How to Create an SEO Friendly Website
As we’ve discussed in my of our articles about SEO, there are a ton of factors that affect your ranking. Some of it is off page, and some of it is on page. This article will be discussing the on page adjustments you can make to help your website rank better in Google’s search engine.
Here are the topics this article will cover for
- User friendly URL’s (Permalinks)
- Avoiding duplicate content
- Mobile responsiveness
- Image optimization
- Avoid keyword stuffing
- Creating a sitemap
- Filling out meta titles & descriptions
- Optimize header tags
- Internal linking
- Page speed optimization
User Friendly URLs (Permalinks)
Having the proper url structure let’s Google know how to categorize your website online. When you organize it in a simple and understandable way, it knows exactly where to put your content when people search for keywords that your links contain.
If you run an e-commerce website or a blog with tons of articles and categories, you need to let search engines and readers know where they are and what they’re looking at.
As an example:
In the first example, no one either human or robot knows what they’re looking at. You are effectively getting in the way of Google categorizing your web page online. In the second example just by the URL alone a visitor can tell exactly where they are and exactly what they can expect to find on that page.
Google also will prioritize web pages in the root folder (https://joeschmoedesign.com/design-services) as a higher priority over those such as in example 2, where you find a hierarchy blog → illustrations → blog article.
Your “/design-services/” page will be the page that Google places emphasis on, as you’d want them to as that is the page where people can reach out to you and learn about the services you offer. That’s where sales can be made for your business!
Having clarity and hierarchy in your URL structure can help both Google and actual visitors to know what they’re looking at.
Avoid Duplicate Content
So if there’s one thing that has been a staple of Google’s algorithms, as something they’ve stated over and over again, is that duplicate content is going to get you on their bad side. Duplicate content could come in the form of you copying long blurbs or articles from other websites more than is appropriate, poorly reworked content you used as a reference for your content, stealing images from other websites. While most of this is just flat out unethical in its own right, Google has an obsession with content that is unique, original, and valuable. If it finds any duplicated content on your website, it knows very well that your main objective is not producing well thought out, time invested, valuable content. They will reward you accordingly with low rankings.
Having a mobile responsive website gives your brand the ability to reach a much broader audience however they choose, whether on their desktop, tablet or mobile device.
A responsive design means that the website will adapt its layout, images, headers, and text to appropriately display on any device that it is viewed on.
Google reports up to 60% of web traffic is now from a mobile device and they’ve launched a campaign with mobile first design and optimization as the initiative. They want you focusing on the mobile experience for a user FIRST, before desktop. This is a major shift on how design is done.
Google will actually penalize a website that doesn’t offer a responsive design. Google implements mobile-first indexing as well, meaning that this can actually impact how your website is ranked in their search engine!
Mobile users want a fast, high-quality browsing experience (as does Google). They expect you to offer that.
WordPress is now mobile responsive out of the box but to truly formulate a great mobile user experience it’s going to take some tinkering.
Having a mobile menu that is easy to navigate and intuitive is paramount. Make sure it loads quickly and does not bug out when being used, or load off the viewport and require you to awkwardly scroll around and pinch zoom on your phone to get where you want to go. People will not tolerate this unless they REALLY want what you have to offer.
Make sure your buttons resize appropriately to the mobile device, as well as your fonts and images. All your elements may need a “secondary” re-design that makes them as presentable as possible on a mobile device. Websites sometimes take 2 rounds of design to achieve this, but this is the new standard if you want to be a serious player in the online world.
When a photo comes out of a DSLR camera or even the high quality camera’s that are available on most smartphones today, the images can be enormous. The resolution can sometimes but as much as 4000 x 6000 and up to 10 MB in size. While this is great to capture the raw detail to allow you to zoom in, edit, sharpen and adjust these images, it is debilitating for websites. Having your website attempt to display such large images can slow your website to a crawl.
While there is a hyper focus on compressing the images, which is the process of degrading the quality of the image to reduce the size, the proper sizing of the image is more important.
From our web design page you can see a few mockups that we display. They are about 300 pixels wide. If you cram a 4000 x 6000 image into that tiny space, you are wasting a huge amount of resources on your web server as well as crushing the user experience. This will result in a web page that stutters, glitches, and barely loads, especially if they are on a mobile phone or older computer.
