First in a four part series on SEO Essentials.
An ever-evolving art and science, search engine optimization (SEO) continues to expand in both scope and depth. However, there are a number of simple audits and tweaks you can make at the root level of your site — to help Google/web crawlers and live web-searching prospects alike to find your site.
Here are a few areas of your site you’ll want to audit and examine, to help boost your searchability and navigability quotients:
Submit accurate sitemaps to Google.
It has long been an SEO best-practice to produce an XML sitemap and submit it through your Google search console. This helps Google to learn about the structure of your site, and to optimize its coverage of the numerous pages within. In early 2016, Google added the recommendation to develop a human-readable sitemap as well. A number of free tools exist to help you accomplish this. The end result is a quickly scannable site-index page, which provides visitors with handy links to all of the accessible areas throughout your site’s infrastructure.
Find out what pages are being indexed and ranked.
To see how many of your pages are being indexed by a given search engine, type in the prefix “site:” and the name of your domain in the address line of the appropriate browser. You can also use DIY crawling tools like Screaming Frog and Xenu to get a deeper sense of why certain pages being indexed or not, why certain pages are ranking better than others, etc.
Ensure every page has a referring link.
Even with a fairly robust infrastructure of pages and subpages, not every page will be connected to a menu. You want to make sure that every page on your site can be reached via a link from another findable page. This helps to provide viable drilldown paths to key information for both web crawlers and site surfers.
Don’t overload pages with referring links.
When a page is too heavily manipulated to try to influence search algorithms, this can negatively affect page rankings. It also makes the on-page content difficult and annoying for the reader/prospect to follow. If you’re going to include keyword-driven hyperlinks or image alt-text references, make them count. While ensuring they are directly relevant to the target page.
Specify your preferred domain.
Over a period of time, the search process generates a number of iterations for your homepage URL — with prefixes and suffixes that include http://www, https://www, index.php, index.html, index.asp, etc. While all these iterations will get visitors to your site, the traffic and ranking weight to your homepage will be split among these iterations. The solution is to use 301 redirects to a single URL. This will tell Google which homepage to rank, while directing all link weight there as well.
Read other articles in our SEO Essential series -
Article Two: Varied content for different purposes.
Article Three: Maximizing link weight to improve rankings.
Article Four: Strengthening your identity and offsite SEO.