When consulting with businesses I am most often asked these 3 questions:
Q) Do I Really Need To Hire An SEO?
A) This is the most asked of all. Depending on your website and your industry the answer is usually yes, at least periodically every 3 months.
As an SEO I realize that not all businesses are the same, and some can’t afford to hire an SEO on a full time basis. However it is a good idea to ask if they can do a quarterly SEO audit and keep your pages optimized and code up to date.
True SEO is not just changing a few snip-its of code and making sure the meta tags are right, there is a certain method and order to optimizing a website. Done correctly the results can be wonderful, however done incorrectly the results can be devastating to site’s rankings. Most designers, developers and marketers have a basic knowledge of SEO but it is best to hire a professional SEO if possible.
Q) Is there anything we can do on our own?
A) The answer to this question is YES. There are basic SEO steps that anyone with a little knowledge of a website can do to improve their rankings and optimize pages on their website. As I stated before this can be devastating to your site if you are not careful, especially with the meta tags. Never put this in the hands of a developer or designer only. Developers and Designers often don’t understand the complexities of SEO and can create entirely new problems while trying to fix a few.
Q) Isn’t there just some kind of code you can put in that will automate the process?
A) If you are using WordPress or other CMS systems the answer is YES in a way. For WordPress for instance there are several different plug-ins you can install that will automate SEO in your meta data. Although helpful these plug-ins use your title and content to come up with a description and keywords, I have not seen one yet that doesn’t need a little editing to insure the proper information is in the meta data. ** Important: Do Not Rely Solely On The Plug-ins Interpretation.
Following these 5 simple strategies will help to optimize your websites content.
1)Optimize Your Tags:
For this you will need access to your sites back-end or code. **WARNING the wrong information here can be devastating!
On each page, you want to make sure every tag is unique and representative of the content of that particular page. This is where most sites have either the wrong information or none at all.
Content is necessary for SEO and optimization period!
Without content you have nothing to optimize. It doesn’t have to be paragraph after paragraph but you do need content on your pages. I know everyone likes to look at pictures but people also like to read about a product or a service to see what it is about or what service you provide that your competitor might not. My take on this is, if someone wants to read more to be more informed before purchasing and you are not providing that information they will just leave and find someone who is providing the information they are looking for. Also content is a place to include keywords and search phrases related to your product or service.
3) Duplicate Content:
Duplicate content can be a killer for a website. WordPress sites are famous for this because they create an Archive folder for past posts, resulting in two identical pages. The same applies to e-commerce sites when it comes to products and what is known as breadcrumbs.
Another problem is, companies using the same content on different pages thinking they are creating branding when in reality they are creating duplicate content. In some cases this can’t be avoided such with the same product only with different sizes etc.. I would however try and rephrase it and be creative so it is not so obvious . Again e-commerce sites can be a nightmare to fix these issues but it can be done with work and will definitely pay off in the long run.
4)Top Navigation Buttons:
What is really necessary for your top navigation? This is where a lot of companies and designers fail, creating the navigation for the site in the beginning stages of a web design. Most users when they reach your site it is because they have searched a specific term or keyword, and the last thing they want to do is try and find a button or link to that information on your site. Your top level navigation should be easy to navigate without the use of drop-down menus if possible.
For companies providing services: If your company provides more than one service, try and list your services across the top, not under one button that has a drop-down menu (ex. under one button named “Services”). If you have to move your “About US” button to the footer that’s fine because if they want to read more about your company they will find the information. Another mistake is not providing a “HOME” button, not all people know that your logo may be linked back to your home page.
If you have to many services or products think about a secondary menu below the main menu, but don’t use buttons here, you can use text links.
Naming Your Buttons: This is very important! Make sure when a user looks at your navigation it is clear which button they need to click on. Think of one word that your page is about and that should be the name of your button. (Be clear and precise)
Move what pages are not necessary for top level navigation to the footer:
5) Mobile Friendly:
By now your site should be mobile friendly! If you are still one of the procrastinators and haven’t mobilized your site yet “Why Not?”
Google announced early in April 2015 anyone not having a mobile friendly site may incur penalties in the search results. The recommended design is a “Responsive Web Site”. This eliminates having to zoom in and out to read text and is a uniform design for any device.
The newest coding out for mobile design is AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages). This is still in the development stage, but there are several companies who have already committed to testing this fast mobile platform. Google has already started ranking these mobile friendly pages as you can see in the screen shot to the right.
Mobile friendly websites are a must for 2016. Google reported that more than 50% of searches were on a mobile device. Also, when it comes to designing for mobile devices, speed is imperative!
Page Speed or Load Time is more important than ever! Sites with large images and or a lot of Java Script will result in a slow load time. There will definitely be a decline in users staying on your site. This will also result in a high bounce rate and an overall lower page score and ranking position. To test the speed of your page you can visit: Googles Page Speed