Companies ask me all the time, if I can optimize their websites for the search engines.
Doing that, I lately figured out, that it’s almost always the same kind of measures that are needed. Therefore, I will present you the most common optimization possibilities in the following post.
1. No clear keyword focus
An aspect, that always surprises me, is, that the companies haven’t developed a clear keyword strategy. Instead, they create landing pages without considering if the included content is being searched for and – if the people search for it – how often the search requests are executed per month. Obviously there are subpages like the FAQ & contact site, which are created for the user experience and not primarily for the search engines. At the latest when the content for the companies’ blog has to be conceptualized or when the category sites have to be constructed, a clear keyword strategy is needed. In this process, the keyword analysis should include the monthly search volume, the competition and the search intention. Regarding the product categories, the focus is on transaction oriented keywords (e.g. „iPhone 7 Vodafone contract“), whereas blog posts work well for answering information-oriented search requests (e.g. „How can you terminate your Vodafone contract?“). Hence, it makes sense to focus on one specific topic when creating the new subsites, so that you can make the respective site rank.
2. Long loading time
Another aspect, that is neglected very often – even though I can’t understand why -, is the website’s loading time. Even though every website operator is aware of the relevance of short loading times, a website’s loading time seems to be forgotten in most cases. That’s why I repeatedly optimize websites with loading times of >5 seconds and page sizes of >6 MB. In some cases, the page size even amounts to >20 MB. Especially at the present time, where mobile traffic amounts to more than 50 %, long loading times aren’t something comprehensible when it comes to pure online players. In most cases it’s sufficient, when the existing images are compressed and can be loaded downstream. Here you can find out, how I optimized my website’s loading time to under one second.
3. Missing SSL certificate
SSL certificates serve to encode the communication of data, that is exchanged between terminal and server. In the year 2014 Google announced, that websites with SSL have an advantage over websites without an SSL certificate regarding the ranking. An SSL certificate doesn’t only have a positive effect on the Google ranking, but is also an important trust symbol for clients & users. Especially when it comes to creating a new website, an SSL certificate should be implemented from the start.
4. 404 errors
A 404 error is a status code, that communicates, that the requested page or file (image, PDF, etc.) isn’t accessible. There are many reasons, why 404 errors occur. Online shops often offer special deals that are offered for a limited amount of time. After the offer has expired, the page will usually also be removed, which leads to a 404 error. In most cases 404 errors occur, when linkings aren’t adjusted after an URL design. Not only Google doesn’t like 404 errors, but also the website’s visitors. That’s why you should fix all 404 errors.
5. Title tag & Meta description aren’t optimized
Before a visitor lands on the website via the organic search results, the title tags and the meta description are displayed. The meta description and the title tag serve to inform the searcher about the respective website’s content and to convince him to click on that specific search result. Even though everyone searches in the internet and the snippets in the search results are known to everyone, a fair amount of web masters misses out on the possibility of designing their meta descriptions and title tags in a decent and informative way. Optimized title tags and meta descriptions are hygiene factors, which have to be met before thinking about other opportunities of improvement.
6. Missing ALT attributes for images
Nowadays, purely text-based websites are non-existent, since today’s websites contain images, videos and other types of content. That content obviously has to be taken into account while doing an SEO. Especially in online shops, a disproportionately high utilization of images can be observed. In order to allow search engines to perceive the content of images, it makes sense to use ALT attributes. ALT attributes give website operators the possibility to explain the content of their images to the search engines. Many website operators aren’t aware of this, therefore they don’t fill in the ALT attributes and miss out on a large amount of scope for optimizations.
The 6 aspects, that I addressed, are some of my personal observations. When website operators follow these instructions and make use of the optimization possibilities, they’re already better positioned than most of their competitors – even without a professional SEO expert.