A website without search engine optimization is like a car without an engine or a computer without a mouse. Just like a car without an engine isn’t going anywhere, a website without SEO won’t be useful to anyone. In a nutshell, the goal of SEO is to rank as high as possible on page 1 of Google’s search results, so searchers can find your website. Not only does SEO help your website perform better in search results, it has other benefits that improve the way your website functions, too.
1. Title Tags & meta descriptions
Never underestimate the power of the title tag and meta description. Together, they make up the search result snippet, and they are the single most important SEO feature.
Tip: Every page on your site should have both a title tag (50-60 characters) and a meta description (up to 160 characters).
The title states the main thrust of the page, as well as your company name. The meta description is 1-2 sentences that describe the page’s contents in more detail. Keep in mind that they should compliment each other because they will be displayed side by side in the search snippet.
2. Crawlable URLs
Use hyphens (-) rather than underscores (_) to separate words in a URL. Google’s indexing bots treat a dash as a word-separator which helps it understand the context of the URL to list it in relevant search results. Additionally, it’s easier to understand for users in a situation where the link is underlined and underscores tend to disappear as part of the underline.
3. Alt Text on Images
Traditionally thought of in the context of accessibility, alt text is also one of Google’s primary criteria for image search results. Providing quality alt text on each image is a simple yet effective way to show up in image search results, and with almost 27% of all online searches centered around images, you don’t want to miss out on this huge source of organic traffic. Alt text should be a brief description of the image such as “Sundog Interactive Web Engineering Team.”
<img src=”sundog-web-engineering-team.jpg” alt=”Sundog Interactive Web Engineering Team” />
In addition to using alt text to index images, Google also takes file names, context and captions into consideration.
4. Semantic Markup
Is your page using semantic markup to structure its content? You might be missing out on one of the most important SEO signals if your pages don’t have heading tags, especially H1 tags. Each page should have one H1 tag that specifies the main content of the page and differs from the title tag in that it is more concise and inclusive as in the following example:
<title>About Us: Company History, Locations and Awards | Sundog</title>
5. Page Speed
Page speed is perhaps one of the most overlooked parts of SEO. Not only does it require thoughtful planning by the development team to create a lightweight site, it also needs the cooperation of content authors to prevent it from becoming a behemoth later on.
While this topic could be a blog post in itself, here are a few of the high points:
- Reduce the number of calls to the server (for instance, in the case of icons, use Glyphicons or sprites instead of individual images).
- Optimize images to reduce file size.
In particular, large images can be optimized to a fraction of their original weight without losing visible quality. This will prevent one of the biggest threats for future site bloat. Ensuring content authors are properly trained on image optimization will help keep the site light and fast. (If you’re losing visitors due to slow page load, call in the experts!)
A sitemap is an XML file that contains all the pages of your site. It lives in the root directory of the site and is used by search engines to guide the indexing process. Submitting a sitemap to Google Search Console is an invitation for Google to crawl and index your site and helps indicate the content you wish to be indexed.
7. Google MyBusiness
Google MyBusiness shows up alongside the standard search results (below left), and highlights your business with pictures, basic information and access to your website (below right). No development is needed, setup is quick and easy, and Google takes location into consideration to boost your listing for local searches.
Ready to Begin?
Let our experts help you get the most from your website. Contact us about auditing your site for on-page optimization opportunities and how a Findings & Recommendations report can help you determine what improvements would have the biggest impact to your page rank and traffic.