority of websites should only include your ‘Post’ and ‘Product’ categories and exclude things like ‘Post Tags’ and ‘Pages’ that don’t have unique content.
Lastly, go to the ‘Archives’ tab and Disable the Author and Date Archives
Where is my XML Sitemap?
To view your sitemap you have two options:
- Under Yoast SEO > General > Features > Click ‘SEE THE XML SITEMAP’
- Open a new browser window and in the address bar enter: https://yourwebsiteurl.com/sitemaps_index.xml
How To Submit Your XML Sitemap To Google?
It’s pretty easy to submit your XML Sitemap to Google Search Console.
First, Login to Google search console
On the left-hand side of the screen, under Index > Click SITEMAPS.
Your domain name will be pre-populated in the ‘Add a new sitemap’ section.
Simply enter the URL of your sitemap and click ‘Submit.’
After you submit your sitemap you will see ‘Pending’ under ‘Status.’
Check back in a couple of days to see how many pages were successfully submitted in your sitemap and how many pages were actually indexed.
How to Find Crawling and Indexing Issues in Google Search Console
Before starting any SEO campaign for a website, you should have Google Search Console installed on your website.
This free tool is extremely helpful when building an SEO-Friendly Website.
You can use Google Search Console to check your index status, identify crawling errors, discover security problems, manually submit URLs for Google to index, and submit Sitemaps.
Check Index Status
From inside Google Search Console under Index > Coverage you’re able to see how many URLs have been indexed by Google.
The ‘Coverage’ Report shows you pages that are valid and indexed as well as pages that were excluded from being indexed.
Also under Index > Coverage, Google Search Console will inform you of any Crawling Errors.
It’s pretty hard to miss, as it’s a big bright red box.
I hate this red box.
Even if you have zero errors, you get a red box.
I would think green would be more suited to zero errors, and red for errors found.
But that’s just me.
To see any security issues that may compromise your site, on the left-hand side of the screen under Security & Manual Actions > Click Security Issues.
Ideally, you want to see a Green Checkmark with No Issues Detected next to it.
Manually Submit A URL to Google
You can manually request Google to “Inspect URL” for any page on your site.
This is especially useful after you’ve added a new page to your site, or made significant changes to a page.
This will let Google know of changes to your site so that your site is properly indexed.
We use this whenever we publish a new blog post.
Don’t forget to enter the URL of the page you want Google to Index.
If you don’t enter anything, Google will just inspect your Homepage.
In general, an SEO-Friendly Website offers a good user experience.
In order for users to have a good experience, your site needs to be easy to navigate.
Search engines don’t have a personal stake in the success of your website.
That said, they do hold all the cards when it comes to how much traffic you’ll get to your site.
Google wants to deliver searchers the most valuable and relevant content available online.
Why not make it as easy as possible for them to access, crawl, and index your site?
As a Premier Arizona SEO & Digital Marketing Agency, a lot of sites we see here at Cre8tive Digital Media LLC, not only have crawl errors, but they are difficult to navigate.
Hopefully, your site doesn’t fall into that category.
But, if you do, not to worry!
I’m going to explain how you can improve your site structure, thereby making it easy for Google’s Spiders to crawl and index your site.
We’ll also make it easier for users to navigate your site, and we’ll avoid those frustrating Site Errors in Google Search Console.
How Google Navigates Your Pages
It might help to think of your website like a highway system.
As such, your website needs to be structured in such a way that visitors and search engine spiders can easily access pages throughout your website.
This is known as ‘Internal Linking.’
What is an Internal Link?
Internal Links are links that connect one page on a domain to other pages on the same domain.
Internal Links help:
- Users to Navigate Your Website
- Establish an Information Hierarchy for Your Site
- Distribute ‘Link Equity’ Around the Website
Before search engine spiders can index an individual page, they first need to see that page’s content.
A crawl-able link structure will allow the spiders to access the pages of your website.
Without a link to lead the way, the search engine spiders have no way of accessing a web page.
An added bonus of Internal Links is that they help keep users on your site longer.
‘Dwell Time’ (how long users are staying on your site) is an important ranking factor.
Not only do internal links make it easier for search engine spiders to crawl your site.
They also help identify the content on a particular page.
I also incorporate links to other blog posts that are topically relevant, and that I believe will provide value to readers. Below you can see this in action.
Like this post on SEO Trends You Should Leverage to Stay Ahead of Competitors in 2019 or this one on The Benefits of Local SEO.
The practice of Internal Linking makes it easier for both users and search engines to access various pages across my site.
It’s also very important to continue updating your older content by adding links to more recent content that is relevant.
For example, I recently published a couple of blog posts that are topically relevant to this one.
Therefore, I’m updating this blog post to include links to more recent content, because it provides value to readers, and makes it easy for search engines to find and crawl the new posts.
Because this post is about SEO Friendly Websites, the internal links I add to this post need to be topically relevant.
What is an External Link?
As you might have guessed from the name, External Linking is a link that points to a different domain.
By using links to high authority sites, you’re able to increase your site’s trustworthiness and credibility in the eyes of search engines.
You might be hesitant to include links to other sites in your content, after all, what if people leave your site?
This is a valid concern, however, if the content you’re creating is good enough, you won’t have to worry about people leaving your site.
By creating enough high-quality content you’ll receive links from other sites, which is referred to as a Backlink.
Backlinks, which I’ll cover in more detail later play an important role in Search Engine Optimization.
When another site links to your site it acts as a signal to search engines that the content on your site is high quality and trustworthy.
This increases the likelihood of Google ranking your site higher in the search results.
Create Content Using A “Silo-Structure”
With one of the most important aspects of SEO being the crawl-ability of your site, one of the best ways to make your site easier to crawl is to use a Silo-Structure for your content.
What does Siloing a website mean?
Using a Silo-Structure on your website essentially involves grouping related pages together. This can be done either structurally or through an internal link structure.
Siloing your website helps search engines identify the various content topics and makes it clear what your site is about.
This improves the relevancy of your site’s pages for the search terms you’re targeting.
By using links between pages containing related content, you make it easier for search engines to identify and serve up that content for relevant searches.
An example of a site with a great Silo-Structure is Search Engine Land.
As a massive website that produces a ton of content, they require a very clear Silo-Structure that makes it easy for both search engine spiders and people to navigate the site.
Their content is separated into different topics on their “Library” Page. Which lists all of the topics they cover, along with the corresponding sub-topics.
Here’s an example of their URL structures for two topics:
Topic: Local Search Marketing
Topic: Local SEO
The experience of your website users is extremely important if you want to keep people on your site.
One of the best ways to provide a quality user experience is to make it as easy as possible for users to navigate your site.
By making your content easy to find and navigate you increase the likelihood that people will stay on your site longer, thereby signaling to search engines that you have high-quality content.
How To Structure Your URLs
If you’re using WordPress as your website’s Content Management System (CMS) optimizing your site’s URL structure is quick and easy.
Fortunately, it’s something you set up at the beginning and probably won’t have to deal with it again.
What is a URL?
A URL (Uniform Resource Locator) specifies the web address of a page. Every web page on the internet has a unique URL.
This is possible because each website has a Domain Name i.e. cre8tivedigitalmedia.com and the set of characters, or ‘Path’ that follows i.e. /seo-friendly-website.
When combined, the two parts comprise the unique URL of a page.
The first part of a page’s URL, the domain is not configurable, whereas the second part is configurable and is the path to a particular page within the domain.
Within the same domain, no two pages can have the same URL.
What is an SEO-Friendly URL?
It’s easily readable for both humans and search engine spiders and includes keywords describing the page.
Non-SEO Friendly URL:http://cre8tivedigitalmedia.com/Folder/t2857294%93%/849
Why is URL Structure important for SEO?
1) SEO-Friendly URLs Improve the User Experience – Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is about delivering a better user experience to visitors.
A URL that includes keywords and is easy to understand indicates to users and ‘search engine spiders’ what a particular page is about.
A user can easily understand by reading this URL http://cre8tivedigitalmedia.com/services/ that the page is about the services we offer.
Because URLs appear in the search results it’s essential that they are visually appealing, simple, and informative.
Attractive URLs receive higher ‘Click-Through-Rates’ (CTR).
2) It’s an SEO Ranking Factor – Although it’s not a significant factor is your site’s rank, SEO-Friendly URLs still have an impact.
Google has become better at interpreting URLs, and the majority of modern Content Management Systems (CMS) are able to automatically create SEO Optimized URLs.
Several studies have shown that the majority of the pages in the first positions of Google’s Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) have SEO-Friendly URLs.
3) Links & Anchor Text – If another website links to your page and uses the page’s URL as the anchor text.
Including relevant keywords tells users and search engine spiders what that page is about.
Use Keywords In Your URLs
Should you be using Keywords in your URLs?
YES! As we’ve covered, using keywords in your URLs provides both users and search engines with information about a page.
For example, I wrote a blog post titled: Plumber SEO: Search Engine Optimization For Plumbers 
That would make for too long of a URL, therefore I set the URL to: http://cre8tivedigitalmedia.com/plumber-seo/ I eliminated the words ‘Search Engine Optimization For Plumbers ’ and it’s still clear what the page is about.
Don’t Keyword Stuff
Only use a keyword once in a URL.
“Keyword Stuffing” is a term used to describe the overuse of keywords to the extent that it’s unnatural.
