Google regularly update the way it’s search engine ranks your website for keywords. This is known as an algorithm. A bit of code that calculates how useful your website is based on quite a few variables. Now, no one really knows, expect Google, what these variables are. But we make a best guess of what we think would help rank up our websites in search engines and to promote your business on search engines like Google and Bing.
Bonus tip: Use a website like www.seocheckup.com to see how you can improve your website ranking in Google search.
So what do we know about website ranking that we can do?
- Meta description and titles
- H1, H2, paragraphs
- Alt tags on images / small image weight
- Light weight loading /caching (speed)
- Robot.txt and sitemaps
- Social media
Meta description and page titles
I have talked about this many times in previous blog posts check out ‘how to get page #1 of Google’ here. These are vital to any visibility for a website on a search engine. It is still astonishing how these are easily missed out when a website is built. Having a keyword rich page title and meta description is so so important! It is what Google puts in its search listing and also how it decides that your website should be ranked for that keyword.
A search for ‘Web design Newmarket‘ will display a list of web design businesses in the local area. Using all of those keywords in my meta/page title helps me rank for that search term.
The blue title (purple if you have visited that site before) is your web page title and should be used as a marketing tool. Do not, I repeat, do not use something like ‘Home – Digital Park’.
Here is why not to do that. You will not be telling Google anything about your business or the services your provide. ‘Home’ is not a search keyword at all, its a name for a page but it should not be used at the page title. Only a name to reference a file or location. The page title is part of your website marketing and it is key you utilise it fully.
The meta description is a hidden bit of information that is used by Google. It is hard to set this up yourself if you do not use WordPress and use the SEO Yoast plugin that allows you to set a keyword and change the page SEO. Here is an example of how that would look:
See how I can set a focus keyword, it lets me change the page title and set up a meta description with a preview of how it would look in Google. It also matches the above image which is the exact same as what Google has in its search listings.
For those not using WordPress or a plugin it will be difficult without a web developer to set up the meta description. But here is how it looks in the ‘code view’ which is what Google and its bots look at when calculating you rank position. See the highlighted in red is the SEO match of the above SEO Yoast title and meta description.
The meta description, just like the page title needs to be focused on services or products that your business provides. Using locations such as the area you can provide your services helps when people are searching for local services. I can provide my services to ‘Newmarket, Cambridge and Bury St Edmunds’. Which are three large areas that has lots of small businesses whom could be searching for ‘web design services’ within those areas. Ideally you want to be focusing your SEO on what you see as your target audience, local search is not always useful for businesses providing online software. That would need a wider market which could include the whole United Kingdom or even further a field.
Make sure you use your meta description as a marketing tool for your services.
h1, h2 and paragraphs
Just as page titles and meta descriptions are important to your business in terms of marketing your website in Google search engine, you need to make sure your website page content helps boost your page. The focus is to make sure your content matches up with the meta title and meta description.
h1 or heading 1 is the first and most important content on the page, it highlights what the page is about both to Google bots and your real users. Setting a H1 is important to some SEO website checking software but it is not always vital. For example on blog posts etc. It is good to have a hirachy of H1 then the next title as H2 and then H3 and so on.
A good example of a H1 would be ‘WordPress website design in Newmarket’. It highlights the services I provide and its seen to Google as an important element using the H1 tag. It also contains the primary keywords I want to use for my website ‘website design Newmarket’.
Paragraphs need to explain in detail your services and use keywords that keep the focus on what your are trying to promote. For example ‘website design’.
In this screen grab of Digital Park home page you can see the H1 is ‘WordPress website design newmarket’ the sub-headings are set to h2,h3 tags and the paragraphs describe my services and focus on keywords that promote my services such as ‘website design’,’ social media’ etc.
All the content is written in a way to help prop up the meta description and meta title, headings and paragraphs all working together to make sure Google understands that the home page is focusing on ‘web design services in newmarket’.
Images and alternative tags
Images are a great visual aid to help support your services or products. Good clear images assisted with great content will help your customers see what they would get as a service. But a couple of common issues with images are image size and no alternative tag.
Image sizing is not the size of the image in dimension such as 1000px width by 500px height, but in terms of kilobytes the file size. Not many people focus on the file size when uploading to a website. Good services and plugins in WordPress help compress the file size which helps reduce the loading time of a website. But if you upload a photo directly from a mobile phone that you had taken yourself, those images can be 1mb to 5mb per image depending on colour depth. Which if you think of loading that image on the website and the additional content on the page such as 2 other images you could be looking at 10mb page load for your end user / customer.
That amount of page load would make a user leave your page as it takes to long to get to the content. A good example is the new Google page speed test that focuses on mobile friendly website design and speed.
Cropping your image can help reduce the file size and saving it as a jpg can reduce the file size even more. Try to think of reducing the content size of your pages aim for 150kb for large ‘hero banner’ style images and under 50kb for anything smaller. This would give you a speed increase when loading the website and multiple images.
Alternative tags are descriptive tags added to a image to help identify what is in the image. It used to be for when images did not load as they were to large back in the early days of the internet and 56k dial up modems. It would put a small red cross and display the image description ‘alt tag’ in its place. This has two great uses in today’s website design. It helps you describe your image which can be ranked in Google image search, which is another source of traffic and great for the visually impaired users.
Again this is really simple to apply using WordPress and the media library with a box that lets you set the ‘alt tag’ description.
