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10 useful steps to perfect Website Optimization

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Creating a website based on even the most interesting idea isn’t enough to gain success and rank the best positions in search results. The basis for successful website positioning is a suitable optimization for search engines. What elements of a website should be improved to make it well-optimized for Google requirements? Follow these 10 useful tips.

1. Determine site structure and internal linking

Good website architecture is the key to low bounce rate, higher rank in search results and better sales. The website is not only pretty colors, attractive fonts or great images. It’s the art of gathering all the pieces and creating UX well-functioning machine. A good site structure also means better crawling and indexing by Google bots. How and why to create a site that will appeal to users, deliver the best ranking positions and improve sales? Get started with website hierarchy!

Website optimization - Sample Site Structure - Moz

Source: Moz Blog – Diagrams for Solving Crawl Priority & Indexation Issues

Hierarchy is the way to organize information from general to specific. It’s also the way of prioritization and further navigation on-site. What’s the most important in the hierarchy plan? Make it logical and simple. Each category should be unique and each subcategory should relate to category in a logical way. What’s more, the number of categories shouldn’t be less than 2, and more than 7. And finally, try to keep the balance in the number of subcategories. The situation when one category has a dozen subcategories, while another has only a few, is unacceptable.

W have a similar situation when planning URL structure. Using categories and subcategories going from general to particular. Show your users in URL where they are exactly. Each URL should contain relevant words connected with the site, not random characters. You can also use a breadcrumbs navigation.

www.example.com/services/mobile-development/ios-development

While creating navigation you can base it on site hierarchy. The best option to create navigational header is using HTML5 and CSS3. It’s a lightweight and Google-crawlers friendly solution. Put the main categories in the header and use dropdown menu for subcategories. If you use navigational footer, try to duplicate site hierarchy in the same way you have in navigational header menu.

Do not forget about internal links. Internal links are links that go from one page on a domain to a different page on the same domain. It can be a link, linked button (CTA) or linked image. Why they are so important? They:

  • allow users to navigate a website,
  • help establishing information hierarchy for the given website,
  • help spreading ranking power around websites.

You shouldn’t complicate internal linking. The clue is that every page on your website should have some links to and some links from another page on the website. It helps Google bots to recognize your site structure and priorities.

2. Set the appropriate headers

With headings the situation is similar to title tags. Their value is less than it was, but headings still help Google to capture main topics. In HTML5 we can use six headings – from h1 to h6. Each of them has more or less specific use. Going for the perfect website optimization you need to use them the best way, as follows:

h1 – for main category name or product name,

h2 – as a subheading of h1 to divide a text into subcategories,

h3 – as a subheading of h2 or for useful link groups to other relevant sources,

h4 – for sidebar or footer headings and as an extra layer if the text is longer than a 1000 words,

h5 – you can left it out,
h6 – you can also left it out.

Headings like h5 an h6 are generally smaller than a regular text, so people hardly use them. Review your site again and edit the most important headlines according to the guideline.

3. Use PageSpeed Insights and take care of mobile

PageSpeed Insights is a Google Developers tool and what’s important it’s completely free. It measures the performance of pages on mobile devices and computers. The PageSpeed result is in the range of 0 to 100 points. The higher the score, the better your website optimization. Google recommends gaining at least 85 points to make sure that your page is working properly. What can we learn from PageSpeed Insights?

PageSpeed Insights - Website optimization

Each analyzed website is evaluated for speed and UX (for mobile devices). In the case of the desktop version, Google gives us suggestions summary of what there is to improve. What is usually recommended? Optimizing CSS, HTML or JavaScript code, optimizing images, changing the distance between the elements or enabling compression. What’s more, if you click on Show how to fix link, Google shows you where the problem is and what you can gain by correcting it. Each suggestion is color-coded to indicate which problem is critical and should be immediately corrected, or which issue you should consider fixing, or what would be ok to leave as is. If you don’t believe in the positive impact of the page load speed on it’s positioning in Google, take a look at research conducted by Backlinko team:

Website optimization - Correlation between Page Load Speed and Google Position

Source: We Analyzed 1 Million Google Search Results. Here’s What We Learned About SEO

First of all, make sure to optimize the mobile page as well as possible. Google attaches great importance to this. If you can’t do it by yourself, ask your Webmaster for help.

4. Implement Google Analytics code properly

You’ve probably heard about it many times. Now it’s time to finally take care of the analytics. If you haven’t connected your website with Google Analytics yet, it’s time to do it now. After doing this you need to find tracking code and implement it on EVERY page of your website. Google recommends adding tracking code in <head> section. Here’s how to find your tracking code, tracking ID, and property number.

Funny thing is that PageSpeed Insights counts 1 point less for implementing Google Analytics tracking code correctly in <head> section. Moving it to <body> section solves the issue, but don’t do it. Follow the Google instructions.

Google Analytics tracking code looks like below:

    (function (i, s, o, g, r, a, m) {
        i['GoogleAnalyticsObject'] = r;
        i[r] = i[r] || function () {
            (i[r].q = i[r].q || []).push(arguments)
        }, i[r].l = 1 * new Date();
        a = s.createElement(o),
                m = s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];
        a.async = 1;
        a.src = g;
        m.parentNode.insertBefore(a, m)
    })(window, document, 'script', '//www.google-analytics.com/analytics.js', 'ga');

    ga('create', 'UA-XXXXXXXX-X', 'example.com');
    ga('send', 'pageview');

where UA-XXXXXXXX is tracking ID, -X is property number and example.com is the root domain of your website. From now on you can track users and analyze the data to realize your business goals. Let’s move to another Google tool, probably the most important from the website optimization point of view.

