Doctor Digital's Check Up - SEO
What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimisation (or SEO) encompasses the skills and tools you use to grow your visibility in organic (non-paid) search engine results. There are rules and standards that affect the ranking of a page, so spending some time to help your website pages to be found and understood in different search engines can help your website to reach your intended customers.
The position of your rankings is affected by the popularity and relevance of your website, so effective SEO addresses both of these aspects. When your SEO results are not optimised, it makes it harder for people to find your website when searching for terms related to your brand. Effective SEO helps increase the ranking of your page and prevents it from getting lost among the crowd.
A few small tweaks can improve your ranking, and will make it easier for customers to find you and your business. Tweaks such as tailoring page content (titles, descriptions, links) to include relevant terms, promoting links from external websites, and structuring your website in a way that search engines can understand, can all go a long way in helping your search engine rankings.
You’ll see in your report an analysis of what you’re getting the big green tick for, and what is causing a red warning sign; if any of these terms are unfamiliar to you, I’ve provided further helpful information below.
Add a metadata description to explain the content of your website
A metadata description is an HTML tag that describes the content of a web page. This description shows up under the title in search results when it contains the keywords entered into the search.
When writing a metadata description, it is recommended to keep it under 155 characters long to ensure no text gets cut off when displayed in search results. It’s about as long as a tightly worded short tweet, so when writing your meta description choose your words carefully to motivate potential customers to click through to your website.
There are many tools out there to help configure your descriptions (depending on the way your website has been made), so talk to your IT professional or seek advice from your digital coach on specific tools suited to your website setup.
Increase the font size to make your website more legible
When you’re designing a website or app to be viewed on mobile devices, it’s best practice to use font sizes of at least 16 pixels for forms and important body text. For secondary text, unimportant labels, and captions, use a size a couple notches smaller (such as 14 pixels). Going down a couple of sizes ensures that you’re clearly communicating the lesser importance and making sure the main message is loud and clear.
When mobile responsiveness is not set up for a website, the text size doesn’t adjust to the smaller screen size. This often results in having to pinch and zoom to reach a comfortable reading level, which can negatively impact your search engine rankings. Talk to your designer or digital coach to get some suggestions for putting your best font forward.
Ensure all link text describes the document linked to, avoid "Click here"
Link text is the clickable, underlined words in links that help users and search engines better understand your content and how to navigate around your website. Descriptive links assist with navigation by providing context without reading the surrounding information, making the website quicker to skim and navigate.
Good link text should give an indication of the page or action that will occur after clicking it. Bad link text (such as ‘click here’) doesn’t provide useful context or information about where it leads.
In a nutshell, make link text clear and self-explanatory to support quick and effective navigation for everyone – including search engines.
Search engines are blocked (website indexing)
In order for search engines to include your website in search results, it must be set up in a way that allows search engines to find the information they need to rank it. For your website to be indexed (stored for retrieval when people search for relevant terms), it must first be ‘crawled’ by automatic ‘bots’ that roam the web to find content. Once indexed, your website will be regularly crawled for new updates, ensuring that search rankings stay relevant and useful.
Having a fast-loading website, fresh content, and setting up Google Search Console can all help promote bots to crawl your website, and let you know if the website has any blockers. Bots will look at a wide range of website content, such as your meta tags, descriptions, and alt attributes for images. They are extremely intelligent, so can also index the content of images/videos, linked documents, and even run interactive components to discover their content and purpose!
Setting your website up for indexing is a necessity to be found online, so talk to your digital coach or web developer to get more advice on how to make your website optimised for indexing.
Replace plugins (e.g. Flash, Java) with elements that can be indexed
Not all plugins are created equal, and while some can benefit your SEO, there are some that slow your pages down or are unable to be indexed – pushing your site ranking down. Beware of having Flash content or Java applets, as these are invisible to Google indexing.
Some plugins simply don’t work on mobile devices, which may make your website experience a little more frustrating. Using an excessive amount of plugins can also contribute to slow page load times – remember, it’s best not to keep users waiting!
Add or repair a robots.txt file to instruct search engines about the website
A robots.txt file provides a guide to bots on how the website should be crawled. It can specify particular pages that you don’t want to be indexed and prevent resource or image files from showing up in search results.
Often template sites will have an automatic robots.txt enabled, but you can have more control over how your website is crawled as well. The process of adding or editing a robot.txt file on your website can vary depending on how your website has been created, so talk to a digital coach or your web developer to get it repaired or up and running.