Understand the New SEO Rules - How to Make Google Love Your Website
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Even in this ever-advancing world, your main content should still be text-based. There are some great tools, like web fonts, that mean you can still look the part, and your images have a place, but be sure to talk in clear language about what it is you do so the search engine can read and understand your offering. Images, videos, PDFs and content are also important and can be a source of search engine traffic.
Again, these need to be discoverable and indexable. To index your content beyond the home page, you need internal links that the search engine can crawl. Your primary navigation, search engine directives and tools like XML sitemaps all help the search engine crawl your site and discover new pages. Tools like Screaming Frog can help you ensure that your site can be easily crawled by a search engine. I have always like the filing cabinet analogy for website structure. Your site is the filing cabinet. The major categories are the drawers. The subcategories are the folders in the drawers.
The pages are documents in the folders. Context is indicated not only by the site it exists on but also by the position within that site. Our own site has a drawer for services, and each service has sub-services in folders. Your site will be largely the same. If we consider the following structure of the Bowler Hat site as an example:. Nice and organized. This can follow through with other SEO elements to clearly indicate context far beyond that which can be indicated by the document alone.
This is relevant to blog posts, articles, FAQ content, services, locations and just about anything else that is an entity within your business. You are looking to structure the information about your business in a way that makes it understandable. Some sites may take a deep approach to structuring content. Others may take a wide approach.
Top SEO Guidelines to Improve Your Google Search Rankings
The important takeaway here is that things should be organized in a way that makes sense and simplifies navigation and discovery. A three- to four-level approach like this ensures that most content can be easily navigated to within four clicks and tends to work better than a deeper approach to site navigation for users and search engines.
Context is further indicated by the URL. A sensible naming convention helps provide yet more context for humans and search engines. Of course, the second set of URLs is a purposely daft example, but it serves a point — the first URL naming convention helps both search engines and users, and the second one hinders. Your navigation is equally important.
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Navigation can be a tool to raise awareness of additional services and includes not just text links but content on all pages and in the templated design elements of your site. I have always liked the signpost analogy. I walk into a supermarket and look for the signs to find what I need.
Your website is no different. If a user is referred and searches for your brand name, then they will land on your home page. They then need a signpost to get them to the relevant service. It is very easy to get this wrong, and careful thought must be applied — before you build the site — regarding the needs and wants of your users. A website is a digital component that should execute the strategy from your marketing plan.
Understanding users here is crucial so you can ensure you are meeting their needs. Navigation should not need any real cognition — it should not make the user have to think. The following image is a sign from my local home improvement store. Which direction takes you to the car park and which direction takes you to the deliveries entrance?
However, the customer car park is to the left. There is nothing there to clearly illustrate which is right or wrong. I have to think. Or in practice, I go in the wrong direction a few times before I learn. Ensure your navigation is crystal-clear — if one user can make a mistake, many others can, too. For example:.
SEO for Dummies: 13 Stupidly Easy Lessons for the Complete Beginner
Be sure that important content is easily discoverable, understandable and sits in the overall structure of the site in a way that makes sense. If everything is done well, a human and a search engine should have a pretty good idea what a page is about before they even look at it. Your typical SEO then just builds on this solid foundation that is laid out by your information architecture and site structure. The most popular device used to conduct internet searches and to browse websites is the mobile phone.
We live in a mobile-first age. Sites optimized for search engines should give equal consideration to the mobile layouts of their websites rather than just bolting on simple responsive website design.
1. Page Titles and description
Yet, in , responsive design is not enough. We were talking about the importance of responsive website design in Five years later, with massive technological progress and greatly improved mobile data networks, your future customers are using mobile as the first, and often only, device to interact with your business. To create a truly mobile-friendly design and maximize results from mobile search, you must think of the needs and wants of mobile users. What a user will do on a phone is often far different from what they will do on a computer. And even if your conversions tend to be on a desktop, that crucial first touch may well be on mobile.
From an SEO perspective, it is worth noting that mobile-friendliness is a confirmed ranking factor for mobile search, and it is the mobile version of your site that will be used by the search engine to review and rank your site. However, far more important, mobile is how your prospective customers are searching for and browsing your site. Work hard on optimizing the user experience for mobile users and you will reap the rewards for your efforts in terms of traffic and user engagement.
Another key consideration in the mobile era is page speed. Users may be impatient, or they may not always have a great mobile data connection. Ensuring your pages are lean and mean is a key consideration in modern SEO-friendly website design. This tool will give you feedback on mobile-friendliness, mobile speed and desktop speed. It also wraps everything up into a handy little report detailing what exactly you can do to speed things up. I went into a little more detail on how to optimize for speed in a recent column on mobile optimization.
