The Complete Guide on Making an SEO Friendly Website
Your website is the direct reflection of your business on the internet. Whether you are a local business, e-commerce store, or a digital marketing agency; most of your traffic is going to be generated from organic searches on search engines like Google. Yet, too many businesses design their website without SEO in mind.
No matter how fancy or great your website design looks, if there is not traffic going to it, you may have to revisit the drawing board which can result in wasted time, efforts, and money.
That is why it is important to design your website with SEO in mind when you are going through the entire process of creating a website. The purpose of your website should be an inbound marketing platform that converts leads into sales. You cannot get leads or sales from your website if it is not generating any traffic because it lacks the rankings and visibility on Google.
I know this post is probably one of the longest posts you will ever see on Google, it doesn’t mean you have to read it all at once. You can gradually come back to it or skim to the sections you want to know about. But trust me, this is the ONLY guide you will need when it comes to building an SEO-friendly website.
What is a SEO-Friendly Website?
An SEO-friendly website is a website that has implemented SEO techniques that makes it easy for search engine crawlers to explore and read pages across your website, so that they may assess, index, and rank them accordingly based on the value they give to users. Also, an SEO-friendly website is one that is user-friendly and can satisfy user and searcher intent.
Below are the three basic elements that are considered when developing an SEO-friendly website. I will be further explaining and expanding upon these three basic elements later in the post.
Here at Better Bistro Media, it is frustrating when we get calls from potential clients thinking that we can slap SEO techniques onto a website that is not suited for SEO. Creating an SEO-friendly website design requires careful planning and a structured process from the beginning.
So now that you know the importance of an SEO-friendly website, what it is, and why it is important to design your website with SEO in mind from the beginning; let’s take a look at the entire process from beginning to end.
It All Starts with Your Marketing Strategy
In order to maximize your inbound marketing efforts, you want to construct your website in a manner that revolves around your ideal customer base, what they are searching for, and the intent of those searches. The first thing we always do when we kick-off any campaign with our clients is getting to know their target audience, their marketing goals, and developing a marketing funnel centered around content. Without knowing your business’s target audience, marketing goals, or sales funnel, you are sailing a ship with no sail that is bound to crash and get eaten alive by the sea krakens of internet marketing. The last thing you want to do is create a beautiful website, only to find out that it does not get traffic from audiences that will convert.
Finding Your Target Audience
When finding the target audience for your business, the questions you should ask yourself are:
- What problems would my target audience have?
- Who are my current customers?
- Who are my competitors?
By asking these questions, you are better able to map out how you want to create your website, and the type of content you want to create on your website, so that you address the problems of your target audience.
For example, if you were a local roofing company, the problems your target audience would have are going to be roofing related, so you would want to create and design your website in a manner that best suits the needs of individuals who have problems with their roof. Conversely, our audience at Better Bistro Media are businesses looking to increase their presence online or simply marketers who are trying to boost their skills and knowledge in SEO, therefore we design and create content on our website related to digital marketing.
It is imperative that you also look at who your current customers are. What better way to know what type of design and content you need to create on your website, than personally asking the people who are already buying your product or service.
Also, by studying your competition, you may see where they are lacking as well as seeing what they are doing well so that you may implement that in your business and on your website. At the end of the day, what do potential customers stand to gain from you, opposed to your competition?
What is Your Marketing Goal?
Every website should have a marketing goal. Are you a local gym creating a website with the intent to secure more leads? A restaurant looking to drive more online ordering sales? Why are you creating a website in the first place? As a business, when developing your SEO-friendly website, you need to know what you are trying to accomplish.
Some of the most common reasons to create a website:
- Generate more leads
- Increase sales
- Increase brand awareness
Knowing your marketing goal will help you be able to design your website with not only SEO in mind, but the mind of your potential customer as well.
For example, when we created a roofing website for one of our clients, we ensured that their phone number, e-mail address, and lead forms were strategically placed throughout the website, as their main goal was to generate more leads for their business.
By establishing your marketing goal, you have an objective to work towards and way to properly assess and monitor how well your website is performing.
Content Marketing Funnel
Not only do you have to drive traffic to your website, but you also want to engage and convert that traffic as well. By creating a content marketing funnel, you will have a systematic process in place that allows you continuously drive traffic to your website and convert it at the same time.
The basic components to any marketing funnel are:
Awareness and Interest
In order to get any traffic to your website, people have to be aware of it and take an interest in what you have to offer. This stage considered the “top” of your marketing funnel. This is the stage where a customer could be aware that they have a certain problem and turn to Google to look for answers and solutions.
Typically, this may be when they first visit your website because they may have found it on a post shared on social media or even a simple Google search. Once they come across your website on Google, you may have great content that makes them interested in what products or services you provide.
A few ways to create content that builds awareness and interest for your website are:
- Blog posts
- User Guides
At this stage, the customer is in the mind-set of considering all their options so that they can come to the best decision for their problem. They might take a look at what your competitors are offering against what you are offering. This is considered the “middle” of the marketing funnel, and it is your job to convey what sets you apart from the competition. This is where you want to make a sales offer by including it in practical content that assists them in becoming more confident that your business has the solutions to their problems.
A few ways to make practical content on your website in the decision stage that makes your potential customer gain confidence in your products and services are:
- Case Studies
- Offering free e-book
Finally, this is the stage where the customer is taking action and hitting that call to action button to either purchase or inquire about your product or service. This is considered the “bottom” of your marketing funnel and is where your most loyal customers are going to reside.
A few ways to generate conversions and action on your website and business are:
- Free Trials
- Free consultations
Now that we have gone over your marketing strategy, we may begin to look into the technical, on-page, and off-page SEO implementations and techniques to make your website more SEO-friendly.
Creating the Foundation of an SEO Friendly Website with Technical SEO
The foundation of starting any SEO campaign is ensuring that your website is functioning properly on all cylinders so that search engine crawlers can crawl your website and index your content without any problems. This is referred to as Technical SEO and is considered the most important aspect of SEO.
Imagine producing an amazing piece of content or wanting to show off your beautiful web-design, yet when users click on your website, it takes it more than 10 seconds for your website to load. What do you think is going to happen? If you take a look below, you will see the ramifications of just that.
Technical SEO is more than just ensuring that your website is loading at a fast rate. Below we will outline how you can make your website SEO-friendly by optimizing the technical aspects of your website.
The first step in creating your website, will be choosing your domain name. Your domain name should be the name of your business or brand.
Some reasons why you want your domain name to match your brand and business are:
- You will not confuse potential customers when they hear about your business or brand and search for it on Google.
- Consistency is vital for recognition and building a strong and memorable brand.
After coming up with a domain name you will select a DNS provider. A DNS provider will control your domain name’s website and e-mail settings.
For example, we use Bluehost as our DNS provider and when users use our domain name it will point to Bluehost’s name servers.
Ensure that when choosing a DNS provider that they have fast, reliable, and secure name servers as it can affect your website loading speed and security as we will discuss later.
The basic structure of your domain name will look like the following:
The top-level domain (TLD) is the suffix that comes after your domain name. Some examples of TLDs include:
When choosing a TLD it is best to always choose the .com suffix as it is the most popular and recognizable. There are some circumstances when using a different TLD from .com could be beneficial. Some examples include if you were a new tech company and used the .net or .co suffix as it is becoming increasingly popular or if you were a non-profit organization and used the .org TLD.
Avoid TLDs such as .site and .info as they are often associated with spammy websites and will detract many users from clicking on your website.
Also, avoid using any hyphens in your domain as it looks spammy and decreases readability.
An example can be seen below (it’s a fake URL, don’t try to actually go to the link haha):
When I began the process of creating the Better Bistro Media website back in July of 2018, I chose a less than credible hosting provider because of the price, not knowing the ramifications of that decision. Not only did my website load at very slow rates, but when communicating with the hosting provider’s technicians on ways they could speed up my website they completely wrecked my website. I knew at that moment, that hosting made a pivotal impact on how SEO-friendly your website is.
Every business will have different hosting needs. Are you a large e-commerce site that will have a lot of traffic driven to it or a small hobby blog that just needs the basics?
When choosing a hosting provider make sure that you consider the following:
Server Reliability and Location
One of the most important factors of having an SEO-friendly website is the reliability of your server. The reliability of a hosting provider’s server can be measured by its uptime score. The uptime score refers to the percentage of time your site is accessible. Any hosting provider that has below a 99% uptime should be avoided at all costs. If potential customers visit your website to only find out its down, it could give search engines like Google an indication to rank your site lower since users are leaving your site at a rapid rate.
