Raise your hand if you have been tasked with making technical recommendations for your client’s website. As a Phoenix SEO expert, you know that the first step will start with SEO technical audit. Only after careful identification and analysis will you be able to determine how to make the website more visible in search results.
Let’s take a look at the fundamental technical features of SEO in 2017:
Title Tags and Meta Descriptions, generally referenced as Meta Data, tells the search engines and users what the page is about. Successful optimization of this data ensures that users will find exactly what they’re looking for, thus increasing the click-through rates. Here are some key points you should keep in mind while optimizing it:
Title Tags: Always begin the title tags with relevant keywords. If your goal is to create brand awareness, use the name of the brand at the end. Make sure it doesn’t go beyond 50-60 characters or 512 pixels, because search engines might cut the additional characters.
Meta Descriptions: This should always include one or two focus keywords – the same keywords you used in Title tag, Header Tags, and page URL. Meta description should not exceed 150-160 characters. Also, focus on keeping it unique, compelling and precise.
Crawling and Indexing
Google depends on its search bots to determine which content is good and which is not. The Google search bots go through (crawl) the pages on a site and store the copies of these pages in their indices. It is essential that the pages allow the search bots to crawl, otherwise the content will not be indexed by Google, and thus, will not be displayed in the search results. Here’s how to make sure the bots can crawl your web pages;
XML Sitemap: Consider it a menu of web pages high in value that you want the search engines to know about. This acts as a map for a thorough crawling and indexing process by the search bots. It’s also the quickest way to let Google know about the original and fresh content you publish on your website.
HTML Sitemap: While XML is for the search engines, HTML Sitemap is for the users. These sitemaps help improve the user experience by allowing the users to locate the content they are looking for.
Robots.txt: Not all web pages of your website are meant to be crawled and indexed – you might want to keep some pages private. This file is located in the root directory of your website and it tells the search bots which pages should be indexed. Use the directive ‘disallow’ when you don’t want some pages to be found by the users. Also, this file should always direct the Google search bots toward your XML Sitemap.
The URL of a page helps the visitors to locate it and navigate easily. It’s imperative that the URLs are as concise as possible and contain the focus keywords that describe that page the best. Use hyphens to separate the words, and never use unnecessary punctuation and prepositions (like – or, of, a, etc, and).
Google has always tried to make the user experience as secure as possible. With its HTTPS Everywhere campaign in 2014, Google made it clear that websites will be better off with an extra layer of security -SSL (Secure Sockets Layer). If your website is HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol), you might want to change the encryption to HTTPS (Secure Hypertext Transfer Protocol). Because, Google search bots have started to prioritize secured web pages over unsecured ones.