What you want to do then is to resize the image before uploading to your website and know the exact dimensions that you need. So with the mockups above, we would resize the 4000 x 6000 image to 300 x 300 in photoshop or another image editing software and the size is then reduced to 100’s of kb’s instead of 10’s of mb’s.
Avoid Keyword Stuffing
Keyword stuffing is something that used to work back in the day when you needed to show Google exactly what your page was about and what it should rank for in its search engine results. Anymore though, it will simply leave you with a penalty and lower rankings.
Google has evolved over time and knows what is natural and what it is not natural, basically it is getting smarter over time and knows what a real website would look like if it were naturally discussing certain topics.
If you were to blast 17 Inch Laptop Bags all over your site and in your articles in an excessive amount and unnatural fashion, Google knows what you are doing.
The keywords do not have to be in the exact order of the keyword you’re attempting to rank for and can be mish mashed to fit into the sentence, headline, or paragraph naturally.
Avoid doing this!
Creating a Sitemap
An XML Sitemap is a dynamically generated page that displays all of the pages of your website in a hierarchical fashion and allows Google to crawl and find every page that is on your website. It also allows Google to determine which pages have a higher priority over the others by the way you create structure and hierarchy within your website.
https://joessite.com/services is going to have a lot more priority than https://joessite.com/services/specializations/keyarea15
Creating a sitemap and submitting it within Google Search Console for Google to crawl is standard practice for getting your website indexed online and should never be left out of your web design practice.
Filling Out Meta Titles & Descriptions
All websites have “meta” tags that are signals to Google on what information should show up when you are resulted in their search engines, such as:
These tags will help be signals for the keywords you are trying to rank for as well. Put some thought into what you want to rank for and align the title and description accordingly. You want the entirety of your website to be a clear signal to Google for what it is your business is about.
Optimize Header Tags
Optimizing your header tags is the beginning of your text hierarchy within your page. It signifies not just in size and boldness, but with a tag to help Google identify the most important text within your page. An H1 tag should be the page title and used in the majority of cases only once within your page. Incorporate your most important keywords into the title of the page. That gives the strongest signal what keyword and what topic that page is about
Internal linking is the process of creating links to other pages on YOUR own website. The reason for this is this helps search engines find all parts of your website. Even with a sitemap it isn’t a guarantee that Google will find your pages, and this is one way to help all your pages get indexed and placed within Google’s search engine.
You can see scattered through our own site that we do this regularly. You don’t want these internal links to be unnatural or awkwardly placed within the page, but if it is relevant to the topic you’re talking about and the anchor text makes sense, by all means place an internal link there.
This gives visitors and search engines a clear idea of what to expect when they click the link. It has to make sense in context.
Page Speed Optimization
Here at JBMD Creations we’ve talked extensively about the importance of page speed, and it is paramount in ranking above other websites in Google’s search engine.
Google wants people to enjoy the results that they get when they use its search engine, and people have expectations of instant gratification and marketers will cater to whatever gets an edge up on the competition and page speed is no exception. It has become the norm to feed people exactly what they want, right when they want it.
Image optimization is one way to increase page speed as the website doesn’t have to download huge amounts of data just to load the page as discussed earlier. Size your images properly and compress them without going to the point of making the image look of awful quality.
Using a cache plugin such as FlyingPress or WP Rocket (If you’re using WordPress) will also significantly increase your page load speed. Like with the CDN, a cache will ping your server for an image of the website and the database will compute it and spit out all the code (html, CSS, JS etc). The cache will then take that information and store a version of your website with html and stylesheets it generates right there, rather than the visitor having to ping your server and your server having to generate the site every time they visit. This results in your website serving up its pages almost immediately, rather than having to compute all the code and produce it for every single visit. Learning to use a cache plugin can be complicated, but the plugins we mentioned above are some of the most effective and simple plugins out there and just the basic settings can take you a long way.
As you can see, there is a lot that goes into making your website SEO friendly. The internet has become a vast, seemingly endless ocean of websites and content and getting yourself to stand out requires more work now than ever. But because of how many people are online, the rewards can be amazing if you do. We recommend you take some serious consideration on your goals and plans for your website before getting yourself online because doing it right the first time can provide you with a resource that skyrockets your business to places it may be difficult to achieve without! Good luck, and if you need any help along the way, don’t hesitate to give us a call!