Deciphering Some Technical SEO Best Practices, Part 1

     
     

Published: October 12, 2015

In our last post, we talked about how important it is to make sure your content is high quality. Google has its own customers—people using search engines—that it must answer to. By tailoring your content to Google and its customers, you can increase the likelihood that Google will return your content near the top of the list of search engine results. We also mentioned that there are a few technical bits to know about to give Google the right shortcuts to understand what your page is about, and that’s what we will detail in the next two posts.

On-Page Ranking Factors

Google doesn’t exactly read your pages and your content to see what it is all about. Instead, computer algorithms scan the content and the programming codes surrounding the content to search for certain cues and identifying information, including keywords. There are several areas that are scanned, and those areas are referred to as on-page ranking factors, or factors on your page including text and code that affect your page’s ranking. Let’s take a look at what these factors are and how you can make sure you’re getting it right.

The URL

The URL refers to the actual address of the page. It should provide information about where a particular page is located within your site and indicate a clear path to get there. It should also contain any keywords that you are focusing on for that page, if possible. Google and other search engines will use these paths to better understand what your pages are about. Take these two URLs as an example:

  • http://www.sample.com/services/home/aluminumsiding/
  • http://www.sample.com/siding

The first URL tells Google that your page called “Aluminum Siding” is one of your services, and that it is a service for homes, not businesses or commercial applications. If someone is searching for “aluminum siding for the home,” this page is a much better match than the second—even if the content is otherwise the same.

A descriptive URL is also helpful for people who are browsing your website. If someone stumbles across this aluminum siding page and glances at the URL, they will easily be able to see that you have an entire set of services for homeowners. The second example only tells them that you do siding. Of course, the text on the page and provided links will give more information, but every little bit of information helps when it comes to fickle web users.

When it comes to blog posts, your URL should contain the post title and not include a bunch of organizational sub-directories. For example, a post titled “How to Choose Siding for your Home”, do this:

  • http://www.sample.com/blog/how-to-choose-siding-for-your-home
  • not this:  http://www.sample.com/blog/2015/Oct/42/58395.html

Page Title

Yes, this is as obvious as it sounds. The title of the page or post is one of the most important on-page factors, and it can be one of the trickiest aspects to get right because you have to consider both Google and your reader. Remember, 8 out of 10 people will stop to read your headline but only 2 of those 10 will read the rest. So, you have to write titles and headlines that make people click and give Google what it wants.  It’s no wonder that QuickSprout recommends that you spend as much time crafting the headline as you do writing the rest of the content!

  • Pleasing People. To get the right attention from people, your titles and headlines should be extremely specific and accurately describe the content. People typically respond well to numbers, exciting adjectives and the occasional negative word.
  • Pleasing Google. Your page’s title is what shows up in the list of search results (usually referred to as the search engine results page, or SERPs).  Google will show between 50 and 60 characters of your title, so keep it short and sweet. If you can fit an important keyword in the beginning of the title, do it. If it’s awkward or weird, don’t force it.

That’s a Lot of Information for Two Lines of Text

If you are thinking that this is an awful lot of explanation dedicated to two lines of text on your website, you would be right. However, we believe that it’s really important for you to understand what all this technical mumbo-jumbo is all about. Now that you’ve read this lengthy explanation, you can see that it’s all much simpler than it appears on the surface.

Next week, we'll tackle content formatting specifics including things like headers, and talk about the importance of internal linking, or linking from one page on your website to another page on your website.

For more on SEO, check out these articles:

Deciphering Some Technical SEO Best Practices Part 2
What is Link Building and Why Do I Need It
What is Local SEO
SEO: The Very Basics for Beginners




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