SEO Tips

Mobile friendly

In case your website is still not mobile friendly, you should hurry. According to Google “after January 10, 2017, pages where content is not easily accessible to a user on the transition from the mobile search results may not rank as highly”. In other words, no mobile friendly page means a hit in the SERPs.

To check whether your website meets the criteria for being mobile friendly, log in to your Search Console account and check the Mobile Usability Report. If your website is mobile friendly you will see the message “No mobile usability errors detected”. In case Google detected some mobile usability issues on your website you’ll see a count of pages exhibiting specific errors, grouped by type. You can click on an error type to see a list of pages affected by the chosen error. Or you can click on a page URL to get a list of instructions on how to fix the error.

The following errors can appear in the mobile-usability report:

– Viewport not configured
– Fixed-width viewport
– Content not sized to viewport
– Small font size
– Touch elements too close
– Flash usage

Focus your efforts, use your budget effectively

Search engine optimization is not cheap, sometimes it can cost more than you might think, because it mainly depends on your objectives and expectations. Chances are you run on a tight budget compared with the goals and hopes. To cope with it, you must prioritize. Like selecting only several pages to promote and optimize, as a starting point in your SEO campaign. You can use the profit you gain to cover the SEO costs for more products and services later on. Here are some examples: if you run an e-commerce website, focus on your most competitive products; if you are a service company, select your main offer or service; if you are a clinic, go with your most popular procedures first.

That means you have to choose. One way to choose is going with the most profitable one(s). Another one is choosing those ones that already rank better than others. Trying to cover all pages at once is useless unless you have a significant budget at your disposal for search engine optimization, in line with your expectations. But if you are limited in time and resources, keep your focus on the most important targeted pages.

On-page Factors & Competitive Research

One first mention, the list below is not only a checklist in the on-page optimization process when you start your SEO campaign, but also the basis for continuous analysis of your website and your competitors, to find improvement opportunities and implement the changes whenever required. So don’t hesitate analyzing your website from time to time, checking these factors again and again to make sure you’ve done your work at your best. So, here are the on-page factors to analyze periodically:

– Keywords (in page elements and content)
– URLs
– Titles
– Meta descriptions
– Headlines and subheads
– Content structure
– Content length
– Images and alt tags
– Social elements
– Page load speed
– Mobile-friendliness

Compare the findings on your website with your competitors. If they are ranked higher than you, most likely they have done a better job than you. So check and improve continuously. When you do a better job than your competitors, you increase the chances of outranking them. Of course, it’s not only the on-page SEO to do that, it’s also the off-page SEO that matters (a lot) but performing well on on-page SEO gives your campaign a solid foundation.

Here are some questions to ask when you analyze your competitors, they can also suggest you some improvements on your own website:

– What main keyword(s) do they use on targeted pages?
– What is the keyword density on their website?
– Does the main keyword occur within the first 100 words?
– Are the keywords used in URLs, titles, meta descriptions, headlines, and subheads?
– Do alt tags contain (the main) keyword?
– Are the meta descriptions properly written?
– What is the content structure? Content length?
– Are there bulleted lists and white space around page elements?
– What is the load time?
– Are the pages optimized for mobile?
– What are page age and authority for competitors’ pages?
– Is content on the pages fresh or static?

Mandatory (recommended) WordPress plugins

If you have a WordPress website or blog, we recommend you install (if you didn’t do it already) the following plugins (preferably right after completing the WordPress installation; later is also fine):

– Wordfence Security – adds a new layer of security beside what you have from your hosting company. What you get with Wordfence: firewall, malware scan, blocking, live traffic, login security and more. It’s destined to stop you from getting hacked. And alerting you quickly in the event your site is compromised. The free version is fine but we recommend going for the premium version that gives you premium support (hopefully you won’t need it), country blocking (extremely useful to block hacking attempts based on country of origin), scheduled scans, password auditing, real-time updates to the threat defense feed (the free version has a 30 days delay), two-factor authentication, also checking if your website’s IP address is being used to spamvertize (when you share the same IP with other websites involved in email spam).
PS: Here’s a blog post you might consider reading, explaining in a concise way what kind of security you get with such a plugin: Do You Need a WordPress Security Plugin?

– Captcha by BestWebSoft – it does what its name says, adds a captcha to your existing forms: login, registration, password recovery, comments and contact forms. Users are required to complete a math equation before the form can be submitted. You can configure captcha complexity using three basic maths actions such as add, subtract and multiply, using numbers, letters and even images. The free version is absolutely fine.

– UpdraftPlus – simplifies backups and restoration. You can schedule automated backups daily, every few days, weekly, forthnightly or monthly; for website files, themes, plugins, WordPress core and databases. You can backup into the cloud Amazon S3, Dropbox, Google Drive, Google Cloud Storage, Microsoft OneDrive, Microsoft Azure, SCP, WebDAV, Rackspace Cloud, DreamObjects, SFTP, Openstack Swift, UpdraftPlus Vault and even email. Most options being available with the premium version.

– Easy Updates Manager – automatically updates your plugins, WordPress themes and WordPress itself, for minor releases, major releases and development updates, saving you time and money. You could also hire a freelancer or a specialized company for WordPress maintenance but this plugin does the same thing effectively and for free.

Admin users

Never use “admin” or “administrator” as usernames for your admin users. When bad robots try to guess your admin user password they will first try these usernames. And these are not the only ones. Also avoid using these usernames: root, test, support, feed, user, yourwebsitename and yourURL (eg. example.com). We recommend you use a bit more complicated usernames such as wordoids (words created from word fragments) or combinations of words and numbers. Of course, also passwords must be strong (combinations of letters, numbers and special characters).

Robots.txt file

Use the robots.txt file to block search bots and crawlers from accessing sensitive information pages, including admin, login, cart and checkout, and eventually dynamic pages (search and filters). Leaving the bots the opportunity to craw such pages may lead to serious privacy issues including data stolen. Disallow pages that should be blocked, at the same time allow pages that should be crawled and indexed.

.htaccess file

Check the .htaccess file from time to time, especially when you see something’s wrong with your website indexation. This configuration file is crucial for the wellfare of your website. Proceed with caution, if you’re not sure you have the knowledge to check and change the content of this file you better ask for the help of a developer. Any mistake might sack your efforts aimed at proper indexing from the search engines and eventually receiving higher SERPs. What you can achieve by implementing proper settings (among others):

– adjusting caching to improve load time
– generate cleaner URLs
– implementing Redirect 301 directives
– creating a more detailed sitemap
– blocking or providing access to some of the website’s folders

Page speed

Always keep an eye on the page speed. It’s not amongst the most important ranking factors but it’s one that might make a difference, especially when your site is not performing well. There are a lot of tools that you can use to check your page speed but we recommend using the ones provided by Google:

Page Speed Insights
Mobile-Friendly Test
Google Analytics Site Speed Report

The reason behind recommending you use the Google tools is fairly simple: if you rely on Google for web traffic, what he thinks about your website is not only the most important but also relevant. If Google thinks the page is slow, you will lose rankings. The results of the Page Speed Insights is what Google believes about your site so improving your page load time will improve what Google knows about your website, eventualy your rankings and ultimately the user experience.

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