SEO - Do It Right To Begin With
by Brian Rideout • April 22, 2016
We've recently taken on a few client's for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) that came to us with an existing site. Happy to help them, but our initial on-page task list has gotten a whole lot longer.
In broad categories, Google really has a limited amount of things to look at on your site when deciding what your website is about. We've made it our practice to make it easy on Google, who then rewards our client's with great rankings. What categories am I talking about?
Website StructureThe basic blueprint of how your website is put together. How do you organize your pages? What pages are under what menu category? What do you call the menus?
For instance one of the projects we are working on right now is for a Phoenix IT Solutions firm. They had previously built a WordPress site and chose some top level navigation and named their menus without thinking about it from an SEO perspective. Specifically they've got a menu named "Solutions". That's great and someone that has already gotten to the site that menu makes sense... solutions... what they do, problems they solve, etc. However from Google's point of view, solutions is pretty meaningless. To prove my point I just searched Google for Solutions.. and got 1.7 Billion results. So Google knows about lots of solutions, but what we really want Google to know about is IT Solutions. So on our on-page optimization to do list is to change the solutions menu to IT Solutions. Now Google only has 46 million sites to send us to! ;-)
URL'sThe structure you use for your website generally dictates your URL's meaning everything after your domain name in a page address. For instance this blog post has a URL of https://www.bangwebsitedesignphoenixaz.com/blog/SEO-Do-It-Right-To-Begin-With.cfm. We've got our domain, then a folder name (blog), and then a filename SEO-Do-It-Right-To-Begin-With.cfm. WordPress and a lot of other CMS (content management systems) systems have started dropping filenames and only using what look like folder names. For instance if this page was on a WordPress server it might look like https://www.bangwebsitedesignphoenixaz.com/blog/SEO-Do-It-Right-To-Begin-With/. Either way, folder names or filenames are clues to Google as to what the site and page are about. So looking back at our first example, where we want to change Solutions to IT Solutions, that simple change in the menu also changes the URL's. From www.domain.com/solutions/ to www.domain.com/it-solutions/. This is a good thing. Which one do you think Google is going to associate with an Phoenix IT Company?
As you can see, that initial structure of your site also affects the URL's. That's just one reason its so important to get it right the first time as you build the site. Ever come across a 404, page not found error? That happens when a link you follow, or click on, no longer links to the correct URL or page. So by changing the structure or URL's after the fact, you risk someone, another website or even Google, having links to the old URL and site visitors getting 404 error pages. Definitely not what we want to happen. The fix is to redirect the old URL to the new one. This isn't ideal, better to have done it correctly the first time around, but better to redirect than 404.
CodeI define code as the hidden text that controls how the visible items on an HTML page show. There are also some elements that provide search engines some information as to what the page is about. For instance the Meta Title Tag serves three purposes. #1 - It displays in the tab in your browser identifying which page is which. #2 - Google often, though not always, uses the title tag as the link to your site in their search results. And #3 - the title tag is a strong signal to Google what the page is about. Think SEO here.
Another tag is the H1 tag. It often defines the font, color, style, and size that the headline displays as on a page. It's also another SEO signal to Google.
The Meta Description tag provides a short, apx. 155 character synopsis of what the page is about. Often, though again not always, Google will display the meta description tag's content in their search results as that short description of the page.
Another type of code clarifies things for the search engines. By wrapping your address in Schema markup code, you clarify for Google that the Hell you are talking about is Hell, Michigan (yes that's a true community in South East Michigan), not purgatory.
Back to our SEO, do it right the first time thinking. Including all of these tags in your web pages, and doing so correctly, helps with your rankings. However I can't tell you how many times I've seen a site's homepage with an H1 of "Home". Again, not very helpful to Google. Using your keyword phrase as the H1 tells everyone, including Google what the page is about. In comparison to URL changes this is an easy fix, but again, if done correctly up front, you aren't paying us or another Phoenix SEO company to fix it later.
ContentThe text and to a much lesser extent the images or videos you have on a page also tell Google what the page is about. Google really seems to favor longer text pages all things being equal anymore. 2,000 words on a page is not too much. This is another area where we need to go in and fix the site. Business owners and even website designers that aren't skilled at SEO typically don't want to put a lot of text on a page. The business owner says no one reads it anyway, and the website designer things it looks ugly. So as an SEO company we have to go back and add a fair amount of text to a page to improve it's rankings. We'll often use image and videos to break up that text and make it less intimidating and boring to a site visitor, but at the end of the day it has to be there on the page to get ranked well in a competitive keyword phrase rankings scenario.
There you have it, 4 categories of website design that are critical to search ranking success. As you can imagine, it is much easier to just build the site right from the beginning than to have to go back and change and add everything in later. However DIY (Do it Yourself) business owners attempting their own Web design, or firms without their own in-house SEO department simply don't know better. This provides us a steady stream of new client's that want to rank better on Google.
How about you? Do you wish your website ranked higher for search terms relevant to your product or service? If you need some help, fill out our contact form or give us a call at 602-427-5626 to discuss the process, how we deliver real results in a transparent manner, and how you too can be at the top of the search results!