What Makes a Website SEO-Friendly?
Whether you’re a business just starting out or an industry veteran, the ever-changing landscape of digital marketing can make it tricky to keep up with maintaining an SEO-friendly website. If you’ve got a successful business and have managed to grow using old school marketing techniques such as trade fairs, referrals and word of mouth, working on your website might not fall very high on your priorities list.
However, there will likely come a time when having an up to date website will be necessary. Therefore, you should dedicate some resource to adapting your website so that it is SEO-friendly, who knows, you might even see more customers come through the door!
Regardless of where you are on your business journey, these tips will help you to create an SEO-friendly website without having to head back to computer class.
The Importance of XML Sitemaps
Sitemaps are vital in the life of a website. Essentially, they act as a list of URLs within your domain that Google can use to crawl through the website. When Google indexes a site, this allows it to be shown within the Google SERPs (search engine results pages) for when people type in your brand name or one of your ranking keywords.
If you don’t already have a sitemap on your website, there are a couple of tools that you can use to create one. The first is Screaming Frog as they have a dedicated XML sitemap generator which can be downloaded and used for free for up to 500 URLs, or they have a paid tool for larger websites.
Secondly, you can use the Yoast plug-in, which only works for WordPress websites. This is a super quick and easy way to access your website’s sitemap, which can then be submitted to Webmaster Tools. If you’re using a platform like Shopify, you will probably already have a sitemap generated for you by the system.
Naming Your URLs
This is one of those jobs where a little bit of work will go a long way and is therefore worth considering when updating your website. The URL, otherwise known as the web address (i.e. www.wesellcheapbooks.co.uk/fiction/jane-austen), plays a minor role in the ranking of a website. Additionally, it can improve user experience so should not be discounted from any work being carried out.
Naming a URL typically occurs when a new page on your website has been created, and you should always strive to:
Keep It Short
Keeping your URL name short not only makes it easier to read for people when it’s displayed in search engines, but also more memorable. Additionally, shorter URLs are better understood by search engines, providing the following two rules are also followed.
Keep It Relevant
Your page’s URL should always relate to the topic or purpose of the page. This ensures that anyone seeing your website in their search results will know immediately what the page is about. This also helps search engines to know what your page is about and to rank it accordingly for relevant search terms.
Keep it Readable
We’ve all seen the URLs with numbers, letters and symbols arranged in a jumbled mess; they aren’t pretty! Keeping it readable makes it much easier for your site visitors to keep track of where they are on your site. Additionally, if you’re advertising through other mediums such as newspaper or radio, people are much more likely to remember ‘www.wesellcheapbooks.co.uk/fiction’ than they are to remember ‘www.wesellcheapbooks.co.uk/f6&!d$dsdgds’.
Having Great, User-Focussed Content
In the world of SEO, content is highly essential. Not only can it contribute to your rankings but also attract more website traffic through organic and other sources. Content can take many different forms; it could be a written article, like this one, an image, a video like this (link to Ducard video), an infographic, a quiz or anything else that people on your website will consume. Typically, each page will have multiple different styles of content, such as a written blog interspersed with images.
Purpose of Content
Content on your website serves multiple purposes and is vital to get right. The primary function of content, such as a blog article is to answer your readers’ questions. If someone is typing in a search in Google, you want your piece to rank as highly as possible for that term.
There are numerous ranking factors that Google uses for determining which order to present results on its search pages. These include average time on page, relevance, page speed along with the overall strength and authority of the domain. Make sure to check out our blog for loads more info on creating content for your readers!
Mobile optimisation is a key one, as many people are now accessing websites on their phones and tablets, rather than from laptops and desktops. Granted, many work-focused searches (such as people who use computers for their day jobs) are still carried out on devices with larger screens. However, many ‘leisure’ searches are completed on phones and tablets due to their ease and relative convenience.
Mobile optimisation is primarily the designing of a mobile-friendly version of the website that is easily navigated using a mobile device, rather than having to use the equivalent desktop version. This will likely mean a different menu layout, scaling images to fit a smaller screen and adjusting the size of the text to suit each device. On mobile optimised sites, you generally won’t have to scroll sideways to finish viewing a piece of content, something that is common with unoptimised web pages.
Mobile optimisation serves two purposes for your website:
Google recognises sites that are mobile optimised and typically ranks those higher above sites that are not. Depending on the platform that you’ve built your website on, there may be a mobile-friendly version already available without you having to lift a finger. Ecommerce platforms such as Shopify typically incorporate this as standard. However, for WordPress or Magento websites, you may have to do a bit of manual work, such as using a plug-in or changing your theme.
For a user, having to navigate the desktop version of a website on their phone is really not much fun. There’s a lot of side-scrolling, pinching and zooming to focus on the right section and menus generally don’t work the same as they would on a laptop. If your website is attracting a lot of mobile traffic, it’s vital that it can be read and navigated on a mobile or tablet, as users may just give up or go to a different site if yours isn’t playing ball. This, in turn, will affect bounce rate and average time on page, two things Google looks at when ranking websites.
These are just some of the ways that you can start making your website SEO-friendly within just a matter of hours. A little bit of work really can go a long way, but if you would rather hand it over to a professional team, why not get in touch with us here at Ducard?
We specialise in helping people get found on Google. Whether this is running a social media or writing authoritative content for your website, our in-house team will be happy to help.