On-site optimisation - Our 44 Step SEO Process
In a previous article we talked about identifying your ‘semantic core’ and how to carry out important keyword research to make sure that the words on your website not only sell your business, but also help bring customers to it.
Getting the content right is only part of the Search Engine Optimisation process.
What you don’t want is fantastic content and highly researched keywords let down by a technically or structurally bad website that can’t be found for other reasons.
So, in this article, we’ll take a really deep dive into on-site optimisation – please bear with us, it’s a bit techy. If it all seems too baffling, don’t worry, just give us a call and we can provide as much or as little support with the process as you like.
There are many elements you need to get right in order to make sure your website is fully optimised and performing well for you. We look at several of them below. Get these right and you’ll be well on your way to successful SEO.
Web analytics tool
A web analytics tool, such as Google Analytics, is vital for any website as they monitor how much traffic you’re getting and how many people are interacting. It’s impossible to create a digital or marketing strategy and set goals without understanding your starting point and monitoring performance as you go along.
Google Analytics is free and has everything you need to monitor your website’s performance and the effectiveness of your SEO strategy. These core insights will help you set goals, such as number of transactions or new registrations, and measure return on any investment.
We can decipher the core insights and advise you on what they mean, as well as any improvements needed. In fact, we install Google Analytics on all websites we design and build as standard.
We even link it to Google Search Console…..
Google Search Console
This is another free, but essential tool from Google. It tracks all kinds of technical data that impacts your SEO, including revealing any errors on your website which are preventing search engines from doing their job in bringing traffic to your website.
We set up Google Search Console as part of any new website or SEO campaign; you can decide whether to manage and access the count yourself, or if you would like us to manage it for you.
Linking this to Google Analytics means we can pull all the technical and keyword data into our specialist tools.
If you’d like to set up a Google Search Console account yourself, this step-by-step guide should help: Google Webmaster Guidelines.
Google Maps - local SEO
This is how you go about ensuring your business features when people type in things like ‘hairdressers near me’, ‘restaurants in Birmingham’ into Google.
Part of that process involves setting up a Google My Business page. This is something we will do for you as part of our fully local SEO search service – vital if you have a locality-based business.
Did you know the actual structure of your website is also a key part of your SEO? Obviously you want visitors to your website to be able to travel through it quickly and easily for their own user experience, but it also assists the search engine in crawling your pages for the information it has been asked to look for.
This means your sections, subsections, pages and the search box need to be organised logically.
Simple, easy to navigate websites encourage people to stay longer, which is another key element of SEO.
Three crucial steps to follow for this process are:
· Create URLs that relate to the hierarchy of the website’s sections and pages (ie.food.net/vegetables/tomatoes/cherry-tomatoes)
· Make it easy to navigate through – up to three clicks to reach any page
· Develop a simple system of internal links (more on internal links later)
Migrating to HTTPS
This is about making sure your website is a safe and trusted place for web browsers to visit and interact with your business online, whether by registering their details or making payments etc.
It refers to that little padlock you see on the top right in the browser address bar – also known as Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure. It shows your website is safe and secure and is also an influential ranking signal. It’s something Google will enforce in the future.
We can help you with this as part of our web hosting solutions.
Creating a robots.txt file
This is a text file that tells search engine robots which pages on your website should and shouldn’t be crawled. For example, you may have pages containing personal profiles, internal database information or other sensitive information.
A robots.txt file is a very small file which we will include in any new website or SEO campaign if you don’t already have one.
Creating an XML sitemap
This is another critical element of your SEO strategy which helps search engine robots find and index the pages of your website faster.
This document lists all of the URLs you want to be indexed and if you submit it to Google Webmaster Tools or Bing Webmaster Tools, the Google Search Console we spoke about earlier will regularly check the sitemap and update their index with anything new on your website.
As search engines like updated websites, this is a great way of letting them know to send people to you for new and fresh content. It also helps with search engine navigation and let’s you index new URLs within a couple of days, rather than several months.
Speaking of URLs, you need to make sure that your URLs are SEO-friendly. A URL – uniform resource locator – is the address for a specific page of your website. An optimised URL means visitors to your website and search engine robots know what’s on that page straight away – which is also good for ranking.
SEO friendly URLs use primary keywords/head terms (we discussed this in our article on keyword research), is short, uses a minimum number of folders and avoids unsafe characters.
Depending on your Content Management System, some won’t allow this customisation and it will need setting up in the .htaccess. We can support with this if you need help.
Linking between pages within your website is another SEO tool at your disposal that’s good for user experience, and good for search authority. A few easy ways we can establish on-site SEO in this way include:
· Making sure there are no dead-end pages within your site – that is a page that doesn’t have any other internal links
· Placing links to other content on your website in blogs and articles (aim for no more than 2-3 backlinks)
· Where appropriate adding a sidebar to blog pages on your website containing links to recent articles and other site materials
Outbound links: You may also have links to other external webpages, but if you have a lot of these, and they are deemed irrelevant, search engines might regard this as spam, which yes, you’ve guessed it, could be detrimental to your rankings.
Any links should be minimal and only to trusted, expert websites.
Checking HTTP status codes
If your website is performing badly, it could be something as simple as your HTTP status codes. This is the server’s response to a browser request. If your website contains a lot of pages with the wrong codes, its rankings may be lowered by search engines. We can monitor and regularly review this for you.
Broken links: This process will also highlight any broken links (404 errors) which can also have a negative impact on your search engine rankings as these could result in your website being marked as low quality.
Page load speed
We’ll finish with one of the most influential Google ranking factors, which relates to the amount of time it takes for content to load on a page. Slow loading websites need to be addressed immediately. This is something we can check and if needed, improve, for you. There are many reasons why your site could be slow, and we can trouble-shoot this for you. We also have tools which can be plugged in to your site to speed it up.
These are just some of the many more technical aspects of your website you need to look at as part of a successful SEO campaign and all form part of our service. It’s by no means an exhaustive list, and if you want to know more about things like breadcrumb navigation, .hreflang attributes, preferred domains, canonical URLs, or markup validity.
This is all part of our 44 step process to making your Search Engine Optimisation campaign work and deliver results.