Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Making sure that your website is fully optimised

Guest Post : It is so very important to make sure that we all, “get it right onsite!” / Daniel Vassiliou

by Will Corry on January 15, 2013 in Apps, Ecommerce, FaceBook, Google, iPhone, Lead story, LinkedIn, Metrics, Mobile Marketing, News you can use, Pinterest, Retail, Search Marketing, Small Business, Social Media, Startups, Twitter

I lose count of the times I am meeting with a new client and within ten minutes of us talking, back links are brought up. Somehow, through a blog post somewhere, or a friend my client wants to know how many links they can get, and how quickly that will get them up the rankings. I hate having to start off with anyone who is enthusiastic for my services, by slowing everything down and hitting the rewind button.

Have they had their website optimised, and equally as importantly, have they analysed their bounce rate and changed ineffective pages, internal links etc. The blank face that follows indicates more than any mere words ever would. “What has that got to do with getting me to page one?” “I want to overtake my competition and they all have thousands of back links!”

I then have a thirty minute period of trying to impress upon them the importance of content or how tags and titles help the little search engine spiders index pages easier. Why the down load speed of pages is important. If I get this long I know that I have usually done enough to secure a chance at getting my client’s campaign started on a firm foundation. If not, I have to admit I probably would have had more trouble from that client over the long term as they would have expected much more than a “spray” of back links would ever have achieved.

Firm Foundations.

I always offer the “house built on sand” analogy to clients to express the massive importance of making sure that their website is fully optimised, and as customer friendly as it can be made to be. Certain template platforms do hinder what can be done, especially with content. I then offer a checklist of all the things I want to have done to their site once keyword and competition analysis have been taken care of.

Here it is:
- Alt Tags for images, videos. Variation of the text used to help rank for certain chosen keywords. Keywords will make up what is in the text
- H Tags 1, 2 and 3 for titles. Google loves these. They show that the content is broken into relevant paragraphs that are easily picked out by those reading it.
- Meta Data for all pages. A good description and title, relating to the chosen keywords, attractive enough to look enticing to those searching when seen in the results. Keywords do not really hold much importance nowadays. Search engines like Google tend to analyse the content to find the keywords that it will rank a particular page for, as opposed to using keywords given to it, to make its decision.

CONTENT, CONTENT, CONTENT!!

Is there enough informative and useful content that can help gain rankings for their chosen keywords? The answer is going to be a no. Nowadays content needs to be continually created, with relevant social platforms informed to get interest back to the site. It is an ongoing process and is very, very important. The more relevant and useful content that your site has, and has associated with it, the greater its authority, and the better it will rank.

- Blog Pages. This relates to the above content point. A blog is a very easy way to add content to a site, then link through to any landing page that may be relevant keyword wise. The more posts that are added, the more can be indexed by the search engines and ranked. This means that informative blog posts can themselves direct traffic to your site. If you throw in social media promotion, through Twitter and Facebook especially, a lot of attention can be directed to the site, and its authority will grow as there is more content, relevant to the chosen keywords, being added on a regular basis. Any site with no blog needs to add one.

- Bounce Rate Analysis to see if people are actually staying very long once on the website. If they are not they obviously not getting the information they are looking for, and this will mean lower rankings and lower conversions from traffic that does get through to the site. Whole sites sometimes have to change of there is a lot to alter.

- Site Flow is incredibly important and linked to the above point. A site should take potential customers or clients to their destination as quickly as possible, in as few clicks as possible too. Three clicks is the absolute maximum. The importance of landing pages here cannot be understated. Certain pages designed to catch searchers from particular keywords reduces the amount of clicks those searchers will need to use to get to the products or services they are looking to use or buy.

- Page Download Speed has to be checked. I have seen sites gain four or five places by improving their page download speed. We live at a time when people searching want to see a page quickly. If yours downloads faster than a competitor, you certainly will be appreciated by the search engines, and may well rank above that competitor.

- Code Analysis is important to make sure that the website is able to be crawled easily by the search engines. Any corrupt files, or badly coded pages will cause problems and the search engines do take a dim view to those kinds of errors.

Realisation.

Once I have been through this with my potential customer, nine times out of ten a drawn breath will result, before a sigh, and realisation that this is not a quick and easy job. I will recommend that if the site is very old, and that there are too many issues, that a new one is built and created with the above “checklist” taken into consideration. There is no point in looking at an offsite campaign until you have a website that is fit for purpose. I have seen clients go against my advice and spend many thousands of pounds on advertising and link building packages, without having a website that is worthy of ranking highly.

It doesn’t bring me any pleasure when I see them failing because I look at sites like that and see them as an opportunity I have lost. I make my money as a search engine optimisation consultant after all. The search engines are now very good at removing sites that are not, in their view, giving those searching what they want.

It is so very important to make sure that we all, “get it right onsite!”

Daniel Vassiliou is CEO of Endurance SEO

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