Google will penalize you for ‘Over-Optimizing’ your URLs or Content, as it’s considered ‘Gaming’ the system.
Separate Words Using Hyphens
Don’t use Spaces in your URLs to separate words.
Using an ‘Underscore’ (_) will make a URL to appear to have a space when it becomes a hyperlink.
This can lead to ‘Broken Links,’ which can negatively impact your technical SEO efforts.
Use Lower Case Letters
The characters in an SEO-Friendly URL should consist of all lowercase letters.
Most Content Management Systems (CMS) allow you to have uppercase letters in a URL i.e. http://cre8tivedigitalmedia.com/Example-Url vs. http://cre8tivedigitalmedia.com/example-url.
Search Engines will interpret the two URLs as two different pages, which can cause duplicate content issues.
How to Configure URLs in WordPress
Configuring your URLs in WordPress is one of the first things you should do when setting up a website.
Fortunately, being an SEO-Friendly platform, WordPress makes it very easy to do.
From within the WordPress Dashboard go to SETTINGS > PERMALINK SETTINGS > Choose “POST NAME.”
The “Post Name” setting is the most popular, and your URLs will be linked directly linked to your domain without any folders.
When you publish a post or page, WordPress will automatically create a URL based on the title of the page.
To optimize your URLs when creating a page or post, simply Click the page title and on the right side of the screen you’ll see the option to customize the URL for that page or post.
404 Page Errors
One of the worst things a user can experience when clicking a link to your site or on your site is the ‘404 Error Page.’
This happens when a user clicks on a broken link, when a page has been deleted, or if they’ve typed the URL incorrectly.
404 Errors have a negative impact on your SEO, and also on the user experience.
What causes a ‘Broken Link’?
- A website is no longer available
- A webpage was moved without a redirect being added
- The URL structure of a website was changed
- Spelling Error in the Hyperlink
- Webpage was removed by the destination website
Including links to outside sites in your content is an integral part of SEO and improves the quality of your content by providing resources that your readers can check out.
One downside to linking to other websites is that you don’t have control over those websites and don’t know if they’ve removed a page.
There are tools available that you can enter one of your website’s URLs into to check for broken links.
A few of which are:
These tools allow you to see where any broken links are on your site.
Identifying broken links will enable you to find a new site with similar content to replace the broken link with.
Alternatively, if the broken link is caused by something you did, such as deleting a page from your website, then you’ll have to either replace the deleted page or create a 301 or 302 Redirect (covered in more detail soon).
Regardless of how much effort you put into maintaining the integrity of the links on your site, you can’t prevent 100% of 404 errors.
They can occur because of something as simple as a spelling mistake in a URL.
Since we can’t prevent 404 Errors completely, we can still improve the experience of those users who do receive a 404 Error Page.
Create A Custom 404 Error Page
We can ensure that our website visitors aren’t stuck with a bland and generic 404 Error Page by creating a custom 404 Page.
What to include on your custom 404 Error Page
- Links to important pages on your site
- A way for users to report the broken link
- An appearance consistent with the theme of your website
A common trend with custom 404 Error Pages that seems to work well is the use of Humor, and custom graphics and design.
Incorporating these elements into your 404 Page will encourage users to stay on your website.
A well designed 404 Page can act as somewhat of a brand ambassador for your website.
Create something interesting, or funny enough and you may see your 404 Page being shared on Social Media, or linked to in a blog post like this one.
The following are examples of very well done 404 Error Pages that you can use for inspiration when creating your own.
1) Airbnb – Their page uses humor, showing an animation of a girl dropping her ice cream from her cone.
They also provide a number of links to helpful pages on their site, making it as easy as possible for users to continue browsing.
2) DropBox – Another example that uses humor.
Notice how just like with the above example, the image has nothing to do with the brand.
They both use simple graphics and provide users with a number of useful links that allow them to continue browsing the site.
3) eHarmony – This 404 page uses a different strategy than the previous examples.
Instead of using humor, eHarmony sticks with the overall theme of their site, while promoting the number of single people available on their site.
They provide a clear Call-To-Action for users to take to “Join Now.”
If you’d like to find out how many 404 Page Errors your site has, you can do so by logging into your Google Search Console.
Once you’re logged in, check under “Crawl Errors” to identify the 404 Page Errors currently present on your site.
A 301 redirect is the status code indicating that a page has been moved to a new location.
A 301 Redirect is the best way to ensure that both users and search engine spiders are directed to the correct page.
When Should I Use A 301 Redirect?
- When users access your site through different URLs
- If you’ve deleted a webpage
- Moved your site to a new domain
- You’re merging two websites and want to ensure that outdated URLs are redirected to the correct pages
Using 301 Redirects will help prevent users from ending up on a 404 Error Page.
You’re able to send users to a different URL than the one they clicked on in the search engine results or typed into their browser.
Setting A Preferred Domain
When setting up your website, you’ll need to decide which URL you’d like to have. With ‘WWW’ or without ‘WWW.’
Here at Cre8tive Digital Media LLC, we use the domain name http://cre8tivedigitalmedia.com/
Should you use WWW or no WWW in front of my domain?
It depends on your personal preference. There isn’t any SEO advantage in using either format. So, why am I even mentioning this, if it doesn’t impact your SEO?
Google considers www & no www to be different websites. Therefore it’s necessary to specify which version you want to use on your website, making it clear to Google and avoiding a duplicate content penalty.
Also considered two different websites are http:// and https://, meaning there are essentially four addresses for your site. You’ll need to identify which domain you’d like as your preferred domain in Google Search Console.
Given the importance of security, you’ll want to choose either of the https:// options.
How To Set Your Preferred Domain In WordPress?
- Login to your WordPress dashboard
- Click GENERAL > Select SETTINGS
- Enter your Preferred Domain in the ‘WordPress Address (URL) Box
- Enter your Preferred Domain in the ‘Site Address (URL) Box
- Click ‘Save’
How to set your Preferred Domain in Google Search Console
To maintain consistency, you need to set your Preferred Domain in Google Search Console as well.
If you already have https:// activated on your site, you’ll need to add and ‘Verify Ownership’ of ALL FOUR variations of your domain name.
As the name implies, Duplicate Content is content that appears in more than one place. Duplicate content will not only deliver poor user experience, but it can also negatively affect your SEO.
Duplicate content is a very common problem for a lot of websites. Your website should be populated with high-quality, unique, and original content.
Not only will this keep users on your site longer, but it significantly increases the likelihood that Google will show your site in search results.
The primary reason for duplicate content isn’t from people duplicating webpages as you might think.
People tend to conceptualize things such as the homepage of a website, forgetting that search engine spiders view the web in a completely different way than humans.
As we discussed previously, search engines see every unique URL as a separate page.
The search engine spiders may be able to reach your homepage in all of the following ways:
To humans, each of these URLs represents a single page.
Search engine spiders however view each of them as a unique page.
That’s only 4 URLs, but modern content management systems (CMS) add tags, dates, categories, etc. to URLs, meaning there could be dozens of URLs, all containing the same content.
Why Duplicate Content Matters For SEO
Duplicate content presents a problem for both users and search engines alike.
- Don’t know which version(s) of a page to index.
- Don’t know which version of a page to rank in the search results
- They aren’t able to determine where to direct link metrics such as trust, authority, link equity, etc.
- Can cause rankings to suffer as well as a loss in traffic. This is because search engines don’t like to show multiple versions of the same content. They are therefore forced to choose between the two versions to try and identify the best result. Consequently, the visibility of each of the duplicates is reduced.
- Link equity is diluted when other sites attempt to link to the content, but instead of all inbound links pointing to one piece of content, links point to the different pages. This spreads the link equity among the duplicates.
Identifying Duplicate Content
In order to prevent duplicate content from impacting your site, is to identify it. Here are several methods you can use to identify duplicate content on your website.
Siteliner – This tool is great for identifying duplicate content on your site, and it’s free to use for up to 250 URLs. Just enter your website’s URL, and the tool will identify any duplicate content and sort it by percent match.
Copyscape – This Free tool allows you to enter a web page’s URL and it will search the web to see if anyone has stolen your content. It can even identify content that’s been spun or mixed with other content.
One way to prevent duplicate content is to include a ‘Canonical URL’ on your webpages.
This signals to search engines which version of the content is the original and is the one you’d like indexed.
They are supported by the major search engines, including Google, Bing, and Yahoo!
This may sound complicated, but not to worry, it’s actually pretty simple. A ‘Canonical URL’ (aka “rel canonical”) essentially says to search engines ‘I know these two pages have the same or similar content, but THIS is the page you should pay attention to.’
Implement canonical URLs on pages with similar content.
Canonical URLs tell the search engines which pages to include in their index.
Without getting too technical, canonical URLs appear in the header of your website (<head>) in the following format:
<link rel=”canonical” href=”https://examplewebsite.com” />
You should have only ONE Canonical URL per page.
It’s a good idea to include a canonical URL on ALL of your website’s pages, even if the canonical URL points to the page itself.
Not only will canonical URLs help search engines properly index your website, but they also prevent others from stealing your content.
Even if someone does ‘Steal’ your content, the canonical URL will identify your content as the original source.
