A great number of people might get goose pimples at the thought of spiders crawling around on all of their belongings, feeling and analyzing with their little claws. This is a common occurrence
on the web – pun somewhat intended. Albeit, they’re a different, digital kind of arachnid.

What is SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Basically, it is the extent to which your site is found using the various available online search engines such as Google or Bing. These search engines assign your website a rank based on a searched term or image. Local SEO is the extent to which your site can be found by someone searching using location-based parameters. About half of all Google searches are location based.

Why is SEO important?

Improving your SEO is cheap, easy to implement yourself, and there is no need to outsource or hand over to your IT squad. Those who find you using a search engine are curious about your site and what you stand for. If you’re a growing business, SEO is worth researching to boost your online traffic. Make sure you’re putting your best foot forward with this layman’s guide to generating better SEO.

How can I improve my website’s SEO?

USER EXPERIENCE

Search engines are becoming more geared towards the user experience. Generally speaking, if your website is easy to view, use, and share, you’re going to get search engine traffic. Websites that are more user-friendly (containing all of the elements discussed in this blog) are going to appear nearer the top of the search results.

Is your site mobile friendly? Google and other search engines have taken mobile-viewing into account when ranking search results. You can check your site’s mobile capacity here.

Website speed is a huge SEO factor. The more quickly your site responds, the more likely it is to fetch good search engine attention. Impatient users are also more likely to abandon the page if it takes too long to load.

SECURITY

Having an SSL certificate on your website ensures that you get more search engine traffic. Google has started prioritizing these websites in their search algorithm. Not only this, but search engines may even flag your site as ‘unsafe’ should it not have the little ‘s’ after http. When people believe your site is secure, they’re more likely to drop by for a visit.

LABELING

Make sure you’re including specific image names, alt text, and image descriptions for the pictures on your site. Because machines don’t have eyes, they cannot see what images you choose to include. If you don’t have image descriptions and alt text, these robots don’t know what they’re looking at. If your image is searchable, your site can be found from one image alone. Referencing your image on the page in which it is included also helps the image’s searchability.

Precise keywords are important, but many search engines are implementing a sort of keyword recognition and filtering software which associates like-terms with each other. For instance, if I was to search for ‘fishing,’ this software would also pick up results from ‘bait’ or ‘lake.’ Simply put, the search engine is attempting to understand what you’re trying to search for instead of just giving you results identical to the term you searched.

Although metadata doesn’t directly help get you on the first page of search results, it will attract the humans behind the computer to choose your site in the sea of options. What does help you get on the first page is click-through rates, which will improve with better metadata. Web search engines like Bing use the amount of traffic that your site gets to evaluate it’s ranking. Search engine ‘ranking’ isn’t everything. If your metadata is top-notch, it will attract clicks despite having a lower position on the search result page. Just because your website is the first result on Google doesn’t equate to clicks. If your metadata and URL are boring, they’re likely to be overlooked.

Building Links was much more important in the past but still ranks on the top 5 things you can do to improve searchability. Quality of links is much more important than quantity. This is especially true of local SEO. Having quality content on your webpage drives SEO more than link building nowadays.

Myths and misconceptions.

Stay away from ‘black hat’ practices! These are generally easy to implement, but run the risk of getting your website banned from search engines. Black hat techniques may get you a bit more traffic, but they lower the quality and reputation of your website.

While it is true that having a lot of quality content on your page increases your traffic, having a great number of pages will only serve to increase your footprint. It is an even worse idea to load these pages with fake content or keywords, often considered to be a black hat technique!

You do not need to submit your page to Google for them to crawl. Google automatically scours the web for new content. Even if you were to submit your URL directly to Google, it may not be instantaneously indexed, if it is indexed at all.

Pop-ups are not completely taboo, but many search engines discourage the use of ‘bad’ pop ups which may limit the end-user experience. Try not to have a pop-up be the first thing someone sees on a page. You should also try not to use pop-ups that cover the entire screen. Your content is propping up your site – don’t obscure it. Having pop-ups or slide-ins appear only after something is clicked on also is a good idea.

And so it goes.

This is my second blog post, can’t you just tell I absolutely adore alliterations? Check out my last blog on passwords.

Until next time.

SEO Audit