Search engine optimisation, or SEO in short has much relevance with the technical aspects with your website. Sure, content still plays an important role to your brand’s ranking on search engines but implementing good technical structure can help give it a boost too!
The below will walk you through the technical concepts of SEO that you should know about.
In the era of web and data security, SSL certificates have become very common on transactional or eCommerce websites – but that does not mean it does not concern you. Investing in a SSL certificate can indicate to search engines that your website considers data security and therefore, more credible compared to other websites.
Key takeaway: There are a ton of inexpensive SSL Certificates that you can invest in. Go for the basic ones as those are enough if you are not working with sensitive customer data. It’s the easiest and the least you can do for your website.
Having a clear and straight forward website structure helps search engines index your website more effectively. Do not have hidden pages or complex links especially between your main pages. If it is confusing to search engines, it can indicate that your website isn’t friendly to readers. Creating an XML sitemap can help too!
Key takeaway: Keep your website’s structure as straight forward as possible. Minimize the need of hidden pages (why do you even need them?) and make sure they are well linked and accessible across the website.
While this does not directly affect searchability on search engines, having good user interface contributes to good user experience and in return, potentially reducing bounce rates which is an added bonus to contextual relevance on SEO.
Key takeaway: Having good user interface is never a bad thing. This includes a clear navigation scheme, related links, social sharing icons and even placing of textual content from page to page.
This is the dreaded error code when a page cannot be displayed or found with a given URL. In short, your website should not consist of broken links. Not only it annoys human readers, but search engines will consider your website as incomplete, therefore affecting your website’s ranking on search engines.
Key takeaway: Sometimes, it is inevitable for a website to have 404 pages (especially if you have huge amount of content over time). The least you can do is to ensure that your 404 pages are not left as ‘default’. It helps to have a customised 404 page that allows users to navigate to other content instead of hitting the ‘back’ button on the browser.
Mobile compatibility has been a rising consideration by search engines. Websites that caters to mobile generally fares better compared to one that is unreadable on mobile. It’s good practice to ensure key content and navigation is easily readable on both desktop and mobile devices.
Key takeaway: Your website has to be at least mobile responsive to pass this requirement. If you are unsure, simply visit your website via your mobile and see if the content fits well on screen with no side scrolling required.
This is an important factor as slow page load time can cause search engine crawlers to ‘give up’. Elements that can cause slower loading times include image size, animations,
Key takeaway: Never assume that your website is okay even if it loads quick on your PC. There are a number of free tools that provides a more realistic analysis on page load time, including a breakdown of the areas causing it to be slow.
One of the biggest difference in modern day SEO as compared to what it was before is how intelligent search engines have become. What was deemed as ‘SEO friendly’ back then was heavily influenced by content relevance, such as optimising keywords and meta data as described here on content relevance.
It is important to note that search engines are always finding ways to further optimise its results to searchers so you should have a balanced approach instead of focusing on beating the search algorithms. Today, search engines are known to be able to read contextual information beyond the content provided as a gauge of your brand’s credibility through your website.
It is important to know that modern search engines now display results based on the searcher’s location. This means you need to take advantage of that (you can do so on local.google.com for Google Search) and help search engines to recognise where are you based at, especially if your target audience is local.
Key takeaway: In most situations, being well positioned on local search results also yields pretty good ranking on international results; which is a plus to your brand.
It is for the longest time brands like you have been trying to lower the bounce rate on your website, and here’s another reason for you to do so – especially if you haven’t been doing anything about it. Search engines now track if searchers are bouncing off your website and returning to the search results. If that happens, Google will learn that your website probably did not address the search term provided and you drop in relevance.
Key takeaway: Make sure your keywords matches what you have to offer, and offer it good! Always aim to satisfy the readers when they discover your content and you will do fine.
Social is not a new comer to search engines. In fact, Google Plus was created to help bridge search and social though it didn’t really pick up over the years. However, having your content shared (and linked) back to you on social media platforms do give you added points on SEO as it builds added credibility to your website.
Key takeaway: Make it easy for readers to share your content. Also, be sure to have your images and content excerpts ready so it shows up nice and pretty on social media channels to encourage more shares.