If you’re unsure whether or not you have Canonical URLs defined on your website, you can easily find out by following these steps:
- Navigate to a page on your website
- Right Click on the page and select ‘View Source’ from the menu
- Search for the word “Canonical”
- Ensure the format matches that indicated above, or in the example below
Here’s an example of how this works with a property rental website.
Let’s say you have a property rental website and have a page with the following URL:https://propertyrentalwebsite.com/houses-in-phoenix
To assist users in finding a property to rent, there are several options to filter the available properties by location, number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, amenities, etc.
When a user applies a filter, the URL changes to reflect it, becoming:
The content on this page is similar to the original page (houses-in-phoenix) and there isn’t anything making this a unique page for the website.
When the search engine spiders crawl these two pages, they will identify the content as being the same, but how is it supposed to know which page should be indexed?
Enter ‘Canonical URLs,’ which will point from the duplicate page to the original, identifying it as the one that should be indexed.
This is what the canonical URL would look like:
<link rel=”canonical” href=”https://propertyrentalwebsite.com/houses-in-phoenix” />
How To Add Canonical URLs In Yoast SEO
One of the best things about WordPress as a content management system (CMS) and the reason it’s so popular for building SEO-Friendly Websites is the power of the available plugins.
No matter what you want to do with your site, or what feature you’d like to incorporate, there’s probably a plugin for it.
Canonical URLs are easy to implement using the Yoast SEO plugin.
By default, Yoast adds a canonical URL on every page (including post & archive pages).
One of the most important elements you need to consider when building an SEO-Friendly website is speed.
Not only is it an important ranking factor, but it’s also critical for positive user experience.
In our increasingly mobile-world, one thing that has decreased is our patients.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t stand it when I try to go to a site only to find myself staring at a blank screen, waiting for the page to load.
This is especially true if I found the site through a Google Search.
If a site is taking forever to load, I take it as a sign that the website owner doesn’t care about the user experience.
Nine times out of Ten, I hit the ‘Back’ button to return the Search Results where there are plenty of alternatives that will load faster.
Why Page Speed Matters for SEO-Friendly Websites
In April 2010, Google announced that page speed is part of their ranking algorithm.
Meaning a slow site speed would have a negative impact on your ranking in the search results.
Google is in the business of delivering the highest-quality, most relevant, and valuable content to searchers.
A key component of high-quality content is content that loads quickly.
If I go to Google and type in “How to teach my dog to sit,” and I click in the top search result, I want to see the information I searched for as quickly as possible.
Staring at a blank screen while I wait for the page to load is terrible user experience, and most people will simply click ‘Back’ and try a different result.
People seem to be less patient by the day, which means fast website speeds are more important than ever.
The majority of website visitors aren’t willing to wait more than 3 seconds for a website to load.
The following are reasons why site speed is important:
- It’s easier for the Search Engine Spiders to crawl your site
- Site Speed is a Ranking Factor
- A fast website delivers a better user experience
- Visitors are more likely to stick around & convert
A recent study, in which 1 million Google Search Results were analyzed, there was a strong correlation between the Google Rankings and Page Speed in the sites occupying to top positions.
The top ranking sites had an average page load speed of under 2 seconds.
Keep in mind, speed affects pages individually, not your website as a whole.
Meaning a slow page will only negatively affect that page’s rank.
Ensuring your website loads quickly should be one of your top priorities while building your website, especially if you’re focusing on making your site SEO-Friendly.
As mentioned above, a slow site negatively impacts user experience, and impatient, frustrated users may abandon your site.
Hopefully, now you understand why site speed is so important.
Let’s take a look at how you can improve your site’s speed.
How to Speed UP Your Website
WordPress is a great content management system, allowing users to build SEO-Friendly websites with relative ease.
Straight ‘Out of the Box’ a WordPress site loads fast and without any problems.
Unfortunately, the standard theme that comes pre-loaded on a fresh WordPress installation is a little too bare bones.
This leads people to install custom themes and plugins, followed by ‘Heavy’ content, such as images, custom graphics, and videos.
As great as these add-ons may make a site look, they do come with an unfortunate side effect.
They slow your website down… A LOT.
So, how can you make your site visually appealing, with the functionality you need, while still keeping it light and fast?
Let’s take a look at what you can do to speed up your WordPress Website.
1) Deactivate Unnecessary Plugins
One of the first things you’ll do when you’re setting up your site, after installing your theme is adding plugins to increase the functionality of your site.
The problem with having a bunch of plugins is that they tend to slow down your site.
Go through and review your active plugins, and deactivate any that aren’t being used.
Even if you aren’t actively using a plugin, the plugin code/CSS is loaded none the less, and this negatively affects your website’s speed.
Periodically assess and review the plugins you’re using, and see if you can do whatever the plugin does, without the plugin.
Also, there is a vibrant and active community of developers that are constantly creating new and updating existing plugins.
Keep an eye out for new or updated plugins that can perform the tasks of multiple plugins, essentially consolidating several plugins into one.
2) Make Images and Videos SEO Friendly
One of the most common causes of slow web pages is large images.
Incorporating high-quality images and other graphic elements on your site is important for SEO, and improving the user experience.
A single high-quality image of say 4000 x 4000 Pixels can easily be well over 10 MB in size, probably a lot larger.
This is way too large to put on a website and would take forever to load.
While we certainly can’t eliminate images altogether, there are a number of things you can do to decrease the file size of your images without noticeably impacting their quality.
- Use an image optimizer to compress images prior to uploading to WordPress
- Get a plugin to automatically optimize images that you upload to WordPress
- Ensure images are set to display at the correct size
I make extra effort to ensure the images on my site are as compressed as much as possible.
I first open them in Photoshop and either crop or scale them to the correct size.
When I export the file I reduce the quality to around 50% depending on the detail of the image.
I saved some images at 30% of their original quality, and on a computer screen, you can’t even tell the difference.
Once I’ve got my images saved to the correct size, I use TinyPNG.com to drag & drop up to 20 images at a time to be compressed.
This pretty much covers me regarding the size of the images on my site.
But I also use as a fail-safe of sorts.
The ShortPixel Plugin which automatically compresses any images I may have missed.
Another online image compression tool I’d recommend is Optimizilla.
Just like TinyPNG you can drag & drop up to 20 images to be compressed.
Also, keep in mind the file type of your images.
Typically, JPEG images are smaller than PNG images, but they’re also lower quality.
A simple guideline to follow is that Photos should be JPEGs and Graphics and Vectors should be PNGs.
Content Delivery Network (CDN)
I briefly mentioned ‘Content Delivery Networks’ at the beginning of this article, and return to it now because they can have an incredible impact on site speed.
To recap, CDNs are a group of servers distributed geographically that work together to deliver content to users predicated upon their location.
For example, if a user accesses your website in Alaska and your website utilizes a CDN, your site’s content will be delivered VIA the nearest server.
A CDN provides much faster page load times and significantly improves the user experience.
Two popular CDNs are:
Lazy Load Images – This is a great way to improve your page speed.
It involves the images on your site loading as the user scrolls and they enter the viewport, as opposed to all of the images loading at the same time.
There are a number of plugins that can do this, requiring minimal effort on your part.
Videos – If you have videos on your site, the best way to minimize their impact on page loading speed is to upload them to a streaming service (YouTube, Vimeo, Etc) and then embed them on your website.
By embedding the video on your webpage, as opposed to uploading it to your media library, your server isn’t responsible for streaming the video’s content.
Instead, the video comes directly from the provider.
Also, make sure any videos you embed are NOT set to auto-play. This negatively impacts the user experience.
If you aren’t using video as a part of your content marketing or social media marketing strategy, I highly recommend you start!
3) Use A Caching Plugin
Caching helps a lot with improving page speed and is essential for WordPress Websites.
When you use a caching plugin, WordPress creates a static HTML version of your webpages, showing that to users instead of having to load each page every time a user visits your site.
This also reduces the server resources required and most importantly delivers a better experience to the user.
Cached pages are automatically updated to reflect any changes made, so you don’t have to worry about users seeing old versions of your pages.
There is a plethora of caching plugins to choose from, and you should test a few of them out to find which works for you.
Here at Cre8tive Digital Media, we use WP Rocket, which is a premium plugin.
It’s $50 a year for a single site license. I bought it during a Black Friday Sale for $39 for a single license and I think it’s well worth it, and I would have been happy having paid full price.
Here are a few other popular caching plugins:
4) Change Hosting Providers
An easily overlooked aspect of your website’s speed lies in your hosting.
Where you choose to host your WordPress website can play a significant role in your site’s speed as well as your site’s SEO.
Most new website owners start out using ‘Shared Hosting,’ which is just like it sounds.
With shared hosting your website is hosted on a server along with dozens of other websites, all sharing and competing for the same resources.
As your website begins to grow, and you want to get more serious about your business you should consider using a VPS.
Virtual Private Server (VPS) – With a VPS, your website is hosted on its own IP address, on a virtual server with dedicated resources.
Certainly more expensive than shared hosting, if your business and website have begun to take off, you should seriously consider using a VPS.
How to Measure Page Speed
Now that we’ve covered how you can improve your website’s speed, we need to discuss how you can test and measure your site to see how much of an impact your efforts have had.
It’s a good idea to measure your website’s performance before and after any changes. This will make it easier to identify specific problems.
One of the best tools for measuring your site’s performance is Page Speed Insights, from Google.