Another important factor in regards to your hosting provider’s server, is the location. Ideally, you want your server to be as close to the majority of the individuals who will be visiting your website. As we will discuss later on in great detail, your hosting provider plays a major role in how fast your website performs, which is a major ranking factor on Google. If your hosting provider’s servers are located near the majority of your site visitors it will load your website faster.
A bonus would be if your hosting provider also the capability of implementing a Content Delivery Network (CDN) on your website, as it would further boost your website performance.
The amount of data you use on your website is the bandwidth. When choosing a hosting provider, make sure that they offer a bandwidth that is capable of handling your website’s traffic. Choosing too low of a bandwidth could lead to your site crashing because it exceeds the amount that your hosting service provides. Conversely, you could be wasting money if you are paying for a higher bandwidth that you do not need for the amount of traffic your website generates.
You should choose a hosting provider that provides security measures to prevent malicious attacks on your website. See if the hosting provider that you are considering offers integrated SSL certificates onto your website when you sign up with them. This ensures that the information on your website is secure and all communications between your browser are encrypted.
Having SSL certificates allows you to deliver data with an https connection which is a ranking factor on Google. As of July 2018, Google Chrome marks non-https sites un-secure. So when it comes to having an SEO-friendly website it is imperative to ensure that you not only install SSL certificates onto your website, but are serving it from an https connection. Especially when it comes to completing forms or checking out items on your website, as customers are less inclined to complete these transactions on a website that is not secure.
Below is an example of a SSL secure website:
Responsive Support Team
A good hosting provider will offer free 24/7 support. It is inevitable that you will come across moments where your website is malfunctioning such as your site being temporarily unavailable. You want the support team to not only be responsive but also very knowledgeable so that you can get your site back up immediately, or fix any issues that may be due to the hosting provider. This ensures that your SEO efforts are not going to be negatively impacted due to an extended problem on your website that has not been resolved.
You want to choose a hosting provider that offer free regular back-ups for your website. There have been numerous attempts of hackers trying to compromise my website. Fortunately, they have all been unsuccessful, but for the sake of argument, let’s say they were successful. It wouldn’t matter because my hosting provider makes several back-ups of my website everyday so that if it were compromised, my hosting provider could easily restore my website.
Imagine implementing everything in this post onto your website and achieving high rankings on Google, but it all comes crashing down because of one hacker who compromised your website? Not only would it be frustrating but you would have to start over again which would waste time and money. That is why it is imperative to choose a hosting provider that will make daily back-ups for your website for free.
Here at Better Bistro Media we use WP Engine as our hosting provider. They provide 24/7 live chat, daily back-ups, SSL certificates, and awesome server speeds and reliability.
Below is a list of some of our other recommended hosting providers that we have used in the past or our clients have used:
Content Management System (CMS)
A Content Management System (CMS) is simply a software application that allows you to create and manage the content on your website. With over 1,000 content management systems (CMS) to choose from such as Joomla or WordPress, many businesses simply do not factor in SEO when choosing their CMS provider. It’s not your fault though, with the lack of information out there, many businesses and webmasters simply think all websites are crawled and indexed the same regardless of the CMS. Unfortunately, that is just not the case.
Here are some factors to consider when choosing a CMS provider. Most of these factors will be discussed in further detail as we move through the post.
- Responsive Design – ensure that the website themes that are implemented or created with the CMS are responsive and easy on the eyes. As we will discuss later, this is critical when making your website mobile friendly.
- On-Page Content – ensure that the CMS lets you have control over modifying your title tags, meta-descriptions, header tags, alt text, and URL structure. As you will find out later on in the post, by optimizing these elements you will help search engines identify the content on your website.
- Add-ons and Plug-Ins – make sure that your CMS enables add-ons and plug-ins and which ones they currently allow on their platform. The best SEO add-ons and plug-ins consist of keyword management, page speed, URL redirection, and XML site-map creation among many others. This makes it easier to implement SEO-friendly changes without being a web developer.
- User-friendly – if you have a team or employees, make sure that the CMS you are choosing is not only one that best suits the need of your business, but one that is easy for team to use as well. Nothing is worse than when only person knows how to work within your CMS making you reliant and cause potential stoppages in your business. Also, by choosing a user-friendly CMS you won’t have to be reliant on a web developer as well, because you will be able to make simple changes yourself.
At Better Bistro Media we use WordPress as our CMS. Here are a few reasons why we chose WordPress:
- Easy to use as it requires zero programming and coding skills. So, if you are a start-up or new business you will not have to acquire capital to hire a web developer to maintain the website.
- SEO-friendly, as it allows you to fully customize your content for SEO in conjunction with a myriad of SEO plug-ins that help assist and boost your SEO efforts on your website.
- WordPress is constantly being updated so it is stable and secure. Also, they are equipped with various security plug-ins to choose from, that ensure your website will be protected from hackers.
Here is a list of other popular and credible CMS providers:
Indexing and Crawl-ability
One of the most important aspects of attaining ranking on search engines, is to make your website crawlable and indexable by search engines such as Google.
For example, Google is constantly sending out “spiders” and “bots” known as crawlers to identify websites and webpages with the most relevant information for a user’s search query. This process is known as crawling, which is simply Google’s way of going out and identifying relevant information.
Once a website or webpage has been crawled by Google they begin the process of indexing that information, which in layman’s terms is Google’s way of adding that website or webpage onto Google search.
As we discussed earlier, this is the foundation of SEO, and ensuring your website is able to be crawled and indexed by Google should be your first priority in creating an SEO-friendly website.
The reason why we use Google as the barometer is that it makes up more than 90% of all search platforms.
Hopefully, you will be able to bear with me while I go over the many problems and solutions that arise when making your website crawl-able and indexable by search engines.
How to See If Your Website and Webpages Have been Indexed
In order to find out if your website has been crawled and indexed you simply need to go on Google and type:
site: (your website URL)
An example can be seen below as you can see our pages are indexed on Google.
After performing this check, you may identify that your webpages are not being indexed and have either mistakenly made your webpages or content not indexable by Google.
Content That Cannot be Indexed by Google
To make your website as SEO-friendly as possible, you need to make sure that the majority of the content on your website is in HTML text format.
Some common content that is not readable by search engines are:
- Content that needs an authorization before being read
- Any other non-HTML files such as video and audio files
Flash is mainly used to show animation on webpages. What most people don’t know is that text in flash cannot be read. If you look below, you will see that on Google Chrome, if your website requires Flash it will ask users if they want to unblock flash before viewing. I know if it was me, I’m more than likely not going to unblock flash, as I automatically associate it with being malware.
An example we see often at Better Bistro Media, is when restaurants make their menu on their website in Flash, which makes it unreadable not only to search engines but to users on mobile. Which is the main source of traffic for a lot of restaurants.
Also, make sure that you are adding ALT text to your images. You cannot expect search engines to just know what the image you have on your website is. Alt text gives a description to search engines on what that image is about.
As you can see on WordPress, you can add unique ALT text to all your images to ensure that they are being read by search engines. This will allow for them to show up on image searches on Google as well. This is essential when optimizing your images as we will discuss later.
Two Common Indexing Issues You May be Unaware Of
There are several other indexing and crawling issues we will discuss later in the post, but the two most common that most people are unaware of are:
- Your page is blocked because of robot.txt
- You accidentally set up your meta-tags to disallow indexing
Robot.txt, are text files created to instruct bots and in this case search engine bots, how to crawl and index pages on your website.
When a search engine bot comes across your webpage, it visits the robot.txt file to receive instructions on what pages to crawl and index and which ones not to so that they know which pages they can display on search engine result pages (SERPs).
Sometimes pages and even entire websites get accidentally misplaced in these robot.txt files.
To make sure that you not only have a robot.txt file but it is set up correctly, simply type:
As you can see below, we have disallowed search engine crawlers to display our WordPress admin panel on SERPs.
Meta-tags on the other hand, are snippets of text that appear in a webpage’s source code. There are four major type meta tags you should be familiar with, some in which we will be discussing later, but for indexing purposes, you should be familiar with the meta robots attribute.
The meta robots attribute tell search engine crawlers what they should do with a page which are four things:
- Index/no-index – telling crawlers whether they should index your page or not.
- Follow/no-follow – telling crawlers to either trust and follow the links to the next page or not to.
