SEO is an exciting way that anyone can boost the visibility of their website to get more traffic, capture more leads, and ultimately make more sales.
Hopefully, you’re working on your SEO goals. Let’s take some time today to talk about technical information regarding SEO.
Use the Right Website Builder
While we do like and recommend self-hosted WordPress, not everyone is using it. If you’re not using it and you’re using a builder like Wix.com, Shopify.com, or others, you may have problems figuring out how to fix SEO issues.
If you have built your site by coding it yourself, you will know how to fix your SEO issues. But, since we recommend self-hosted WordPress, most of the advice which follows will be directly associated with WordPress.
Having said that, our advice will still work for any type of site if you can figure out how to access the parts of your site you need to access to get the job done. These technical aspects are important to know so that you can structure your site to be SEO friendly.
Plugins That Help with On-Site SEO
One of the best SEO plugins for a self-hosted WordPress website is the Yoast SEO plugin (https://yoast.com/wordpress/plugins/seo/). You can use it free but if you upgrade it, you’ll get more benefits from it. They help you with all aspects of improving SEO from the start, and adjust each time there is an algorithm change. They only use white hat methods, which means your website will also be ethical.
Ensure Your Website Loads Fast
One thing that is most imperative from the get-go is that your website is fast loading. If it’s not, no amount of traffic is going to help. No one has the patience for a slow-loading site. What’s more, they typically won’t go back to try again.
Google has tools that you can use to test your site speed. (https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/)
There are other testing sites that will also tell you what to improve, but why not trust Google; most SEO is based on what Google wants since they’re the biggest traffic generator.
When you plug in your URL to the speed checker, it’ll let you know how well your site loads in mobile and with a desktop.
The results show various recommendations to fix the problem. This is free for you to use and an important task to go through. If you don’t understand some of the suggestions, you may need to talk to a web designer who is familiar with your builder and the issues the insights provided.
Ensure Your Website Is Mobile Friendly
While self-hosted WordPress is a great website builder, when it comes to being mobile friendly you’ll need to ensure that you choose the right theme. Then, you must ensure that the type of images you add stay mobile friendly. The best themes to pick state that they are “responsive” rather than just “mobile friendly” – this means that they will work on every single device that your audience may use.
Every day, more people choose to use mobile devices over desktops to conduct business on the web. People order groceries using their smartphones, attend online conferences on their iPad, and design graphics, develop YouTube videos and more – all on their mobile devices. Therefore, don’t underestimate the importance of this feature to your audience.
Unique Keyword on Each Page
When you create a new page on your website, it’s imperative that it uses a unique keyword that is different from the other keywords you’re using. For example, if you sell red widgets, you don’t want every single page to use “red widget” as the main keyword. Instead, you want to find other terms to use for each individual page.
Remember that in terms of search engines, every single blog post is a page, and every single web page is a page. In other words, there is no differentiation to the search engines from a blog post and a web page. Therefore, each blog posts you publish should also have its own keyword. You don’t want any two pages on your site to compete with each other based on a keyword.
The reason is that if the keywords are the same, Google will not know which page to send to your audience based on their search. Therefore, try to be more creative when using keywords for each page of your site. If you have a page that is ranking for “your city your biz”, it would be a mistake to make another page with the same keywords – especially a sub-page.
Know exactly what page you want your audience to get to if they conduct a specific search using certain terms, and make sure you use the keywords with that in mind. It’s going to improve your site tremendously, even though it will take you more time to pay attention and search for keywords to use.
The plugin Yoast SEO will help a lot, because it warns you if you already have a page using the same keyword. Now, if you don’t care which page they land on in terms of that keyword, then you can keep doing it. But if you want more choices to be shown to your audience upon searching, choose different keywords.
Check All Redirect Issues
URL redirects are a way for a page to show up under more than one URL. Sometimes this is called URL forwarding. For example, let’s say you own many domains, like yourbiz.com, yourbiz.org, yourbiz.net and so forth. Every one of those domains can be forwarded, or redirected, to the domain you want them to go to.
You’re likely familiar with redirects when it comes to a URL shortener like https://goo.gl/, https://bitly.com, https://tinyurl.com and so forth. Often these are used for really long and ugly URLs so that the link can fit in a smaller place and look nicer than if it had 30 characters in it – which happens sometimes with affiliate links. Redirects are also used to prevent broken links when web pages get moved and so forth. But, they are also used for nefarious purposes, black hat tactics such as phishing attacks, and to distribute viruses and malware.