It’s Free, very easy to use, and it provides great and actionable insights to help improve your site.
Simply enter your site’s URL and click ‘Analyze.’
Once it’s done analyzing your site, you’ll see the speed performance of your website for both desktop and mobile along with suggestions from Google to improve your site’s performance.
You aren’t likely to receive a 100%, but you should aim to achieve the highest score possible, along with a Green check mark.
You can toggle between the results for Desktop and Mobile to see recommendations for each.
Scroll down the page to see Google’s recommendations and click “Show How to Fix” below the comments.
Another popular tool for testing the speed of your site is Pingdom.
One of the best features of this tool is that it allows you to see how your website is performing in different Geographical locations.
This is especially useful when you are located in a different country than your target audience.
Pingdom also provides an in-depth analysis of the number of requests sent while your page is loading.
The tool also provides recommendations for ways you can improve your site’s speed.
Last but not least, is GT Metrix.
As with Google Page Speed Analysis and Pingdom, GT Metrix scores your website’s performance and provides recommendations for how you can speed up your website.
Each of these tools are useful in their own right, but none of them are perfect.
That said, I’d recommend combining all three of them to ensure you’re covering all your bases.
Is Your Website Mobile-Friendly?
The explosion of mobile phones that we’ve witnessed over the last decade has led to more and more people using a mobile device to browse online.
In fact, in 2018, 52.2% of all online traffic was generated by mobile devices.
I cannot stress this enough, an SEO-Friendly Website absolutely HAS to be mobile-friendly!
You may or may not remember, but in 2015, Google released an algorithm update that was dubbed “Mobilegeddon.”
This update was meant to give mobile-friendly websites a boost in the search results.
Google released another update in March of 2018.
Known as “Mobile-First Indexing,” this update means that Google indexes the mobile version of websites over desktop versions.
Mobile SEO VS ‘Normal’ SEO
In order to determine the rank of a webpage, Google takes a number of ‘Ranking Factors’ (content, titles, links, meta descriptions).
With ‘Mobile Search’ there’s a number of other factors that need to be taken into account, such as:
Page Layout on Mobile
Google ensures that the page renders properly on mobile devices.
This means that everything fits on the screen, without requiring horizontal scrolling.
Mobile Page Speed
Not only is speed an important ranking factor for Desktop, but it’s also an extremely important usability factor on mobile.
Google’s very serious about page loading times on mobile.
Which is why they’ve introduced and are encouraging the implementation of “Accelerated Mobile Pages” (AMPs).
Accessibility on Mobile Devices
Text, Images, and Buttons need to be large enough and easily ‘Clickable’ without requiring the user to Zoom in or out.
Location Matters in Mobile Search
There is a significant difference between a Google Search conducted on a Desktop VS. one conducted on Mobile.
Google is able to access your GPS on Mobile Searches, meaning the results are customized predicated upon your physical location.
This is massively important, especially if you own a Local ‘Brick & Mortar’ store; Local SEO is a key factor in this process.
Disable Ads on Mobile Devices
With the lack of available screen real estate on mobile devices, advertisements should be kept to a minimum, if shown at all.
It’s worth pointing out that your site’s pages are assessed on a page-by-page or individual basis.
In other words, it doesn’t matter if every page on your site is mobile-friendly.
How to Test Your Website for Mobile Friendliness
Before diving in, and making any changes to your site, the first thing you should do is check to see if your website passes the “Mobile-Friendly Test.”
Fortunately, this is easy to do using a Free Tool from Google.
It’s as simple as entering your website’s URL and clicking ‘Analyze.’
Just like with the Pagespeed Insights tool, you’ll be given a list of things you can do to make your website mobile-friendly.
If you pass the test on your first try, that’s awesome!
Now you can focus on improving the overall user experience for mobile users.
Another way to test if your website is mobile-friendly is by using the ‘Mobile Device Emulator’ built into Google Chrome.
From inside a Google Chrome window, navigate to the website you’d like to test.
Right Click anywhere on the page, and at the bottom of the pop-up menu select ‘Inspect.’
Locate the Mobile Icon (Next to the word “Elements”) to switch to a mobile preview.
To change devices there’s a Drop-Down menu in the top center of the screen that allows you to choose which device you’d like to emulate in the browser.
Regularly Test Your Site’s Mobile Friendliness
Don’t assume that once your site passes the ‘Mobile-Friendly Test’ that you no longer have to worry about it.
I recommend testing your site whenever you add content or make changes to your site’s design to ensure it’s displaying properly on mobile devices.
Testing your site shouldn’t end with browser-based tools either.
I’d be willing to bet you have a cell phone, and your friends, family, business partners, co-workers, and/or employees also have cell phones.
The best way to test to see if your site is mobile-friendly is on a mobile device.
An easy way to test your website across a bunch of devices quickly is at a cell phone store.
When I was in Verizon switching providers a few months ago, there was a bit of a wait.
I started with the most popular devices and was able to test my website on several of them in a matter of minutes.
How To Do Mobile SEO
Sometimes problems with your site’s mobile-friendliness can be fixed by making changes to your site’s HTML and CSS.
If you don’t know how to code, you should consider hiring a developer to make the necessary changes so that your site passes the ‘Mobile-Friendly Test.’
Use a Responsive Website Design
When cell phones first became popular and people started using them to browse online, websites had to do something to make their websites view-able on the significantly smaller screen sizes.
The initial solution was to have separate designs for mobile and desktop.
This solution wasn’t ideal as even mobile phone sizes began to vary quite a bit, which meant the user experience for website visitors was predicated upon their screen size.
Additionally, having a desktop and a mobile version of every web page led to duplicate content issues.
As a result, ‘Responsive Design’ was adopted and has become the industry standard.
Responsive Website Design – Means website owners don’t need to have separate versions of their website for mobile, tablet, and desktop screens.
With responsive design, the webpage adapts to whatever screen size it’s being viewed on.
This means that visitors to your site have a consistent user experience, regardless of what device they are using to access your site.
Not only does Google recommend using a responsive design, but there are a number of advantages that as a website owner certainly make your life easier.
The primary advantage is that you don’t have to maintain different sets of pages for desktop and mobile.
Use An SEO-Friendly – Responsive Theme
If your theme is not mobile-friendly ‘Out of the Box’ so to speak, I’d recommend switching to a theme that is already mobile-friendly and fully responsive.
The reason being, that the effort necessary to make a non-mobile friendly theme fully responsive and mobile-friendly isn’t worth it.
There are literally thousands of fully responsive, mobile-friendly themes available ranging in price from Free to $80+.
Font and Button Sizes on Mobile Devices
For your website to be mobile-friendly, users need to be able to easily navigate and consume content on your site.
Which means, your font and buttons need to be an appropriate size making it easy for people to read and click buttons and links.
This is especially important for e-commerce sites but is still applicable across the board.
Depending on the font you use on your site make sure you use a text size that’s easy to read on small devices.
I personally use Montserrat font in 18px for the body content on this site.
I also set the line spacing to 1.8 so that readers are easily able to read without having to strain their eyes.
Now that we’ve covered setting the proper foundation of an SEO-Friendly Website through ‘Technical SEO,’ we’ll now look at optimizing your website’s individual pages.
This is what’s known as ‘On-Page SEO,’ and it will help you to get your pages to rank higher, bringing you more relevant traffic.
What is On-Page SEO?
On-page SEO is the process of optimizing the individual pages of your website in order to rank higher in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS).
On-Page SEO involves the structure and the content of a page.
Performing on-page SEO plays an important role in helping search engines and users to interpret and identify what a particular page is about.
When done correctly, on-page SEO helps search engines understand what value a human would derive from visiting a page.
This is why search engines are able to serve up the most high-quality content regarding a particular search query.
In a nutshell, On-Page SEO makes it easier for both users and search engines to:
- Identify what a page is about
- Determine the relevance of a page for searches
- Discern the usefulness and value of a page in order to rank it in the search results
In order to ensure you have an SEO-Friendly Website, you’re going to have to craft each page with the searcher’s ‘Intent’ in mind.
Each page needs to solve a problem or answer a question that your target customer has.
Essentially, your ultimate goal with On-Page SEO is to help the search engine spiders understand the meaning and content of your pages.
Core Components of On-Page SEO:
- Title & Meta Description Optimization
- Heading Tag Optimization (H1, H2, H3, Etc)
- Internal Linking
- Content Optimization (Content SEO)
- Image & Video SEO
- Sitelink Optimization
Content For SEO
You’ve probably heard the saying “Content is King.”
Which still holds true.
Think about it.
Without content, search engines wouldn’t have anything to index and rank in their databases.
Creating content isn’t just about getting something to rank in search e
ngines, it should be about providing value to your audience.
The primary focus of your content should be to educate, and inform your target audience, and to answer their questions and help solve their problems.
Don’t think of creating content to appease the ‘Search Engine Gods,’ but instead aim to delight and provide value to your audience.
The by-product of providing value to your audience will be to get ranked by the search engines.
Google wants to provide its users with the highest quality, and most valuable content available that answers their questions and solves their problems.
So, create content that Google would want to serve up to its users.
The first step in On-Page SEO is to generate content to put on your page that Google will find relevant for search queries.
We’ll now look at how to optimize your content so you’ll not only rank in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) but also so your content is high-quality and helpful to your target audience.