Sometimes webpages may have a NO-INDEX on their webpage’s source code that directs search engines to not index a webpage. As you can see below, here is an example of the source code for our sitemap page in which we tell bots to no-index this page, but to follow the links that are on the page.
An example of times when a no-index page would be appropriate are:
- Member Only Pages
- Thank You Pages
Make Google Love Crawling Your Website
One of the first things you need to do in order to improve how well your website is crawled and indexed is by creating a site-map. A sitemap lists out all the URLs of an entire website and allows you to inform search engines which URLs are available for crawling all in one place.
There are two types of sitemaps: HTML and XML
The HTML version of a sitemap is the human-readable version and the XML version is for the search engines.
You will usually see an HTML sitemap located in the footer of most websites. This helps users navigate through a website if it has a lot of webpages, such as an e-commerce website. An example of a HTML sitemap and its location on a website can be seen below.
You’re probably asking the question, should I use a HTML or XML sitemap? And my answer is, it depends.
If you have a small website with fewer than 100 links, then a HTML sitemap placed on your website should do the job if you structure your website in an efficient manner, as crawlers should have no problems identifying and indexing these pages. You also allow users to view that sitemap so that they can find particular pages as well.
Now on the other hand, if you are having crawling and indexing issues or have a fairly large website, I recommend creating an XML sitemap because you can manually submit it to Google Search Console, as seen below.
By submitting your sitemap to Google Search Console, you are allowing Google the opportunity to evaluate and crawl all of the URLs on your page.
How to Create a Sitemap
The most popular ways to create a sitemap is by installing WordPress plugins such as “Google XML Sitemap” or “Simple Sitemap” onto your website, which require no coding and is automatically generated for you.
If you want to know how to create a webpage for a sitemap, I suggest you visit this guide here.
How to Find Crawling and Indexing Issues
When we start out any SEO campaign for a website, we ensure that our clients have Google Search Console installed on their website and you should too! The reason being, is that it can check your index status, crawling errors, security issues, manually submit URLs to be indexed by Google, and submit sitemaps for better indexation.
- Check Index Status
Google Search Console will tell you how many URLs are currently indexed on Google.
- Crawling Errors
You can see here if you have any crawling errors
- Security Issues
Any security issues that may compromise your website will be located here
- Manually Submit URL to Google
You can submit your URL so that it can fetched and rendered by Google, which is manually requesting that Google add your website to its index. We use it every time we create a new webpage.
Site Navigation and Structure
How well your site is structured and how easily users and crawlers can navigate through your pages plays a fundamental role in making your website SEO-friendly.
You will be doing the search engines a favor by making your content and pages easier to crawl and get indexed if they can be easily navigated and without site errors.
But who am I kidding, most websites we come across here at Better Bistro Media not only have site errors but are not easy to navigate.
That is why we will go over how to improve your site structure so that it can be easily crawled by Google, make it easier for users to navigate your website, and how to avoid these site errors in the first place.
How Google Navigates Your Pages
Just like a highly functioning freeway system, your website should be structured in a manner in which you can easily enter and exit pages throughout your website. This process is called internal and external linking.
Internal links are hyperlinks that direct users to another page on your website. They help users stay engaged with your website for a longer period of time. This is a key signal to Google to rank your website or webpage higher because how long users are staying on your website is called dwell time and is one of Google’s ranking factors.
Like we discussed earlier, internal links can also improve how well search engine bots “crawl” your page. For example, if I wrote a blog post that also linked to my homepage and services page, when a bot crawls my blog post, they are more inclined to identify these other pages which will also help them get indexed faster.
Websites equipped with proper internal linking make it easier for users to navigate your website and ensure that your website is getting properly indexed.
On the other hand, external linking is when your website is linking out to other websites and resources. The main benefit of external linking is if you were to link out to credible and authoritative websites such as Forbes, it makes your website more trustworthy and credible to search engines. Also, when another website links to your website, that is referred to as a backlink. Backlinks are what drives the authority of your website and are still the most important factor when ranking on Google. We will discuss later, how to drive backlinks to your page.
Silo-Structure Your Content
Just as we discussed internal linking being one of the main ways Google crawls your website, you want to make sure you silo the content on your website as much as possible. What this means is having your content broken up into different categories.
For example, on the Better Bistro Media website, we service different clients throughout the state of Georgia. In order to best structure the content on our website for each individual location page we do the following:
An even more awesome example would be how Search Engine Land silos their content. As they have a library page that outlines ALL the topics they cover ranging from Google to Yelp. They then further silo their content, as they cover even more information when you click on a specific topic such as Google. You can see below how structured their content is:
If you are more of a visual person, here is what a silo-structure looks like in visual manner:
The main reason in structuring your website in this manner is so that search engine bots can methodically crawl your website and only be a few clicks away from your homepage. Like a poorly structured freeway system, you wouldn’t want your website visitors getting lost in your website and find it difficult to look for what they are trying to search for.
There is no bigger buzzkill than clicking a link on a Google search result page and getting the dreaded 404 error.
According to Google, a 404 error is simply: “what a user sees when they try to reach a non-existent page on your site because they’ve clicked on a broken link, the page has been deleted, or they’ve mistyped a URL.”
It doesn’t matter how well structured your website is, or how many internal or external links there are on your page, if a user clicks on a link on your website, but that page doesn’t exist anymore, that user will receive a 404 error. The link that the user clicked which received a 404 error would be considered a broken link. Not only is this bad for your SEO, but it also negatively impacts your user experience, which could damage all of the efforts you made in structuring your website.
Some reasons for a broken link on your website may be:
- URL changed
- Spelling error in the hyperlink
- Destination website removed the page
Sometimes when you link out to another website’s webpage, they remove that page without you knowing. To keep track of that can be a hassle. That’s why it doesn’t hurt to throw your URL into a tool that can check broken links like Screaming Frog SEO so that you can see where the broken links are on your site. That way, if you linked out to another website you can find a similar and just as authoritative alternative to link to.
But if the broken link is a result of your own actions such as you deleting a page off of your website, then you will have to take different measures than just linking out to a similar resource.
When you delete a page off of your website it doesn’t simply disappear to never be seen again. You either have to replace that page with the same URL or you have to 301 or 302 redirect it (which we will be going over very soon).
Another reason why a user may receive a 404 error on your website is simply because of a spelling error. There is no real cause for concern and it is expected that a user will spell your website’s URL incorrectly from time to time. I still do that even if I’m typing Google’s URL.
That’s why it is important to have a custom 404 error page, as you can leverage that page to receive more traffic as it is inevitable users will see this page when visiting your website from time to time.
When creating a custom 404 error page consider the following:
- Adding links back to your homepage or most engaging blog posts
- Keep the page consistent with the theme of your website
- Providing a way for users to report that broken link
A good example of a nice 404 error page would be Neil Patel’s. As you can see below, it is consistent with his website theme and also gives you an opportunity to analyze your website, which could drive more traffic to other parts of his website as well, based on a user’s results.
An easy way to identify 404 errors on your website would be to login to your Google Search Console and check under crawl errors. This would be where you would find all of the 404 errors that are currently affecting your website.
A 301 redirect is when you permanently redirect one URL to another. Just like when you change your forwarding address when you move, it is imperative that you redirect URLs on your website so that you are not losing any consistency or authority on your website.
301 redirects allow you to send search engine bots and users to a different URL of your choice, then the one they typed in the browser or selected from on a search engine results page.
Here are some of the top reasons why you would need to use a 301 redirect on your website:
- Users can access your website through different URLs
- Changed the name of a webpage
- Deleted a webpage
- You moved your site to a different domain
- Merging two websites and want to preserve the authority of the original domain
At Better Bistro Media, we have several ways users can access our website. For example, our domain has many different versions:
To ensure that we don’t lose any traffic, authority, or have users receive the dreaded 404 error page, we simply redirected the different versions of our URL to our main URL which is https://betterbistromedia.com. This also gives that URL the domain authority for our website and will be the URL users see on search engine result pages. We also did this because we installed SSL certificates on our website and want to direct users to the more secure version of our website at https instead of http. You should be accomplishing this every time you install SSL certificates onto a website.
Whenever you change the name of a webpage you should also use a 301 redirect.
For example, we changed the name of our “About Us” page on our website. We wanted to utilize a 301 redirect so that we maintained the “link juice” or authority of that page. Now if you click the old version it automatically redirects you to the new version.
Also, if you were to outright delete a page and it has no authority or purpose, simply allow it to 404, so that Google does not index that webpage. Not all 404 errors are negative which is why we explained to have a custom 404 error page earlier.