Therefore, it’s important that you ensure that your redirects are built correctly so that the search engines don’t think you’re doing something fishy. Double check the following on your site.
Do not use 302 temporary redirects. Instead, use 301 permanent redirects. To ensure that all your redirects are proper and aren’t seen as strange to Google, conduct a test using one of the redirect checkers such as Screaming Frog (https://www.screamingfrog.co.uk/redirect-checker/), which is a spider tool that most SEO experts like to use. You can also use Redirect-Checker.org. (http://www.redirect-checker.org/)
Check Your Robot.txt Files
Robot.txt files are what makes the bots index your website. If you use self-hosted WordPress, your robot.txt files are already set up. But you want to make sure that you don’t have a “disallow” command in there that is preventing the site from being indexed.
Now, naturally, you’re going to have some pages that you want to be no-index. When you are using WordPress and the Yoast SEO plugin, you can set up each page easily to be either index or no-index. In the code, it will then say “disallow” or “allow” based on your choice.
Create a Sitemap
To ensure that your site is being indexed, the best way is to ensure that your website has a sitemap. If you have Yoast SEO, you can create one automatically without any issues. If you need to create it yourself, you can also install other plugins to create sitemaps with just a push of a button. If you’ve built your site from scratch, you’ll need to build the sitemap yourself.
Get Rid of Duplicate Content Issues
Most people today probably worry too much about duplicate content issues, especially when it comes to having duplicate content compared to another website. But it is an issue when it comes to getting your site and pages indexed properly, and not being penalized for the problem. Often, you’re being penalized for duplicate content on your own website.
Sometimes, if we’re not clear on a goal it can be easy to get lazy when it comes to creating meta-information and data for each page in terms of when you add images, add descriptions on a blog post, and especially when creating product descriptions for a product that has different colors or sizes. It’s imperative to make the meta-information on every single page unique.
Plus, when creating content, it can be tricky to ensure that each page is sufficiently unique not to trigger the duplicate content issue. Each page of your site should be as unique as possible, even if it’s talking about the same topic.
This may seem like a lot of work but if you just improve a couple of older pages each day, you will soon be done. If you want to check your own website for internal duplicate content, there is software that will do that. If you use Yoast SEO in the upgraded version, it does this for you.
Fix 404 Errors
A 404 page is a page that your visitors end up on when a page they wanted to go to no longer exists. It’s fine to delete pages that aren’t relevant to your goals, and its likely everyone will do that through the years.
For example, let’s say you wrote a blog post about a product that is no longer in production. That page is not good, so best to delete it if you can’t find a way to use the same URL to make a new relevant post about a product that fits the URL.
When someone does get taken to a 404 error page, what do they see? You can customize the 404 error page to make it productive for you. When you do this, avoid putting backlinks on the page. Instead, if there is a relevant page, you could use a 301-permanent redirect for that dead URL so that it goes to a real page on your site instead of an error page.
Improve Your Site Architecture
If you’re like a lot of people doing business online and trying to get traffic, your website has been built over time without much thought to its architecture. If you’re using a good self-hosted WordPress theme, your architecture may still be fine if you kept their menu structure. But if you altered it, get some feedback from your audience about how they feel about the architecture of your website. It should be user friendly, uncluttered, use effective anchor text, and make it easy to find what the user wants to find.
Use the Right URL Structure
URL structure often is another thing that just gets decided willy-nilly. Poor URL structure can be detrimental to SEO because having clean, keyword-rich URLs that describe what the reader will find is best for helping the search engines send the right visitors. One problem is that if you’ve done it in a confusing way already, it’s hard to change because you will lose ranking that you already had.
But, making the URL structure clean is going to ultimately help SEO. To create a good URL structure, remember that you don’t want to keyword stuff; you just want the keyword to appear once within the URL. Within WordPress, you can alter the way URLs appear so that they’re friendlier. What you choose depends on your niche and your goals.
Make Internal Links Clear
Most people don’t realize how important internal linking is for SEO. If you don’t know, internal links lead to other pages on your website from the page your visitor is currently using. Fix this problem and you’ll find that your SEO improves fast and dramatically. Having internal links builds authority, helps search engines crawl your site better, decreases bounce rate, and enables you to send users to the pages you think are most appropriate based on where they are now. This helps guide users through your funnel better.
We hope that this has helped give you a better understanding of the technical issues surrounding the SEO of a website. Next time we’ll move on to an important SEO method, which is keyword analysis. Don’t miss it.