Some things that are important but often overlooked when it comes to SEO are the technical aspects of the Search Engine Optimisation effort. Sometimes technical issue may hold back real success of a website in the Google search results, even when a substantial SEO-effort in other areas such as link building, has been made.
You must ensure that your website is technically optimised for search engines (Google) and that there are no barriers to the effective indexing (crawling and databasing) of your website or if there are, that they are minimised. There are a number of key measures that you can check and reviews that we can undertake in regards to the “search engine friendliness” of your website.
Is your website already fully indexed by Google?
Undertake this search on Google:
(use your actual web address!) and view the results. This lists all the pages from your website that Google has in its database and that have been indexed. Are all of your pages listed there? If not you know that there is some issue with the pages that are missing because Google either hasn’t found them or they have been excluded.
What is the quality of the results that you see? look at the titles and snippets (snippets are the little introductions that appear under the blue titles for each listing in the search results). Are the titles or snippets similar or are many of them the same? We don’t want this. What we ideally want to see is all of your pages listed, with nice unique titles and descriptions. Make notes on potential issues that you see and get those title and descriptions unique.
Check for duplicate content by running the “show omitted” results at the bottom. The difference between the number of results that you first see and the number of results that are listed after you select to display the omitted results is an indication of duplicate content on your website. The extra ones are omitted from the results because they are too similar to other pages. So look at them and see what you can do to make them unique.
Duplicate content is a real issue for success on Google because Google avoids it most strongly. As we said at the start, Google will not want to have two web pages in the search results which are the same or very similar.
Switch to images search
Using your site:www.yourdomain.com operator, you can check the quality of your image results as well. Do you have the images from your website listed there? We do want them there so if they are not listed then you need to optimise your images by giving them a unique and valuable file name, caption, title and alt tag. Is your logo there?
Similarly check video search results
Any videos that you have on your website should be listed under the “videos” filter.
Do you have a robots.txt file?
Type this into your browser:
This file holds some basic instructions for search engines about what to index and what not to index. If no file exists then you should create one and add it to your website. Your web developer will know what to do here.
Does your website have an xml sitemap
eg www.yourdomain.com/sitemap.xml ? If not create one, and upload it to your website into the root directory. Use this tool to create one:
A sitemap contains a list of all the pages in your website and can be used to formally tell Google what pages from your site need to be indexed. Google Webmaster Tools also uses the sitemap as the basis for its reporting of any errors and issues that might exist for your website.
has anyone stolen your content?
Check several important pages with
Look to see if anyone is ripping off your content. From an SEO perspective their copy of your content may be ranking in Google at the expense of your original content.
Is there canonical duplication?
There are some common areas of duplication in most websites, as follows:
- Do you have both the www. and non-www versions of website live? If you do then you already have a duplicate content issue: you have two URLs for each page. Not a show stopper with Google but worth tidying up if you can. Have your web developer 301 redirect the non-www version to the www-version. ( A 301 redirect is the official way to tell Google to use one URL and disregard another and to pass all PageRank to the new page).
- Is there a file extension for the home page that is live eg www.yourdomain.com/index.php? This is often best observed if you click on your “Home” button from an internal page of your website. You’ll then see the true address of your home page in the URL bar. Have your web developer 301 redirect the full URL back to your main domain name if possible.
Is your website menu made of images or is it text?
Text based navigation is more SEO friendly (Google can crawl your website easier). If it graphical then create a text copy of your navigation in your website footer. This is not so much of an issue nowadays as most web developers use text-based navigation.
Are the page URLs SEO friendly and optimised?
Do your page URLs contain keyphrases relevant to the page? For example a page about blue widgets would be www.mydomain.com/blue-widgets. Keywords in URLs carry a lot of weight with Google so it’s worth changing them if they are not (and 301 redirecting your old URLs to the new ones!).
Are parameters present in the URLs? For example you might have “?” etc in your page addresses. Best to remove these if possible, although they’re not such an issue now as they were. Your web developer will know how to do this, if it can be done.
These are just a few of the technical factors that you can tune in order to help your website up the rankings, or rather to help prevent it being held back in the rankings. It is important to note that they can become more of an issue as your websites rises up the Google rankings because your site then becomes more subject to scrutiny by Google either in an automated fashion by bots and their algorithm or by human inspection.