Keyword Research For SEO
I don’t know about you, but when I have a question that I need to be answered or a problem I’m trying to solve the first thing I do, is head to Google.
I type in my question or a few words related to what I’m looking for and hit ‘Enter.’
The words I type into the search bar when performing a query, are ‘Keywords.’
Keyword Research isn’t the most exciting task in the world, but it’s fundamental to building and growing an SEO-Friendly Website.
Ranking for the right keywords can make or break your website.
Taking the time to research and discover the most relevant keywords for your market can offer insight into your target customers.
All the effort necessary for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) isn’t about getting the most visitors to your site; it’s about getting the ‘Right’ visitors.
Creating content that your target audience will find helpful and relevant requires finding out what words and phrases your audience uses when they’re searching.
To discover those words and phrases, you need to perform ‘Keyword Research.’
Using several tools and techniques, we can uncover what our ideal customers are typing into Google when they are looking for more information about a topic.
Knowing exactly what keywords users type in the search box, we can create highly relevant content that answers their questions or helps them solve a problem.
Optimizing your website enables search engines to discover your site’s content, and then serve it up to users performing relevant searches.
Search engines are able to keep their users satisfied, and website owners are happy because they’re receiving more organic traffic.
Keywords act as the bridge between what users are searching for and the content you’re providing that fulfills their intent.
That’s why keyword research is so important in creating successful content.
While you’ll be somewhat restricted in which keywords you can realistically target based on your niche or industry, do yourself a favor and don’t skimp on the research.
In order to create content that resonates with your audience and provides a ton of value, you need to adopt their point of view.
Try to understand how they think, what they’re looking for, and what type of language will they use to search on Google.
Hopefully, I’ve conveyed the importance of keyword research.
Now, let’s discuss what you should be looking for in keywords and the different types of keywords.
After that, I’ll explain how to perform keyword research, as well as the tools I recommend using.
What to Look for in Your Keywords
There’s a number of things to consider when conducting keyword research, but we’ll focus on three factors that will help you determine the viability of a keyword.
- Keyword Difficulty
- Search Volume
You’ll come across a plethora of tools to perform keyword research.
Everyone has their favorites, and if you ask 20 people what the “Best” Keyword Research Tool is, you’d likely get 20 different recommendations.
There are some Free tools that work great, and if you have the money there are Paid Tools that offer even more features and data.
I use a combination of Free and Paid tools when performing Keyword Research.
Most, if not all of the most popular tools offer a free trial and don’t require you to enter a credit card during the trial period.
I recommend using the trials to try out some of the premium tools and compare them to the free options to see if you think it’s worth investing in a premium SEO Tool.
The ‘Keyword Difficulty’ metric is a number from 1-100 that indicates how hard it will be to rank on the first page of Google for a particular keyword.
This number is determined by looking at the quality of the content currently ranking on the first page of Google and the backlink profile of the websites.
Below you can see Ahrefs allows us to see the Keyword Difficulty, enabling us to decide if a keyword is worth targeting based on the backlink profile of the websites at the top of the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
You can also see Ubersuggest, which also provides us with a keyword difficulty score.
The higher the number, the more difficult the keyword is to rank for.
If your website is relatively new, stick to targeting keywords that have a Keyword Difficulty Rating under 20.
Targeting a keyword with a difficulty of 90 would be a waste of time.
The websites ranking for that keyword likely has an extremely high domain authority and thousands of high-quality backlinks pointing to them.
Keyword Search Volume
The second metric we look at when performing keyword research is the ‘Keyword Search Volume.’
This indicates the number of searches performed for a particular keyword each month.
With this metric, you want to avoid keywords with a really high search volume, because the competition would be too high.
Conversely, you’ll also want to avoid keywords with little or no search volume.
After all, if no one is searching for a keyword, then it doesn’t much matter if you rank for it.
That said, a keyword with a low search volume can still be valuable.
For “Long-Tail Keywords” (which we’ll discuss later), the search volume may be low, but those users that are performing the search may be closer
to taking action than someone searching for a broad term with high search volume.
To find the keyword search volume, we once again turn to Ahrefs and Ubersuggest.
The numbers probably won’t be the same for both tools, but they will give you a pretty good idea of the monthly search volume for your keyword.
Keyword Cost Per Click (CPC)
The ‘Cost-Per-Click’ (CPC) is the amount paid for every click on an advertisement in your Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising campaign.
Aside from SEO, Pay-Per-Click Ads are the only way to appear at the top of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP).
You may be wondering why CPC is a metric you need to concern yourself with when performing keyword research.
Because it shows you how competitive and valuable a keyword is.
As such, it wouldn’t be worth targeting.
If someone is willing to pay $50.00 every time someone clicks on their Ad, then the keyword is delivering highly valuable visitors to the site, some of which are converting.
Since we know people are willing to pay that much for a single click, imagine how valuable an organic spot at the top of Google’s Search Engine Results Page (SERP) for that particular keyword would be.
Types of Keywords
Not all keywords are alike, and not all keywords are created equally.
There are ‘Short-Tail Keywords’ and ‘Long-Tail Keywords.’
Typically 1-3 words with an extremely high monthly search volume.
For example, “Marketing” is a short-tail keyword that has a massive monthly search volume.
We want to steer clear of short-tail keywords because they will be way too competitive and cover too broad of a topic.
The ‘Intent’ of a person searching the word “Marketing” is likely to be informational.
In other words, their “Intent” is to find out more information about a particular topic.
Typically 3 or more words with a lower monthly search volume.
For example, “Plumber SEO Agency in Phoenix Arizona” is a long-tail keyword.
This would be a much better keyword because it’s a lot less competitive than the short-tail keyword.
Furthermore, the ‘Intent’ of a person searching for “Plumber SEO Agency in Phoenix Arizona” is a lot more likely to be someone with a Commercial or Transactional Intent.
Long-Tail Keywords are used by people further along the ‘Buyer’s Journey.’
By creating content that provides that information, you’re establishing a relationship with that person.
From there, they are able to get to “Know, Like & Trust” you.
That person is far more likely to become a customer than the person that just searched for “Marketing.”
Location Based Keywords
As the name suggests, ‘Location-Based Keywords’ specify a town, city, state, country, etc.
These are especially important for Local SEO, where ‘Brick & Mortar’ businesses want to rank for keywords specific to a particular location.
Location-Based Keywords are also important for Service-Area businesses that operate in a specific geographical area.
For example, “Best Plumber in Phoenix, AZ” isn’t likely to have a high search volume, but anyone searching that is probably looking to hire a plumber in Phoenix, AZ.
The monthly keyword search volume for location-based keywords are likely to have a moderate search volume.
The ‘Intent’ of a person using a specific location in their search is likely to make a purchase.
Keyword Research Tools
As I mentioned previously, there’s no shortage of tools available, but here are a few we think are worth trying:
- Google Keyword Planner
- Moz’s – Keyword Explorer
- Answer the Public
How To Do Keyword Research
To get started with our keyword research, we first need to come up with some keyword ideas.
Begin by writing down or entering into a spreadsheet a list of the words or phrases related to your business or industry that you’d like to rank for.
At this point your focus should be on general words or phrases relevant to your business or industry, then you’ll use those broad terms to drill down and find more specific keywords.
Try to think from your ideal customers perspective.
What problems are they trying to solve?
What questions about your industry, product or service do they want to be answered?
What words or phrases might they use when searching for answers or information that you’d want your business to get found for?
For us here at Cre8tive Digital Media, our list would include things like:
- Arizona Digital Marketing Agency
- Social Media Marketing
- Arizona SEO Services
- Web Design Phoenix
Let’s get started with the Free tool from Neil Patel, Ubersuggest.
Enter a keyword or phrase into the designated area and hit ‘Search’ or click ‘Look Up.’
For this example, let’s say we’re searching for “Social Media Marketing.”
The tool displays a breakdown of the keywords’ monthly search volume, the Cost-Per-Click (CPC), and the level of competition for the keyword.
Scroll down the page to see a bunch of variations of the keyword phrase we searched, along with the above-mentioned metrics.
Write down or add to your spreadsheet any of the keyword suggestions you’d like to target.
Google Search Suggestions
Once you have a few keyword ideas on your list, another Free and very simple tool you can use is Google itself.
Any time you begin typing a query into Google’s Search Box, a list of suggested searches appears with a number of suggestions.
You can continue typing to get more detailed suggestions.
As you can see, this will help you with long-tail and, in some cases, even local keyword phrases.
Google “Related Searches”
Yet another Free tool that’s great for coming up with Keyword ideas is once again through Google.
When you perform a Google Search, if you scroll to the bottom of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) you’ll see a section called “Searches Related to [your keyword here].”
There is no shortage of tutorials, articles, and guides that cover how to perform Keyword Research.
I highly recommend Brian Dean’s – Definitive Guide to Keyword Research.
Types Of Content For Your Website
After identifying the keywords you want to target, you need to create content around these keywords that you ideal customer will find useful and valuable.
Regardless of the type of website you have or the industry you’re in, all of the content on your site needs to be optimized for SEO.
Here are the types of content you’ll want to include on your site:
- Product Pages – If you have an E-Commerce website, these pages will describe the products you offer. Include reviews on these pages, as user-generated content is extremely effective at convincing visitors to buy from you.