Businesses change their name or re-brand more frequent than we think. When you do this, you will probably change your domain name and will want to point all of your old URLs to the homepage of your new website. The reason being, you want to maintain the authority you have built with the old domain and also lead users to the correct web address that they are looking for.
An SEO technique that involves using 301 redirects to boost the authority of your website is called the Merger Technique. The Merger Technique is simply acquiring an expiring or expired domain and redirecting that website to your own. The caveat is that it needs to be highly relevant to your own niche or website or you will confuse Google.
For example, we are an SEO Agency, so if we bought an expired domain that entailed puppies and redirected it to our website, we would confuse Google which would hurt our search engine rankings. Instead, we would buy an expired domain that revolved around SEO and digital marketing as it is more relevant. To learn more about the Merger Technique, visit Gotch SEO’s post on 301 redirects.
Duplicate content is content that appears across the Internet in more than one place. Not only does duplicate negatively impact your search engine rankings but they also make for a horrible user experience. Nobody that visits your website wants to see the same content several times on your website.
Some of the main reasons for duplicate content issues are:
- Different URL parameters
- Separate subdomains
Different URL parameters are when you have different variations of the same URL.
An example would be:
The reason for this problem can usually be pointed to click tracking or analytics you may have installed on your website.
Sometimes, you don’t have a way to stop duplicate content on your website. Scrapers may republish your content whether that be your blog posts or product descriptions on your e-commerce website and publish it on their own website.
And as we discussed earlier, your website may have separate subdomains such as:
If you don’t 301 redirect these URLs to the domain of your preference, then you will run into duplicate content issues.
Here are some ways you can fix and minimize duplicate content issues:
- 301 redirect or delete the page
- Setting canonical tags
In most cases the best way to combat 301 redirect issues is by redirecting the “duplicate” content to the original piece of content. The reason being is that you won’t confuse the search engines on which page to rank because they won’t be competing with each other anymore, and you don’t want to spread your authority too thin. When you 301 redirect the “duplicate” content to the “correct” content, you allow the “correct” content to not only gain more authority but give it an opportunity to rank well on search engines.
You can also delete duplicate content but as we thoroughly discussed earlier, you want to ensure that if it has no purpose you let it 404 and if it does have a purpose or authority, you 301 redirect it.
A canonical tag tells the search engine what specific URL is preferred for indexing if you have two pages that are near duplicates but want to keep both.
For example, as users we see both of these URLs as a single page:
To search engines crawlers, these are two unique pages, which is why it is imperative to not only 301 redirect to the main version as we discussed earlier, but also add a canonical tag on the main version as well.
To learn more, visit MOZ.com as they have written an excellent post on canonical tags.
Here are two ways you can identify duplicate content are your website:
If you go into Google Search Console and click on “HTML Improvements” under the Search Appearance tab it will tell you if you have any duplicate content issues such as title tags, meta descriptions, and more.
When making new content to avoid duplicate or to check to see if your content has been scraped and republished you can use Copyscape. Simply type in your URL, and it will display if there are results that are similar are duplicate to your own.
If you want to speed up the process of making your website SEO-friendly and achieving higher search engine rankings, then you have to ensure that you speed up how fast your pages load on your website (no pun intended).
Google announced back in 2010, that page speed was a ranking factor. It plays an even more pivotal role in today’s internet as users expect your website’s pages to load at a reasonable rate. If not, you will not only damage your search engine rankings because Google prioritized a faster website over yours, but user signals like bounce rate and dwell time indicated to Google that your website was not user-friendly. This means that users were clicking on your website or webpage and immediately left after it didn’t load in what they deemed a reasonable enough time.
Here are some reasons why you want to improve your site speed:
- Easier for search engine bots to crawl
- Better conversions
- Site speed is a ranking factor
- Improves user experience
If you take a look below, you will see how critical it is to ensure that the pages on your website load at a reasonable rate, because you could be leaving money on the table in terms of conversions because users decided to leave your website without giving it a chance.
Ways to Speed Up Your Website
Now that you know why it is important to speed up your website here are some ways you can improve your site speed so that you can have an SEO-friendly website that converts.
Images play a major role in how fast your website loads. In fact, they can make up most of the content on a webpage, especially the homepage.
When optimizing the images on your site, ensure that you are serving them at the correct size. This means that if the image is 400×400, do not configure it to 500×500 on your website. This can slow down your website because when loading it either has to upsize or downsize to that image size increasing the loading time.
Images can also be compressed and reducing their file size can speed up how fast your webpages and website load. A great tool to use to compress your images is Optimizilla. Simply drag and drop up to 20 images, and they will be compressed.
Also take into consideration the file type. Generally speaking .JPEG images are smaller in file size as .PNG are bigger in file size but are considered higher quality.
Enable Browser Caching
When you enable browser caching on your website, you are storing a version of your website on a user’s browser until your website is either updated or you instruct it to refresh the version of your website users are seeing. By enabling browser caching, you are significantly boosting your website speed especially for static resources such as your service pages which are hardly ever tampered with or changed.
At Better Bistro Media, our hosting provider WPengine, automatically caches our website without the use of plug-ins.
Utilize a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
When we talked about choosing a web hosting provider, we mentioned how it is a bonus if your web hosting provider also provided a content delivery network (CDN).
CDNs are a group of servers that are geographically distributed, that work together to deliver faster content to users based on where they are located.
For example, if a user is accessing your website in India and your website is utilizing a CDN, you are going to serve that content to that user using a server near them, not one that is in the United States. This allows for faster page loading times and a better user experience.
Some CDNs that are very popular:
Improving Server Response Time
As we spoke of earlier, where your website is hosted plays a fundamental role on how fast your webpages load. You will compromise the integrity of your website by choosing a cheap hosting provider. Two websites could be very similar, but if one has a web hosting provider with a faster server speed their website will perform better.
Ensure that when choosing a web hosting provider, they have remarkable server speed. If you find yourself optimizing your website for speed but it is having little impact, all signs probably point to your web hosting provider.
To learn more about the fastest web hosting providers visit here.
Ways to Check the Speed of Your Website
To make sure that your website and webpages are loading at an optimal rate, here are some ways you can check to see your website speed and ways you can improve it:
You can get how optimal your website is loading straight from the horse’s mouth with Google’s Page Speed Insights. Simply enter your URL, and your website will be analyzed for its mobile and desktop performance along with recommendations on how to speed up your website.
You can take a look at your page speed score on mobile and desktop based off of Google’s Analysis.
You can also take a look at the results and what you can do to improve your score and page speed.
Pingdom is also another tool in which you can use to determine your website’s speed. Not only do they offer suggestions on how you can speed up your website, but they also allow you to test your website speed in different regions of the world as well. This comes in handy when seeing the impact having a content delivery network (CDN) has on your website.
Pingdom will also give you suggestion on what steps to take as well:
Finally, GT Metrix is also a tool you can utilize to measure your website’s speed performance.
Just like Google Page Speed Analysis and Pingdom, GT Metrix gives you suggestions on how to speed up your website:
You should combine all three of these tools so that you are filing the gaps and getting various analysis of how you can speed up your website.
Is Your Website Mobile-Friendly?
With 52.2% of all online traffic generating from mobile devices, it is imperative that you make your website mobile-friendly. Back in 2015, Google released a ranking algorithm dubbed “Mobilegeddon” that was designed to give mobile-friendly websites a boost on search engine results. And even back in March of 2018, Google announced that it was going to roll out its mobile first indexing which means that they were going to index websites based off of their mobile version not desktop version.
A mobile-friendly website is one that content such as images, texts, videos, and links can easily be read and accessible across all platforms, especially mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets on your website.
What we like to tell business owners and our clients at Better Bistro Media, is that it is more cost effective to hire an experienced web developer. The reason being is the implementation of a mobile friendly design can be time and money consuming if your website is already not mobile friendly, as you would want someone with experience to be able to get the job done in the least amount of time and tries.
How to Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly
Since you know what a mobile-friendly web design is, we will go over some ways on how you can make your website mobile-friendly and what to consider when doing so.
A responsive website design is one that works the same across all devices. This means that your website automatically displays the information and content on your website in a consistent manner no matter the device is a visitor to your website is using. You want your design to respond to the needs of your user based on the device that they are using so that means your website may have to switch from a three-column layout to a single column layout. Sometimes unnecessary images are hidden as well. Like we stated earlier, ensure that you are hiring an experienced web developer to implement these changes.
