Now-a-days most websites are pretty well optimised for search. As a SEO Consultant who started life as a developer in Preston, UK, I remember the days when sorting out a few title tags and ALT tags could move you from position 50 to position 1 within weeks. However, even though most sites are very well optimised there are still a few changes you can make that many of your competitors will be missing, they might not move you up 5 pages, but they can certainly help. Below is a list of simple changes that you can make, often without the help of a developer.
1. Unique TITLE Tags
TITLE tags are still a huge ranking factor, and still often overlooked and neglected. All the pages that you want to rank need to have a unique, keyword-targeted and descriptive TITLE tag. The less duplicate TITLE tags that you have, the better. If your site has thousands of pages you will need to come up with a systematic way of automating this.
2. Unique META Description Tags
Before you all start commenting at the bottom, yes, I know that META Descriptions don’t have any impact on your ranking. However, it does provide two important factors:
- It is often used as the snippet for your page in the SERPS. This is essentially your chance to persuade searchers to click on your link opposed to the other nine on the page. If you get it right, it can have a massive impact on your click-through rate.
- Having a unique META Description for every page gives your pages another uniqueness factor, making it appear more valuable to Google.
Like with TITLE tags there are ways to automate this, however, try to make your description meaning and not just loaded with keywords and marketing spiel.
3. Shorten Your TITLE Tags
The longer that your TITLE Tag is the less impact it will have on the SEO for the keywords that you are targeting. Try not to constantly repeat elements of your TITLE Tag throughout the site, i.e. don’t repeatedly append your homepage TITLE Tag onto the end of all your pages. Always remember that the longer your TITLE Tag the more you will dilute the impact that you will have on the keywords at the beginning of it.
4. The Order Of Your TITLE Tags
On large Ecommerce sites,it is common to automate the naming of your TITLE Tag based on categories i.e. “Widget Shop | Widget Products | Widget Covers | Cover for a large Widget”. Unfortunately this results in hundreds, if not thousands, of TITLE Tags that look similar with the unique part of the TITLE Tag, the product, being pushed to the back. Not only can this have a negative impact on your rankings it can create problems with your search usability, the first few words in the TITLE Tag are the most critical part of the SERP as this is what searchers read first. Often fixing this can be a relatively simple change and you should see the benefits within weeks.
5 Canonical Tags
In a post-Panda world the issue of duplicate content has certainly become more important. Google have never 100% confirmed that they penalise duplicate content but the general consensus within the SEO community is that there are serious consequences. One thing that is certain is that Google do a poor job of choosing the correct original version of content, this can result in lots of low quality sites diluting the impact of your content in the SERPS.
Commonly there are three varieties of internal duplicate errors:
- Duplicates created by problems with session variables.
- Duplicates caused by faceted navigation and search filters.
- Duplicates caused by different URL paths to the same content.
If Google see a new URL for the same content they will treat it like a new page, meaning that it is very important to canonicalise these pages. When pages truly are identical using a canonical tag or a 301 redirect is the best option. In situations like search sorts, faceted navigation, pagination and search filters the subject can get more complicated (one for a separate post).
6. Add Deep Links
Most sites now contain 100’s if not 1000’s of pages, making a flat information architecture neither possible or desirable. As a result many sites now have a hierarchical structure that is 3 or 4 levels deep. This is usually fine, as long as its well structured crawlers have no problem with it. However, it can result in some critical pages having very little power. A solution to this problem is to try and link to these pages (usually product pages) directly from your homepage to pass them some link-juice. This can often be achieved by creating panels like “Popular Products”, “Best Sellers” or “Recently Viewed” to flatten the architecture.
7. Remove Some Internal Links
When it comes to prioritising links on your homepage, or other key pages on your site everything gradually becomes a priority, meaning that the effectiveness of your internal linking structure is diluted. One quick tip is go through your homepage, and other key landing pages and remove a few links that are either a low priority from a SEO point of view or they link to pages that are seldom visited. You’ll be surprised how many you find when you give it a go.
8. Rewrite Anchor Text
Revisit the anchor text that you use for your internal links. Avoid using anchor text that is filled with jargon or industry terms. Pay special attention to your main navigation, if you want to rank for “Cheap Clothing”, don’t use the use the anchor text “Apparel grade 1-4”, it doesn’t mean anything to your users and sends a poor ranking signal to Google. Always bear in mind that your internal anchor text should reflect your targeted keywords and as such you should use them wherever possible.
That just about does it for now, I think there are plenty of things to think about here. Just writing this article has made me realise how some of the websites I work on aren’t 100% correct. If you have any other tips I would love to hear them in the comments below.
This post was written by Gary Bennion an SEO Consultant in Preston, UK.