Again if your using a custom built website that is not running a CMS, you may need to ask a website designer or web developer to set the alt tags for your images.
Light weight and speed (caching)
As mentioned in the image file size the website speed depends down to a few factors. Database requests, external content loading, image sizing and other scripts that require loading time. Add it all together you soon waiting 8 to 10 seconds load. You may lose users based on that long waiting time. People are very impatient these days when it comes to waiting for a website to load. A good speed would be a load time of 1 second to 4 seconds. As long as your main content is on the page loading in the rest can run in the background.
To improve the loading time of your website you might want to ‘trim the fat’ by removing all those fancy features which look nice but may not really impact how your website is used. Fancy scrolling and animations look really cool but if it means losing valuable users then is it really that cool? Probably not.
Plugins that offer no real value to your website in WordPress should be removed, the less loading of external or additional scripts can have a huge impact on your website load time. Think of a big chunk of code that needs other resources, the browser has to go through that code and work out what it needs to do and what it requires, that takes time, in most cases on milliseconds thanks to the browsers ability to render on the fly at speed. Now times that by 20 or 60 or even 100 external files that need to be loaded in.
You may think its crazy but I have seen websites with over 100 objects that needed loading in! It really does slow down your website. So think about the end users experience when it comes to your website speed. You are aiming to have around 20 or less objects loaded to a page, which is low, but can be achieved. Objects include images and scripts.
try to limit database calls if possible and try to use a good plugin like W3 cache which helps reduce the loading time by using the built in cache and its own cache system to help speed up the website loading time. It does this by storing all the website information is static files so it is not constantly looking for the content it just loads it from its own storage. It is much quicker. It will also reduce the amount of load on your server so you can serve your website to more people at the same time.
Robot.txt and sitemap
A robot.txt is a very simple file that you can upload to your website via ftp or use a plugin to add it in to your website. The file may not seem useful or relevant but it does help bots such as Google bot navigate your website. It tells the bots which pages they can and cannot read. This means you can disallow Google bot and other spider bots from viewing and indexing certain pages if you wished. The most common setting is ‘disallow:’ which means allow all pages to be viewable and indexable from the bots point of view.
Robot.txt is a simple text file. The file would contain this:
That is it! Simple and easy.
Sitemaps are very useful when you want to submit your website to Google webmaster tools. It is a simple list of all your website pages in a readable index for a bot. The format XML is best and useful place to create one is here. You then need to add the sitemap to your website using FTP. Again with WordPress and there are lots of plugins that can assist with adding a sitemap. SEO Yoast builds one for you which can be found at your domain followed by /sitemap_index.xml. You can see an example here: https://www.digitalpark.co.uk/sitemap_index.xml
A favicon is the small icon you can see in the top browser tab. Why is it so important? Well it is not. Not really. It is great for brand awareness for the tab of the browser but it can offer a couple of small benefits which is mentioned by woorank.com.
Favicons For SEO
If you think there are no SEO benefits of having favicons on your website, you are only partially correct. There are no direct SEO effects of having favicons. However, there may be indirect benefits and they are as follows:
- Increased Usability Of Site: Usability of a site correlates to higher search engine ranking. So, if having a favicon next to your website title on browser tabs, on bookmarks, on history archives and so on, helps a user save time, identify and browse your website without difficulties, they may have a rather minuscule but noteworthy role in SEO.
- Bookmarks: With a favicon you seem to have a higher advantage over websites that do not when it comes to saving and keeping a website bookmark on the browser. Search engines such as Google has the Chrome browser for users through which they also deduct certain search ranking signals for sites bookmarked on the web. If there is no favicon to your site, you may lose out on the chance of being on a bookmarked list of a Chrome browser and hence indirectly lose out on a small but significant search ranking signal.
There might be some theories out there that support the fact that favicons affect SEO. Nonetheless, whether they do or do not affect SEO, they are certainly here to stay for branding and usability that indirectly influences a website’s SEO.
Woorank have a great detailed post on the favicon and how to implement it really well. But even they mention its not really that effective or useful. To add your own favicon, you could use a plugin for WordPress or you can use a meta tag like this:
<link rel="shortcut icon" href="www.example.com/favicon.ico">You can also use an image like so:
<link rel="shortcut icon" href="www.example.com/favicon.png">
Again this maybe a bit of code or a request you may need to as a professional web design company to do for you.
One last, useful and commonly neglected way to promote your website is having social media accounts for your business. Setting up a Facebook and Twitter will help create awareness for your business. I have talked at length before about social media and how you can use it to generate traffic for your website. Social media allows people to find you on a platform that is not just Google search. Think of these as business directories and it opens a communication line between your customers. In a new generation people are more open to using social platforms to find information and communicate through apps and devices rather then phoning or using yellow pages for business information.
Setting up a profile is simple to do on all social channels and adding a link back to your website is a great way to show you have an authoritative website linking to you. You can use the social platforms to promote products, services and blog posts. All aids the marketing of your website. I have plenty of posts about social media platforms and how to use them to help promote your website and business.
So the list of things you can do to help improve your website marketing in Google search engine are nothing new. You probably read or heard about most of them before. But some people just do not apply them to their business website as they think its not important. If you can combine all of these you would have some basic promotion of marketing your business online.
The most important from my perspective is the ‘meta title and meta description’ for each page. If you can nail this and combine great keyword density content on the page you should start seeing some great results for your business website.