Also widely known as back links, i.e. websites that are linking back to yours. Imagine it as testimonials or recommendations other websites are giving you. The more credible links you receive, search engines will perceive your website as one that is equally credible and therefore deserves attention on search results.
Key takeaway: Not all links coming in are good – especially if they are from spammy sources. Your goal is to create meaningful links back to your website from reputable websites.
Having a similar concept as external or back links, internal links are links between the web pages within your website. Being able to deep link your content, shows search engines that your website remains within context and that you have some authority within the keyword’s domain.
Key takeaway: Over the years, both external and internal links have declined in significance to SEO. However, it is still good practice to have them in place as it is also beneficial to your readers in navigating around related content.
Today’s search engine requirements are unlike before and much has changed just within the span of three years. Since then, we have seen brands falling out of search results as they were unable to keep up with search engine’s ever changing search algorithms.
What is the problem with changing search algorithms?
A change in search algorithm can mean better search (and optimised) results for consumers but it also means havoc for your brand, especially if you capitalised heavily on specific SEO requirements.
Should I capitalise on specific SEO requirements?
It is almost never a good idea to focus on specific requirements as these requirements change from time to time as part of a search optimisation process by search engines. A good example is keyword spamming – a very popular way of getting to the top back then which is heavily penalised today.
There are three (3) main areas to look out for when it comes to search engine optimisation today: content relevance, context relevance and technical relevance. These areas will be covered in detail over three blog posts that will be published over a couple of days.
Content relevance are one of the key areas related to the content of your website as most search engines do take content very seriously. For example, duplicated content are frown upon while unique and original content thrives on search engines.The below are some areas related to content relevance for your brand when it comes to search engine optimisation.
Text has always been a major part of SEO since its early days and remains true today. It is important for your written article content to contain the desired keywords for search engines to pick it up at ease but you do not want to spam them across the screen!
Images (and even videos) are also a growing influence on SEO. With the help of image and video search on popular search engines such as Google, you would definitely want your photos to show up in the results and you can do that by optimising the title tag and file name of your image.
Key takeaway: Not all text are made equal in SEO. Header text (or <h1>, if you’re familiar with basic HTML) are more significant than say, a <h2> or paragraph text. As such, you want to place your keywords wisely for maximum results. Text in images don’t count either.
This is an interesting one. Modern search engines have become more intelligent where it does not read content word for word. It has evolved to also understand words that are relevant to keywords. For example, an article with the keyword ‘fishing’ will have relevance to ‘sea’, ‘boat’ or ‘fish'; and you can use them without fearing that you will lose out on SEO relevancy.
Key takeaway: This is a great way to score on SEO without having to spam your keywords throughout an article. There are various keyword analysis tools out there that you can use to find out what are the relevant words to your keywords.
There are many debates on this one but from experience, lengthier articles do better as they are presumed to have more context, depth and relevance. It is said through research that the ‘optimum’ length for search engines are between 1,000 to 1,200 words.
Key takeaway: Let’s face it, 1,200 words is too much to take in for human readers. Have a mix of content length between articles to have that balance for your readers. Shorter and snappier articles also makes it good for social sharing which also helps in search engine optimisation (we’ll cover that later!).
Without the technical jargons, meta data are simply descriptions of your website that includes a title, short description and keywords that helps search engines in understanding your website’s content at a glance. These meta data are typically written in basic HTML tags such as <title>, <meta name>, <meta property>, <link rel> and more!
Key takeaway: While the significance of meta data is on a decline, it is still a relevant point to take note of as it ultimately used to describe your website whether as a snippet on search engine results or on an embedded link unto social media platforms.
Your website’s domain name, or URL, helps your consumers, readers or search engines identify you on the web. It also means that instead of having a domain name like www.yourbrand.com, one like www.searchterm.com can potentially perform better on search results. This can be particularly helpful if your brand is lesser known.
Key takeaway: It’s not compulsory to have a domain name with your keywords but it does help you get there especially when combined with all other factors discussed.
Voice search is slowly becoming a norm especially with the introduction of smart watches and other portable computing devices – especially among mobile consumers. Having your content easily readable by voice readers will get you a better shot in appearing on voice search results.
Key takeaway: Not all brands will benefit from voice search today but if you are one that thrives on mobile, having your content in conversational languages will definitely help!