SEO is about identifying and implementing what search engines (primarily Google) deem most important. These actions typically involve making your website easy to understand and read by visitors in addition to the search engines being able to understand your content. Google, in their SEO Starter Guide, define SEO as being about helping search engines understand and present content.
Three changes you can make to improve your SEO
Below are three SEO tips that I believe are critical to improving where your webpages appear in Google, Bing and other SERPs.
Add a sitemap to your website
A sitemap is an index of all your pages and posts available on your website. There are two types of sitemap; one for human consumption and one that is for search engines. Sitemap files help Google, Bing and other search engines know what content you have and when content changes. You may view my HTML sitemap and XML sitemap. You really should have both available.
How to add a sitemap.xml
The machine readable version is called sitemap.xml. If you use content management or ecommerce software such as Shopify or WordPress then there will be a way that the sitemap.xml file will be generated and updated for you.
If you have a static website then you’ll likely need to add and update a sitemap.xml file as you add or change content. Various free tools are available.
How to add a HTML sitemap
The human readable version of a sitemap is presented as a page on your website. Per generating and updating the sitemap.xml file, the HTML version can be either created and edited manually or automatically. WordPress has various plugins that will assist with creating the sitemap file as Shopify has numerous apps to assist.
Page load speed improvement hack
Faster loading webpages get better conversions than slow loading pages. Many technical things go into the page load speed of your webpages; the number of files loaded, the order in which files are loaded, the size of the files, your web-host speed and so on. It can take technical knowledge and significant time to improve page load speeds but often one simple change will make your pages load faster.
How to measure the loading speed of your website
The are numerous free tools available that will advise as to your webpage load speed; Google PageSpeed Insights is simple and easy to use. WebPagetest provides a more detailed analysis of how your webpage loads and includes options such as choosing where the test takes place (e.g. Sydney, Hong Kong, Amsterdam, Singapore and so on).
Speed up your webpage with one simple change
The one change that is sure to improve your webpage load speeds is reducing the filesize of your images. Images are notoriously large in filesize as opposed to HTML. Reducing the filesize of images can only be good for the experience of your website visitors (and SEO).
Happily there are lots of free tools that may be used to compress your images. Images may be lossy or lossless compressed: Lossy will yield greater results however quality is negatively affected. Lossless compression won’t affect quality and will merely remove the various superfluous information needed to displays your image such as unnecessary image metadata.
Most online services automatically compress your images (such as Shopify and WordPress) however it will likely be better to compress your PNG, JPG and GIF files before uploading them. I use FileOptimizer (read how to speed up FileOptimizer) and find it extremely effective. There are other good services such as Kraken.io.
Provide useful information
Unfortunately in the SEO ‘world’ there is such a large emphasis on technical aspects of SEO that the most basic thing of all gets lost; useful content. It is absolutely fundamental to provide people with what they want. If you provide bookkeeping services in Brisbane, Australia then you must make sure that your website is all about Bookkeeping in Brisbane.
It sounds very basic but it is likely the most important aspect of SEO. If you aren’t making it obvious what you do then Google won’t know and you won’t appear prominently in the search pages. It is so important to be clear about what your website is about.
In closing, keep in mind that SEO is not about tricking Google or Bing. It is all about making it easy for the search engines to understand what your website is about.