When we think about improving SEO rankings, we may think about adding some quality content that utilizes keywords, adjusting titles and meta descriptions, and making sure your images have good alt tags to name a few. Site optimization is important because it can be like an anchor keeping the rankings from moving up no matter how much you have improved those other things. Site optimization includes things like establishing sitemaps, robots.txt files, using breadcrumbs, proper navigation, and adjusting your website’s page loading speed. We will be covering these in detail below with the hope that this will help you raise those anchors so that your SEO rankings can be on the rise.
Sitemaps – The Why and the How
First and foremost, especially for site optimization, there is no downside to having a sitemap file. The main purpose of a sitemap is to help search engines find the pages on your site. Since pages are what rank, it’s essential that search engines can find them easily. An analogy that I think works here is that sitemaps are like blueprints where pages are like rooms. Effective site optimization will help search engines to look at the blueprints to find all the rooms. Most site platforms can create sitemaps for you or allow you to install plugins that will do it. One example is Yoast, which is a plugin for WordPress. Yoast has many SEO features and also creates sitemaps for your site. The file created is an XML file and you can often find the file by looking for /sitemap.xml or sitemap_index.xml after your domain. For example, www.examplesite.com/sitemap.xml.
Once you have your sitemap, you will want to make sure the search engines have easy access to it. The easiest way to do so is to create an account with their respective developer tools. For Google, it is called Google Search Console, and for Bing, it is called Bing Webmaster Tools. Just register your site with them by following their instructions. Once activated, you can navigate their tool and should find where to tell them the location of your sitemap. After they have this, they will typically use it for site indexing purposes. This is important for site optimization because they will be able to scan the pages on your site and allow them to be seen on search results. Thus, if you do not have a sitemap and they cannot find access to certain pages, you may not be able to achieve the proper SEO rankings.
Robots.txt – What’s that?
This is another important file for site optimization. Its main purpose is to inform search engine crawlers what you want them to crawl. This means that if you have pages that require a login to access, you can tell the crawlers that you do not want them crawling or indexing those pages. This file works alongside the sitemap and you should include your sitemap location in the robots.txt file to make sure that crawlers can find it. This is especially useful for those search engines that do not have developer tools like Google or Bing. If that’s the case, this file becomes the only way to tell them about your sitemap and is important for site optimization. It also does not hurt to give Google and Bing another way to access your sitemap. Again, like sitemaps, your site platform should be able to create one for you or at least allow you to upload one. You should have one just to have the sitemap listed if nothing else.
Breadcrumbs and Site Navigation – Don’t Make a Maze
Mazes can be a lot of fun and getting lost is part of that fun. However, for site optimization, you do not want people to get lost on your site. A site with poor navigation can cause unwanted frustration in a user. This could result in them leaving your site to find one that is more easily navigable, even if you offer better services or products. One way to help solve this is by adding a breadcrumb menu. Google recommends them and if you want some help with your Google SEO rankings, you may want to listen to their recommendations. Not only do they help users easily backtrack without having to hit their browser’s back button, but they also help search engines better understand your websites’ structure.
In addition to the breadcrumb feature, and another key point in site optimization is to make sure that your site navigation is easy for people to follow. This means sectioning parts of your website under appropriate categories. If you are not sure how best to do this, then look at some popular websites that deal with similar things you offer, such as services or products. Sometimes a competitor’s website can give you some ideas. Small sites may not be properly developed, so you do not want to copy them, just get ideas. Essentially, what you want to do is organize services, products, and the miscellaneous pages of your site. Using our site as an example, you can see that we segregate the white label services from the marketing section. The services section has the various services we offer such as white label SEO, PPC, SMM, etc. The marketing section has information about white label solutions, partnerships, and a page that explains what white label is, etc.Ultimately, site optimization is meant to help both users enjoy your website and provide your site with the boost it needs to get better SEO rankings Click To Tweet
Website Loading Speeds – No One Likes a Slow Site
The last thing we will talk about for site optimization is website page loading speeds. We have all encountered a website that takes a little too long to load a page. We wonder if there is an issue with our internet or if the site stopped working before the page finally loads. If we are in a hurry to get some information, then this can be extremely frustrating. As we’ve talked about previously, frustrated users will likely leave and go to your competitors. To make sure that your site is loading well, you want to check out some tools for site speed like Google PageSpeed Insights or Pingdom Website Speed Tests.
These tools will help you figure out what site optimization issues you may be having that are slowing down some pages from loading. You may need to reduce the image sizes on your site or make sure that your site is updated to the newest version. Update plugins and minimize their usage for better site optimization as well. You may also want to serve cached pages to visitors, which means that their browser does not have to load the page every time. There are many things that you can do to help your site’s loading speeds through various site optimization practices, so work through what you can fix and do not expect to be able to fix everything. Doing any of these will be a boom to your SEO rankings. The more you focus on on-site optimization to improve your loading speeds, the better.
Ultimately, site optimization is meant to help both users enjoy your website and provide your site with the boost it needs to get better SEO rankings. These are some of the things that you can do to help your site improve. Remember to make sure that you have a sitemap and robot.txt files on your site to help search engines locate and index pages. Also, make sure that your site’s navigation and page loading speeds don’t leave visitors frustrated. Improving SEO rankings is more than keywords and content. Site optimization plays an important role in ranking your site.