Suffice it to say, page speed is yet another important consideration that spans how your site is built and the quality and suitability of the hosting you use. Web usability is a combination of other factors: device-specific design, page speed, design conventions and an intuitive approach to putting the site together with the end user in mind.
Your site needs content to help with all of these stages of the customer journey. Content and SEO is an important combination here, as you may get in front of a customer as they look for similar services from another company they are already considering. A structured way to consider the content you need here is a typical marketing funnel:.
Awareness content will typically be your blog and informational articles. The content at the consideration stage helps your prospect compare you against the other offerings out there. This tends to be practical content that helps the customer make a decision.
Bottom-of-the-funnel content drives conversions and should gently encourage a sale or lead. Remember that customers will search across this entire spectrum of content types. Therefore, ensuring all of these areas are covered aids discovery via search engines, consideration and conversion. As you can see, there is a lot to consider before we even look at the more familiar elements of optimizing your site and pages. We should only really start to think about keywords and basic on-page optimization once we have this solid foundation in place. And hopefully, if we have structured everything correctly, then the actual optimization of the pages becomes far easier.
Nailing your keyword strategy is so much easier once you have a solid structure without internal duplication. If we look at our previous examples for site hierarchy and structure, then adding keywords is relatively straightforward and is something we would often do in a spreadsheet pre-design. If I use these pages as an example, we have a natural progression from broad keywords to more refined search terms.
We can even consider basic modifiers such as location if we are a local business. The point here is that a well-structured site gets you a good way toward determining your keyword strategy. You still have to do the research and copywriting, but you can be sure you have a solid strategy to target broad and more detailed terms.
In fact, it is the only meta tag that actually influences position directly. Even in , we still see a lot of overoptimized page titles. We want our keywords in the title tag, but not at the expense of click-through and human readability. A search engine may rank your content, but a human clicks on it, so keep that in mind. We all know that, right? But of course, that is completely missing the point here. Your meta description is the content of your advertisement for that page in a set of search engine results. Your meta description is what wins you the click. And winning those clicks can help improve visibility and is absolutely vital in driving more users to your pages.
The search engine will highlight search terms in your page title and meta description which help a user scan the page. Heading tags help structure the page and indicate hierarchy in a document: H1, H2, H3 and so on. Text in heading tags correlates with improved rankings albeit slightly , but what really matters is that alignment between the structure of the site, behind the scenes optimization like page titles and meta descriptions and the content itself. Line everything up, and things make more sense for users, and we help search engines categorize our content while eking out every last bit of simple, on-page optimization we can.
Remember to align header tags with the visual hierarchy. I blog often and I truly appreciate your content. Your article has truly peaked my interest. I will take a note of your blog and keep checking for new details about once per week. I opted in for your Feed too. Amanda this excellent.
Great job! Thanks for sharing this information. I really like your way of expressing the opinions. I like your blog because your posts are very informative me. Thanks for writing this post Amanda! I just pointed it out to another one our clients and they are raving about it! Awesome Amanda! Was that your intention? Our main keyword phrase is within the 66 character limit.
Hope that clears that up! Is there any difference between if we use — instead of to seperate phrase and brand name. Because i use phrase — Brand.. No Doubt it is great article. I have 4 keywords for promoting my website. So how to use this 4 keywords in my website like title description and content.
SEO & website design: Everything you need to know
Please let me know. I have not been able to find such kind of information throughout the search engines and internet. Also Meta tags like Meta description is not that important, like it was few years ago, now, Google can pick any word or phrase from article depending on users query. Awesome blog.
I love to read all your work. This I would have to say is your best work hands down. I look forward to your work. How many times should use H2, H3 in the article, and some of the best restrictions using internal links Thanks.
This is a great starting point but only if it were this easy. Continued content updating and other things are necessary to keep web-sites on the top. We all know that having a page rich with content is important for ranking well in search engines. So for an e-commerce store, for example, it would be best for the products to be listed at the top of the page. The longer you keep the user on the page the better it will help your ranking. What is the logic behind this practice?
Thanks in advance. Is this article up to date or really old? I thought it was good info, but then saw how old the comments were! Which makes me wonder…how is Google still serving this as the featured organic result off of such an old post with outdated information? Thanks for your post, good writing. And Now, in Google has much more powerful servers to make comparison among sites much faster.
So, the search result bounces up and down a few times in a day. H1 should be used one time and H2, H3 will b used more than one time but on requirement …. Good approach for targeting more people to your website…. But you miss some points. What a great — and useful — list of resources. Amanda, appreciate your work. Share This. By Amanda Gant.