93% of all online experiences begin with a search engine, making Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) a vital part of marketing any website.
However, just turning up on the first page of a search engine listing is no longer enough, you have got to be in a medal winning position because 90% of users click on the first three results in Google.
Content marketing via blogging and social media provides important website updates that will get your business noticed by search engines, but content is not the only way to get noticed. Technical deficits have a negative impact on user experience and search engine rankings. Therefore there are some fundamental technical fixes that will help you make your way to the top.
When there is more than one version of a URL e.g.
Google is indexing more than one version of the same page – duplicate content – which is very damaging for SEO. It also means that Google has to canonicalize the URL– in other words Google has to choose the URL that appears to be the most suitable. Of course you want Google to choose your own preferred option, but simply deleting the unwanted hostnames is not a solution because this could cause your whole domain to be removed for 6 months. Don’t worry though, the decision made by Google will not be a random choice and there are some ways in which you can help Google to choose the right one. A consistent use of one URL across your site and 301 redirects to a consistent URL will both help Google to make the right decision.
Slow Page Load Speeds
Since 2010 page load speeds have been able to affect a website’s search engine ranking. Slow website performance not only damages user experience but will decrease your search engine rankings, which can cause a 7% loss in customer conversions. Page load speed of 2 seconds or less is what 47% of users now expect, if your website takes more than 3 seconds to load it will be abandoned by 40% of users. Google does however provide a free tool to enable your web developers to analyse and optimise page speed on your website.
404 Error Pages
Ever clicked on a link only to find yourself staring at a 404 error page? If a site has been rebuilt and URL structures changed or old pages deleted then they need to be redirected properly, using a 301 redirect, otherwise users will be presented with an error page. This error page will have a negative impact on user experience and consequently will decrease your search engine rankings.
Images Without Alt Tags
If you closed your eyes and someone placed a picture in front of you, you won’t be able to see what’s in the picture – you’d need someone to describe it for you to understand what it looks like. Imagine that Google has it’s eyes closed, it can’t see the pictures on your website and factor them into search engine rankings. Therefore you need to use the ‘ALT’ tag to write a description of each image on your website to help search engines understand them.
A file containing a list of the pages on your website helps search engines to find pages within your website. It is particularly important if you have a new or large site. It also provides a search engine with meta data. Every time you update your site the sitemap.xml should be regenerated. The location of the sitemap.xml needs to be submitted in the sitemap section of your Google Webmaster Account.