Font and Button Sizes
You want to make sure that your font and button sizes are large enough for users on your website to read and click. It is recommended that your font size goes up to 14px which may seem too large, but it makes it easier for users instead of having them pin and scroll or having to zoom. For button sizes, the bigger your buttons the more chances you are reducing users from accidentally hitting the wrong button. Apple design guide actually suggests that button sizes be at least 44px by 44px. By making your font and button sizes bigger you are making for an easier user experience and increased transactions especially for e-commerce websites.
Include a Viewport Meta Tag
A viewport meta tag tells web browsers to fit and adjust the width of your pages in accordance to the screen of the device the user is coming from. Without adding the viewport meta tag your website will not display optimally across multiple devices, which means that you don’t want your page to open up as the same width of your mobile device on a desktop screen.
To add a viewport meta tag is quite simple. Simply copy and paste the text below to each page of your website’s HTML.
<meta name=”viewport” content=”width=device-width, initial-scale=1″>
Give Users a Desktop Option
Ensure that you are giving users an easy way to switch to desktop on your mobile friendly design. Sometimes users such as myself, like the design of a website when it’s in desktop rather than in mobile. By allowing this option you will make for a better user experience.
Regularly Test Your Mobile Website
Anytime you add content or change your website design, you should check to see how it displays on mobile devices. Test every page, button, link, image, and video to ensure that it is not only properly displayed, but also easy to use and functioning properly. You can ask your employees or customers to test out the page to get a fresh set of eyes and an opinion from users that are not familiar with the design themselves.
How to Check if Your Website is Mobile-Friendly
You can easily check to see if your website is mobile-friendly by going into Google Search Console or use Google’s Mobile Friendly Test.
If you login into your Google Search Console you will see “Mobile Usability” under the tab, “Enhancements”. This is where you can go to see if your website is mobile friendly and if not, what individual pages are affecting it from being mobile friendly.
If you visit Google’s Mobile Friendly Test, you can simply enter your URL, and it will tell you if your webpage is mobile friendly or not.
Make Your Website SEO Friendly with On-Page SEO
After laying the proper foundation of optimizing your website with technical SEO and ensuring that it is functioning to its fullest extent, you want to start optimizing your website’s individual pages so that they can rank higher and bring more relevant traffic to your website. In a nutshell, I just explained on-page SEO.
As MOZ states, “On-page SEO refers to both the content and HTML source code of a page that can be optimized”. This means that in order to have a SEO-friendly website you need to develop each individual page with the searcher’s intent in mind. Ask yourself, “how are we going to make our website as relevant as possible to a user’s search query?”
On-page SEO puts the user in mind first. How are you going to influence those users to click on your website, stay on your page longer, increase their engagement, and convert? All of these factors and user signals play a role in how Google and other search engines rank your website.
That is why we will go over how you can optimize your website and its individual pages to bring relevant and high converting traffic to your website.
Website Content is Still King
In the SEO community, you still hear the phrase “Content is King”. Without content, there would be nothing to optimize for search engines. Content is more than just writing a bunch of words to rank on search engines, it’s about providing users with what they are searching for and going above and beyond in meeting their needs. If you are just writing content to rank on search engines you are probably not going to do well in creating a SEO-friendly website.
Content and SEO go hand and hand because SEO content is: any content created with the goal of attracting search engine traffic. That is why the first step in optimizing your on-page SEO is to write and generate content that Google deems relevant, authoritative, and useful for search queries that you are targeting. Search engines like Google read the content on your webpages to see if they are relevant and useful enough to the user, so that they can rank websites and webpages accordingly.
That is why we will cover how to optimize the content on your webpages so that you are creating content that not only ranks on search engines like Google, but also are the most relevant and helpful to users.
When you are searching for answers are Google, what do you type into the search bar? More than likely you are typing keywords, which are words or phrases that searchers input into the search bar of search engines, that result in what is called a “search query”.
Keywords are important because they are the middle man between what users are searching for and the content that you are providing that fulfills their intent. That is why the keywords you choose to target and include in your content and website determine the amount of traffic you will receive on your website (among other things as well).
Like we discussed earlier, when it came to knowing your marketing strategy, in order to create content that ranks and drives users to your website, you need to understand how they think, what they are looking for, and the language they would use on search engines like Google.
That is why keyword research is so important because you can comprise a list of keywords that your audiences use to determine how you are going to implement that into your content in a manner consistent with their needs that will also drive traffic to your website.
That is why we will discuss the tools to find keywords for your website, what to look for in keywords, and the different types of keywords.
What to Look for in Your Keywords
When it comes to what to look for in the keywords you are selecting for your website there are several factors. The main three factors for what to look for in keywords are: difficulty, search volume, and cost per click. Our favorite tools that we use to determine what to look for in keywords is Ahrefs, as it allows us to look at all three metrics as well as using a free tool by Neil Patel called Ubersuggest.
Keyword difficulty is how hard it would be to rank a website or webpage on the first page of Google for a search query. There are several factors such as the quality of the content and backlink profile (which we will get to later) of a website or webpage that determine how difficult it would be to rank on the first page.
As you can see below, Ahrefs allows us to view the keyword difficulty, so that we can determine if a keyword is suitable to go after based on the backlink profile of the websites on the first page. We also use Ubersuggest, as they also associate difficulty into searches.
Keyword Search Volume
The search volume of a keyword allows us to see how many searches that particular keyword is generating on a monthly basis. You wouldn’t want to target a keyword or keyword phrase that didn’t generate any search volume because that means users are not searching with that particular keyword or keyword phrase in mind which means there wouldn’t be any traffic coming to your website.
Just because a keyword has a low search volume doesn’t mean it is not valuable. As you will find out later when we discuss the different types of keywords, a low search volume keyword could mean that the users searching for that particular keyword are already in a prime state to take action because you narrowed down the audience you were targeting with a particular keyword or phrase.
Again, we use Ahrefs along with Ubersuggest to determine the search volume of particular keywords. Both tools are valuable because search volume numbers can be skewed or taken out of context so we use both to give us a good idea.
Cost Per Click (CPC)
Cost per click (CPC) is how much you pay for when users click on your website or landing page because of your advertising campaign with Google Ads. This is known as PPC (Pay Per Click), and un-like SEO, which is organic, Google PPC users pay for placements on search engine result pages, which generally rank above organic results as seen below.
By using CPC as a factor when you are considering a keyword, it is showing you how competitive and valuable a keyword is to others. The higher the CPC is for a keyword the more expensive and valuable it is deemed. For example, if a keyword had a CPC of 35.00, that means people who are targeting that keyword are paying 35.00 every time someone clicks on their advertisement on search engine results.
Imagine being able to get on the first page for that keyword for FREE. Which is why using CPC as a factor when choosing a keyword is vital!
Types of Keywords
In order to comprise a list of keywords you are going to have to know what to look for. Below we have some examples of different types of keywords you can utilize for your website.
These keywords are less than three words and have an extremely high search volume. An example of a short-tailed keyword would be the word “Creatine”. These keywords tend to be highly competitive and have a very broad intent. When a user is searching “Creatine” are they wondering about backlinks? Ranking factors? All of these questions come into place which is why these keywords are usually the first step when it comes to keyword research.
As you can see below, the search term “Creatine” is extremely difficult to rank for with a high search volume of 381k globally and 181k in the United States.
Long-tail keywords are longer than three words and the search volume can vary, but usually they have a medium to low search volume. What makes up for the lower search volume is that they are not as competitive as short-tail keywords which makes it easier to rank for these keywords.
An example of a long-tail keyword for “Creatine” would be “Creatine on off days” as you can see below the volume of searches is pretty high, yet it is not competitive which would be a way to implement this keyword into your content. Plus, long-tail keywords are generally used by searchers who already have an intent to take action which increases conversions.
Location Based Keywords
Location based keywords target a specific city, county, state, or even country. These keywords are critical for local and brick and mortar businesses as you would want to drive traffic from users who are the closest and most relevant to your business. These keywords generally have a low to medium search volume which shouldn’t matter as much since you cannot control where your business is located. The upside to these keywords is they have a high conversion rate since the users who are using these keywords probably weigh location as a heavy factor in their decision making and search intent.
An example of a location-based keyword is “Atlanta Ga Roofing”. As you can see this keyword is not that competitive and has a decent search volume.