- Service Pages – If your business provides a service, these pages will describe your businesses offering. Include testimonials/reviews, explainer videos, and case studies.
- Blog Posts – A blog allows you to continuously create relevant and valuable content that’s targeted at your ideal customers. Having a blog full of great posts will attract backlinks from other sites, which have a significant impact on your site’s SEO. Publishing blog posts regularly will also have an impact on your site’s SEO, because search engines want up to date content to serve up to users.
- Video – This has quickly become the most popular medium for consuming content, which is why you should include videos on your site. As mentioned earlier, upload your videos to YouTube and Embed them on your site. To receive the maximum SEO benefits from your videos, include a transcription below your video so that the search engines have something to index.
- Info-Graphics – These are some of the most shared content on social media. A well-done Info-graphic conveys valuable information to the user while requiring minimal effort to consume it. They also attract a lot of backlinks.
How To Optimize Your Content for SEO
Creating high-quality content that your ideal customers find useful and valuable takes patience, and time.
Creating content is only ½ the battle. The other ½ is optimizing your content for search engines.
It’s necessary to appease the ‘Google Gods,’ as they’re only interested in delivering the highest quality content that will benefit users.
Regardless of the content format, there are certain guidelines you should follow before hitting ‘Publish’ that will ensure your content is properly optimized.
We’ll now discuss the Do’s and Don’ts of creating high-quality and valuable content that your audience will love.
Use Keywords in the Title, Heading and Body
The main keyword you’re targeting should appear in the title and H1 heading.
Also important is to include your keyword at the beginning of your post.
Using your main keyword early in your post, within the first paragraph helps the search engine spiders understand what your content is about.
Use Long-Tail Keywords in Sub-Headings
Several years ago, repeating your main keyword over and over again in your content was all it took to rank for that particular word.
Those days are long gone.
Incorporating long-tail keywords in the sub-headings of your posts signals to search engines what the content is about.
Include ‘LSI Keywords’ in your content
‘LSI’ is an acronym for ‘Latent Semantic Index.’
In other words, they’re synonyms of your main keyword.
Google’s machine learning technology: “Rank Brain” is used as part of their ranking algorithm.
Rank Brain tries to understand the broader meaning of keywords.
For suggestions of LSI Keywords, you can use in your content, check out LSI Graph.
Satisfy ‘Search Intent’ With Your Content
You may be tempted to jump right into creating content, but before publishing any content on your site you should understand ‘Search Intent.’
It’s not as complicated as it sounds.
Essentially, you want to create content that users want to see for a given search query.
Google is a big help with identifying user intent because they already understand what content users prefer for different searches.
Let’s say you’re writing an article on “What is Technical SEO.”
Perform a Google Search for that term and look at the Featured Snippet and the Meta Descriptions for the first page results.
In the ‘Featured Snippet,’ and subsequent ‘Meta Descriptions’ Google is attempting to provide a direct answer to my search query “What is Technical SEO.”
We can interpret this pattern to mean that the ‘User Intent’ for that particular search query is to understand the definition of “Technical SEO.”
Based on this pattern, we can determine that in order to rank high for that search term we would need to include the answer for that search query right at the beginning of our post.
We want to satisfy the User Intent right away, and we can then expand upon the topic to provide more information.
Create Long-Form SEO Friendly Content
Creating content that’s likely to rank well in search engines means creating ‘Long-Form Content.’
It’s a fact that long-form content ranks higher on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
When creating content your aim should be to cover the topics in-depth.
If your content is good enough, users will stay on your pages longer (Dwell Time), thereby signaling to Google that the content is high-quality and provides value.
Don’t just create long-form content for the sake of creating long-form content though.
Quality content will always trump quantity.
If your content is good enough that people share it and it attracts links, it can easily outrank longer content that’s of little substance.
Brian Dean and the team at Backlinko studied the average word count for sites on the first page of Google and found that the average word count is 1,890.
If you’re not sure where to even begin creating long-form content, I recommend checking out an article I wrote on the subject: “How To Write Long-Form Content For WordPress.”
The primary reason long-form content ranks higher on Google is user satisfaction.
Longer content leads users to stick around longer consuming the content, and if it’s good enough they are likely to share it on Social Media.
If users are clicking on your site in the search results, going to your site, and quickly returning to Google it doesn’t look good.
Users ‘Bouncing’ from your website signals to Google that the information on the page either isn’t very high quality or isn’t relevant for their search.
Aim to write articles that are around 2,000 words to keep users on your site longer.
Link to other relevant pages on your site as well.
This will help keep users on your site and help search engines understand what the page is about.
Don’t Create Thin Content
If long-form content provides users with a ton of value than ‘Thin Content’ is just the opposite providing little or no value to website visitors.
Some examples of ‘Thin Content’ would be doorway pages, affiliate pages, and pages with very little content.
In the “Panda Update” to Google’s algorithm, changes were made that rewarded sites with high-quality content and penalized websites with low-quality thin content.
Affiliate pages and doorway pages provide no value to users and therefore serve no purpose in the search results.
A page containing information that was simply copied from a manufacturer or suppliers website would be penalized for having thin and duplicate content.
A doorway page would be having multiple location pages, even though you only service a single location.
Redirecting the different location pages to the location page which you actually serve is likely to get you penalized by Google for deceiving your users.
If you have ‘Thin’ pages on your site and are concerned about being penalized, try combining pages that cover similar topics or add to the content already on the page.
Create Unique SEO-Friendly Content
When you’re creating content for your website, try to differentiate yourself from your competitors.
Present your content in a unique style that sets you apart from what everyone else is doing.
Conduct research to back up the statements and data you use in your content, and make sure you link out to the sources you use.
Writing content for a blog is different than writing academically, so it may take some time to get used to.
The more you write, the better you’ll get.
Over time, you’ll find your voice and be more comfortable creating unique and original content.
One person who’s built several brands on the back of his content is Neil Patel.
His content is always very well researched, and full of links to the resources he using in his articles.
Furthermore, Neil’s content always includes stories from his successes and failures which makes it easier for his readers to relate to him.
Perform a Google Search using the keyword you plan to target and review the websites that rank on the first page for that keyword.
How is their content formatted and structured?
What areas of the topic did they cover, and what did they miss?
After analyzing your competitors content, what could you do to set your content apart that’s going to get users to consider your content over theirs?
Add Internal Links Related Content on Your Website
As mentioned previously, ‘Internal Linking’ is a very important aspect of content optimization.
Include links within your content to other relevant content on your website.
Using Internal Links in your content improves the user experience, and helps search engines better understand what the page is about.
This is known as ‘Content Relevancy.’
Use relevant keywords in the anchor text to help the search engine spiders understand what the linked page is about.
Include External Links to Authority Sites
Aside from linking to your own content, remember to link out to high-quality, authority websites.
Providing sources will help your users find out more about a topic.
When adding ‘External Links’ set them to “Open in New Tab,” that way your visitors are more likely to remain on your site.
Make sure you trust the website you’re linking to and don’t overdo it by adding an external link in every line of your content.
Make Content That’s Scan-Able & Easy To Read
With over half of web traffic coming from mobile devices, people no longer consume large blocks of text.
When creating content, don’t just dump the text on the page and call it a day.
Make your content easy to read by making it scan-able, especially for users on mobile devices.
- Highlight important parts of your content using Bold and Italics
- Keep your sentences short
- Avoid long paragraphs
- Use a Font that’s easy to read and a decent size font (We Use 16 px)
- Incorporate numbered & bullet lists to outline important information
- Use White Space to break up the content
To see examples of well-formatted content visit popular blogs and look at their content.
You don’t have to copy their style, but look at a few of the top blogs in your industry and see what you like.
Then adapt it to your own blog and make it your own.
Don’t Copy or Duplicate Content
We covered duplicate content earlier, but it bears repeating.
Don’t simply copy other people’s content.
It can get you penalized by the search engines, and worse it can leave you pretty embarrassed if anyone discovers what you’re doing.
Google’s algorithms are constantly improving and becoming more adept at identifying duplicate content.
If you’re an affiliate for a product, do not make the mistake of copying the product information and pasting it on your site.
Google is going to recognize it and penalize you for it.
The same applies if you have an E-Commerce site.
Do not just copy the manufacturer’s product description and paste it on your site.
Once again, Google will recognize it as duplicate content, and you’ll be penalized.
Continuously Update Your Content
Given the rate at which things tend to change nowadays, it doesn’t take long for a piece of content you created 2 years ago to be considered outdated and irrelevant.
If you’re taking the time to create high-quality content that provides a lot of value to your visitors, don’t just let it waste away and become dated.
A significant time investment up-front in the initial creation of a piece of content shouldn’t be wasted by letting your content fade into irrelevance.
Go back and update your content as the topic changes and evolves.
This could involve changing links to more relevant sources, or updating statistics to reflect the most recent data.
For Example, let’s say Google releases an algorithm update 6 months after I publish this article.
Considering the amount of time I’ve spent writing this, I sure as hell wouldn’t want to see it go to waste.
Nor would I want to write a new version from scratch.
Instead, I could spend a fraction of the time updating the relevant areas, ensuring I still receive the SEO benefits I hope this article will provide.
A prolific writer on SEO, Nathan Gotch of ‘Gotch SEO,’ increased his website traffic by going back and updating his content.
For an in-depth look at how he accomplished this check out his SEO Case Study.
