Most everyone knows that carefully created content is one of the keys to an effective SEO strategy. But there are some technical details that can also affect your rankings. You could be doing (or not doing) things that are keeping your website from rising in organic results. Some of SEO activities may require your web developer to make them happen.
Check out these five items to be sure you have the technical bases covered for an improved SEO position.
Over time Google takes an inventory of the pages on your website. Naturally you may not keep every page you ever created. But you should never just delete a page. Tell Google where to go instead. If you don't, Google will show the link in search results only to send your potential customer to "404 Error - This Page Does Not Exist". Not good.
It's possible to tell Google, using redirects, where to go if a page is no longer available at the address they've indexed. Google likes this because it creates a better, and more helpful, experience for their users. You'll like this because it means someone looking for your products or services can still find you, even if they're redirected to a slightly different page. It's a win win!
To get redirects added you'll need to document your old URL and where it should be redirected to. Your website developer will then instruct the server to send your visitors to the correct page.
2. XML Site Map
SEM Rush tells us that "submitting a site map to Google Search Console is a great way to help bots navigate your website faster and get updates on new or edited content." What is a site map for Google and how do you submit it?!
The XML site map is what Google will read. It's a document placed on your website server that helps the search engines quickly and easily index your pages and when they were last updated. It's not the site map that you often see linked in the footer of a website that shows you every page on the site with a link. Google needs to see the XML site map for better and faster indexing of the website.
Some content management systems will create one for you. You can also have one created through services like XML-Sitemap.com. Once you have the file you'll need your web team to add it to the website's code.
Don't forget the last step! That's telling Google through the Search Console that you've added an XML file!
3. Videos With Transcripts
The content in your videos is most likely filled with important phrases. Be sure this content is working to improve your SEO by following these steps:
- Invest in a video hosting service. This gives you control over how the player looks, the calls to action in the video, reporting, and most importantly, transcripts of the video that count towards your SEO. Our preferred service is Wistia. It does all of these things for you.
- Post your videos in Wistia and embed them on your website. This will give you the SEO credit and not YouTube.
- Pay the small fee to create the transcript. You can do this through Wistia or another third-party service. We're talking a few bucks here.
- Then post your video content on YouTube, with any adjustments you may need for your video to stand alone on a third party website (ie: Add the logo, change the intro or outro, etc.)
For more information on creating videos quickly, and on a small budget, read our blog: 3 Ways to Create Videos That Look Great and Cost Almost Nothing.
4. Page Speed
The speed at which your website loads on the screen matters. Google provides a whole list of do's and don'ts to keep your page speed optimized. But how do you know if you even need to worry about this?
- HubSpot suggests that less than 3 seconds is a best-in-class website practice.
- Loading a page somewhere between 3 and 5 seconds means there may be a few things that could be tweaked for improved speed.
- If the page takes more than 5 seconds there may need to be significant re-work done to get the page load time down. Your web developers should be able to analyze the page to see what can be done, starting with the Google list mentioned above.
Test your page speed and current SEO at Hubspot's Website Grader.
You probably already heard that your website needs to have an SSL certificate so that your web address starts with HTTPS. Google wants it and that means you need to make it happen if you want to keep up with the latest requirements. After all they hold the reigns when it comes to deciding what appears in search results. If you haven't done it already, or don't know how, let us know so that we can have a look for you.
If you already have HTTPS, be sure you redirected your old http pages to the new https version. If not, do that first.
Then, check to be sure all elements of a page are secure. That includes images and scripts. If they're not all associated with your SSL certificate, Chrome will display a red notice.
Also, be sure your site map links to all of the HTTPS pages and no longer to the HTTP pages.
Finally, make sure you update your Google Analytics and Google Search Console settings to look at the HTTPS URLs for your site.
What to do now?
To be honest you may need a web development expert for some of the SEO activities we've described. If your website company hasn't addressed these items for you, schedule a call soon to be sure your SEO strategy includes technical aspects of the site.
If you don't have an overall SEO strategy in place for your website we recommend getting started on right away. These items will be a piece of the overall plan. And you may want to read more about other features that every website should have. Download our free booklet below.