Tools to Do Keyword Research
Here are some tools that we recommend using to conduct keyword research:
Type of Content for Your Website
Once you are equipped with the right keywords, you want to formulate your content around these keywords and their topics to best serve and help the users you are targeting.
Whether you have a local plumbing website or an e-commerce website, SEO content for your website can include:
- Service Pages – these pages will describe the type of services your business or you offer. You can also include testimonials, case studies, and demonstrations on these pages as they can increase conversions.
- Product Pages – these pages are the heart and soul of e-commerce websites as they describe the products on the website. Ensure to leave reviews about the products on these pages as that can increase conversions.
- Blog Posts – you can implement a blog on your website as a way to streamline content creation. Creating a blog and publishing quality and engaging posts are more likely to attract backlinks and traffic to your website than your service pages. Having a blog on your website is versatile as well, as you can include content such as videos, guides, and infographics in it.
- Video – you can also create video content on your website such as how-to tutorials, testimonials, and a brand story. In fact, it is predicted that more than 80 percent of all web traffic will be video content by 2020. Since there are more text-based pages across the web, it makes it easier to rank videos on the first page of Google for certain terms and phrases. To increase user-experience, make sure to add a text script to your videos in case some users don’t have audio capabilities.
- Guides – guides are a long-form style of content that explain how to do something. You are actually reading a guide if you are reading this. Creating guides are a good way to increase your traffic and acquire backlinks as they directly solve the problems most users have. You can even leverage guides, by implementing them as a free e-book on your website and making those who want to read it fill out a form, so that you can capture more leads.
- Infographic – infographics are a visual representation of information or data. Infographics make it easier for users to digest and consume information, which is why they rack up backlinks and traffic.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Creating Quality Content on Your Website
When creating content on your website you need to take into consideration many factors. Reason being, Google’s many algorithm updates ensure that only quality content that benefits users takes precedence over content that is of little help. If you want more information on Google’s Algorithm updates and history, visit here.
Below we will go over the do’s and don’ts of creating content on your website, so that you can produce content that will not get penalized by Google and increase user experience and traffic to your website.
Do: Create Long-form Content
When it comes to creating content on your website, especially on blog posts and guides, longer form content ranks higher on search engines. As you can see below, a study was done by Brian Dean and his team at Backlinko and the results showed that longer content ranked higher on Google.
The study at Backlinko showed that the average word count on Google’s first page is 1,890 words.
The main factor on why longer form content ranks higher on Google is because of user satisfaction. As we have discussed earlier, user satisfaction can be measured by dwell time and bounce rate.
Dwell time measures how long users spend on your website after they click on your website in SERPs and return back to the SERPs. This is an important factor because if users are quickly leaving your website, that is an indicator to Google that your information was not useful or relevant.
Bounce rate measures single page sessions and only take into account visitors who only view one page on your website before leaving. Just like dwell time, if a user leaves quickly after clicking on your webpage, then that gives an indicator to Google that your content was not relevant or useful.
Longer form content generally answers user’s questions and cover topics extensively which can increase dwell time and lower bounce rate.
In essence, ensure that when you are creating content especially if it is a blog post or guide, that it is helpful to users and at least 2,000 words if you want it to have a higher chance of ranking on Google.
Don’t: Create Thin Content
Thin content can be categorized as content that has little to no value to the user. Examples of thin content include pages with very little content, affiliate pages, and doorway pages. In fact, Google’s Panda Algorithm rewards high-quality websites and reduce the presence of low-quality website that have a high volume of thin content.
These thin pages such as affiliate and doorway pages provide no value for users. For example, if you simply copy and paste or condense product information for your affiliate website that mirrors your main supplier website to drive traffic and financial gain, you will be penalized. What is the difference of a user going to the main supplier website and your website if the information is the same or condensed?
An example of a doorway page could be having multiple location pages knowing that you only serve or work out of one location, and directing these multiple location pages to a singular page with your actual location and where you work out of. Users are getting no value from the multiple location pages you have on your website, when you should only have a singular location page on your website.
Also, make sure that every page you create has enough content to help users, if not try combining pages that are closely similar so that you don’t run into thin content issues. Ensure that every page on your website has a sufficient amount of content to provide answers and solutions for users.
Do: Curate Unique Content
When you are curating content for your website make sure that it is unique. What that means is you are presenting solutions and ideas in your brand’s voice and experience. Unique content is properly researched, links out to credible sources, and includes personal experiences, case studies, or even reviews. A good example of somebody who produces unique content is Neil Patel. Not only is his content well researched and links out to credible resources but he also includes his personal successes and failures which not only enhances his brand but also gives him more credibility.
When writing your content and analyzing the competition for what they have produced, some things you can do to make your content unique are taking an opposing side to a popular way of doing things and researching other facets that your competitors may have missed.
Always ask yourself, what would make users consider our content over our competitors?
Don’t: Duplicate Content
As we discussed earlier, do not simply duplicate or scrape content whether it’s your own content or another website’s content. The Panda Algorithm Update penalizes websites with thin content as well as duplicate content. Common examples of duplicate content I have seen with clients are with their location pages, affiliate websites, and e-commerce websites.
Your business may serve multiple locations and you may make a page for each of those locations. But if you simply duplicate or copy the same information and just change the city, you are asking for your website to get penalized by Google.
On affiliate websites, many people simply copy the product information from the main supplier website, onto their own website. This is counter-productive because the intent of an affiliate website is to drive traffic to it so that users can convert and buy the product you are promoting on your affiliate website. If you have the same content as the main supplier website, not only is your content going to compete with theirs but Google will give the priority to the website that created the content first.
The same goes for e-commerce websites. Make sure that you are not putting the same product description as the manufacturer. Also, category pages are a big one as well in which you might have to combine pages, 301 redirect, or no-index these pages so that you don’t run into duplicate content issues.
Do: Continuously Update Your Content
The world is ever evolving, so that means topics change and the services you may offer in your business may change as well. For example, if Google came out with another major algorithm update, I will have to update this guide to reflect those changes. Or if your business added another service or took away a service that you provided, you would want to reflect those updates on your website. If not, many users will be disappointed or misguided which could be bad for your online reputation management.
Updating your content could include combining two very similar blog posts making it a more authoritative and in-depth piece of content. Or updating the graphics on your blog posts and services pages or taking a more high definition photo on your “About Us” page.
Nathan Gotch at Gotch SEO, actually increased his traffic by simply updating his content. If you want to check out how he increased his traffic I suggest you read his SEO case study.
Don’t: Keyword Stuff
Back in the archaic days of Google, you could easily rank high on search engines by simply stuffing your content and homepage with the keyword you were trying to rank for. The Panda Algorithm update eliminated that practice with a swiftness.
Keyword stuffing is bad when creating your content because it is bad for user experience and it is a tactic that puts the search engine before the user, which ironically the search engines find manipulative.
There is no definitive answer on how many times you should include your keyword in your content. But as the famous saying goes, “less is more”.
If you make your content useful you should have no trouble in getting Google to recognize what your content is about and who it is targeted towards in search queries.
Do: Include Images and Videos in Your Content
Research verifies that 80% of users are more likely to read content that contains an image and when they are relevant, readers spend more time looking at the images than they do the text. That means it is highly beneficial if you add images to your content.
Research also states that businesses that use videos in their marketing have a 24% higher click through rate and 34% higher conversion rate than those who don’t.
By adding media such as infographics and videos, you will increase the dwell time and reduce the bounce rate you have on your website. The reason being, videos and images are more engaging to users and make it easier to comprehend information. By increasing your dwell time and reducing your bounce rate you are increasing your chance of ranking favorably on search engines.
If you take a look below, you will see that the more images you have on the pages of your website, directly correlates with higher rankings on search engines:
How you structure the URLs on your website play an important factor in making your website SEO-friendly.
The main reasons why structuring your URL is important for SEO is because:
- It can affect user experience
- Readability for crawlers
- Search engine rankings
You want to make your URL as easy as possible to read so that users know what to expect when clicking on your website or webpage and so that search engines can easily understand the content that is going to be on your page so that it can be indexed.
Your URL can be displayed on web browsers, search engine result pages (SERPs), and used as an anchor text on another website. You can see examples below.
Your URL is displayed on web browsers. While this has little SEO impact, it can be a benefit if it is simple to read and memorable just in case a user wants to return back to the page.
As you can see your URL is displayed on search engine result pages (SERPs) which can affect your click through rate.
When another website wants to reference your website, they might use your URL, so make sure that it is readable and user-friendly, or users may not click on it.