Don’t Keyword Stuff
In the “Early Days” of search engines (Shit I Feel old saying that), it was easy to rank in the search results by simply stuffing your site’s content with the keyword you were targeting.
People went as far as to use white text over a white background with the keyword repeated over and over.
Google squashed this practice with the ‘Panda Algorithm Update.’
However, for whatever reason, some people still go overboard with their keywords, stuffing them into their content as often as possible.
Keyword stuffing will quickly drive users away from your site.
It’s pretty obvious what the content creator is trying to do, and it ruins the readability of your content.
You’re creating content for your users, NOT for the search engines.
High-quality, valuable content that your visitors find helpful should be your goal.
A byproduct of creating great content for humans is ranking in search engines.
Include Images and Videos in Your Content
People increasingly prefer to consume visual content.
According to HubSpot, users are 80% more likely to consume content containing images, and readers spend more time looking at the images than they do text.
In research conducted by Biteable, they state that businesses that use videos in their marketing have a 24% higher ‘Click Through Rate’ and 34% higher ‘Conversion Rate’ than those who don’t.
Incorporating visual elements, such as infographics, videos, and images in your content, you’ll increase ‘Dwell Time’ and decrease your ‘Bounce Rate.’
Both of these factors play an important role in Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Visitors are more likely to share images, videos, and infographics on social media.
There’s also a direct correlation between the number of images on a webpage and that pages rank in the search results.
Now that we’ve covered the Do’s and Don’ts of content creation, we’ll take a look at some essential aspects of effective On-Page SEO.
What is the “Title Tag”?
Every page or post on the internet has an HTML title tag <title></title> in the <head></head> of the page.
With modern content management systems, like WordPress, the title tag is automatically created using the title of the page or post.
According to Moz, Title Tags are the second most important factor in On-Page SEO.
Often times, a page’s Title will be the first impression users have of your site.
The HTML title tag is what’s going to show up in the search results or when the page or post is shared on social media, but it isn’t necessarily what users will see when visiting a page (they’ll see the heading of the page).
Facebook will use your title tag to determine what to display in a post, as seen below.
Title Tags VS Page Headings
A common question regarding title tags and page headings is whether or not to make the title tag and the page heading the same.
Most content management systems, like WordPress, are configured to make the title tag and page heading the same, which is fine.
It will keep things simpler for you to just let WordPress set the title tag and page heading for you.
Now let’s get into how to go about creating SEO Friendly title tags.
How To Create SEO Friendly Title Tags
Now that you have an understanding of what title tags and page headings are, as well as how they differ, let’s see how to create SEO and User-Friendly page titles.
Every page on your website should have its own, unique title tag, including your homepage and blog posts.
Using distinct page titles helps search engines understand how individual pages on your site differ.
The search engine spiders are attempting to identify and understand the content and context of your site’s pages.
Having unique titles for each page make it easier for them to do just that.
Page Titles Should Describe the Page’s Content
Coming up with page titles is an extremely important part of SEO.
The page title is essentially a very short summary of a page, and a good title should be highly relevant to the page content.
DO NOT try to trick the search engines by using titles that aren’t relevant or related to the content on the page.
Not only will this negatively impact your rankings, but it provides a poor user experience.
It’s deceiving people before they even get to your site, and they’ll just hit the ‘Back’ button.
Titles Should Be Brief & Informative
Try to keep your titles around 50-60 characters in length.
This is the average number of characters shown in Google search results for the title of snippets.
Excessively long titles will get cut off by the search engines and won’t look right to users.
Include Keywords in Your Titles
This is essential for good On-Page SEO.
A well-crafted page title should include your target keyword.
This helps search engines understand what the page is about.
Only use your target keyword ONCE in your title. ‘Keyword Stuffing’ in your page title and content is a bad idea.
Try to use your keyword at the beginning of your title, if possible.
Most people won’t even read the entire title, so you want to catch their attention right away.
Moz stated that keyword placement in your title tag is a ranking factor.
The universal language used across the web to display web pages in browsers is known as ‘Hyper Text Markup Language’ or ‘HTML.’
In order to create headings and subheadings that can be recognized as such, we use ‘Heading Tags.’
In Google Docs or Microsoft Word, when you want a sentence to stand out or begin a new section, you can set the style to ‘Heading 1,’ ‘Heading 2,’ ‘Heading 3,’ etc.
Headings make a document easier to read by breaking up long blocks of text into smaller parts.
They also create an information hierarchy, allowing you to indicate the most important areas of a document.
HTML ‘Heading Tags’ work the same way, and they are vital to having an SEO Friendly Website.
They help search engine spiders understand the content on a page, conveying the most important aspects.
There are six Heading Tags (H1-H6) in order of importance, beginning with the H1 Tag.
Within WordPress, the new editor makes it easy to add Headings to your content with a few clicks of your mouse.
From within the WordPress Editor, click on the “+” to add a new Block, then choose Heading.
Let’s say you choose to add a “Heading 1,” the system adds the following code to the HTML:
<h1>Example of an H1 Heading</h1>
This code tells the browser how to format that sentence.
As you might expect, when you set a heading to an H2, H3, H4, etc. the HTML changes to:
<h2>Example of an H2 Heading</h2>
<h3>Example of an H3 Heading</h3>
<h4>Example of an H4 Heading</h4>
Differences Between Heading Tags
It may help to imagine that you are putting together the outline for a large document or book.
H1 Tags are the Main Title of your document or book and they help search engines understand what your content is about.
H2 Tags the different sections of your document, or chapters of your book.
H3 Tags are the subsections of your document or book.
H4-H6 Tags are used for sub-subsections and so on. I think you get the point.
Why are H1 Tags Important For SEO?
As advanced as search engine algorithms and Artificial Intelligence programs have become; understanding the context and meaning of the content is still immensely complicated.
To improve their speed and efficiency in understanding content, they use data from different signals.
Two of those signals are from the H1 Tag and another the Page Title.
When crawling the content of a page, the search engine spiders use the HTML code to identify which sentences are enclosed in heading tags.
The heading tags are considered indicative of the content on the page.
Heading Tag SEO – Best Practices
Now that you understand how heading tags work and why they are important for SEO, let’s look at some best practices for writing good headings.
Use ONE H1 Tag Per Page
Because the Heading 1 (H1) Tag represents the most important heading on the page, make sure you only use one.
Using multiple H1 Tags sends conflicting messages to search engines, making it difficult to understand what the page is about.
Include Keywords in Headings
By now this should go without saying, but in case you haven’t been reading; Use Keywords in Your Headings.
Include your Target Keyword in your H1 heading and only use it once. Do not keyword stuff!
Incorporate long-tail keywords and LSI’s into your subheadings.
For example, if the main keyword you’re targeting is “Social Media Marketing,” your Heading 1 might look like this: “How to use Social Media Marketing to Grow Your Business.”
Meta descriptions are a short page summary displayed with each search result underneath the Page Title and URL.
Although Google has stated that Meta-Descriptions don’t have a direct impact on rankings, they are an essential element of On-Page SEO.
The Meta-Description can have an impact on your site’s Click-Through-Rate, which is a ranking factor on Google.
Use your meta-descriptions to compel users to click through to your website by using descriptive, enticing, and informative copy.
How to Write Good Meta-Descriptions
Keep your meta descriptions between 160-320 characters in length.
You don’t want them to appear too short or too long.
Use unique and original meta-descriptions for each and every page or post on your website, including the homepage.
They should include all relevant information in order to help users understand if the particular page is relevant to their search query.
Include keywords in your description, as they are highlighted by search engines if it was used in the search query.
In an effort to help searchers find answers to their questions and search queries without having to visit a website, Google introduced the ‘Featured Snippet Box.’
Featured Snippets are often shown when there is a direct answer to a question or a clearly defined set of steps to follow, like a recipe.
If you were to search “How to Make a Smoothie,” the first result is a ‘Featured Snippet.’
Using ‘Structured Data’ To Appear in ‘Featured Snippets’
Structured data or “schema” is essentially a common language amongst search engines that improves the way they crawl, interpret, and index your pages and then display them in the search results.
There are several forms of ‘Structured Data’ for things like recipes, books, products, etc.
Adding structured data adds more detail to your snippet in search results.
To add schema to your site, visit Schema.org.
Why is Structured Data Important for SEO on Websites?
Google has said that ‘Structured Data’ does NOT have a direct impact on rankings, it still makes it easier for search engine spiders to understand and interpret your website.
For example, if you search “Plumber in Phoenix AZ” on Google, which of the two results in the image below would you be more inclined to choose?
The first result “Parker & Sons” has implemented ‘Review Structured Data’ on their site, which is displayed on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP).
The 5 Star reviews make that company look a lot more appealing, providing social proof that the company provides quality service.
Off-page SEO is the techniques and actions that you use outside of your website to improve your position in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
Often associated with ‘Link Building’ Off-Page SEO is about more than that.
In general, Off-Page SEO is about promoting your website, providing exceptional service, establishing and fostering relationships, and enhancing your online reputation.
You may be wondering why Off-Page SEO is important for an SEO-Friendly Website?
According to Moz, Off-Page SEO accounts for over 50% of Google Ranking Factors.
Think of Off-Page SEO as improving the search engine and user’s perception of your site.
