I think we can all agree that there are a lot of different SEO strategies and sometimes we forget or even ignore some of them in favor of others. It can be difficult to know which ones you should absolutely focus on and which ones are just good practice. Here are 5 different strategies for search engine optimization that you don’t want to ignore as they could harm you in the long run.
Auditing your website
It has been stated that more than 50 percent of SEO professionals don’t perform a site audit regularly, which is very interesting when you consider that you’ll find some sort of SEO site audit feature on most tools geared toward search engine optimization. It seems like a fundamental feature to be performing regularly, especially on new SEO clients. Knowing what issues a website is dealing with is a huge boon for any SEO professional and can be useful for web developers.
A site audit is useful for a variety of reasons. It helps SEO professionals know exactly what pages have issues with their metatags, which saves a lot of time and can help locate pages that are difficult to find through typical navigation. It helps to identify broken links, both internal and external to easily clean up broken navigation. It also helps to identify other broken items such as pages and images. Ultimately, the site audit really helps to clean up those issues, big and small, that weigh a website down and prevent good ranking results.
Updating to HTTPS
Google has recently started showing warnings for websites that aren’t secure or HTTP only. Securing a website gives it HTTPS, which Google and savvy users like to see. Many people think that just getting the SSL certificate is enough to secure your website and there are hosting companies that don’t explain that more is required than just a certificate. There are a lot of technical items that need to be addressed to make sure that the website is truly secure.
Note that this is a small list to give you an idea. It is a good idea to have a web developer familiar with securing a website if necessary.
- SSL installation:
Make sure that you properly configure the server after selecting the correct certificate in the domain host. Then you’ll want to modify any SSL plugin you may have in your CMS like the one for WordPress.
- Database and link changes:
You’ll need to change all instances in your database on internal links that are hard-coded such as images from “HTTP://” to “HTTPS://”.
- CSS/PHP changes:
Like with the database and link changes, you’ll want to check your CSS/PHP for any hard-coded instances of “HTTP://” and change them to “HTTPS://”.
- .htaccess changes:
Make sure that you update your .htaccess file appropriately so that your server knows how to handle this change for your URLs and create the proper 301 redirects
- Wait and watch:
You’ll need to wait for the website to fully go live with the secure site which can take up to 48 hours. Being able to check to see that things are working properly after updating to HTTPS is another reason to use a site audit. After 48 hours, it will let you know what is broken from the change.
Use Schema markup
Schema markup has been around for a while now and it is very important to use if your website has the appropriate items. Schema code is a universal language that was agreed upon by the various major search engines in order to make sure that the right information is being passed on and that it is easily understood by the search engine. You can markup images, videos, products, and more in order to make them easier to be found or understood.
Images are marked up in order to be easily searched via an image search, videos in order to be shown inline with search results and to be able to show a variety of information to searchers. Products gain the biggest benefit across a large variety of clientele since it allows you to mark up everything from the product image to the product rating. This helps to show them in the search results as you’ll be able to see ratings right underneath the link to the page.
JSON-LD code is even easier than basic schema code and does the same thing. Google actually prefers this markup language and it is one of the easiest to implement. This code is much easier for people to read and write as it helps to describe the structure of the data. Though JSON-LD is easier code to implement, coding isn’t for everyone so look for the various tools out there that can help you create the code properly.
External linking is an important factor and not one that people forget about or ignore, however, disavowing links is forgotten or ignored. Disavowing is essentially cataloging bad or harmful URLs that are pointing links to your website and are likely dragging your site down. Both Google and Bing offer ways to provide them with a disavow list. Once submitted, when the search engines find links to your website from these URLs, they’ll ignore them as though they were “no-follow” links. Until the search engines have a firm grasp on understanding external links and can moderate them on their own, disavowing is a very important process that shouldn’t be skipped.
Factor in voice search
With voice search being a more important aspect of search in recent years, it is certainly something that needs some attention. There are plenty of various digital assistants out there for all cell phones and for those devices in our homes and offices that we can talk to in order to get them to perform tasks such as performing a search for us. Voice search should be handled differently than regular search since people phrase searches differently when they have to speak them than when they type them. Since most voice search comes from mobile devices, it could be beneficial to think about adjusting mobile content to better fit voice searches. Optimized content geared toward answering questions that come from voice searches should be a high priority as voice searching isn’t going away.
With these 5 SEO strategies, you’ll be ahead of those who are still ignoring them. If you’re already doing some of these, such as having your website already be secured properly then you are already headed in the right direction. SEO is always changing, which is why it is always important to look at what is going on in this space or hire someone who will do that for you.
By: Doyle Clemence, SEO Consultant