It's all too easy to get lost in a maze of social media, spend too much time on content marketing, and forget the basics of technical and on-page SEO, but these building blocks are as critical to success as links, domain authority, social signals, and earned media. In fact, some would argue that they carry even greater importance.
If your website is too slow to load, then you will be purging your landing pages of visitors. If you're incorrectly using inappropriate redirects, then there's a good chance you're losing visitors or potentially being penalised by the search engines (and losing even more visitors).
If your website is brand new, then it is best to get the technical stuff and the basics right before you start promoting and trying to earn links. Even if your website has been established for a few years, you should regularly check certain factors, including conducting a check for broken links, and with the increased importance being placed on page load times, this is another area worth delving into.
Fortunately, there are tools that can help the novice, as well as pro, developers among us. From Wordpress plugins to Google's own Webmaster tools, and dedicated desktop suites that offer a vast amount of information, there is a tool or suite of tools to assist in your technical and on-page optimisation check-up.
There are many instances where the same content on your site might be accessed using a number of different URLs. It is especially common with ecommerce software, and it means that while you might have 10 high authority links pointing to a single piece of content, they may be pointing to 10 different URLs. By providing a canonical link tag on each of the 10 URLs it is possible to ensure that the one piece of content receives the benefit of all the links.
You can also use the rel="canonical" tag to set your preferred domain. If you set your preferred domain to www.yoursite.com, then Google will treat links to yoursite.com exactly the same.
See what Google has to say on the use of canonical links in its webmaster support pages.
The advent and rise of broadband and high speed Internet connections means that page load speeds have become less important in some respects. Most websites will load quickly over a broadband connection. However, that doesn't tell the full story. There are still huge chunks of the world that do not have access to high speed connections, while anybody that regularly access the Internet on their mobile phones will understand the pain of having to endure a slow loading page.
YSlow is a Yahoo! developer tool designed to check page load speeds. Once installed, you will see a tiny clock in the bottom of your browser (IE, Chrome, Firefox and other browsers are supported) that shows how long the page you are on took to load. Click on the clock to see suggestions of how to improve these speeds.
Broken links do not directly have a negative impact on your website ranking, but they could still be harming your optimisation efforts and, frankly, they're untidy. If you've changed category names or altered page URLs, then there's a good chance that you have some broken links pointing to non-existent pages on your own site. If a user clicks on one of these and is hit with the 404 error page, then there is a good chance they will leave.
Link builders not only use tools like the WildShark SEO Spider Tool to find broken links on their own site, but also for broken link campaigns. Enter a domain in the Spider Tool, uncheck Skip Externals, and then click Run to be presented with a list of broken links on your own site, or to identify broken links on another site that you can request be replaced with one of your own.
Most browsers, including those on smartphones and tablets, display images with ease, but there are some users that opt not to display images, and the image Alt tag not only benefits these people, but it is also used by visitors with visual impairments that use screen reader software.
Accessibility should be considered an important factor when optimising any web page. Not only does it mean that you won't alienate specific groups of visitors, but if you have a site that is accessible to all visitors, then you have a greater chance of making and increasing conversions. Content Management Systems offer a means of adding and editing Alt tags, while the popular YOAST Wordpress plugin or Chrome Developer Tools can check your images for missing tags.
Title And Description Tags
Title and description meta tags are often maligned as being tools of yesteryear, and while it is true that they are not used directly in ranking, they play a significant part in general optimisation and can also impact your social performance and conversion rates.
The title of your page is used on browser tabs, in search engine results, and in many social media websites to create cards, links, and previews. This tag, along with the description tag, also form what is essentially an ad that is displayed on organic search pages. Effective and well written tags can, therefore, provide you with excellent conversion rates, although Google and other sites will attempt to fill in any gaps you leave in these areas.
Stick to 55 characters for your title, around 150 characters for your description, and do include a keyword because Google and other services will bold the keyword in their results pages, making your result stand out.
These are just 5 elements of your website, often considered as part of a technical or on-page SEO analysis that can help to increase traffic from organic search and social media, while also improving your conversion rates, but there are many more. Get the basics right before you move on to content marketing and other forms of online marketing, or you won't enjoy the best results possible.
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