An SSL certificate serves to offer a secure and safe online experience for you and your visitors. Even if you aren’t an e-commerce site you will still want the privacy protection offered by the SSL certificate. You have peace of mind that your website’s security and data integrity and your visitor’s personal information is protected.
How does this help your website’s visibility? HTTPS or SSL websites are rewarded by Google with a minor boost in rankings. It is best to rely on the services of a professional webmaster to ensure that all proper steps are met and you are effectively protected.
Domain names form part of an effective best practice SEO strategy. Firstly, search engines consider the website name itself in order to determine its ranking. Secondly, the inclusion of relevant keywords in a domain name is important – the name is used as anchor text when website content is linked.
Country-code Top Level Domain (TLD) extensions offer a visual clue that tells search engines who your intended target audience is and where they are based. This helps search engines identify for which localized area the content will be more relevant and useful. In international searches the country code extension is a strong indicator of where the websites originates. If you’re targeting a global audience then the generic .com extension is a better suggestion.
Country code domains have a secondary function – they can also be used to establish legitimacy as proper country codes help web users tell a legitimate website apart from a ‘spammer’ website.
Page titles communicate the essence of what to expect from your content, to users as well as to search engines. This is why Google places a high indexing value on title tags as these help determine the content of a page. Title tags should contain keywords your visitors will be using in their search as it will immediately draw their attention and encourage them to perform the desired behaviour. A professional SEO consultant will know of the best practice techniques on how to include your brand in a title tag naturally.
Page titles offer significant click-worthy value and spending time crafting compelling and unique and titles is well worth the investment. A professional SEO company has the experience and expertise in creating titles that grab attention and encourage desired reactions. Title tags have key roles to play in browsers (they appear in tabs), search engine result pages (search queries using title keywords will boost visibility with the corresponding result of increased click-through rates) and it is good to keep in mind that social media sites use web page titles as link anchor texts.
A web page’s search results are prioritised according to a searcher’s experience with the bounce rate being the most crucial engagement metric measurement – a searcher will quickly navigate away from a site that provides no value. H1 tags are one of the first elements a searcher sees and they provide essential information on whether the page will be of value and whether they have landed on the right page.
Not optimizing H1 and H2 tags is a lost opportunity as tests have shown that in addition to a headline tag’s direct relationship to a web page’s ranking thanks to the inclusion of a keyword, an H1 can also impact on other organic ranking factors as well as a searcher’s engagement experience.
Too short, too long and duplicate page titles can all have an adverse effect on a website’s rankings. Duplicate titles can confuse a search engine as to which URL to show. Think of it as being at a crossroads with the same destination on road signs that point in opposite directions. This problem is easily solved through redirecting to a canonical version of a page.
Titles that are too long will be cut off by search engines on the results page. You run the risk of searchers not seeing essential keywords. And if your title tags are too short you are not using the designated space effectively and can generate an error message.
After the title tag, the meta description is the second opportunity to convince your searcher to click on your result. A meta description offers more word space to show a searcher that you have relevant and valuable information pertinent to their search.
Without a meta description not only will your ranking be compromised but a searcher will most likely skip your result, punishing you for not providing enough information. While you can write these yourself, an SEO professional will already have the expertise and experience in creating effective and hard-to-ignore descriptions.
Too short meta descriptions may indicate to a searcher that your web page may not have sufficient information that is relevant to their search. In addition to this potential problem you are not utilizing the word space given to you and may not be providing key information.
Too long meta descriptions will be cut off by search engines. The searcher will not be able to see anything information that comes after the first 156 characters. Meta descriptions may seem insignificant in the grand scheme of SEO but they offer valuable information to a searcher. Duplicate descriptions can result in searcher avoiding your web page in favour of more unique descriptions and content.
SEO practitioners know that Google loves web pages that provide value and promote engagement to their users. All of their updates and changes point to this.
While well-written and optimized content provides some use for a user, with the extended word count of long form content, a web page can offer an increase in value to the user to the extent of a brand being deemed an ‘authority’ . Think of how beneficial this can be on your backlinking strategy. Long content is all about enhancing the user experience with additional benefits of ranking content for keyword usage.