URL Best Practices
To ensure that you do not encounter any problems structuring your URLs we have listed some URL best practices that you can employ to improve the SEO of your website.
- Add Important Keywords
Adding your keywords in your URL make it easier for the users and search engine crawlers to know what the content of your webpage or website is about. Remember not to over-stuff your URL with keywords as this might ignite a Google Penalty.
- Keep Your URL Static
When creating your URL make sure that they are human readable and do not contain a lot of numbers, parameters, and symbols. When URLs are dynamic instead of static it makes it harder for search engines to index your URL, but it also makes it unreadable to users, therefore decreasing your click through rate.
An example of dynamic URL is:
An example of a static URL is:
- Use Hyphens to Separate Words
For user experience reasons, make sure that you are only using hyphens when separating words in your URL. By using a character such as an underscore, it will be masked by the underline of the link and look like a space. Missing underscores in your URLs could also lead to broken links, which can damage your technical SEO efforts.
- Use Lower Case Letters
The reason for using lower case letters in your URL is that not only are users not accustomed to hitting the shift button to capitalize a letter when typing a URL, but it can also create duplicate content issues.
For example, if you have two URLs spelled the exact same but one is lower case, and the other is upper case, it is still seen as a separate URL.
Here is an example of two URLs that are spelled the same but are viewed as separate URLs:
Heading tags are HTML tags used to create headings and subheading within your content. There are six heading tags H1-H6, and they are ordered by importance with H1 being the most important. Implementing headings tags into your content is vital in making your website SEO-friendly because it makes it easier for search engines to identify, crawl, and index your content as well as making it easier for users to navigate and consume the information.
Heading tags allow you to break up your content, as only 16 percent of users read an article word for word. Hell, I wouldn’t even expect you all to read this guide word for word which is why I implemented heading tags like the one above that allows you to skim to the area you deem the most important.
Think of heading tags like a book when implementing them onto your website:
- H1 tag is like the title of the book. This allows search engines to determine what content is going to be on your page and how relevant your content is thereafter to determine its search results. This also allows readers to know the main topic about your page.
- H2 tag is like the chapters in a book and will describe what each section on your webpage will cover. As we stated before, it allows users to skim to important areas and search engines determine the relevance of a webpage.
- H3-H6 tags are sub-heading within each section or “chapter” and just like a book, chapters can be split into multiple sub-topics.
Best Practices When Implementing Heading Tags into Your Content
We will go over some of the best practices when using heading tags so that you can have content that search engines can easily identify and users will come back to time and time again.
- Only Use One H1
By only using one H1 tag, you are prioritizing the main topic of a webpage. By using multiple H1 tags not only are you going to make it harder for Google to know what the overall message of your content is about, but you also don’t make it easier on the eye for users, as H1 tags are big and look like titles to users. Imagine seeing content with headers that all look like titles, you would be confused on what to prioritize.
- Use Keywords in Heading Tags
Make sure to include your keywords in your heading tags.
For example, if the main keyword you were targeting for a post was “Heading Tags” you can use an H1 tag such as “10 Ways to Optimize Your Heading Tags” as that H1 tag would serve as your title as well.
You can also use similar keywords to implement in your H2 tags such as “What is A Conversion-Friendly Website” or “Convert Users on Your Website”. You can find these similar keywords by simply going to Google and using the “People also ask”.
By using keywords in your headers, you will not only help users in navigating your content for the answers they are looking for but also make it easier for search engines to identify and index your content based on its relevance.
- Optimize Headers for Featured Snippets
Optimizing your headers can also land you on the featured snippets if you target your header tags with relevant long-tail keywords.
A featured snippet is the summary of an answer to a user’s question. It is extracted from your webpage and included in a search query in either the form of a paragraph, list, or table.
A result in being included in the featured snippets on search engine results means that you will not only have the top position, but you will also have a higher click through rate (CTR) which could enhance your SEO efforts and boost your website’s conversions.
For example, if I searched “best creatine pills” a featured snippet as you see below will show up.
The H1 tag shows “The 7 Best Creatine Supplements to Buy in 2018”. Not only did the H1 tag include best creatine but the H2 tags were also shown in the featured snippet as you can see as well.
A title tag is an HTML element that details the title of a web page. They are important because they help users and search engines understand and identify what your webpage is about. MOZ states that title tags are the second most important on page factor for SEO.
You should think of your title tag as the first impression you make on users as there are three key places where title tags play a pivotal role, which are:
- Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs)
- Web Browsers
- Social Networks
If you were to search “Wooden Table Legs” on Google, the first result would be from Osborne Wood as you can see below. Their title tag is “Wooden Table Legs – Osborne Wood Products”.
You want to optimize your title tag in an enticing manner as this can affect your click through rate (CTR). If users aren’t clicking on your search engine result, this is an indicator to Google to not prioritize your website on that search query, which will result in a ranking drop.
Your title tag will also show up on web browsers so make sure that your title tag is unique and easy to read because if a user has a lot of tabs open you want to make sure that they don’t lose track of your content.
Also, if your content is shared on social media, social networks such as Facebook will use your title tag to determine what to display, as seen below.
Title Tag Best Practices
Below we will go over the best practices to implement when creating your HTML title tags.
- Watch the Length
Ensure that your title tags are between 65-75 characters long as this is what most search engines will display before cutting off the title tag with ellipses as seen below.
If your title tag is cut-off users may not be compelled to click on your website on search engine result pages (SERPs) which could lower your click through rate (CTR) and rankings on Google.
- Put Important Keywords First
You want to put your most important keyword first. Research shows that users may only scan up to two words on a search engine result page (SERP) in addition to MOZ stating that keyword placement in your title tag is a ranking factor.
Another reason why you would want to put your most important keywords first are because if your title were to get cut off, you would want to show the most important portion of your title which should be your keyword.
- Do Not Keyword Stuff
As we have stated before, ensure that you are not stuffing your keywords in your title tag multiple times, not only is this not good for user experience, but it increases the likelihood of being penalized by Google and having your webpage removed from the results page.
- Give Every Webpage a Unique Title
If you give each page their own title you are telling the search engines that your content is unique and valuable. Do not simply make your title tags “Home” or “Product Page”, you are asking for a lower click through rate, as those titles don’t compel users to click on your webpage and may even signal to Google that you may duplicate content across your website.
Meta descriptions are HTML attributes, that provide a short and concise description of a webpage. They appear underneath the title tag and URL on a SERP as seen below.
Even though Google stated that your meta description does not directly impact your search engine result rankings, they can affect a web page’s click through rate (CTR), which is a ranking factor on Google. That is why you want to be descriptive and write compelling copy in your meta-description so that you entice users to click on your webpage on search engine result pages (SERPs).
Here are some key things to consider when devising meta-descriptions:
- Ensure that your meta-description is between 50-300 characters or it will get cut-off on search engine result pages (SERPs) which could lower your click through rate (CTR)
- Avoid duplicate meta-descriptions on your webpage as it may incur a penalty if done at scale. Also, do not keyword stuff your meta-description, as it can decrease click through rate (CTR) and user experience.
- You can include a call to action in your meta description, to entice users to click on your website. For example, if you were a roofing company you may put “free estimates” in your meta description.
- Include your keyword in your meta-description, even though it is not a ranking factor it adds more relevance to the users and search engines as well as being highlighted if it is contained in a user’s search query.
If you decide not to provide a meta description for your webpage, Google will automatically pull text from that webpage’s content that they deem relevant to that user’s search query. Sometimes it’s fine to not put a meta-description, in these cases, if you’re targeting multiple keywords for a webpage, it might be better to allow Google to pull text from within your webpage, to devise a meta description. Google always displays the keyword and the surrounding content for what that user searched for.
Structured Data (Schema Mark-Up)
Structured data or “schema” is microdata, that you add to your HTLML to improve the way search engines crawl, read, and represent your pages on SERPs.
Just like we discussed with heading tags, imagine looking up “best vegan recipes”. The first result you are going to see is a “rich result” which is the result of that website implementing structured data onto its website as you see below.
There are various forms of structured data and it’s always in code or HTML format. There can be structured data for books, movies, and products to name a few. By adding structured data, you are adding more details to your snippet on search results.
There is a caveat though, just because you add structured data onto your website, it does not mean that Google will use it and turn your content or webpage into a “rich result”.
There are different types of schema or structured data that you can add to your website which can be found at Schema.org.
Schema.org is the result of a collaborative effort between all search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo to develop a vocabulary or “shared language” which is structured data, to be able to gain a better understanding of websites.
