Is your site SEO prepared?
Posted by Malcolm Iliff, on 28th July 2014
Is your site SEO-strong?
What do you know about SEO?
No doubt you’ve heard or seen the term SEO hundreds of times! But what does it really mean? SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. It means that your website contains all the signposts that search engines like Google need in order to be able to identify your website easily. The result? The faster a search engine can identify your website and its value to the user, the closer to the top of the search results your website appears. And let’s face it; few of us look past the first page of Google’s search results!
One and done?
SEO is not a one-time thing. It’s a methodology that you apply to the building and ongoing maintenance of your website. There are many techniques you can use to ensure that when users are searching, your website is found more easily. You don’t necessarily need to pay for Adwords and link-building to ensure you’re easy to find. We believe a first-stage more robust solution is to make websites SEO-strong from the start. This blog concentrates just on the essential internal SEO features a site should demonstrate. We would suggest that without sorting out what is under the bonnet and in the copy first of all, external link building, Adwords, social media and the rest will be a poor investment.
Preparation is key
Before you paint a wall, you usually apply sugar soap as a primer. Similarly, you can’t just apply a thin layer of SEO to your website and expect it to stick! How you build your website is paramount to its success. There are 3 pillars to SEO success for your website:
- Its pages
- Its navigational structure
- Its content
There’s little point in marketing your site if it isn’t in good order first. We believe it’s more worthwhile to invest in the professional design and architecture of your informational or e-commerce website, before you spend time and money on social media activities to market it.
Best practices for SEO
It goes without saying that you should design, build and create content that is relevant to your visitors. Walk in their shoes. Listen and learn about what they’re really interested in and how they perceive your services. And make certain that your website includes the relevant signposts to help them find that information easily.
Here’s a brief checklist to help ensure you have the fundamentals in place:
Do your page headings reflect their actual content?
- Have you used HTML markup to correctly identify the structure (headers, footers, paragraphs etc.) on every page?
- Are your sections and pages well architected with plenty of relevant keywords and synonyms? ‘Value’ words (e.g. professional, experienced, superb etc.) help very little.
- Have you included unique metadata (information about the page) on every page to improve search results, relevance and keyword search?
- Have you used well-constructed URLs that include relevant keywords?
- Is there a clear Call to Action on every page?
- • Does your site include no more than 7 top-level navigation items?
- • Do you use drop-down menus to keep the navigation simple?
- • Is your navigation structure intuitive, with navigation that works with the iPhone as well as on a desktop?
- Are your contact details easy to find when accessing the site via a browser and mobile devices?
- Have you used a tap-to-dial contact telephone number (for mobiles)?
- Have you included summaries for news and/or blogs on the Home page, with direct links to latest stories?
- Have you used plenty of internal inks between pages on the site with meaningful labels (not ‘click here’)?
- Have you used a ‘fat footer’ and populated it with some of the following: quick links, Twitter and other incoming feed, logos with links, news headlines, tag-links for specific products or pages or topics to allow direct and deep linking to important pages on the site. See ‘Fat Footers and Free Hugs’ for more information about fat footers. (That was just an example of an internal link! You’re learning fast.)
- Have you incorporated a relevance search and/or assisted search with website topics?
- Are your decorative images delivered via CSS?
- Have you used ‘alt tags’ with images to help with accessibility and keyword search?
- Have you ensured images are optimised automatically on the site to prevent unduly download times?
- Have you included sub-titles, keywords and transcripts for all video?
- Have you ensured the site displays correctly on all browsers and prioritised mobile devices (smartphones and tablets)?
- Have you posted unique content? (Be wary of duplicating content from others sites. This can penalise your site ranking.)
- Have you avoided using Flash?
- Have you excluded cheesy Clipart images?
If you can say ‘yes’ to 80% or more of the above items, your website is clearly getting into great shape and likely to rank higher in search results. It’s time to start marketing your site using social media right away. However, if you’ve identified some gaps, you may want to consider addressing those first. We think you’ll be quickly surprised by the results. You’ll certainly appear in them!