Most people understand the fundamentals of optimizing a site for search engines – research and identify keywords, craft quality content, create better links. But the pursuit of better search results doesn’t end with adjustments to content on the page.
Better SEO means tackling the content and the technology used to deliver it.
If your SEO efforts end with manipulating keywords, link text and title tags, there’s so much more to do. It might be time to make friends with someone in the IT department.
Search engines are constantly striving to results that are best for the user, meaning how you deliver content can be just as important as what you deliver. The experience matters. Research suggests sites score well with Google when they are mobile, secure and fast.
So if you’re not the kind of person who is comfortable talking page code and server calls, find a new friend who can help you tackle these important topics.
Improve page load speed.
It’s been more than six years since Google confirmed site speed is a factor in ranking sites. Faster sites improve the user experience and, in turn, get ranked higher. Curious about your own page speed and how it may impact SEO? Google’s PageSpeed Insights will score your site for mobile speed, mobile experience and desktop experience. It provides suggestions for improving your score.
Markup pages with Open Graph and structured data.
Moz asked 150 experts to rate the influence of certain factors on Google’s core search algorithm and while the first three were still about content — domain-level link features, page-level link features and page-level keywords — the fourth most influential factor was page-level keyword-agnostic features.
In other words, it was more important to include Open Graph andstructured data markup on a page than adjusting domain-level keywords. This markup provides a clearer picture of a page’s content and helps search engines categorize and clarify what you have to offer.
Secure your site with HTTPS.
Security is a top priority for Google and should be for you, too. One greatest benefit of HTTPS — from an SEO perspective, anyway — is the signal it sends with regard to the site’s authenticity. Secure sites can be trusted.
For lack of a better description, secure sites are “all grown up.” These sites take seriously the responsibility to secure accounts and keep communications private.
Create an XML sitemap.
There is no dearth of duplicate content online and making sense of it all, where it came from and when it was published could be a nightmare. Enter an XML sitemap. This file often is Google’s go-to source when making sense of your site.
The sitemap lets Google know when content is published and how it fits into the context of your overall site. Unless you’re willing to write one by hand, it’s best to have this document automatically updated by the same system used to push pieces live.
Restrict crawling where it’s not needed.
If an XML sitemap tells Google what content is on your site, a Robots.txt file tells Google how to find it all and what to ignore. And while it can help consolidate search engine juice around select pages, improper usage of the file could hurt your ranking.