Some of the structured data you will find on Schema.org includes:
- Name, address, phone number (NAP)
By marking up data such as your name, listings, reviews, and products on your website, Google and other search engines don’t have to guess what that information is, as you are clearly conveying what it is, by speaking their language, which is structured data.
Why is Structured Data Important for SEO on Websites?
While structured data doesn’t have a direct impact on search engine rankings, it makes it easier for search engines to read and interpret your website and it can also impact click through rate (CTR) which I will say again… does have a direct impact on search engine rankings.
For example, if you were to search “Plumbing Atlanta GA” on Google you would see the first organic result besides Yelp is “Mr. Plumber Atlanta”. As you can see below, they implemented review structured data onto their website. The result after “Mr. Plumber Atlanta” is “Superior Plumbing”.
Which webpage am I more inclined to click on if I’m a user? The website that has over 400 five-star reviews or the website that doesn’t have any? I’ll probably click on the website “Mr. Plumber Atlanta” that has their reviews displayed on the search engine results page (SERP) because of their social proof. Hence, why they are probably ranking higher than “Superior Plumbing” because users are probably clicking on “Mr. Plumber Atlanta” more than “Superior Plumbing”.
Adding structured data to your website can be the make or break factor in moving up positions on Google, especially if you are in a competitive niche.
Make Your Website More Authoritative on Google With Off-Page SEO
Off-page SEO is considered the actions you take outside of your website to grow your authority. This includes providing exceptional services, developing relationships, and building your overall online reputation. Now you’re probably wondering how does this tie into your website? Well think of off-page SEO as not only improving search engine’s perception about your website but user’s as well. MOZ states that off-page SEO accounts for more than 50% of ranking factors on Google.
To grow the authority of your website you need to get links from other websites especially if their authoritative, reputable, and trustworthy like Forbes. But you don’t need to actually get a backlink from Forbes, I don’t even have one from them…. YET. You also need more brand mentions and getting your content shared which can be mainly done through social media outlets such as Facebook and YouTube.
We will discuss how you can acquire more backlinks and how to utilize your social media in order to build the authority of your website.
Grow Your Website’s Authority With Backlinks
Backlinks or “inbound links” are created when one website links to another. So, if someone were to refer a webpage on your website from their website, that would be considered a backlink.
The reason why backlinks are so important to SEO is because it is a “vote of confidence” and tells the search engines that your site is worth visiting. The more backlinks you acquire the more authority you build for your website. Your backlink profile and the authority of your website is one of the most important ranking factors on Google.
There are two types of backlinks:
As we discussed earlier, a backlink is a “vote of confidence” from another website and carries over a small SEO boost of authority for your website.
Most of the backlinks you acquire will be “do-follow” which is when a link carries over authority from the other website which most SEO experts call “link juice”. This link juice flows through one website to another and if you are internal linking your website correctly, it will flow through your entire website as well in the form of a hyperlink.
On the other hand, a backlink that doesn’t carry over that “link juice” is considered a no-follow link as search engines don’t take into consideration no-follow links when determining the authority of a website. Naturally, as your website progresses, you will attract no-follow links. It is not a bad thing because you want your backlink profile to be diverse, so that it is not penalized by algorithm updates such as the Penguin update.
What is a Quality Backlink?
There are several factors you should keep in mind when it comes to the quality of a backlink some of these being:
- Relevance – You want to ensure that you are receiving backlinks from relevant websites. Since we are an SEO Agency, we will probably acquire backlinks from digital marketing websites as those are the most relevant. It would be pointless for us to get a backlink from a kitten website, as this might confuse the search engines.
- Authority – The stronger and more authoritative a website is, the more impact it will have on your rankings.
- Traffic – If you get a backlink from a website that has decent traffic flow, this traffic can funnel to your website as well. Make sure you look for backlink opportunities with websites that get traffic.
How to Acquire Backlinks
Building backlinks can be a very tedious and taxing process. This is why SEO companies like us are in business. Some of the ways you can build backlinks to your website are:
Many SEO experts believe guest posting is dead, and in my opinion it is not. Guest posting is when you post an article you have written on another website. Most of the time this includes at least one link back to your website, whether in the author box or within the content. Not only does this allow you to receive a backlink, but if that website that you guest posted on receives a substantial amount of traffic, you may get referral traffic from that guest post.
Creating Great Content
If you haven’t already heard it enough, content is still king. If you create great content, others will feel more confident and compelled to link to it. This especially rings true if your content starts to rank on the first page of Google. If users are constantly using your content as a resource, they may link to your content, therefore starting a snowball effect because the more backlinks you acquire, the more authoritative your website will be, which will increase your rankings on search engines. All without having to outreach to influencers, webmasters, and bloggers.
Promote Your Content
Just because you create great content on your website, you have to ensure that others will take notice. This means that you may have to reach out and develop relationships with bloggers and journalists. The reason being, you might ask for an exchange of links or you can be featured on their website in the form of a guest post.
Also, you can run ads on other platforms such as Facebook, that include your content if it is helpful to others, so that you can drive traffic to your website and content which can result in a backlink.
Spy on Your Competitor’s Backlinks
You can use tools such as Ahrefs to spy on your competitors backlinks and see what domains are referring to them as you can see below:
This is important because you can see how your competitors are building backlinks and implement those same link building strategies for your own use. For example, if your competitors have backlinks from directories and listings that you are not on, you can go ahead and get your website listed on those directories. Or, if your competitor got featured on another website or guest posted on that website, you may be able to garner that same opportunity as well.
Acquiring backlinks is one of the most important factors in developing an authoritative and SEO-friendly website.
Drive Traffic to Your Website With Social Media
Because social media is not a direct ranking factor, many people including SEO experts forget to utilize it in making their website SEO-friendly. Many companies have forged their reputation and brand through social media such as Fashionova.
If you can combine your social media and SEO efforts, you will make a profound impact on building your online presence.
How Social Media can Impact the SEO Efforts on Your Website
Below are some ways that social media can impact your SEO:
Just like we stated earlier on ways to acquire backlinks, by sharing your content across social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram you are exposing your content to more users.
For example, if your content was shared several times on Facebook because it was extremely helpful to users, that piece of content has more opportunity to earn backlinks because it was shared to hundreds of other individuals on social media.
Facebook has nearly 2 billion users on it every day and with that many users on a social platform you can build an audience through social media to funnel to your website. It would be very counter-productive to not tap into this market.
For example, a friend of mine Ruan Marinho started a YouTube channel that grew to over 40,000 subscribers and will probably be more by the time you read this post. He grew his channel by providing insightful SEO information to users and now has created an SEO course along with attracting hundreds of users to his website everyday through YouTube. By attracting these users to his website through YouTube, search engines will prioritize and rank his website higher because his high referral traffic from YouTube is an indicator that his website is providing value to users.
Leverage your audience if you have a massive following on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, or Twitter to send referral traffic from these platforms to your website.
If you have a large audience or influence on social media, chances are users are searching for your brand name plus a keyword. When users are searching for your brand name plus a keyword it can not only help you rank for other keywords, but it can also signal to Google that your overall brand may have authority.
For example, we could use Ruan as an example again because since he has built his authority on YouTube, users also search for his full name on Google as seen by the multiple results on Google and its suggestions below:
Because his channel involves providing insightful SEO guidance, Google is suggesting “Ruan Marinho SEO” because his name is linked with SEO. So when you select that suggestion, his agency website Develomark.com is at the top of that search query.
Because of the traffic he drives from YouTube onto Google, when users are searching for his exact name on Google, they will still come to his agency website without it even being typed word for word!
Now that he has a growing and established brand, his name may be linked to other SEO keywords as well as his agency Develomark being exposed to these keywords without even being mentioned because of the strength of his brand that he built on social media platforms such as YouTube.
Build Your SEO Friendly Website Today
I know this was probably one of the longest guides you have read (or skimmed) on Google. Hopefully, you were provided with the proper knowledge in order to optimize your technical, on-page, and off-page SEO to make your website as SEO-friendly as possible.
It is important to have an SEO-friendly website so that consumers and users will be able to find you when they make a simple Google search. No matter how awesome your business is, you still need an online presence and for it to be visible.
Implementing SEO techniques on your website can be a tall and tedious task. If you do feel like it’s too much we can help you out here at Better Bistro Media. We are a premiere Georgia SEO Agency that specializes in growing business’s organic presence on Google such as roofers, plumbers, and restaurants.