One of the most common duplicate issues involves providing printer-friendly versions of your web page. Other duplicate content issues include having blocks of information repeated on different URLs. One problem is that search engines have difficulty in deciding which URL offers the best version to a search query. Search engines will only provide one version to provide a good user experience.
Duplicate content results in undesired ranking performances and loss in web visitor traffic. 301 Redirects are a best practice SEO method to solve duplicate content issues. You can also make use of the meta robots tag and include “noindex, follow” if you do not want specific pages to be indexed.
There are a number of reasons why a business blog finds itself at the top of the list of best practice SEO techniques. Tests conducted by industry experts continue to point to the positive impact blogs have on gaining a website high visibility on search engines, its influence in improving sales conversions and enhancing engagement with customers. These are just some of the advantages offered by a blog.
In order for your website to benefit from these business and marketing advantages you will need to pay attention to a few factors such as publishing at least two blog posts a month, strategic use of keywords and ensuring that posts contain engaging content.
One of the arguments in favour of contextual links is that they have a significant impact on search rankings. These offer a higher SEO value but have to be used correctly to do so. Contextual links are links that are surrounded by text (and have the keywords included) in the body of a web page’s content or blog post. One of the reasons why a blog page is so important to a website’s rankings is that blogs provide useful content that can be linked and shared on social media sites. Contextual linking is a highly effective strategy to can drive traffic back to your website.
Links that contain anchor texts boost a website’s organic search rankings. In creating both internal and external links, using anchor texts is a best practice method. The reason why search engines love the use of ALT text is that it references the subject matter of the page being linked to.
Broken links tell search engines two things: that your website is not updated regularly and that content may not be relevant. Secondly broken external and internal links do not contribute to a good user experience. Broken links can be a result of old content, change in CMS or technical issues.
If your web page has three broken links and a competitor’s page has none, a search engine will rate the competitor’s page higher than yours. To search engines broken links signify a dead end which is why they contribute to poor rankings.
All website content including title texts for images needs to be optimized for better search engine visibility. One of the best practice methods to optimize images is to include ALT texts. While we may be able to tell the subject matter of an image by simply looking at it, search engines require an image’s alt text to understand what an image is about. ALT texts and image title texts also perform a secondary function by telling search engines what the content context is all about which is why inserting a keyword or phrase is a good idea.
Similar to broken links, broken images can also provide a frustrating user experience. If images are important to the nature of your business, for example, your business is in the food and hospitality industry or you have an e-commerce website, then fixing broken image issues is critically important.
Broken image issues can be easily avoided by ensuring that you use your own images instead of relying on third-party images from stock photo websites.
One of the best ways for Google to provide its users with the best possible results is to look at the usability value a website offers visitors. In determining usability, variables such as ease of use, simple navigation, high quality actionable and relevant information (pertaining to the search) and easily understood content, linking patterns and site structure matter most.
Visitor behaviour such as bookmarking the site, sharing content on social media platforms and return visits all point to a great usability experience and will encourage a better ranking position.
The speed at which your website’s pages load is a strong influencer on how well search engines such as Google indexes a website. Pages that take time to load are found to have a higher bounce rate as they negatively impact a user’s experience.
Uptime is one of the critical factors that influences a website’s ranking on search engines. When indexing websites, Google bots will test pages’ loading times (at three different times) and websites with many pages being unavailable will be penalised with low rankings, or as a more extreme punishment, your website’s removal from the index. Particularly important for e-commerce websites, downtime bears a direct impact on sales as customers will move onto the next site if yours takes a long time to load.
Regularly monitoring your site’s uptime will draw your attention to any problems visitors might be experiencing. Do your research. An expert SEO practitioner can point to effective software applications that monitor and measure uptime.
Where your server is located has a bearing on your site’s performance on search engines, more particularly if the target audience is based in a single country. With the rising importance of localized searches, the importance of where your website’s server is located becomes an important consideration. The closer the server location the better the visitor experience on the website.
This may not be immediately apparent but Google does indeed take into consideration whether a website has included a Terms of Service and a Privacy page. These pages promote a website’s ‘trustworthiness’ in Google’s eyes and offer another level in the argument for legitimacy.