Search engines exist to deliver the most valuable, high-quality, and relevant results to searchers.
Why Off-Page SEO is Important
Off-Page SEO provides a pretty good indication of how your website is perceived by users and other websites.
Websites that offer high-quality, useful content will be linked to from other websites and is likely to have mentions and shares on Social Media sites.
These links act as a reference and speak to the quality of your content.
Backlinks or Inbound Links are created when one website links to another.
A Backlink is essentially a “Vote of Confidence” from a website.
Throughout this post, I have linked to other websites because I included information from a piece of their content in this article; those are Backlinks from my site to other sites.
These Backlinks from my site to other sites act as a signal that the page I’m linking to contains valuable content.
That said, not all links are valued equally.
Links from non-trusted websites or links that are paid for can get your site penalized by Google.
In Google’s early days, the Ranking Algorithm was vulnerable to manipulation.
Back then SEO was essentially a numbers game.
Basically, the more backlinks you had pointing to your domain and keywords you stuffed on your pages, the higher your rank.
This led to all sorts of shady practices like artificially building links from any type of website.
Eventually, these “Blackhat SEO” tactics began negatively impacting the quality of the search results.
In response, Google updated its ranking algorithms to penalize websites that try to manipulate the search results.
Moz provides a history of the Google Algorithm Updates.
What Are “Good” Backlinks?
A ‘Good Link’ Should Meet Some of the Following Criteria:
- Obtained Organically (Not Paid For or Part of a ‘Link Exchange’)
- Comes from a High-Authority Website Trusted by Google
- It’s from a Relevant/Related Website
- Usually Hard to Get
- Appears in the Main Body of a Page (No Sidebar or Footer Links)
- Does NOT have the ‘NoFollow Tag’ (follow & nofollow links explained below)
Links that fail to meet the above criteria (one or more), should be considered a ‘Bad Link.’
Too many bad links pointing to your website will likely result in being penalized by Google.
How Google Punishes A Website
Attempting to manipulate ‘PageRank’ in order to increase the ranking of a website is a fool’s errand, and is against Google guidelines.
The algorithms and artificial intelligence systems that Google uses to index and rank websites can differentiate between ‘Natural Backlinks’ and Backlinks artificially created with the specific intention of ‘Gaming’ the system.
The following are examples of prohibited practices:
- Purchasing links from Link Directories, Blogs, and other Websites
- Selling Links
- Exchanging Links (Quid Pro Quo)
- Spam Comments (Usually done using automated software that creates links in blog comments)
In 2012, Google released the Penguin Update to its algorithm specifically targeting ‘Black Hat’ link building tactics.
When a website is found to have a lot of low-quality backlinks, the algorithm removes the site from the Google Index or lowers its rank significantly.
Don’t get suckered into using ‘Black Hat’ Link Building tactics, as tempting as it might be to see quick results.
What’s The Difference Between follow and nofollow links?
If you’re going to be building links to your website, it’s important you know the difference between ‘follow’ and ‘nofollow’ links.
As mentioned above, a backlink is a “Vote of Confidence” from another website that provides a small SEO Boost if your site’s authority.
This passing of authority between websites and even pages within the same site is often referred to as “Link Juice” by SEOs and only occurs when a link has a follow tag.
Google evaluates the links that point to a website and checks whether the links have a follow or nofollow tag.
A link that is nofollow tells Google not to pass any PageRank value (aka Link Juice) to the site being linked to.
It’s essentially like telling Google not to account for those links when determining rank.
As you grow your site and acquire links, you want to maintain a balance of follow and nofollow links, keeping your backlink profile diverse.
Your backlink profile and the authority of your website is one of the most important ranking factors on Google.
How to Acquire Backlinks
As they say, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Neither are backlinks.
Building your website and creating content is great, but it’s only the beginning of the SEO process.
Now you have to get your content out into the world.
Building backlinks is often thought of as being a tedious, time consuming, and frustrating process.
To some extent that’s true, however, if you’d creating great content the links should come to you.
- Great Content Makes Link Building Easier
- Attracts Higher Quality Links
If you’re just getting started creating content, you’ll need to invest time in establishing and fostering relationships with people in your industry or niche that are further along in their journey, and have an audience of their own.
Link Building Strategies
Create Valuable Content
In case you’ve forgotten, content is still king.
Creating high-quality, useful, and relevant content that educates, informs or helps people solve a problem is the best way to attract backlinks.
People love to be the person that turns others onto something new.
If your content answers a question I have or helps me solve a problem, I’m more likely to want to tell the world about it.
The better your content, the more confident people will be in linking to it.
If people are consistently linking to your content as a resource in their own content you’ll begin to build momentum.
The more people that link to your content, the more people are exposed to it, leading to even more people linking to it, etc.
The resulting ‘Snowball’ effect will increase the authority of your site, also increasing your rank on search engines.
Write Guest Posts/Articles
Guest Posting is when you create content, such as a blog post or article to be posted on another website.
Usually, this includes a link back to your website in an ‘Author Box’ or with the content itself.
This creates a backlink to your site, passing some “Link Juice” to your site.
Another benefit of guest posting is the exposure you receive to an entirely new audience.
While this isn’t as popular as it used to be, it’s still an effective strategy for link building.
Promote Your Content
Create a Facebook Business Page, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram accounts, and share your content with your friends and family.
Make sure you’re correctly optimizing these accounts, and include a link back to your site.
WordPress makes it easy to add Social Sharing buttons to your blog posts, allowing people to share your content with their audience with the click of a button.
Be proactive. Just because you create great content, doesn’t mean people will automatically know about it.
If it’s in your budget, Facebook Ads are a great way to promote your content and drive traffic to your website.
Building backlinks may not be the most exciting tasks, but it’s an essential component of building an SEO-Friendly Website.
If you’re creating truly great content then you won’t have to worry about proactively building links. They will come to you.
Drive Traffic To Your Website With Social Media Marketing
Social Media is not a direct ranking factor, and consequently, people often neglect to utilize it in making their Website SEO-Friendly.
Let’s not ignore this powerful marketing weapon that a number of companies have leveraged to connect with their audience and grow their brand.
Considering the prevalence of social media in our lives, I think it would be foolish not to incorporate it into our SEO efforts.
Not only does Social Media provide us with some indirect link building, but it is also an incredible tool for generating website traffic.
How to Increase Website Traffic With Social Media
If you’re running a social media marketing campaign in order to increase traffic to your website, you can implement the following methods to boost your results:
Include your Website’s URL in your Social Media Profiles
This one may sound obvious.
But people often either don’t know they can add their website’s URL to their social media profiles, they forget to add it, or they have a typo in the URL.
Adding a link to your accounts is good for SEO purposes as well as website traffic.
Include #hashtags in Posts
Using Hashtags can dramatically increase exposure for your posts. Make sure you’re using them correctly, with hashtags relevant to your industry.
Social Media Advertising
Unfortunately, for businesses on social media organic reach for your posts is not very good.
On Facebook especially, your posts will only be shown to a sliver of your audience.
Unless of course, you “Pay To Play.”
Fortunately, Facebook Ads offer a cost-effective and highly targeted means of reaching the right audience.
Make it Easy to Share Your Content
As mentioned above, WordPress makes it very easy to add ‘Share’ buttons to your website.
When a visitor discovers a piece of great content on your site, they can share it with their audience with the click of a button.
Include Images in Blog Posts
It’s no secret that images, videos, and infographics are the most shared content.
When a user shares a post using ‘Share’ buttons, the “Featured Image” is used by default on the social network.
Use high-quality or even custom images as the featured image, as people will be more likely to share it.
Engage With Your Audience
Don’t just publish posts on social media and expect to get very far. It’s called ‘Social’ Media for a reason, so don’t be afraid to be social.
Building your audience through interaction and engagement will greatly increase the odds that when you do publish posts promoting your content, your audience will share it without you even asking.
Replying to Comments & Mentions
Monitor your brand’s social media accounts and reply to comments, and brand mentions.
Social Media Platforms are a great tool for Reputation Management.
Maintaining an active and engaged presence on social media is the best way to build a loyal following of customers and fans.
It’s those loyal followers who will jump to your defense in the event an angry customer tries to bad-mouth you to the world.
Now, coming to the end of SEO Friendly Website: The Ultimate Guide To Optimize Your Website 2019 you should be able to follow the steps outlined in this article to ensure your Website is SEO Friendly.
We’ve covered quite a lot of information on the core components of SEO, like Technical SEO, On-Page SEO, Off-Page SEO, and even some Social Media Marketing.
I hope I was able to provide you with the knowledge and confidence to make your site as SEO-Friendly as possible.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a time consuming and tedious practice, but it will be well worth it when your site finally appears organically on the first page of Google.
If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed, or perhaps you don’t have the time to implement an effective SEO strategy, that’s completely understandable.
As a Premier Arizona SEO & Digital Marketing Agency, we can take care of the time-consuming SEO tasks, while you focus on growing your business.
To find out how Cre8tive Digital Media LLC can help your business improve it’s organic presence on Google feel free to Get In Touch.
If you’ve gone through this entire guide, congratulations!
How did you like it?
Was it easy to follow along and implement?
Did I miss anything or do you have a question that isn’t answered in the article? Feel free to comment below!
I genuinely hope this guide helped. If you got any value from this and think that others might benefit as well – please share it with your audience!