5. Integrate with Google Search Console

Formerly Google Webmaster Tools. To integrate it with your website use Google Analytics confirmation. This is the easiest way proposed by Google (of course if you have already connected your website with GA).

Website optimization - Google Search Console view

Google Search Console view

In addition to tracking data from the search results on your site, Search Console gives you much useful information, for example:

  • direct messages from Google Search Quality Team about: penalties (manual or logarithmic), increase in the number of 404 pages, disavowed links updating, opportunities to improve your site etc.,
  • duplicated meta tags and titles,
  • domains that link to your site,
  • what queries users use to find your website and the position of your website in search results of each query,
  • number of internal links,
  • if there are any problems with displaying your website on mobile devices,
  • what kind of keywords your website contains,
  • indexing statistics,
  • are there any security issues or manual actions,
  • where and how to upload robots.txt and sitemap.xml (very important) or render simple sites etc.

I recommend checking Search Console at least one time a week. Every 7 days Google provides new information about indexing and on-site errors. By eliminating these errors you make one step forward to a better website optimization.

6. Optimize your meta and title tags

Cast my mind a few years back, tag title was one of the most important signals in SEO. Keywords in title tag (exact match) still have an impact on SEO, but that impact is getting smaller.

Website optimization - What Exact Match Keyword in Title has impact on Position in Google

Source: We Analyzed 1 Million Google Search Results. Here’s What We Learned About SEO

The title should describe your page best. It’s not only about putting keywords in title tag but making it understandable for the users. To be sure that the entire length of the title will be displayed, do not exceed 59 characters.

What’s important – each page should have a unique title tag and meta description!

The same applies to the meta description. It’s best to keep meta descriptions between 150 and 160 characters. Optimal lenght for search engines is around 155 characters. It’s good to have a keyword inside respecting the user-friendly principle. Every page should have a unique title tag and meta description! However, Google may ignore the titles and descriptions if they have no connection with the content of your website. Good title and metas can raise CTR by tens of %.

7. Cut down the bounce ratio

Let’s start with what the bounce rate is. The infographic prepared by Kissmetrics will be very helpful.

Website optimization - How to measure Bounce Rate

According to Backlinko team research low bounce rate is associated with higher Google rankings. Bounce rate is a kind of UX signal. It allows measuring if users are satisfied with information they found on your website. There are many factors that affect the bounce rate. I divided them into categories:

  • marketing & sales factors:
    • purpose of the page,
    • email marketing (emails and newsletters),
    • well-matched paid ads,
    • specific target group,
    • using of enaging multimedia (videos, images), pop-ups etc.,
  • technical factors:
    • webdesign,
    • speed of page load,
    • external links,
    • Google ranking position for specific keywords.

As you can see there are many factors and each one can be improved in many different ways. How to reduce the bounce ratio using factors above? We will use Kissmetrics infographic once again.

Website optimization - How to imporve bounce rate - Kissmetrics infographic

8. Make 301 and 404 redirects

Often happens that some sites no longer exist or have been moved permanently. In the first case you can set 404 redirects. That informs the useres about the non-existing sites. In the past there were many concerns about the bad impact of 404 on indexing or ranking. John Mueller, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, dispelled those doubts about 3 years ago.

Website optimization - John Mueller about 404 redirects

As you can see, John denied that 404 errors on invalid URL can harm a website’s indexing or ranking. So if you have some non existing sites you are free to set up 404 errors. It’s important from the UX point of view.

On the other hand, you may have some sites you’ve moved from one subcategory to another eg. as a result of planning new site structure. URLs of these pages can have a huge SEO power (backlinks). It would be a shame to waste it. Make some 301 redirects and don’t lose the power of inbound links!

9. Create content that attract users

What content is the most attractive? One that solves problems and gives added value. It’s important to focus on a single topic and create content that includes keywords related to the topic. Why’s that? Thanks to Hummnigbird algorithm Google can determine if the page’s content is corresponding to the keywords used. So it’s easy for Google to categorize your website. Choose keywords connected with your website/business and start creating content based on this. Try to use no more than 2% of keywords throughout the text. Avoid keyword stuffing!

How long your content should be? According to the Backlinko Team research, your post/article should have 1 890 words. That’s a lot. But it’s well known that a longer content tends to rank higher in Google’s search results. The longer your text is, the higher it ranks. Take care of your content, cause it is very important for Google.

Website optimization - How lenght of content influence on Google position

Source: We Analyzed 1 Million Google Search Results. Here’s What We Learned About SEO

And the last thing – images. Use images inside your content. Content with at least 1 image ranks higher than content without any. Don’t forget about title and alt tag to describe images.

10. Content is a king, UX is a a prince

Most aspects of website optimization I’ve presented have more or less impact on the UX.

Optimization Factor | Effects on UX
Using PageSpeed Insights | Reduces waiting time for page load
Using Google Analytics | Tracks users behaviors to better website optimization
Using Google Search Console | Changes misleading titles, better mobile optimization and reduces errors
Setting Headers | Improves navigation, shows site structure
Building site structure | Improves navigation, improves searching, organizes information
Improve internal linkinng | Improves navigation, drives to specific pages
Providing attractive content | Gives useful tips and solutions, engages users, social engaging

 

While thinking about website building or website optimization remember to always think about the users. Create a friendly environment where they can move as if in their own home. Give them the opportunity to visit your site on mobile devices. Create a transparent and clear layout. If you require signing in, make it as easy as possible – don’t make them fill all the unnecessary fields. Following trends – content is a king. Looking at future trends – UX is becoming increasingly important.

Stay competitive! Follow these 10 steps and rise your website over the others.

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