SEO (or Search engine optimization) is all about getting the best results possible in Google and other search engines. But…you have to work to be No. 1.
When you do a search in Google or other search engine, it uses key words located within your site’s content and source code. You are then provided with a list of possible sites that include the key words you’ve requested with each recommendation incorporating a page heading, a site description and a website link. These are referred to as META tags.
All wordpress websites that I create include the All In One SEO plugin. Although this plugin creates META tags automatically, I generally override the title and set the META description and META keywords that I want rather than having unfinished or random sentences taken from the first sentence or two that sometimes miss the complete explanation of the page’s content. I ensure that as many as possible of these keywords or phrases appear in the content of the website, within page names, and hidden in the images used within the website, helping to boost your ranking in search engines.
Boosting your ranking takes time and isn’t a given. You need to keep working at it. Make sure you are constantly updating information on your website through news items, a blog or adding new pages. Google comes back and checks for updated content. Link pages from within your site to social media and grow your traffic. More people visiting your site will help push your ranking up so advertise your website wherever possible.
When designing a site, there are important factors I include to make your site useable as well as optimized for search engine visibility and traffic…
I ensure your URLs clearly indicate the topic of your content and contain relevant keywords so both the search engines and visitors know exactly what your page is about.
An example of a good URL including key words could be www.example.com/great-key-words, using dashes rather than underscores to separate words as recommended by Google. I make sure the permalinks within your site are set to use the title of the page and simplify the words further if the page title is too long.
Your site’s navigation structure will be simple, efficient and easy for Google and your visitors to follow. Typically, sites will place their main navigation menu across the top of the page, or vertically down the left side of the page. Eye-tracking and usability studies have shown that these positions work best.
Text links, as used in wordpress websites, are ideal, as is keeping the number of menu items manageable (6-7 is good) without making the site overwhelming with too many navigational options.
All my wordpress websites are responsive. This ensures your visitors can properly access your site regardless of which device they’re on – smartphone, computer or tablet.
The indirect benefits of social media for your website have been proven time and time again: social media sharing propels your content around the web, getting it in front of more people, gaining more mentions and more links, and thereby increasing your search engine rankings as well as your brand awareness, credibility, authority, and reach.
I include social media share icons on all blog posts and recommend promoting content on your website via social media channels.
I ensure that your images are the minimal size needed to still provide a good user experience, resizing your images to the size I want them displayed, rather than shrinking them in the source code, as this can significantly increase page load times. This is important because slower page load speed has been linked to worse user experience and even organic search rankings.
Your alt image text is also important so I include keywords into your logo image, header image and all graphics included in your site design.
I recommend performing keyword research at the outset of your web design project. This increases SEO benefits and an overall better user experience. Basic keyword research using the Google Keyword Planner can make a big difference; by researching words and phrases related to the main topic or theme of your site, you can not only find out which terms your target market is actually using to find your products or services.
Understanding which topics and sub-topics your visitors are looking for is a major benefit when deciding how to structure and name your navigation bars and category and product pages.
Who Is Troika?
Troika is a strategy firm providing advice to small and medium-sized businesses. We offer strength in numbers and diversity. We are a collaborative group that leverages collective expertise to solve client challenges.
Heather Frank is Troika's Lead Advisory for Website & Graphic Design.