Search Engine Optimization—Coughlin Goes Under the Hood to Talk Technical SEO
Having quality content on your website is like making sure you have a Ferrari or BMW for the Formula 1 race and not a Ford Fiesta. But just having good content is not enough to help you earn the top spot on the SEO podium. There might be five Ferraris in the race, but only one can win. The difference is what is under the hood – the tweaks, adjustments and perfections that set that one car slightly ahead of the rest. THAT is what technical SEO is all about. Chances are you’ve seen the term “Technical SEO” thrown around the internet while researching SEO. It is a common term in the industry, meaning simply that it’s one of the most important tools for your website. Technical SEO is a crucial step in fine-tuning a website to give you the edge over your competition.
The goal of this article is NOT to impact the appearance of your site. You can have a shiny new website that looks incredible; but, if the search engines don’t like it, you’ll never get off pit row to hit the SEO races. Rather, our goal is to list the top 10 Technical SEO tweaks for your website to enable you to take your site to the next performance level in the world of search engine optimization.
NOTICE: we are not ranking these from 1-10 in value or importance. They are all vital parts of a Technical SEO tune-up.
If your website is not secured with a certificate, it’s time to investigate your hosting package to see if it’s available to enable. Not sure if you have it? Navigate to your website and check out the web address. If you see a lock symbol and/or “httpS” before your website domain name, you are all set! If not, it may be as simple as redirecting the unsecure site to the secure site. Or perhaps it will be a bit more involved and require an upgrade to your hosting package to have access to this feature (which is a shame because it SHOULD be a default feature on the lowest packages). This is one of the reasons we work with 8DWeb’s CMSDefender. They provide security and a whole host (no pun intended) of other important features at their flat rate of $15/month. Adding this to your website is extremely important because browsers like Google Chrome and Firefox will not even allow users to navigate to non-secure websites without redirecting them to a warning page first. The user then must go to the advanced options and choose to “trust” the website. Only after this will Chrome navigate a user to a non-secure website.
These tools will help you identify ways to decrease your page loading time (less = more). It will recommend compressing your code and image files, optimize file sizes, etc. This is important because people are lazy and impatient, according to studies. How long are you willing to wait for a web page? Most people don’t ever want to wait more than 3-5 seconds for a page to load. If your site needs over 10 seconds to show up, chances are people won’t even bother waiting and they’ll move on to the next option (you lose!). Google also rates sites based on speed and will more readily recommend a fast site than a slower counterpart. How quickly does your site go from 0 to 60 mph?
Your home pages, sales pages, and other important site areas should all have meta descriptions. This is code (that users don’t even see on your site) that the search engines look for and analyze to understand what each page contains. Search engines use that meta description to populate a brief text segment of your pages in their search results. Make sure your page descriptions include your keywords and clue the search engines into what you are trying to tell the world. Remember, search engines index pages, and each page is unique. Declaring your meta description for each page will help a search engine find the best page for the search query.
Tagging Images – Every image can be customized on the “back end” to help your SEO. It can be labeled/tagged to add a description of what is shown in the image. Since search engines can only harvest text, they look for these tags to assist them in understanding the content on a page. Tagging images is also an essential task for ACESSIBILITY for a website. Blind users that utilize screen reader assistance tools rely on alt tags to “see” images and multimedia. An additional step you can take is giving the image file a relevant name with appropriate keywords. Yes, Google can even see the file names being used on the site. Tagging = Turbo.
The internet runs on links; they are the pathways to your pages. They’re key to accessing your content, and potentially very helpful for your SEO. Optimizing your links should include checking for accuracy and readability. The first is ensuring that there are links leading to every page. Users need the ability to navigate to and from your rich content areas. The second part is creating intelligent link names for your menu items and internal links. If your link is - genericSEOwebsite.com/about/kj07836uuinhg9821looppp.html the search engine has no clue what is being linked to based on the link name. Furthermore, a blind user will have a hard time deciphering where that link goes. Try something more like – genericSEOwebsite.org/about/tips-to-improve-websites. Have links to all your pages and make those links easy to read and full of valid keywords and you’ll start lapping those that do not.
It is always a smart idea to check your content management system (CMS; Joomla!, WordPress, etc.) global settings to make sure you have allowed Robots to “Index” and “Follow” your website. If not… your settings may be telling search engines to ignore or avoid your website! This could be your solution if you have ever tried to Google your own website and can’t find it in the results at all. When you get the green light, make sure you aren’t stuck in neutral!
Anybody that is serious about improving SEO for a website should be creating Google Analytics and Search Console accounts (for FREE!). Sign up and register your website in order to use these powerful tools. Search Console helps you discover ways to improve your website speed and “crawlability” and Analytics can provide insight into what pages are performing well or poorly and give you the data needed for your next marketing campaign or product push. Additionally, you can submit your site to Bing for indexing so that all those Windows 10 users that love Edge will have a better chance to find you.
Registering accounts in Google and Bing and adding your site to them is like registering for the big race. You have a site; it is tuned, it is sleek, turbo charged and ready to go – now you are officially entering your site into the Great SEO race.